By SERAM NEKEN
Chingmee Eikhoibu Nungsibiba, Minungshi Leiba Minister Ni Nahakti;
Ching Gi Zilla Khudingda, Chaokhat Thourang Pirakpa;
Ching Gi Lamdam Khudingda, Senpham Mayam Thadhabiba;
Nang Nattana Kanasu Ukhidri, Nang Nattana Kanasu Chongthoraktri;
Chingmee Eikhoibu Nungsiba, Minungshi Leiba Minister Ni Nahakti – //
Soinaiba Sing Nungsibiba, Minister Ni Nahakti;
Hinghoubasing Thoujalbiba, Minister Ni Nahakti;
Nang Gi Mapoksima Laigi Mapokni;
Chingmee Eikhoibu Nungsiba , Minungshi Leiba Minister Ni Nahakti – //
Punshi Nungshangba Oiyuko, Nungai Yaipha Oiyuko;
Punshi Chuppa Ningthou Oiyuko, Narum Thupna Hingjage Miraibinu Ko -//
(You are the only Minister who loves the hill people;
You are the only Minister who brings development to the hills;
You are the only Minister who shares funds to the hill districts;
None has ever done it, None has ever come out before.
You are the only Minister who loves the disabled;
You are the only Minister who loves the survivors;
You’re truly the incarnation of God.
We wish you long life, We wish you well-being;
May you be the king forever, Please don’t ignore us;
We will live under your love & care.)
This beautiful song presented by a girl-artist during the Silver Jubilee celebration of Liangmai Sports Association on 11th January last at Liangchi Village in Kangpokpi district in presence of Chief Minister of Manipur Nongthonbam Biren Singh is well indicative of a regained emotional integrity between the hill and the valley people in the state. The lyrics, tune and rhythm signifying the whole-hearted innocence of the singer apparently represented the emerging voice of the hill people towards the present governance which has successfully made an upheaval of the earlier conception of Hill-Valley emotional divide. The song was bereft of any calculative composition, and without any pretension. It truly came out of the hearts of hill people and appealed to the hearts of valley brethren with a message of love, integrity and development.
Having the bulkiest written constitution based on the principles of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity, India is acclaimed the biggest Democracy on Earth. Indian Constitution has been praised worldwide for catering to the needs and aspirations of a multitude of communities, cultures and peoples with their kaleidoscopic and cosmopolitan characters. Thanks to the framers of Indian Constitution, who had toiled hard to grasp the beautiful aspects of constitutions prevailing in different countries of the time, and fitted to suit the needs of this diverse land into a compact political structure termed as ‘Union of India’. Federal system in India is unique, in the sense that it creates a centrifugal tendency whereby different regions with varied characters tend to submit to the unionism of India as a Nation. However, Indian Democracy nowadays has become a subject of criticism across the globe because of the ever widening gap between the rulers who are supposed to exercise the power bestowed upon them by the people, and the ruled who elect their representatives for a fixed tenure.
The shorter the gap between the people and the government, the healthier is the Democracy. In the City States of early Greece, people themselves made laws and executed them. It was the Direct Democracy, which was suitable for small territory with small population. People itself collectively acted as the government. With the increasing size of population and territory, the concept of Direct Democracy became impractical. Nations around the globe had to adopt the representative form of government, as if Democracy became synonymous with representation. Today, election of representatives has become the essence of Democracy. Wherever and whenever the elected representatives work in tune with the people’s aspirations, the governance is said to be good. When the people’s representatives fall short of responding to people’s sentiments, Democracy will surely invite criticism in this modern liberal world. Hence, in order to save the very spirit and true essence of Democracy in India, there is strong need to shorten the gap between the people and the rulers in all states of India.
One encouraging trend in Indian Democracy is visible in recent times with an innovative conception of Meeyamgi Numit (People’s Day) orchestrated by the BJP Chief Minister of Manipur Nongthonbam Biren Singh in order to tackle the apparent disconnect between people and government. Addressing people’s grievances with an emotional touch, the political institution of Meeyamgi Numit hears the voice of the voiceless people and provides easy access to ministers and bureaucrats. On this day, people irrespective of their political, social, educational and economic status can approach ministers and bureaucrats including the Chief Minister to air their grievances. Right from the poorest of the poor to those from the remotest corner of Manipur, people of all sections can directly speak out their views personally to the Chief Minister, other Ministers and bureaucrats. In Manipur, 15th of every month is People’s Day and 10th of every month is earmarked especially for the ‘Hill People’. Public screening of documentaries depicting achievements of the government is also arranged at the Chief Minister’s premise on this specified day. Other than elected leaders, all police stations in the state have started hosting Meeyamgi Numit for convenience of people who are unable to reach the Chief Minister and other ministers. Any visitor complainant need not come for the second time, as progress of his appeal will be communicated via SMS through a new mechanism called ‘Redmine App’.
The incumbent Chief Minister of Manipur, who has the passion and enthusiasm to be in touch with his people and who has the wisdom of winning people’s hearts, is seen doing extra home work to rebuild the much needed rapport between the people and government, as well as between the hill and the valley brethren of Manipur. Shri Biren appears to have the strong belief that emotional integrity is foremost in bringing about development in Manipur. In reality, Manipur has long been deprived of progress and growth only because of the impending mistrust among communities, and between the governed and the government.
Amidst the much-talked about VIP Culture followed by forerunner heads of states in Manipur during the last few decades, ‘easy accessibility’ by the people and ‘open reach-out’ to the people have become the unique characteristics of the present office of Chief Minister in Manipur. It is now opined at various circles that the Manipur Chief Minister has become the most accessible Head of State since Manipur became a part of India in 1949. He has the strength to listen to the voice of the people seriously and is responsive to his people as much as possible. Even though Meeyamgi Numit cannot accommodate all citizens of the state and cannot fulfil all aspirations of the people, this very institution has dramatically minimised the decades-old existing trust deficit on the government to a great extent. People have now begun to feel that their government is working and listening to them.
Democracy, in the real sense of the term, demands a government – that is both responsive and responsible to the people residing in the state. Shri Biren, who is worthy of being titled “ The People’s Chief Minister”, may be regarded as an apostle of good governance in Manipur, for he has been able to dwindle the magnitude of rulers-ruled disconnect and hill-valley divide to a certain extent. During such an opportune moment, each and every elected representative of people right from Ministers and MLAs to Municipal Corporators and Panchayat Members should enthusiastically come forward to host such a routine event in order to concentrate on the pulse of the people and work in tune with their aspirations. All ranks and file in government should also seriously feel the importance of the Meeyamgi Numit and devote extra time in following up the outcomes of this day. Without proper follow-up action by government machineries, this day may turn into a mere ceremony and only a symbolic event. Even the politicians across India need to emulate and adopt the institution of Meeyamgi Numit to save Indian Democracy from criticisms arising out of the ever widening gap between the rulers and the ruled.
(The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)