By Amar Yumnam
Change and development do not happen in a vacuum. The UPA II period was a vacuum. There was no authority, no accountability, no assuring space for functioning and hence no facilitation for change and development to occur. But, thanks to the digital inputs to the Indian society during the last two and half decades, the people have been aroused to the possibilities for growth, change and progression. There is a big difference between the characteristic features of the pre-digital population and the digital population. This is because the information content of the two population groups are very diverse. In other words, the information inputs and information content of the digital population are very contemporary and global in orientation. In sharp contrast to this, the information inputs and information content of the pre-digital population are marked by time-lags. Because of this the expectations and demands of the two groups are very diverse. True to the time-lags in information inputs, the pre-digital population are patient and ready to wait for the positive outcomes to emerge. This is not the case in respect of the digital population; as their awareness level is very contemporaneous, they expect things in a very competitive way. This naturally leads to a lower level for patience
and unwillingness to wait for the positive outcomes to emerge. The absolute disconnect between the UPA II’s competence and the characteristic features of the population led to the emphatic democratic overthrowing of the UPA government at the first opportunity of reckoning.
Further, in any society the leadership is very important as to which direction and at what speed the society is moving. It depends upon the leader as to whether adequate and relevant policy responses to the problems of the people emerge or not. It also depends upon the leader as to whether a facilitating environment exists for the policies to yield fruitful results. The removal of vacuum and creation of a facilitating environment for change and development to occur depends upon the existence of an emphatic, clear–headed and policy-innovative leader. It is only such a policy-inducing leader who would create an appropriate environment for the digital population to exist, function and move forward.
Still further, the world has by now established fairly widely accepted norms to be followed while pursuing policies for change. The policy entrepreneurship leaders can thrive in such contexts. This is where the moment of Modi becomes significant. Modi happens to be a sharp learner; the mental, emotional and commitment training under the RSS during his youthful days must definitely have equipped him with the orientation, preparedness and capability to remain connected to the pulse of the population. During the campaigning for the democratic reckoning process, he had shown his preparedness and capability to connect to the population. Now that the people have responded positively to his orientation, it is now his turn to live up to the expectations of the digital population. This is exactly where Modi as Prime Minister becomes very interesting.
Morning shows the day – so goes the saying. The last fortnight of Modi as Prime Minister has revealed some very substantial elements of him as leader. His invitation of the leaders of the neighbouring countries to his swearing-in ceremony indicates pretty well that he wants to lead from the front. Second, he establishes that, in important matters like the foreign policy, he wants to innovate. Third, his abolition of the Group of Ministers and the Enhanced Group of Ministers as decision-making centres establishes at one stroke that he is man dedicated to commitment and accountability. He shows in pretty clear terms that he does not want any room for evasiveness and non-accountability in matters of the nation. The arrival of the Chinese Foreign Minister within weeks of assuming office indicates that he is determined to respond to the Chinese speed of change with his equally fast capability of entrepreneurship in policy decisions.
In short, the capability of Modi as policy entrepreneur in both the domestic and the external dimensions have now emerged in clear terms. It is also increasingly becoming clear that he wants the globally accepted norms for governance and policy-execution. This is the moment for Manipur to reassess herself in the changing environment. She happens to be one province of India which has missed every bus of development since the emergence of policy-led change in the country in 1951. After the saving of the Palace Compound before the turn of the century, we have been seeing some kind of activism in governance for the last decade or so. But we have a grudge here. This activism does not seem to be accompanied by any sense of accountability. Secondly, this activism does not have the framework of policy-entrepreneurship. Third, all these activism betray the lack of awareness of by now established norms of development intervention.
The question now to be asked is whether the political leaders are all to be blamed for all these weaknesses? Is there a big problem of the bureaucracy being unable to live up to the demands of the time? The tragedy seems to be related rather to the second as exemplified by the absolute non-observance of globally accepted norms in development intervention in all the functioning of the provincial government. There is a big need for a huge debate on this issue in Manipur if we are not to kiss the bus again.