Change as growth

108

Coexistence, and indeed all notions of federalism, is about making reasonable compromises by all parties involved so that a new common space is created. There is in this sense, nothing very bad about compromises. In fact, resolving deep differences will have to involve compromises from all parties concerned. No one party can have it all its way and each must be ready to give some and get some. Unless this is the underlying spirit, no conflict of interest can ever be resolved amicably. Consequently, such a spirit will have to be a necessary condition for all meaningful dialogues if resolving differences is the objective. In this search for an answer, it is perfectly in place to sometimes shift standpoints. Everybody is expected to weigh options periodically at different points in time and then make decisions contingent upon the emerging situations. And situations do change. To deny this would be to be guilty of obduracy. In the words of Bertrand Russell, changing opinion does not always have to be a matter of fickleness, but of a sign of intellectual vitality and growth. Anybody who believes what he believed 20 as must unconditionally and unquestioningly remain unchanged is a dead mind.

In the search for an answer to the vexing problems Manipur is immersed in, it is hence legitimate to try out different approaches. In this sense, whatever the stumbling blocks, the peace talks many militant factions are trying out, although not entirely successful, or even if it proves to be a total failure, is a gamble worth taking. Maybe it was a gamble that could not have been avoided. For in war these groups were stagnating and fatiguing their societies, and if the underground groups had pushed on, a critical point of tolerance probably would have been reached, and maybe the fate they suffered would have been much worse than the stalemates they are caught in at this moment in peace parleys. This extreme stress of public tolerance of violence is destined to come sometime or the other in any conflict scenario. Indeed this was showing more than anywhere else in Nagaland at about the time the Naga truce was agreed upon in 1997. One wonders if Manipur too is not approaching such a critical point. The writings on the wall, or should we say writings on the placards, are increasingly and openly critical of insurgency violence. The idle talks in government offices, local tea stalls, social gatherings etc all have this same message of violence and insurgency fatigue. For their own good and for the good of everybody, it will do well for the underground organizations to put their ears close enough to the ground to hear these anguished voices and reframe their approaches accordingly. This does not mean the people have lost all faith in the original causes that ignited the insurrection in the first place. Many of these causes are still here, although many others have understandably altered completely. But without doubt, the people are simply and overwhelmingly tired of the method of revolt, especially when it seems like the insurrection is headed towards a dead end.

It is time to take stock of things and ideology once again. Some intense and unreserved self-questioning is called for at this moment before Manipur slips further into the abyss of mindless mayhem. Even if things do not go as hoped for, as indeed the seeming quagmire the peace parleys already in progress seem to be caught in, it ought to be kept in mind that sometimes failure rather than success has the most valuable lesson in store. New approaches, even if they do not succeed, always leave those who have tried wiser and spiritually stronger. If success is the reward, nothing like it, but even failures have their own rewards. For instance, they necessitate stock taking, and refreshed strategies at problem solving. From all the waters that have flowed down the many rivers and streams of the this beleaguered region, maybe the lesson is that ultimately the solution to the problem besetting the people here has to be a regional, rather than ones needing isolated piecemeal tonics, as split and defeat Machiavellian strategists are generally inclined towards. Fortunately, the Machiavellians are not the only ones making up the government. There are also so many who do not believe in the split up and weaken first approach, for they complicate rather than simplify the problems being tackled. We have no doubt that ultimately the solution of the region will have to be predicated by an acknowledgment of a mutually bonded destiny –  bonded by geography, geopolitics and history, recent as much as ancient.

Source: Imphal Free Press

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