The past few weeks should come across as disturbing for anybody who has been watching Manipur affairs closely. While the government claims the return of normalcy to public life, and the chattering classes of all hues and interests continue to posture on issues like right to education, racism, gender equality and indeed AFSPA, schools are being banned or cautioned, intimidated and bullied, pardoned and let off, at will by various organizations, some unlawful but often also perfectly legitimate students bodies. Surprisingly, or should we say not surprisingly, nobody is there to take on the issue, apparently not even the government. There has not been a single official or unofficial word of condemnation. What is exactly the message the government wishes to send out to the people? It may not have said anything, but the silence already has spoken loud and clear. It is a government that has forgotten that ensuring a sense of security to the public is one of its most fundamental responsibilities. But it is not just the government which has lost its sensibilities to even the most sinister violations of peace. The civil society too by and large seems to have become numb to these, perhaps because of overexposure to them. Even in the face of the most macabre events unfolding, they failed time and again to be provoked into any sort of pro-active initiative to intervene and prevent the worst from happening. Instead, one gets the feeling that there is almost a voyeuristic expectation from them to read or hear of more news of tragedy so that they can then sing the moralistic tunes and dirges. Nobody seems to give it a thought, or stop to be concerned by the fact that the sense of terror the common man live in, are not tragedies on stage where even the most devastating violence, in the end serves only to provide the audience the catharsis they bought a ticket for. These are not another Shakespearean Hamlet. These are not even bad dreams that get over once the dreamer wakes up, but real life crises which only a consensual verdict that they are wrong and must be fought against, can purge the society of.
The tragedy hence, in all these cases, is not so much of individuals on whom the misfortunes of terror visit for no fault of theirs. Instead it is as much of our society which has lost the capacity to be pro-active. We have all become passive receivers of fortunes, good or bad, almost to the fatalistic extent. Few still seem to think fortunes can be made or unmade, given the will. At best we have become reactive, bolting the door after the burglars have fled with the loot. The present situation is a prime example. Here are these schools, many of them boasting of sterling performances, and therefore contributing to the project of bringing quality education to the state, facing myriad threats and intimidations, and yet everybody is doing little more than scramble to get a ringside view of the action. Can anything be more depressing or discouraging? Why aren`™t the eminent members of the civil society exercising their independent judgment to decide for themselves the just and unjust in the case and lend their voices to what they think is the just? What happened to all the respectable senior citizens, vocal students, intellectuals, women`™s organisations? Are they out there at all? Don`™t they see in this problem a reflection of what has become everybody`™s problem? Why have none of them joined in the campaign to begin the reversal process of a corrosion that has eaten into the system? In these times of chaos and lawlessness, it would be in the interest of the people and the state to hear all the intellectuals who are quick to offer armchair oppositions to draconian measures of the state, to also offer realistic solutions. At such moments, Manipur`™s spiritual landscape does seem barren and devastated, inhabited only by hollow men that the American poet T.S. Eliot talked of.
Leader Writer: Pradip Phanjoubam