Open letter to the politicians’ of Manipur

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My name is Shanta Nahakpam I am an M A in International Business and Research from a Foreign University.  I was born in a middle class family where my father and mother worked as an honest Government Employee.  I doubt if they ever went out of their way to even take an advantage of their position during their service.  Now, don’t doubt my parents how they were able to send me abroad if they were so honest! it was an education loan from SBI which was already rejected by Mr Dass the than B M of Secretrait branch Imphal.  Somehow I manage to argue with him and get through for whose repayment I had to get maximum humiliation during 2015 and 2016 and my parents sold a part of our paddy field to repay it.

Their service to the Government of Manipur which lasted long 30 yrs was the only way to give us better education, food, housing and many other things which we demand and no doubt they might have felt many times if their sons and daughters wished anything beyond their power what would they do?  I wonder they would have left it to the situation to convince us through the means they had. My parents had very basic dream for me and my brothers and sisters, like every parents they wanted us to study well and at least get a Government Job and lead a happy married life!

My parents would always say try to work hard be honest and they did send me out of the state investing more of their earnings and savings just because they wanted me to stay away from the bund and blockade of the state so that my studies  should not be hindered by the many issues in Manipur. They send me for studies in Chandigarh(1996-2009) for a better environment they believe Chandigarh to be much better than the very trusted State in whose government they worked for their living.  We did not have any other means of earnings, I still remember there were times when my father had to borrow rice and cooking gas from a local shop because they did not get their salary on time as the Government failed to pay them for the honest work they did.

I know you must be thinking why I am telling this silly story of mine as this is somewhat a part of your story too.  As your family too must have faced similar situation no doubt many times during the time of Mr W Nipamacha when he was the Chief Minister of Manipur and in the case of Mr Ibobi when he handled the finance as well was the chief Minister of the State.

Let me put it this way today I am 35 yrs old living in Manipur since last 6 yrs and have done a lot of work(I think), tried to utilize the education I have gained, tried to make my life worthy of this birth but ironically nothing seems to work out in the manner it should be.
Like my parents always warned me not to do few of the things I wanted to, telling me this is Manipur and its complicated here and I thought why? As this is my homeland I have a birth right to examine my knowledge and at least do something for my people.  They never told me to stop what I was doing but always insisted that I simply leave everything and get a job and live happily.  This was the word I usually get angry with and sometimes I would not go home and sleep in my little office thinking I have to win the battle of life and show them what I am.

Let me come to as why I am writing my personal life in open letter and the reason for writing this short story is because of the fact that I am a common man and I wish the future politicians (Those who claim to be) to understand the actual common man how they are suffering from today’s Ill Governance.

For a parent who has used all his savings and earnings in the welfare of his children’s future unlike you politicians who have enough cash of various sources which can very well keep your sons and daughter at some level must be having a very tough situation as to if, we (Children) should keep with our dreams and utilize our knowledge in some business for the well being of our self which will in turn make us self dependent or should we buy a job from you?

The current situation which you (Politicians) have created in our home state is the kind in which our parents know that you are corrupt but they will be ready to pay you a bounty for a simple Government Job which will make our education completely useless.  In the case of a
general common student it is very rare that an educated person gets the job of his qualification.  The situation which you have created today is the kind in which our parents are helpless and there is a basic psychology that Jobs are being bought from you.  And it is not
for a common man that his children will get a job as per their qualification, in the case of a poor educated person his qualification has become useless due to the reason he cannot afford to buy a job from your pocket.

Now if we choose the path of a small business firstly their understanding of business doesn’t allow us to do anything which they think to be a lower level than we are qualified at and the second case our parents are not ready to invest on any non secured earning formula, for they believe that the investment which they will help by either ways (Savings or selling property) may get lost due to many reason they understand the business may not survive the test of time. More over being a middle class family or a common man they do not have any other source through which they will earn back the money we lose. Being a politician you may argue that there are many schemes of the Union Government of India (irrespective of the party you claim to be) which helps the MSME such as the PMRY & PMEGP, many others related to handloom piggery etc which is related to small scale Industry(the list may never end when explained by you).  To this argument of yours I would like you to remember the many letters which you wrote to the General Manager of District Industries using your very letter head asking them to favour your candidate. At this point I simply doubt you will say you don’t have the knowledge that several of your workers collect some amount of cash for your letter. Even if the DIC selects your candidate they fail to pass the examination of the projects done by the Banks, Banks at various points will degrade their business and they will not sanction any amount in many of the cases.  Even if they do it will take a lot of time and struggle or in some cases managers are bribed.  There may be few who get through honestly in the process of getting such grant or help etc.

In my case Mr T Rajen the than GM of DIC Imphal West managed to push through my application but this was not the end the application got stuck at the Bank which took several months and letters DIC to Bank and Bank to DIC. And that was the time I realised there is no
political will in the start up of small scale industries as there was a major gap between the DIC and the Banks due to which the person selected for was stuck in between.

In this area your political will of creating small industries has completely failed as the banks re-check and re-interview the candidates and many of the selected projects will be thrown in dust bin of various banks.  Common man like me will get tired and leave the thought of starting a small industry.

To my understanding of creating various jobs or industries you are mostly dependent on the schemes of Union Govt of India and the many manifesto I come across does not have an iota of vision on how you will generate jobs through the plan if you ever become a part of the
new Government how you plan to help the common man in the way they earn.  I as a common man doubt your passion on how you look at yourself as a leader who will lead us into a self sustaining society but I can certainly see the vision that you have an eye on the projects and schemes of Union of India has for the people at various regions and levels and that you understand most of the schemes and projects, the plan of investment etc which you claim your party will deliver it to us the common man.

Here I would say as a common man we sacrificed every penny to start a business or get a job at both situation but you are still looking at the Union of India’s scheme and plan of investment you do not present any vision or plan as to how you will synchronize the earning of the state irrespective the schemes the union of India has so that the economy of the state improves during your tenure.

Let me again remind the struggle with the system you have created, if we as a common man go to any department for the basic schemes and allotment of projects the state has to share some amount as in the case of Department of Horticulture it can be 80:20, 60:40 or 70:30 the little amount of share 20, 40 or 30 in some cases even 10% is a hindrance in acquiring any funds from the central projects of livelihood, town planning and many more sectors.  You as a politician do not present us any of the vision in which you present a plan as on how you will improve the State’s funding through your Governments earning at various level so that the unemployed youth can be allocated with different projects without any hindrance from the part of the state. As in many of the cases the concerned department will say since we are a poor state we do not have the state share part so the funds are delayed!

Sometimes days would be wasted waiting in front of the officers chamber just to try and convince him of what I wanted to do to be a part of the development of the State and that would break up the stamina of the common man to invest the idea for a better society. Tired from this honesty and chasing of a project which does not have state share I finally decided to open a small cafeteria where I decided to settle down.  The Bund, Blockade, Strike etc started to trouble my little world of juice cafe.  No doubt I became a popular person every now and then my cafe would receive sponsor application and I would willingly agree to sponsor in some cases the amount was quite huge but I still did it believing it’s a give and take policy as it is in every business.

Again I put forward all my knowledge and earnings to help others on sponsoring their programme etc for a give and take relation that I believe that they would also help me during many of my programme.  It was already late and I had invested a lot of sponsorship when I realised during my State LeveL Watermelon Festival when many of them even did not turn up for the good cause of the society.

The issues of Manipur did impact my new venture in a way that I had to look for options to earn from other sources.  Even though I was using local fruits and Vegetables to run my cafe bunds and blockade did not impact much on my purchase of products for value addition but the sales were sometimes badly hit.  I still remember one time I requested my father to help me pay the salary of my staff since my sales were down and he did advise me to leave such business where you need to ask your father for help in paying the staffs salary.  I had a heated agreement even than I did not leave my cafe business. Today you are campaigning using the tool of Bund and Blockade and we the common man are supporting you in all this campaign.  I wonder if we are not laughing at you in our hearts with a face of support to you in all of your campaigns (Irrespective of the party you belong to). Not any time in all of your words that you speak, we have never ever felt that you have the solution to the problem of bund blockade and price rise etc.  You would claim that people come to you extending their support because they believe in you but I would say they rather are helpless and don’t have an option.  The fact being your words which campaigns that there will be a better Manipur but you do not tell us how to make it better or what role will you play, how do you intend to make it better, how you will create a bund and blockade free Manipur?

That is where the common man feel that you are of no use to us but you seem to talk good with your very dramatic skill that you have learned though all these years at different levels.  To the common man we felt and knew it was your duty to handle the price of essential commodities, allocation of fuel and Cooking gas but the civil societies are doing your job which makes us question you what happen to your staff and power at various levels you were suppose to sack inspectors and cancel licences to teach the black marketers a lesson of their life and also cleanse the system with such form of corruption. I do remember those in power claiming the price rise will be looked into and those not in power issuing statements that you are doing nothing to protect the soaring prices of basic amenities.  But it was always the civil societies doing your job.

Due to various situations arising in building up a small scale business I decided to harness various ways so that I can become self dependent I was ready to spend the little savings I had and also use all my contacts that will help me.  That was when one of my friends approached me for a civil work construction for Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd.
I was convinced as many of my friends who were unemployed were up to at least some construction work though some department, Ministers or M L A.  I also felt that if someone says I am into some construction work, it was a job of respect and everyone would know him, he would have good contacts as well.  I thought this may be the jobs you created for the unemployed youth of the state, may be you wanted every person to contribute in the development of the state and that is why you are distributing all these construction work to the people. When I started working as a small sub contractor I simply put all the efforts all my sources believing this would give me respect, income and status too.  Until the company Sterling and Wilson Limited which I worked for started breaching the agreement which we had and delayed many of our payment. Ironically I never stopped working even if I had fund shortage I took loan from various sources which made me a hero for the time being. Some of my unemployed friends also invested their little savings.  They had the same dream like me and they believe in me for their future.

Even though the company released our bills many times it was released in half or quarter which made the management of things so tough that my investor started questioning me for the delay in making payment.  I responded with the same enthusiasm and zeal like they had when they had given their trusted investment.  To repay some of them I had to use other sources which were on loan sometimes at the maximum of 7% which made the situation worse.  Today I am still struggling with the debt to pay my friends who trusted me with their little savings. You must be thinking why I am happy telling my foolishness in open, I would say it is because I learned through this foolishness that apart from my good times when my friends were supporting me and were ready to do anything to complete this project the system in which we were stuck put me in such a situation which became a disaster for my life. I am talking of the system where sub contractors are hired without any regulation, the uncontrolled mode of finance where we had to pay more than 7% and the many letters we wrote which were never addressed by the concerned authority. For me to explain how much stupidity is in a common man that he chooses to be a part of the earning population and how he decides to become a part of the earning population and what he choose is entirely his decision.  You have nothing to do with the decision I make but yes certainly you can make the system function properly so that regulations be made for unorganised money lending can be controlled construction companies which do not have an office in the state should not be given major works as to when they hire sub contractors or land in some trouble they can be punished. In many of the campaigns (any general election) you usually mention the mismanagement of Funds by the previous Govt on Funds sanctioned for the purpose of development of infrastructure, tourism social security but you do not mention anything on finding out how such mismanagement took place and how to punish people involved in such mismanagement of funds.  If any of you have such concrete evidence and information why do you wait for being elected and why have you not filed any FIR to take legal action against such corrupt officials and employees. The common man would like to see an action taken report if you have such evidence before we elect you to power because we believe you will turn out to be the same human being with different name trying to rule us. The sarcasm of being a politician in Manipur is that we all know you have been lying since you step foot in politics but we are still with you since we are trapped for our daily bread and butter at your
sympathy.  You would say democracy gives the liberty to choose your leader why look at me look for someone better if you think so.  Again the common man does not have an option because you don’t give them the chance to rule them self. Let us look at the earning source of the people of Manipur, more than 70% of the earning comes from Government salary, you try to create as much as job as you can through vacancies in the Government Departments
but you never look at the earning of these departments or say the performance of such departments.  I would like you to know that we understand the pleasure of inaugurating a multispecialty hospital or a school and also the pleasure and pride of sitting in a function with
successful business personalities from the state.  But how do you explain the many words you speak while in any function that such kind of schools and facilities are needed in the state aren’t you harnessing the hard work of some entrepreneur and instead of learning from him you simply say that we need more of this and leave the stage and never give more of such things to come up until and until someone puts his or her hard work and invites you for the very inauguration or the foundation day.  I would say you don’t play any role in the development of the common man as far as I know you only take the credit of the common mans achievement. As some of you (Politicians) would argue that you are not amongst the people you calculate to be, you would claim to be honest enough for the common man to trust you for the future of the State  and that you have sacrificed your carrier to serve the people of the state be it of any community. I would again want you to understand that the so called democratic process of election involves a large amount of power, black/white money to get elected.   To the common man it is impossible that they elect a representative of their choice since more than 70% of the earning of the people is dependent on Salary and Govt funds.  They are not able to fund elections and promote leader of their choice.  Small entrepreneur like me do not play any role in choosing our elected representative we as a common man only vote in sympathy of our friends who ask us to help in the process and progress of their liked ones. Another issue I would like you to understand is that since you have not done anything for the common man in the state the state is being run by the donations done by the Union Govt of India and 70% of the earning population belongs to your party (The Govt Employee) it makes it easier for you to cross any issue since maximum of the population do not protest at all for any grievances. I wonder why the people of the State Manipur do not protest when the prices of essential commodities are soaring high and why we do not protest the many unreasonable bund and blockade which are not related to us at any point of time. This is the time I realised most of the people get benefit of Bund and Blockade without any labour for instance a Govt employee will get his salary without attending office even though he gets it late, an officer’s D A and T A will still be released even if he never went in field etc, On the other side none of the Government employee will participate in any of the issues even if it is genuine as they fear you would take action with them for their disloyalty(as per your understanding).   As in the case of common man the whole earning process is hampered and we are again left to the unorganised money launders for our bread and butter.   To repay them we have to work EXTRA shift and once we repay them another bund and blockade is ready to test our limit of hard work.  This way the rich is getting richer and the common man remains in his little world. Again you don’t have the solution for such problem I even doubt you ever tried to understand what is the future of the students who are studying in other states and cities?  Did you ever think of what do you offer when they return home with the knowledge they have earned. In your campaign never ever have you mentioned how you plan to bring back the major human resource which is being utilized by different states that belong to your state?  But you still give us a dream that you will create jobs from whose earning the people can send their children to better schools and colleges outside the state.  It seems you do not wish to have a plan layout which will attract the very smart and intelligent population of human resource to come back to  their home state and help in improving the economy of the common man. I know while reading this letter you must be thinking that much of the ideas and thoughts are a truth and you would like to plan as soon as you get elected but I also know that you will do nothing after you get elected.   To conclude with us as a common man who do not have much help and contacts.  We need to have a mechanism as to understand the importance of a leader who will represent us who will at least put points related to the common people and how they can get developed. To do so we need to participate in the process of choosing a leader for that we have to finance these elections which are not an easy task. I would conclude by putting up that there is a need for MSME and various entrepreneurs to start financing elections at various levels so that we can change the politicians/Government when they are not performing as per their promise.  Today’s election is being financed by the many under the table funds received by high profile Govt employee and the funds coming from New Delhi.   Since we are just voting it is not bringing any change we want in our society.   To be very precise we are not able to influence any of the decisions made by our government at any level. Except that we use the mechanism of Bund and Blockade as the tool for our interest. It is the call of time that we should team up and utilize our skills and knowledge at least to out-throw the politicians who do not work in the interest of the people.  I do not know if I have made the point in this letter and you would be reading this letter but I feel I have expressed my concern over the issues we face today and what we want our politicians to understand.  I also hope after reading this letter you will at least try to formulate a vision in yourself as to how these issues impact the common man which you are not bearing in mind. The time is for our parents to realise the importance of small business and the significance of our politicians to create small business sectors are equally important in nature.  Our politicians should have a look at the study of major business stake in the state today and many of the business are not controlled by local people which are also a major reason for prise rise.  The unregulated form of finance which we look at for help in various jobs is the reason for the gap we have today with the earnings and the savings. I just wish you to read this letter of mine and at least try to streamline the issues we have today and present us with a vision as to how you will create job without trapping us into the net of non regulated jobs and money launders?  How you intend to improve the regular earnings of various small scale businesses by making Manipur Bund and Blockade free?  How you intend to punish those engaged in corruption which is actually financing your political carrier? I look forward to a reply to all my questions until than I have decided not participate in any political party’s campaign and also not vote for any candidate.

The writer, Shanta Nahakpam, is studying M. A. in International Business and
Research in a Foreign University.

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