Trading in Trouble

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Most philosophers, they say, think religion is wrong, most believers passionately think religion is right, and most politicians think it is useful. This scenario says amply about any fiercely contested issue, including many behind the conflict situations in Manipur and the northeast as such. And so, to many detached observers, the conflict in Karbi Anglong for instance, between the Karbis and Dimasas may seem meaningless. For that matter, their feeling is unlikely to be much different, watching the Naga integration-Manipur integrity contest, which is dangerously on the edge of the precipice. It is not a surprise that so very often the recipe for resolution prescribed by them is for those in such contests to leave aside their blinding passions and think of a mutually beneficial reconciliation. Such sane voices have not been absent altogether even in the midst of madness in our conflict theatre on either side of the fence. Unfortunately, their voices always get drowned in the cacophony of hate campaigns.

But apart from those who believe conflict as a means of settling issues and those who do not, there is another class who seek to take advantage of both `“ the politicians. Not just the professional politicians, but all those who have a vested agenda in perpetrating the sorry scenario, although without doubt, the former would form the overwhelming majority. For them, the bad situation is something to be used. Members of this class are unmistakable for their absolutely lack of scruples about whipping up dangerous emotions for narrow political gains. We have seen so many of them in the past, and they are not in short supply today. They want to ride on ugly public emotions for their ascendancy but are wary about this emotion going out of control. Hence, the situation that suits them best is one in which the trouble potential is never definitively defused, but is also not allowed to blow out of proportion. In other words, the game is of stoking and dousing the flame in alternation, so that the flame remains, but never become a threat. We all know how dangerous this game can be, for Dr. Frankenstein`™s monster has the nasty tradition of turning on its maker. In Meitei tantric tradition, this situation is very well explained in the parable of the tantric who unleashes the spirits from the nether world to further his own ends without knowing how to make the spirits return to their world after the job is done. Or, bhoot sanaraga bhoot loisanba heitaba.

It is not difficult to identify cases similar to the Frankenstein story in our situation too. Unscrupulous politicians, especially those unsure of their own ability to succeed without resort to the use of dangerous emotions embedded in the society, have so very often unleashed extremely destructive subterranean energy that would have been best where they lay dormant. After achieving their ends, their consciences are also not the least burdened with the responsibility to put these energies at rest once again, or are bothered of the consequences these have on the wellbeing of the rest of the society. Often, when they do feel the need to put the spirits back into the bottle, they discover it is too late, for the spirits have grown beyond their control. Without doubt, many of the emotions these politicians had chosen to whip up are genuine, however there are better ways of addressing them than to take advantage of the raw, unharnessed, forces. In this sense, Gandhi`™s approach to politics is enlightening. He called off the `Non-Cooperation Movement` which was shaking up the British administration, simply because of the Chouri Choura incident in which emotions whipped up by the movement led a mob to kill 11 policemen at the police station. Had he not done so, India`™s exemplary nonviolent struggle for independence may have been a very different story.

Leader Writer: Pradip Phanjoubam

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