Is disruption possible in Manipur politics? - I

Akendra Sana
Is it going to be business as usual in the way politics in Manipur is played out so long for any foreseeable future? These are interesting times. Manipur today can boast of many issues to pursue, promote or confront. Whether they are in the sectors of social, culture – the arts, sports or of course the kind of life we are in where politics play a pivotal role in deciding what kind of life we lead at present and that will determine our future.
Whether disruption is seen only in the negative sense,orwould it be shortsightedness if all theconfusion, upheavals, turbulence, disturbance, agitation, unrest and uncertainty can eventually lead to, is ignored. Because the confusion and disturbance have the potential to usher in a positive approach as counter to what areignoble in the existing ways of public life. Disruption is about being ready to try every possible way to unleash new forces for betterment in the immediate future.Disruptions in politics take place because of certain event(s) that set a process rolling in which an individual is propelled to lead and possibly become a change agent or otherwisethrough individuals who see issues a little differentlythat may be refreshingly challenging to achieve a vision that may have been set along the way.
Do thememories of some past Chief Ministers inspire confidence in promoting the interestsof Manipur?  Names of the early CMs MairembamKoireng Singh, Mohammed AlimuddinandYangmasho Shaiza are takento understand the challenges of governance.
These past Chief Ministers are taken as example also only because they had relatively shorter tenures except for Koireng,but his stint was also spread into three short spells interspersed with President’s Rule andthey were CMsin the very early years and when the administration was not what it has become and Manipur was trying to anchor itself and find its feet in the vast expanse of India’s political landscape. Koireng was CM before Manipur became a full state and had to function with Chief Commissioners who are remembered not exactly for their administrative acumen.
Alimuddin was CM soon after Manipur became a full-fledged state and Shaiza during the first non-congress rule India had withthe Janata party in Delhi. India itself was different, still struggling to fight food scarcity among others in the early periods and was confronting a host of other myriad challenges. Legacies are always debatable. But did they have some qualities of vision that the later set of politicians lack?Do they appear relatively honest because there was not enough funds in the state those days to squander and siphon?Or did they possess some degree of integrity? Are the seeds of corruption embeddedonly in ready funds and that misutilization of funds was only waiting to happen oncemoney was available in the hands of those who are there to oversee development and growth. But then is that not a too simplistic position to take given that conventionally it is always said that the corrupt would be able to line his pockets irrespective of the circumstances. And sadly corruption has come to define our lives.Many in Manipur seem to still have some good words about these three early politicians who are long dead. Or is it then that the shorter tenures and shortage of funds were the reasons that made them perceived to be less corrupt or there are some other reasons?Is this not something to think about?The limited inference therefore is to try to understand whether they were less corrupt whatever the circumstances.
What about the times we live in? Do we want to continue to live as we do now? With any number of troubling issues before us, is there any force somewhere that would lead us away from the present state of helplessness of particularly the young who aspire for success rooted in merit and many who are rightfully jobseekers in the establishment? Are the elders responsibly creating the conditions and atmosphere wherein merit alone is the criteria to acquire a respectable job and for them to become willing and happy partners in the growth and wellbeing of the society? Instead what do we hear? Stories of assumptions of a price tag for any job in the establishment and the general belief of sleaze in any number of transactions keep floating around all these years. Do we see any sane voice somewhere that promise a glimmer of hope? It is understandable to not expect quick remedies in the chronic nature situation that we are in. However it is only in anticipation of hope should we look for ways to come out of this depressing abyss. But who or what is providing that? We quibble and lament everywhere that nothing will improve. But is hopelessness the answer?
The belief that things can improve if only we are willing and are committed to such a cause should be the starting point? Or does the immediate enthusiasm of feathering one’s own nests and not bothering about whatever is taking place around is the priority rather than any effort to improve together? A simplistic explanation that we are still neck deep in our feudal ways of life is only to understand one part of the problem.
Of course elections are a costly affair. And the cycle of money flowing out through unacceptable avenues are resorted to fund them. But isit not also true in many other places?However do other places suffer from similar levels of hopelessness? Or is it worse in our situation? Add to this the menace of drugs abuse by a large section of the young population largely fuelled by seemingly easy way of procuring them as is evidenced by the seizures particularly in recent times.
Then there are of the issues that confront the community and even school children are exposed to all forms of mass agitations. What kind of impact such things must be having on the young impressible and vulnerable minds?Youth in mass agitations must be those who are likely to be the vanguard and are more prepared to become leaders, say university students or other enlightened persons who are in their prime of youth with their education, energy and idealism. Only then agitations are to give directions for the larger populace to move together and achieve the goals that are set.
(To be contd)
The writer Akendra Rajkumar studied History at Delhi University and is a former Regional Headofa Central PSU in the financial services sector. Views are personal.