No losers, only winners

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It is often wise to return to traditional wisdom, shaped by generations of experience, to cope with present problems and challenges. We therefore want to remind our readers of an enchanting and often cited Chinese parable in the light of the ethnic frictions over the creation of new districts so that everybody is encouraged to see the development in positive light, that more often than not, winning and losing is just a matter of perception. We refer here to the story of the farmer and his horse. One day a farmer’s horse on which his living depended heavily bolted and disappeared from his stable. When neighbours arrive to console him for his bad luck, the farmer merely said “bad luck or good luck, who knows”. A few days later the bolted horse returned with a herd of wild horses. Neighbours again arrive to congratulate the farmer for his good luck. The farmer again merely said “good luck, bad luck, who knows”. A few days later the farmer’s son breaks a leg trying to tame one of the wild horses in their stable, and neighbours arrive again to console the farmer for his bad luck. Again the farmer’s answer is the same: “good luck, bad luck, who knows”. A few days later the king sent soldiers to the village to conscript all able bodied men as the country was taking out a military expedition against a neighbouring country, but the farmer’s son is spared because of his broken leg. Is this good luck or bad luck? We know what the farmer’s answer would have been.  Plenty of lessons there, but most pertinent to Manipur’s situation, it also means there is nothing as losing or winning. In fact, given a positive mind, all situations can be seen as a win-win situation – the district formation too.

These are administrative districts and not new sovereign nations being declared. Except for some new administrative headquarters coming up to carry forward the same administration, though through a more elaborate network of offices and functionaries, there will be no changes in the law that governs the administrative mechanism. This will be even more so for the non-revenue reserved hill districts, where there is no question of district wise land tax collections. In the revenue valley districts too, there should not be much problem, and heaven is not going to fall if somebody’s land holding spreads across two revenue districts. He would have to be paying his land taxes to different DC offices and settling land related litigations and cases similarly. In the valley districts, where inter-district road communications are not so difficult, this should pause no great difficulties. Perhaps even this can be taken care of if the DC offices digitise and interlink, as is done in core banking, so that taxes can be paid at any collection point and updated in a centralised tax pool, and cases too can be settled only in one or the other DC court of choice. The only problem we foresee is when there are overlaps between non-revenue and revenue districts. As we are witnessing, with respect of the new Kangpokpi district which has retained much of the features of the old SADAR Hills, there are already some complaints of some revenue lands being included into it. This too should not be impossible to sort out, as for instance by maintaining status quo in the revenue status of these overlapped lands, and perhaps as an incentive these revenue lands can be given tax rebates. Who knows, in the long run, these overlaps will be where a more genuine emotional and legal integration begins, just as the seven non-reserved Assembly Constituencies in the Thoubal district included in the reserved Outer Manipur Parliamentary Constituencies have provided a confluence of electoral political interests between the hills and valley, although it has meant some bit of foregoing of electoral rights for those living in the seven constituencies.

The anxiety expressed from some quarters that the land and the people have been subjected to a motivated division is also unfounded. As for instance, if the Ukhrul district has now become Ukrhul and Kamjong, the population constituents of these two districts will remain the same. Their political affiliations, aspirations, likes and dislikes, will remain the same too, so where can be the question of anything being broken up? The same goes for Tamenglong, Senapati, Chandel, Thoubal and Imphal East too. They too have become two each, but whatever affinities, divisions or rivalries there were will remain the same, and no changes would have been brought in, except there will be more DCs and SPs in charge of these territories. This should be seen as a positive development for whatever else said and done, the bureaucracy, including the police, drawn from all the communities, has remained loyal only to the government. The biggest obligation then, not just on the part of the government but also the civil society by and large, which remains to be fulfilled is to cement the ties between communities, so badly fractured by ethnic exclusive outlooks and street politics Manipur is so badly plagued by.

Source: Imphal Free Press

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