TODAY -

Editorial of the week

FREE WHEELING AT 30
Courtesy: The Imphal Free Press 23 January, 2002

Manipur turned 30 yesterday. But at 30 there is nothing very much to go to town with. The only areas where the state may have really stood out, we all have witnessed, are in those that can manage with little state patronage, although patronage could have fuelled them to even greater heights. Sports and the performing arts are just a few of these, with feathers in their caps like the state athletes' sterling performance at the just concluded Punjab National Games and the reception Ratan Thiyam's play received in New York. In practically every other field, the state has lagged behind and the impact of the cumulative effect of these failures, the present times are taking most severely. There is no money with the government. Atrocious things like government employees having to do a month or two without salaries or pension, have become absolutely normal, deemed as something that can have no justification for complaining. In any case, justification or not, complaining can do no good, for the fact will remain that the money in the state coffer can never be enough to foot its bills. A very simple but fundamental economics question here is what can be done in such a circumstance? There are three equally simple and fundamental answers to the question, and one does not need to be a high browed economist to come up with them: Increase earnings: cut down spendings: or both. All of these answers, as again we have been witnessing in the state in the past few years, are easier said than done. All the talks of mobilization of available resources and of creating an atmosphere of job generating entrepreneurship, have gone up in smoke, precisely because of the lack of political will. If the earnings cannot be increased, than the next logical course of action ought to be to cut expenditures, but this too have not made much headway as nobody wants their entitlements pruned even for the greater common good. The thought in the saying that one should not want to be king, but instead want to live like a king, is beautiful philosophy. But Manipur seems to be pushing this wisdom too far and skewing it in the process. Political will alone cannot be all; it must be reciprocated in equal measures by a willingness of the people to shoulder responsibilities in the onerous mission of shaping the place's future.

It is extremely disheartening that at 30, the state still has not found a firm footing on hard ground. Its people by and large still do not know which ground to plant their feet on. Among the factors undoing the state, is definitely this two-mindedness. All of us, in many different ways, are still bent on riding two boats in the belief that this will amount to eating the cake and having it too. At 30 the state still has not learnt that this belief is just a myth. Success in today's world necessarily implies a single-minded pursuit of goal. There may be individual success stories, but at the societal level, this single-mindedness seems still totally missing. It is time all of us sat down and asked ourselves this decisive question: What exactly is it that we want? Is statehood something to be proud of? If yes then let us combine efforts to make the state worthy of respect. If no then what is the next intellectually rounded and interesting alternative to the present? In these matters, let us not forget, 30 is too old for romance.


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