It is no longer just the roads that get washed away every monsoon. Now bridges too are unable to withstand the torrents. From what we are witnessing, it is unimaginable that this is an age of unthinkable technological revolution elsewhere in the world and people are building highways under the sea and through mountains. These are times when in certain advanced countries, there are plans to convert highways into clean energy generating solar panels, or to recycle waste plastic to build roads, somewhat promising to put a modern day scourge to good use. The good news is, in this era of globalisation, like all else, technologies too spread and become available to almost all corners of the world in no time. There is little to doubt that these latest technological advances, or their products, too would become available everywhere soon, either through channels of dissemination the legal market or else through grey underworld of cloning and piracy, a phenomenon yet uncontrolled, but in many ways a boon to the extent that it has checked total monopoly of technology by the rich countries. If not for the cloners in countries like China and India, who knows so many of the wonders of modern times, including cell phones, would have still remained out of reach of a bulk of humanity living outside the affluent bracket.
If it can be argued the current cutting edge generation of technology are too distant and expensive for places like Manipur to acquire, surely earlier generations, perhaps even three or four generations down the line, would probably still be enough do wonders to Manipur`™s physical infrastructure. If ageing infrastructures built during the colonial times, such as the ancient Maharani Thong on Nambul River have withstood the monsoon torrents for more than a century and half, how are dams and bridges built within the last one decade (some of them like the Sekmai dam still brand new), tumbling like nine pins at the first monsoon they encounter. Something seriously is rotten in the state of Manipur and this fact has been known for at least the last couple of decades, yet nothing has changed. In all likelihood, though this rot is exposed unlike ever before this time in the serial collapses of bridges this monsoon, nothing will probably change and things will be where they always were. Official corruption which is the major cause of all that we are witnessing now, will also predictably continue to roll on as ever before, as if nothing has happened.
Why is this state of decay so persistently refusing remedies? Why has it become so predictable that even the biggest shame that visits the place eroding the very being of the society would not ensure a check on corruption? The answer is simple. Corruption today has become such a monolithic structure in which everybody and anybody who is someone in the society has come to have a stake in the booties it offers. All through the government hierarchies, corruption abounds. Practically in every hierarchy there are middlemen and women, doing the haggling for bribe amounts for everyday government favours that should have come for no cost at all under normal circumstances, to be handed over to their bosses higher up for a percentage cut for the safe buffer against ignominy they provide these bosses. The bosses do not take the bribes directly, but the bribes chain stretches to them from the bottom. This being the case, each link in the chain protects the back of the next link to ensure the chain remains, and thus corruption remains institutionalised. While bridges and roads get washed away by the monsoon each year, the number of imported sports utility vehicles, SUVs, reciprocally rise on these same dilapidated roads. The number of expensive apartments owned by government employees in the metropolises of the country too has been growing by leaps and bounds. Can things get any worse?
This year has seen the worst monsoon from this vantage. The obvious inference is, the past decade has been the most corrupt. The percentage of public money meant for building these infrastructures that turned into SUVs and marble palaces also probably has been the highest. In a stagnant economy like Manipur, where government jobs are virtually its only source of liquidity, there is something disturbing in the wealth that has come to accumulate in the hands of few, even as the larger masses are driven increasingly to desperate poverty. The contractor-bureaucrat-technocrat-politician nexus siphoning off Manipur`™s resources is coming to strangulate the state. What is even more disturbing is, in the contractor category of this nexus are also gun totting self-professed saviours of the land. It is also bitterly ironic that in this unholy partnership, sworn enemies who kill each other on the battlefields, happily feast together from the cauldron of corruption.
Leader Writer: Pradip phanjoubam