Long Term Effects and Non Transition to Hope: Plight of Manipur

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    By Amar Yumnam

    The primary preoccupation of Economics today is the long term transition to a lasting growth trajectory. The global focus on human capital, technology, institutions and government policies are now assessed by experts with this understanding in mind. The days when economists concentrated on short term issues as the primary concerns are now gone particularly since the late 1980s. In this new research, it is now firmly established that transitions to a long term trend (positive or negative) is a very extensive and prolonged affair. Even though the period wise steps may be small the lasting impact is felt spread over decades. Further the policies of the government do have continuing effects over a long of period of time. Still further, the community actions of today do have lasting effects on the future characteristics of the society.

    Given these lasting impacts of policies and actions on the long term transformation of an economy and society, it is of paramount importance to be very careful of actions and policies at every period. The Law Minister of India has recently made a statement to the effect that rape under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act is different from rapes in other circumstances. What a pity for the country which have a minister of law like him! This recent illogical, immature, non-thinking and non-caring statement of the Law Minister of India has had the effect of eliminating whatever the cumulative positive effect of the security forces in recent years under the Military Civic Action and other programmes. It has also negated the goodwill generated by the Prime Minister’s decision to shift the Assam Rifles away from the Kangla. Now the law minister’s statement has made the people reimagine the frequency of Manorama cases if they were not shifted at all. While at best he could have said that the government would look into the recommendations of the Verma Committee Report, he jumped the guns by straightaway ruling that rape is not rape under AFSPA. This being a statement from the Law Minister of India, it reflects two things. First, it invariably reveals the attitude as well as the instigations of the government of India on this issue for all the years.  Second, this revelation of path dependence in the government’s thinking would continue to have lasting impact on how the people of the land view the security forces and the policies of the government of India. It would now require another gigantic effort of at least of two decades or so for the people of the land or at least a section to lose love for the government of India. Well, a big country like India needs to be governed by the principles of good governance as applicable differentially in different parts of the country and keeping the contextual realities in mind.  Now the law minister should not interpret the meaning of this as giving an excuse to define rape differentially according to convenience. There are certain universal norms of behaviour which are neutral to space and time; he must know this.

    In Manipur, there was a period when, under the influence of Hinduism, the tribals were untouchables for the Meeteis.  This definitely has had, as expected, the long term effect of antagonising the mountain population in this land. While this outlook and practice has long gone, the historical ill feeling still continues to serve the purpose of provoking fire among the general population. The contemporary practice of Meeteis for accepting any tribal as equal would yield the desired results of good-will and spontaneity only in the long run as expected. It is exactly at this moment that we need to apply our mind to the Manipur we envisage twenty or thirty years down the line. Manipur we would have in 2040 or 2050 would be the one we prepare today with efforts possessing commitment and grandeur. Manipur is now passing through a period of great historical criticality. The unfolding processes of globalisation would not wait for her, and would just sweep her aside if unprepared. But the communities in the land seem to be competing in unpreparedness. They are indulging in behaviour of aloofness which is quite opposite to the demands of globalisation. The long term impact of the present efforts would be even further relative backwardness and least preparedness for the rising competitions under globalisation. The result would be pushing the era of joining the development race farther away. 

    Similarly, the policies of the provincial government today would have implications and outcomes for 2040. But is our government applying its mind to this possibility? The long term persistence of the effects of government policies would be all the more in places like Manipur where the private sector is still in its infancy. The non-application of mind for the long term outcomes at the community level is replicated at the government level or vice versa. The long absence of policies for addressing the qualitative aspects of education has now impacted adversely upon the quantitative aspect as well. This picture prevails in the physical infrastructure sector as well. So while education and infrastructure should serve the social purpose of stability and progress, we now see these as rather grounds for social instability and communal tensions. These are now even used by the groups as means for further articulations, meaning the failure of these to serve as sure foundations for social progression.    

    So what Manipur experiences today are all actions and policies which would not have the persistent effect of raising the long term trend of social progression. There is no time we can afford to lose to reverse these actions in order to make Manipur an enjoyable place to live by 2040. The efforts of the next ten years would determine this. The government should lead the people in positively applying their mind for the Manipur we envisage. 

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