New Year, New Statehood Day and New Republic Day But The Same Absence of Opportunities: Manipur today since yesterday

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By Amar Yumnam

A New Year has just begun, one more Statehood Day has just been celebrated and the new year`™s Republic Day has just arrived. But what is new in so far as the fortune of the people in Manipur are concerned? One may ask as to why we should be concerned at all with the issue of dynamics of fortune of the people as collective of individuals. One may also ask as to what constitutes fortune. Here I must hasten to mention that I am not talking of a reward falling from the sky, a win in a lottery or anything out of the blue.

When I talk of fortune of the people, I am talking of the scope an individual enjoys in the society to move upward in well-being without indulgence in cheating, robbery or any other socially undesirable act. In this context, the opportunities available in the society become critical. These should be there for the individuals to indulge in and thrive. These opportunities may either be existing or otherwise there should facilitating milieu for their creation. Further these opportunities should possess a generalised quality in the sense that any serious, sincere and capable individual should be able to jump on those and alter the level of living. Here there is an important role to be played by the government depending upon the stage of development of the society. However it is important that the issue of relevance should be kept in mind. A quote from Andrew P. Napolitano`™ book titled It Is Dangerous To be Right When The government Is Wrong would be right: `After a trip to the American Midwest in 1959, Nikita Khrushchev, then the ruler of the Soviet Union, became convinced that corn could solve many of the USSR`™s economic woes. Russia had long struggled with miserably inadequate food supplies, the result of years of inept Communist agricultural policies. Having witnessed the wild success of corn production in America, Khrushchev reasoned that the grain could be equally successful in Russia, and thus support increased meat and dairy production necessary to feed the population. He therefore commanded that vast swaths of land, including the frigid tundra of Siberia, be converted to corn crops. As it turned out, corn was entirely unsuitable to the Russian climate, and the plan was a complete disaster`¦.The reason, of course, that the policy failed was Khrushchev`™s ignorance of the immutable fact`”the self-evident truth`”that corn can only be grown under certain conditions, and Russia`™s climate did not provide them. The cost of this misjudgement was wasted resources and prolonged hunger. It is obvious that politicians must enact laws which are in accord with such `truths.` If they do not, then the inevitable consequence is human suffering. There are some things which humans and their constructed governments simply cannot change; that is to say, those things transcend our human capacities and cannot be the object of our will. Individuals and governments are thus always secondary and subject to these truths.` In a developed society the need for the government to be pro-active to opportunity creation is less as the economy had already attained a momentum of its own.

But it is altogether a different story in the case of Manipur. The primary importance of the government is still there in the case of Manipur as the economy has yet to attain any momentum of sustained transformation. The failure of Manipur comes in both the possible forms. First, the government has not yet attuned her mind to the necessity of equalising the scope for any opportunities for the children, youths and adults settling around the mountains and valley of Manipur. Second, the government has just not bothered to equalise the outcome for the adults such that the people feel the presence of at least a semblance of justice despite the laggard economic development.

Manipur`™s is a case where the government should be fully oriented towards generating opportunities for the individuals to engage and flourish. It is also a case where the government should create an atmosphere for individuals to emerge as entrepreneurs by creating new opportunities. Both these do not happen in Manipur. What prevails in Manipur is a kind of scenario where if anybody desiring change of fortune can do so only by connivance with the powers that be (state or pseudo anti-state). This is why innovations for social transformation do not occur in Manipur. This implies that knowledge creation and knowledge sharing as foundations for social advancement are still a far cry for Manipur. This is happening in a time when the overall basis for global competition is founded on knowledge and no longer on materials. The changes happening around the region and in the neighbouring countries are such that the opportunities as means are available for Manipur to create new environment for creation of opportunities for realising new goals. But the governance character and the prevailing relationships between governance and network swindlers have converted these into personalised (not generalised) means and ends. This definitely does not serve the interest of Manipur now and will not serve in the future either. The billion dollar question is who is concerned? Cumulative failures of government to deliver have numbed the expectation of the people to the great advantage of the powers that be, and also facilitating emergence of a rewarding milieu for connivance between state authorities and pseudo-anti state agents; the home environment for development has been very badly compromised.

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