By Amar Yumnam
A famous person once said: “Knowledge makes one disqualified to be a slave.” We may ignore the acquisition and application of knowledge if we are determined to be destined to slavery individually as well as collectively; we may wrongfully and non-contextually assume here that ‘ignorance is bliss’.
We may also ignore, at our own cost, the significance of exchange. In the early globalisation processes centuries back, exchange was just exchange of material items. However, in the present form of globalisation exchange is in very diversified areas; it covers both tangible and non-tangible items. Besides this diversification, knowledge is increasingly emerging as the major component of the exchanges taking place under the contemporary form of globalisation. With these transformations, the smoothness in the flow of exchanges is also being invaluably valued now; there is no provision for confusion and idling in the light of the contemporary global changes taking place.
It is exactly in these global context of changes that we feel hugely perturbed by what prevails in today’s Manipur. Irrespective of whether it is the mountains or the valley of Manipur, exchange (whether of the old variant or the new one) does not seem to occupy any significance to the social and economic life of the people. There is no smoothness in the flow of exchanges and it can be disturbed without any qualms; the values of smoothness are not yet felt and appreciated in this land and by the people.
Today we experience absolute halting of flows of materials and people and stoppage of these flows by the very people who should otherwise be beneficiaries of these flows. We are experiencing these more often than not. Both the mountains and the valley of Manipur are now stages for these stoppages. The response to the calls for stoppages is dominated by convergence to the calls rather than otherwise. Now how can we explain this phenomenon? In Economics, have something call the ‘opportunity cost’, in which we go for a choice when the sacrifices involved in the next best choice is lower than that of the present choice. Using this logic, we can very easily deduce that the sacrifices the people make as a result of bandhs are immaterial to their way of life and well-being. Now this is a very intriguing situation. We need to ask why is it that, in a democracy and with a government supposed to be committed to the enhancement of the well-being of the people, people feel no hesitation in going along with the calls for bandhs? While there could be many explanations for such a scenario, one explanation necessarily has to relate with the performance of the government and linkage of this with the quality of life of the people. Such a situation can prevail only when the performances of the government in areas related to the well-being of the population have floundered. Such a situation is also because the people do not expect better future under the existing regime of governance either. Now what all these mean? These mean that the provincial government does not appear to be relevant and significant to the provincial population at large by any significant yardstick; even if there are few who feel the relevance, those who do not profusely outnumber them.
What should the government do at these moments? Can it afford to be confused? Can it afford to be idling? Manipur now faces a regional situation and an emerging global context where the people cannot afford to be ignorant and also the government cannot afford to be confused and idling. This is unfortunately is exactly what prevails in Manipur today. To begin with we expect and the situation compellingly demands a government which is not confused and does not idle around. Should the provincial authority rise to this?