Where the Mind is afraid

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 By M C Arun
Manipur is full of tensions, uncertainty, meaningless engagements in social lives due to social pressures and news of violence. The violence ranges from rape and murder to hit and run road accidents. Even the poor newspaper hawkers are not spared in such violence. The State is experiencing various types of pains and sufferings due to conditions which are beyond one’s control, visible acts of corruption, relative poverty and unplanned planning processes of infrastructures that disturb public lives. The people of Manipur also suffer a collective trauma leading to a blind race for civil service examinations both at the state and national level. The choice is defined by the probable capacity of earnings (plus extra-money) of the service. Heavy investment on private tuitions sans motivation just for reaching the gateway to high earning jobs has become a fashion. Due to these investments, the new generation is full of tension. And there is a increase in tension between parental ‘aspirations’ and children’s achievements. The new generation is living with the fear of failure. They are taught that failure means death – no meaningful lives.

Another facet of Manipuri fear is the fear of being attacked. This fear is day by day becoming more complex. Certain professions are more vulnerable to such attacks for one reason or another.  There is always a chance of being attacked if a family has a member holding a lucrative post (for example, an engineer or a top ranking official). They are known for their luxurious and comforting lives; yet as a professional hazard there is a high risk of being attacked. This fear spreads over the neighborhood and the leikais.

This ‘neighborhood’ fear is, now and then, manifested on protest festoons reading: STOP GUN CULTURE, Don’t throw bombs amidst people, WE WANT PEACE. The fear is of a threat generated by living close to some ‘high risk’ persons. Yet, they are powerless. The mushroom growth of JACs for every event shows fragmentation of state level bodies or their helplessness or even their fear of moving forward. The JAC looks for the immediate solutions. These bodies do not look at the larger picture but are concerned with only the immediate events. Symptomatic treatment is considered as the best solution these days.

Such powerlessness is again seen when their live lines are blocked for certain political demands which is beyond their control. They even cannot utter a word for certain historical reasons or fear of being treated ill by the State forces. Where the mind is with a constant fear, the difficulty is that the object of fear is beyond one’s capacity or ability. The environment, out of which the fear arises, cannot be moved by the individuals themselves. This may be the reason why the people of Manipur nowadays look for an escape route instead of fighting the historical condition or social environments that keep them in such a constant fear. The pains and sufferings due to the great economic blockade that broke all the world records of siege was faced by the people without much complaint in the long queue in front of oil pumps or LGP (black market) shops. However, their fear was rationalized in the name of tolerance. They could not demand strongly the Highway Protection Force. Strong voice is not encouraged by the State, on the other hand. The people, thus, cannot move in any direction.

This state of affairs gives pressure on the mind – both at the individual and collective level. All sorts of mental disorders are therefore reported among the populations of this small State. The high rates of anxiety disorder, bipolar and post traumatic stress disorders are highly speculated. A large scale study is really needed to ascertain the dynamics and quantum of the problem. This is true that the need of larger mental health service is required to handle the growing pressures on the minds (individual and collective). On the other hand, the social environment which produces problems such as crimes, drug abuse, and domestic violence as well as mental health problems should be improved. However, another pressure on people’s mind is that who will initiate towards the solution of such environmental problems. They are far from the means of resolving the problems. The problem is that the people cannot identify the savior.

Can any section of the population in Manipur provide a hope or plant a dream to the people? Are any of the NGOs or government agencies or intellectuals or even the bodies outside the State system applying their mind on such a dream? Who will stop the blind race towards the ‘profit’-motivated professions? Who will ask the parents to examine their children’s aspirations before any investment? We are yet to see anyone on the horizon for such atask. This is the tragic part of Manipuri lives. Forget about the light, the people have lost the tunnel even to look through.

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