Aspirations, Opportunity and Deliberative Democracy: Manipur picture

By Amar Yumnam

Aspirations are critical for both the individuals and collectively for the society. Aspirations for the future determine the present behaviour having future implications for all the entities, individuals and society. These behaviours would largely determine the future outcomes. Aspirations are the thing which fires the imagination of adolescents and youths, and any that adds to their imagination are worshipped. Aspirations at the collective level are the theme which drives a society forward, and the environment sustaining these is ferociously guarded. So in every period it is important that we evaluate the prevailing aspirations.

The last few years we have witnessed a spurt of aspirations of youths centred on sports. While the initial boost was certainly provided by our Olympic hockey players, it is now broad-based. The initial boost had such a widespread spill-over effect that we would soon find our boys and girls in every sport and dominating the Indian sports arena. We have soccer players earning satisfactory pay-offs from their game. Now we have the first woman boxer winning a medal for India. This achievement has certainly given a firm foundation and a new orientation for betterment in sports as a medium for the aspirations for youths to find a place for expression. In fact, the sportspersons of the land have given the leadership in sports and even produced results for all to emulate. It is happening at a place and at a time when no sector displays presence of leadership. The politicians have been failing us for so long to provide the political leadership. The administrators have failed us to provide administrative leadership. The intellectuals have terribly failed us to provide the academic and intellectual leadership so badly needed by us. So when every group has failed the sportspersons have not.

Thanks to the sportspersons we now see a new found sense of aspirations among the adolescents and youths in this land. We now observe among them a new sense of commitment to excel in whatever field one is in. While for sports the spirit has long been with us, my friends attribute it the legacy of kingdom, we now see a new wind blowing the minds of the youths. This is the moment for all of us to capitalise on.

The new wind and the new aspirations are much more real for the valley youths than they are for their counterparts in the mountains. Now that we have a new sense for excelling, performing and achieving among the youths, the challenge is before the governance and the society on how direction and meaning are added to the powerful sentiments.

We know and the youths know pretty well that they cannot bank on the possibilities on the home soil for securing their future. But equally now they are fully conscious that with excellence in any field they can find a place under the sun and with dignity. With all their love for the soil, they now increasingly look at the globe as their destination. The long run implication of this is wonderfully good.

While doing so, we need to identify the main areas of critical importance for accommodating the aspirations of youths. First, we have the already felt sector of sports. Second is the sector of education. In the foreseeable future, we do not visualise any transformation of the economy of Manipur to make it possible for all the youths to find any meaningful occupation for dignified living by staying back. But sports and education happen to be the inputs with which we can make our youths competitive globally and carve out a place for themselves.

This is where we need to invent a sense of justice missing so far in our development policy. Despite everything, we still lack a proper accommodation of the interests of the mountains in Manipur. The degree of opportunities available in the mountains is very different from that in the valley both in terms of magnitude and variety. This definitely is not a sustainable situation. We should now move for equalisation of opportunities across valley and mountains. The mountains should now be mobilised for a new orientation for participation in sports in a much more robust way than it is now. This would necessarily demand not only a healthy infrastructure for sports but also an overall reliable economic infrastructure. Further, we cannot any longer postpone the compulsion of making educational infrastructure prevalent and functional learning facilities available in the mountain areas of Manipur.

The necessity of ensuring the availability of sports and education facilities prevalent in the real sense of the term in the mountain areas of Manipur is strengthened by the needs of democracy. Due to the failure of administration to provide administrative leadership and politicians failing to provide the political leadership, democracy is still in a very poor format in Manipur with very little deliberative component. The frequent mob delivery of justice in the valley is indeed a sure sign of this. While this is so in the valley, the situation is much worse in the mountains. The failure of governance and collapse of every administrative intervention for development has ensured that deliberative democracy does not exist even at the lowest levels in the mountains. The familiar elites have all along have had the complete sway over articulation and mobilisation for the causes of the population. This is why we never see articulation and movement for the grass-root issues of development but only the noise and fury over rather broad issues. We have seen the people being led for rather purely political objectives but hardly for any meaningful economic needs. The needs of villages are left unattended while the political mobilisations for the sake of political objectives continue year in and year out. In order to salvage the situation in the mountains and serve the cause of deliberative democracy, we must put in real time robust facilities for sports and education in the mountains of Manipur without the administration resorting to any excuse.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here