The Year Ahead: Should be a Year of Consolidation for Manipur

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By Amar Yumnam

While I wish everyone a Prosperous New Year, I do Pray that 2018 be a year of robust communal harmony, social peace and individual happiness. I am both conscious and conscientious when I make this wish for Manipur in the year just starting the day this piece appears. What 2018 turns out to be would be a result of what 2017 has been like and coupled by the manifested current behaviour of state and the non-state actors (community and individuals) in Manipur.

I am optimistic about my wishes for the 2018 depending upon the emerging dynamics of collective and individual behaviour consequent upon the changed behaviour of the state in Manipur. The orientation of the state is largely determined by the behaviour of the government. This is exactly where the Government led by Biren has something to be credited.

, Manipur have been longing for a responsive and responsible government for quite some; I have been expressing my take on the imperative for this for quite a few years given the issues of the land and people of Manipur. The Government under Biren has amply displayed both responsive and responsible behaviour; the responsive part has understandably been more robust than the responsible part. This robustness in responsive behaviour has been salient in both individual and social related approaches. The attempts to listen to the individual grievances and constraints to meaningful familial survival directly from the affected persons are robust examples; this has been seen very strongly in the health sector.

Second, besides these individual-oriented interventions, there have also been commendable geographic and ethnic orientations of the government. Instead of the earlier mountain-valley divide, we now see increasing convergence on social desires and individual moves for advancement. This mountain-valley convergence has necessarily resulted in the emerging dynamics for a shared future across the ethnicities in Manipur. The land in the dichotomous sense of the mountains and the valley as well as the people also in the dichotomous sense of the Hao and the Meetei has been the norm of social behaviour for quite some time. In this the distance between governance and the people (particularly in the mountains) got only wider. This widening distance has been the happy hunting ground for all possible negative social actors. This has now been replaced by an atmosphere of the governance listening to the people both collectively and individually with the resultant consequence of feeling of presence of the governance and looking up to it by the people to attend to the shared and individual problems. Here we may recall the relative decentralised development performance of Karnataka and Kerala; it has been the healthier civic sense in Kerala which accounted to a large extent for the differential development performance. What is encouraging in Manipur today is a visible characteristic change for better in the civic sense of the diverse groups and the perceptible move towards shared issues by the various civil society organisations. While in the context of the earlier divergence the various civil society organisations were being used as means for divisive articulations for personalised benefits, the emerging convergence across geography and ethnicity has certainly aroused a longing for a shared bright future.

This is where the fear also arises as to whether the provincial government would be able to sustain the positive spirits and culminate into an agent for a historically strong, culturally founded and developmentally robust Manipur. The shared social atmosphere today in Manipur is to participate and enhance the capability of the government to deliver. The international experience has been that if the government delivers on development, the people have been more forthright in contributing to the financial and other might of the government. Manipur right now has the atmosphere for that.

Now the question is how to capitalise on the prevailing feelings of the people to participate and contribute to the endeavours of the government; instead of leaving everything to the government, the people are now displaying commitment to be responsible partners in the transformation efforts.

While endeavouring to capitalise on the prevailing social atmosphere of more or less shared social consensus, one prominent feature of the present government may be pointed out. The year 2017 has displayed the readiness of the Manipur Government to go for new initiatives to attend to the desires of the people and the issues of the province. But here I would like to hasten to note that this alone cannot sustain the healthy social atmosphere but instead would boomerang badly if unaccompanied by delivery on the development front sooner than later.

The question is: what needs to be done now? In 2018, the Manipur Government should no longer be indulging in new initiatives. By now, we have already had enough of new initiatives in terms of actions and decisions. It is now time to see to it that all these lead to fruition. There has to be a system, a structure and a road-map in everything in right earnest. Here, the Education Minister happens to be an interesting person to watch and emulate in his steps. His recent approaches like identifying the genuine employees, amalgamation of activities and establishing the established gaps of the sector under his supervision, etc. are pathways to the future for shared transformation. The year 2018 should be a year for consolidation of what all promised so far and not for new promises. The people of Manipur both individually and collectively are manifesting a longing and preparedness to act in a pro-social manner. It is for the government to make the most of this for a shared bright future.

The article was originally published in the Imphal Free Press

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