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Whatever It Is, It Is Cheat And Looting In Manipur: Telecommunications as an example

BY Amar Yumnam

Many disturbingly interesting stories are coming out in the case of India as a whole. First, Nehru argued extensively in the meetings of the Constituent Assembly that the States are not to be trusted. It must be this principle which framed the Armed Forces Special Powers Act to apply only to limited places like the `Switzerland of the East`™; my little cognitive power fails to appreciate if Nehru would have had any qualms in allowing cohabitation of Switzerland and special powers of the army. Or was it a pure case that, since the States were not to be trusted, just apply the army rule to areas of which less is familiar and as acquiring knowledge takes time and involves other costs. In the light of global governance experience in a context of diversity of expedient interventions leading to long term turmoil outcomes, one cannot help feeling if this was really the case. Another second instance, which adds fuel to this suspicion, is the recent revelation that Nehru directed the Indian intelligence to monitor the activities of the relatives of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose; to a Manipuri Netaji arouses feelings of love, association, courage and unmixed patriotism. There is also the third instance of Nehru directing censoring of their communications and even forwarding them to the British intelligence (MI5) for comment; it was as if the Indian Independence and accompanying sovereignty were still incomplete. Now there is also an intense academic debate among scholars working on development issues on the imperative to go for contextualization in every attempt at understanding and policy formulation. In the Indian context, the aging Father of the Nation so emphatically argued for contextual evolution of policy when the nation got Independence. But the imitative modernization approach of Nehru carried the day. However, on hindsight, Mahatma Gandhi turns out to be much more contemporary and post-modernist.

All these stories have been put for, I am sure, many of us are puzzled by the reality of Manipur which is untouched by any debate and by any paradigm of development thinking. The case of Manipur turns out to be one where everything works only on the principle of rents and not on anything else. If we look back to the development literature of the 1950s, it would be salient to anyone how the inability of markets (market failures) to address poverty removal, care for social justice and development were so religiously emphasized. But the 1970s and 1980s saw the reversal of trend due to the global learning that market failures were only being replaced by even more dangerous government failures; rent-seeking and corruption became more real than the hypothetical market failures. In India too, the reversal became very real by the middle of 1991. Though measurement is difficult because of `non-observed and non-reported activities involved in creating, extracting, and contesting rents`, `



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