Deeds not words

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Perhaps what the Manipur government needs to do at this moment is to sit down, take a deep breath, and read Irish romantic poet and a friend of another famous romantic, Rabindranath Tagore, W.B. Yeats’ “The Second Coming”. The simple message is, when “the centre cannot hold, … things fall apart, and mere anarchy is let loose upon the world.” In this light, chief minister, N. Biren’s admission some days ago that Manipur is in a state of advance decay is forthright but his attempt to shift the blame to the previous government alone was distasteful and dishonest, considering he was also part of the previous government. But, we will excuse this as only political rhetoric, and hope that his was a statement of intent to improve the lot the state is faced with. It remains to be seen if this hope is belied in the days ahead, and the pledge turn out to be, to use a familiar cliché, essentially chicken livered though donning the beard of Hercules. For Manipur today, even as his government continues to ride on a wave of public goodwill and anti-incumbency sentiment against the Congress’ 15 years in power, is sinking into total anarchy.

Read a few lines further in the same poem and Yeats also so lyrically prophesied that when such an anarchy is loosed upon the world, “The blood-dimmed ride is loosed, and everywhere / The ceremony of the innocent is drowned; / The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity.” A very familiar spiritual landscape indeed – it is as if Yeats had today’s Manipur in mind when he wrote this poem in 1920. As in the poem, the best in Manipur today have come to lack all conviction. Nobody is interested or courageous enough to speak out their true minds. Instead they are simply content with the guarantee of a trouble free life, getting a decent job, earning respectable salary, sending off children away to trouble-free states, but none would stand up against injustice and risk unwanted attention. It is tragic that the wings of ambition have been so systematically and universally clipped, and almost everybody would much rather settle for what George Eliot called “Middlemarch” mediocrity. No risk no gain, so they say, and so here is Manipur, having to tolerate what it gets without making any effort to see change ushered in for the better. And the people cannot be blamed entirely, after all, in the absence of even the most basic guarantee of social justice, whereby honesty and hard work is the formula for success, the only thing that would naturally remain is absolute insecurity. The system today has assured only swindlers and cheats emerge at the top.

The worst are full of passionate intensity too. Listen to the passionate roars of politicians, of the crusades they intend to fight against official corruption, of the developmental cause they intend to champion, of the measures to ensure social justice, of ensuring the rule of law. Look at where these issues are. Put your ears close enough to the ground and what you hear are wails of bitterness of deserving left out of the race to success because they could not afford bribes. Read the writings on the walls close enough, and the recurrent message is of the nonexistence of rule of law. Why even go that far. Just read instead the posts on various social media forums to realise how much ideologies of hatred and fanaticism have come to dominate discourses in the state. What development too? The perennial shroud of dust over the unmade and decaying streets of Imphal and other major towns, or newly black topped roads which peel off at the slightest hint of rain do not say of any positive change. It is against this backdrop that the chief minister made his well publicised confession of the state’s sorry condition and his intent to set things right again. We wish him well. We also wish he agrees with the majority that the government’s campaign to win back physical and moral authority must begin first and foremost with eradication of official corruption and that his fancy anti-corruption cell cannot handle this responsibility. A popular school in Imphal has the following motto: “Deeds not words”. Maybe this will be a good point to make a beginning for the chief minister’s promised crusade.


Source: Imphal Free Press

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