TODAY -

Our Beloved Manipur - What Have We Done !!

By Sam Khumanthem and Oinam Khuman Ngakpa *



It is hard to imagine a place like Manipur anywhere else in the world! Not that it's the most inhospitable place but what has become of Manipur in the last three to four decade is something that could have been very well avoided. 

A lot has been said and written about in the local media is a testimony on how the state has failed. But what actually is the problem? Where did we go wrong? Without getting too much into the history of who did what. Let's dwell in some of the modern mess we have created that has altered our very existence in Manipur.

Let's start with the ones who run the state or rather should be running the state. 

Many of us would agree to this about them. The lesser we say of them, the better. However, one key element of this whole modern mess is the love for money and power. We all know money, power and politics lay like lovers. We have heard numerous tales of politicians and policemen who go on a crazy wealth gathering and power grabbing drive that they lost whatever little principles and sanity they had.

We have heard of many politicians who joined the economic boom by buying apartments, flats, cars and have also parking a substantial amount of money in their accounts elsewhere. Well, no one should be stopped from making money or gathering wealth but doing that at the cost of the state, its developments and its people is utter disgrace and sin. 

Abraham Lincoln once said, nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power. And power they got and they blew it. One comforting thought would be that this is not just a case in Manipur. It has happened in almost all places imaginable. So, in the end, we can agree that they cannot handle power and the ones who managed to handle it didn't last long. Perhaps, just like the good and bad apple case. 

So in this whole scheme of things, where does the policeman fit? According to Wikipedia, "Policeman is a warranted employee of a police force. They are generally charged with the apprehension of criminals, the maintenance of public order, and the prevention and detection of crime. Police officers are sworn to an oath, and are granted the power to arrest and imprison suspects, along with other practices"

In the context of Manipur, their job profiles changed a bit. Instead of safe-guarding lives and protecting what is just, they chose to work in nexus with the politicians, the militia and other anti social elements for personal gains and they have gained. That's how it has been in Manipur. Make hey while it shines, you never know what tomorrow will bring. But all this comes with a price and some realized the hard way. So some serious work needs to be done here, if they want people to start trusting them again. 

Now come to the most critical of all. The Public! While we agree that the people who are supposed to run and managed the state of Manipur didn't do a good job. What has been our contribution? Have we exercised the role of a good citizen? Have we at all contributed to the growth of the state? What have we done? 

For someone who has been living out of Manipur since 1995 there is very little I can write about what people do and why? But every time I visit Imphal on vacation, I see that instead of a growth towards the future, I see a downward growth. Roads have become un-drivable, places have become dirtier and easier and quality of life has degraded and so on. Let's look at the some of the things we did and we didn't do!

ACCOUNTABILITY: No one in Manipur is made accountable for what they say and do. Just like a father is made accountable for the well being of a family, the head of state should be made accountable. We as citizen MUST demand our right to know as things happens in the state. We, Manipuri no doubt are amongst the most tolerant people.

Whatever happens, we will find a way and don't we every time? Petrol prices going up, an LPG cylinder price goes sky high and we still purchase it without asking a single question. We would beg, borrow and steal but we would not raise a finger. There are many such cases and no one is questioned nor made accountable for those price hikes.

Some student organizations ganged up together and boycott education for over 6 months. What did we do? We scout around the city for private tuitions but no one spoke. These so called students group are being set up to defend and protect the right of a student but in the end, they ended being the one who destroy a student's future and we, we said nothing and did nothing. 

The ambitious sewer project was undertaken and all roads in Imphal were dug up overnight. No one questioned the logic except for media edits crying foul. The aftermath of that was a very muddy road for many months all across Imphal. No one questioned the feasibility of the project based on the geographical location of the state, the relevance of the project and its practicality based upon the living standard in Manipur.

Again, no one said a thing. No mass protest on the bad roads. We just kept driving  bending here and there just like a motocross mud derby. On the flip side, I was told a lot of people cashed in on that by opening up CAR wash centers and minted money. 

CIVIC SENSE: There is a saying in Manipur amongst my friends, if you really want to know how civilize we Manipuri are - Drive to Thangal Bazaar or Paona Bazaar. In the last few years, these two roads have literally become a parking lot and its one messy place. See the logic, just because it's a one-way street doesn't mean that you are allowed to park on the right side of the road.

The driver themselves don't care and the traffic policeman posted doesn't give a damn. Majority of the people doesn't pays electricity bills, yet we expect uninterrupted power supply nor the authority ensures users pay up as well. Homes should be fined for not paying utility bills.

PUBLIC HEALTH: During Diwali and ningol chakouba festival, Manipur transforms itself into one massive garbage dumpsite. Take the example of Nagamapal road leading to Waheng Leikai, the stench and the amount of litter being pushed out by the shop owners is immense.

The garbage is being dumped not on the side of the road but in the middle of the road and worst still in between the places where fish are being sold. And we brave souls brave every obstacles to get to the shop and nail the best fish in town (that's the level of achievement). The garbage piled as ningol chakouba draws near and stays there and on the D Day, we are ready to hit the road. We are obviously oblivious to the mess that was created just so that we can eat one meal. Is this what we have become? Blind and selfish?! 

OFFICE HOURS: In Imphal, a typical office hour starts at 11 am and ends at 4 pm. In a place like Imphal perhaps it is acceptable to work lesser hours but what is not acceptable is the number of holiday one takes. It is shameful how each state unit is managed. Therefore, there is zero productivity. Since people are being selected on money given and not on merit, the employee themselves don't know the job. Interest level almost NIL. In a scenario like that, how can they state progressed? 

NATIONAL HIGHWAY: The lifeline of Manipur. Every single individual depends on this very highway from the most basic things to most luxurious things. But, when the highways are blocked due to smallest and stupidest reason for months, none of us would raise a strong voice. Prices go up but, none  of us would say anything. Taxes galore (both legal and illegal), yet we are happy to pay them. Perhaps its fear, perhaps it's way to buy peace. 

All said and done, there is no denying that we have also withstood some very trying times as a state. But how long do we stand this? How long do we continue to bend and move around things? While the past may have been forgettable for many of us, the future still holds a promise. The future is in our hands. What we do now will impact the future in some way or the other. And we all know where we want to go.




* Sam Khumanthem and Oinam Khuman Ngakpa contributes to e-pao.net regularly. The writers can be contacted at ibungo(at)gmail(dot)com / ngakpa(dot)oinam(at)gmail(dot)com respectively.
This article was webcasted on April 02 2010.


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