Manipur – here and there

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Manipur, literally known as the ‘Switzerland of India’ or ‘the jewel of India’ or the so-called ‘Sana Leipak’ is always in the news for good or bad reason. I personally feel it is mostly on the bad side of the reason. It is always on the headlines for general strike, bandhs, and economic blockade by certain section of societies as tools to fight for their demands. It might be strange for the visitors or tourists to learn when people ask in the first morning whether there is bandh or not before we scroll the newspaper. Old or young everyone ask the same question. To some it is a relief for they will not be attending office or school. This is our Sana Leipak at the present moment.
At the national level, it is always interesting to listen to the news live update in television, radio and read newspaper when it comes to election or whatever that is related to election. There were debates and discussion by various political parties, social activist and layers in many issues of the country throughout the year. But it becomes livelier when elections are approaching or happening in some parts of the country. There was so much live in the states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Assam in the last one month. What next? Will the political parties focus on the promises that they make during their campaign or step aside from all the tamasha to govern the respective government? Is the government solely responsible for the developmental work or socio-economic reform of our country? Definitely it is the government who is responsible. But what is the role as a citizen of our country? Should we also forget after election?
The recently concluded assembly elections in the states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, west Bengal and Assam have already had deep impact in Manipur with the emergence of BJP in Assam. Manipur along with other states like UP, Punjab and Goa will have their assembly election next year. The election fever has already begun in all these states. We can know it from the recently concluded IMC election of Manipur. I would like to share my views specifically for Manipur being my state. The political crisis and the social unrest at the present context have affected the socio-economic status of our state. The social problem which can be solved through dialogue should be not be diverted to politics. I personally feel that the ongoing crisis in Manipur is due to the involvement of political parties for their personal gain. The civil society organization and political parties should not take advantage of the social unrest in our state. The headlines in our local newspapers are mostly related to the three bills. Now coming back to the three infamous bills “The Protection of Manipur People Bill, 2015, The Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms (Seventh Amendment) Bill, 2015 and The Manipur Shops and Establishments (Second Amendment) Bill, 2015” that was passed in the State Assembly unanimously on 31st August 2015 as claimed by the government. We have lost two precious lives. One before passing the Bills in the Assembly and the other to convert the Bills into Act in the valley. On the other hand the tribal Civil Society Organization (CSOs) viz ATSUM, KIM, UNC, JAC Churachandpur etc in Manipur vehemently opposed the said Bills tooth and nail at the cost of 9 lives in Churachandpur district on the day the Bills were passed.
What are the political parties thinking of the Bills before the Assembly election? It was said that the Bills were passed in the assembly unanimously. But the NPF disagree with the above statement. They were not given time for discussion and so four Naga People’s Front (NPF) MLAs of the Manipur Legislative Assembly tendered resignation from the membership of the Assembly on September 4.
There are many views from various section of the society regarding the three bills and the statement of the Government of Manipur and NPF. What were the NPF MLAs doing before the 4th of September was the question asked by the civil societies in the valley. Why didn’t they raise the objection on 31st August 2015? They were made to resign forcefully by some organizations. But the CSOs from the tribal community said the government is anti-tribal because it did not go through the HAC inspite of issues raised against the bills before it was passed in the assembly by ATSUM. There have been so many write ups in the local newspaper from various section of the society some in support and some against the bills.
Now, the former convenor of Joint Committee on Inner Line Permit System (JCILPS) Kh Ratan is given a wanted tag with a cash reward of Rs 5 lakh by the government. Here too JAC is formed against this wanted tag to Mr Kh Ratan and demands the government to remove it at the earliest. The three infamous Bills which were passed in the House unanimously as claimed by the government were rejected and asked to reconsider the Bills by experts. What is going to happen next is unpredictable in Manipur at the moment. JCILPS leaders are requesting the public not take the law into their own hand; as this can jeopardise the progress of the demand.
On the other hand we have the tribal CSOs who are deadly against the move. The tribal student in Delhi took out a peace rally to show that the three bills are anti tribals to the political parties of Manipur who came to discuss the issue which turned out ugly with the police lathi charging the protesters hurting many of them.
Besides, we have Schedule Tribe Demand Committee, Manipur to include Meities/Meeties in the schedule tribe list by some sections of the community. Here too there are many CSOs including both Meeties/Meities and tribal who are against the demand. This is the scenario in Manipur at the moment. Let no political parties take advantage of these issues for their political gain rather come together to solve the issues for a better tomorrow. Keeping aside the political parties the CSOs from all the communities should make the common man aware so that we do not fall in the hands of greedy politician for their own benefits.
It’s a fast changing world but we are tied up here with our own selfish motives and desires. The world is a global village. We should rather work to cope up this fast changing track. “The fear of rapid change is big today,” observes Gabe Ignatow, PhD, a sociologist at the University of North Texas. “Many people see the changes going on in the world around us and are worried and anxious. If they also have changes going on in their personal lives—maybe they lost their job or had to find a new place to live because their home was foreclosed—it can all be overwhelming.” Most people can handle a certain amount of change, but the problem is, we are increasingly being overloaded with more change than we can handle.
Why not our CSOs focus more towards solving these problems rather than fighting for personal gain? Let everyone demand their rights but not at the cause of others. Sometimes I wonder whether our people understand the real need of our state. For every issue whether genuine or not, JAC is formed and the following day, bandhs or general strikes will be announced for 12 hours, 24 hours, 38 hours, 48 hours or 72 hours. Is this the pride of JAC? No one seems to reason the genuine issues in our state. This has affected the whole system in Manipur. In our state every one blames the socio-political problem be it in the field of education, various government departments, communication and transportation, developmental programmes, electricity, water supply etc. Nobody owns or wants to own up the responsibility. It is more of a blame game. The recently declared HSLC exam shows that there were not single students from 78 government schools getting through the said examination conducted by our own Board? I feel education is one of the most important factors for a civilized society. It’s a shame on our part but nobody had raised the issue on this. It may be either we have lost our trust to our education system or we are satisfied with what we have. The little income that our parents earn either as a government servant or farmers; the money is invested to other states. The money does not revolve within the state. How will our economy improve?
If we look into the communication system either in wireless communication or transport system; where do we stand? How many villages are there that does not have network in Manipur? There are still many villages where vehicles cannot reach. Forget about bus, even jeep cannot reach the villages in this advance world. What are the programmes taken by the government in these areas? Just have a reflection in the hill districts. How many schools are there in the paperworks but without structures or only the structure but no teachers accept the caretaker. Forget about the PHCs, how many doctors are there in district hospitals? Let’s see the water supply and electricity department. It might be a little better in the valley after prepaid system. If all these basic needs are denied to the common man, what can we expect from our children? In fact our children are very hard working. Inspite of all these problems, they are coping up to compete with the rest of the world.
Are all these problems not genuine for all communities to come together to fight for a better tomorrow? All the leaders are talking of unity, oneness but nobody bothers in the real sense. When every community is talking of their own interest how can we say that we are one? The Kukis, Nagas, Meeties/Meities or Pangals are all in their respective world? When something good is initiated by one community for their welfare; other communities will opposed? Is this what we call uniqueness of One Manipur?
As a citizen let’s have a civic sense of responsibility in building our society. Else nobody will come in our place to build a better society. They will come to collect the little resources that we have for their own gain.
To do something good for the welfare of all communities let’s take the mandate from all section of societies and have better understanding. Write-ups in the newspapers and blaming one another will not solve the issue but rather add fuel to it. Let all communities involve for a dialogue and sort out the differences for a better tomorrow.
(The writer can be reached at [email protected])

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