From 2014 To 2015: Expectations on social life

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By Amar Yumnam

The year just gone by has experienced significant changes in the political front. India underwent a dramatic shift in the power centre of the country; the political party long used to holding, using, misusing and abusing power has been reduced to a miniscule by the electorate through an absolutely democratic process. This rise of a new power-centre in India has led to the emergence of this country as a new Asian power-centre besides the two usually talked about, China and Japan, with visible changes in the dynamics of Asian diplomacy. The world is also continuing with the heavy prices being paid due to the rise of a dangerously violent Islamic force. Closer home, the scenario has been as if the world has not seen any politically landmark event during the year; the region has been absolutely isolationist in this respect. Thus politically speaking the world has experienced both satisfying and worrying experiences accompanied by no remarkable change in the home front.

As compared to the political front, social life during 2014 has been a very painful and worrying one by and large for the world as a whole. The year started with terrible pains in the aftermath of horrendous rape in Delhi. Then came the kidnappings and as yet untraced of school girls by a terrorist group in Nigeria. There have been unexplained disappearances of passenger aircrafts. Then at the fag end of the year there has been this mass killing of students in a school in Peshawar in Pakistan. But unlike the non-participation in the political dynamics, Manipur did contribute her share in this painful social experience. Dead bodies were recovered from the digging up of compound of an old school in Imphal. This capping of the globally discouraging social scenario by the discovery of dead bodies in a school campus has completely dampened the year-end and New Year spirits of the people in Manipur despite the efforts of the people to portray un-mindfulness of the atrocious social events. The prayers and worshipping of the Imoinu and the Gan-Ngai manifested more serious endeavour for social existence than the usual New Year celebrations.

So, in this light, what should we expect and pray for in this year just begun? Globally, we pray that the world no longer witnesses unaccounted disappearance of passenger aircrafts. The world should not experience kidnappings and disappearance of school girls. The world should never ever undergo the pain of massive killing of school students. At the home front, we only wish the Tombisana School reality should be the only case in Manipur and there should be none any more. While the aircraft disappearances do have technological and regulatory issues to be addressed, all the other painful social issues have things to do with governance. Governance today, with all the social, economic, knowledge and technological dynamics, is no longer like any time before. As Ralf-Eckhard Turke writes in his book Governance: Systemic Foundation and Framework: “‘Complexity’, ‘Dynamics’, and ‘Diversity’ are omnipresent in today’s discourse on governance. They refer to the fact that social conditions in modern societies are perceived as multi-layered and complicated. Social issues are being addressed by multiple actors; governments are not necessarily playing a primary role anymore. A multiplicity of actors is involved, expressing individual interests yet having unequal capacities to exert influence. Resolutions for governing issues are the result of various interacting factors that are rarely wholly known. Knowledge, experiences, and interests are dispersed over many actors constantly changing their roles and relationships. Actor dependencies and constellations increasingly differ from global to local and from sector to sector. Diversity cumulates as these processes gain speed as well as intensity. There have always been competing interests, e.g. countryside versus city, sacred versus secular, merchants versus manufacturers, employers versus workers, etc. However, there was, in earlier times, considerable cohesion within those groups as a consequence of their strong tribal and nationalistic frames. Today, the actors involved struggle hard to realise legitimate and effective governing but can rarely keep pace with changing trends and shifting roles.2 It is difficult to have a truly representative government when actor and group identities are fragmented and pluralistic, while political parties are either ‘big tents’ with multiple, sometimes even conflicting, constituencies, or ‘small tents’ representing a variety of regional interests, or even small single issue parties.” This implies the primacy of appreciating governance requirements and evaluating governance performance contextually.

While the global needs are important, the home front requirements thrown up by the discovery of dead bodies while digging a school compound in Imphal are very significant. The governance of the land and the government performing the governance functions have for long the trust of the people of Manipur. The security forces performing the functions of protecting the interests of governance have since long lost the confidence of the people at large. In is in this background that dead bodies have been recovered from the school compound which had been under occupation of the security forces. Two contextually significant characteristics have emerged here. First, the people as well as the government feel that it is not the handiwork of any criminal or criminal gang. Second and even more importantly, the people are confidently sure that the security forces of the government have committed the murder and buried the bodies in an unaccounted manner. Interestingly, the government too portrays subscribing to this view of the public. Here lies the biggest danger and the dead-knell for democracy. If the legally authorised agency to use force behaves in this way, there is no value of life under the existing milieu. Further, since this has happened in the heart of the administrative capital of Manipur and in a campus just opposite to the old building symbolising democratic sanctity, it has struck shock to the minds, ethos and social psychology of the people hard. This can have a long term impact of instilling distrust among the masses, particularly as the government happens to be the largest employer in the organised sector. This way, the much valued social capital of the region can disappear. But the contemporary world has realised that no meaningful development can occur without a generalised trust. This is the challenge the governance must live up to besides identifying the cause and circumstances of the killings. The government has the biggest challenge here to restore the trust of the people here.

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