Looking at the journey from 1972: Look back and learn!

Manipur as a full fledged State of the Union of India is now 49 years old and the 49th Statehood Day was again held as an official function with the who is who of the State Government in full attendance, with Chief Minister N Biren Singh leading the way. The date was January 21. The who is who of the State Government in full attendance but did it catch the imagination of the people is a question that should have been raised a long time back. Is it of any significance to observe the day at the State level every year when it has not succeeded in catching the imagination of the people in any way ? Has Manipur moved forward with the time and progressed from 1972 to 2020 ? The answer should lie somewhere, depending on from which angle one looks at it. To be sure Manipur, like the rest of the country or the world must have seen a sea change from 1972 to 2020 and this change need not necessarily be seen through the prism of the package that comes as ‘development’. To many who grew up in the 1970s, the bygone years would mean small but uncrowded roads, a number of playing fields, the Nambul river flowing quietly in all its glory, the rain raining when it should and not when it should not, the water in the ponds of the neighbourhood and at the courtyard of each family homestead good to drink, the vegetables fresh and the air fresh to breathe. Call it the ravages of time, but as the years progressed the roads became bigger but more crowded, better vehicles came by way of the new cars and two wheelers but it has become more tiring and longer to go from say Thangal Keithel to Singjamei than in the bygone years.
Back in the 70s, when Manipur had just become a full fledged State of the country, the men in uniform, whether in khakis or olives, were seen as men who were there to protect the people. Back then schools and colleges meant places to learn not places to indulge in real politiks and teachers meant who came to school and college to teach and not otherwise. Politics too then meant a profession for those who were wedded to the idea of doing something good for society, not wear it as a badge of privilege and throw their weight around as seen today. The local made lamp, the pudon, then did lit up the Ima Keithel, but the warmth the pudons generated were much more than the light that the LED bulbs of today emit. Youngsters may not know the comparison that is being drawn here but it is essential to teach the past to the present generations lest they forget how their elders and parents came about. So even as the 49th Statehood Day celebration or observation was held on January 21 with all the trappings of the Government, Manipur will see deserted roads and closed shops on January 26. This is the time for all to take stock and admit that something, somewhere has gone terribly wrong and the best part will perhaps be to go back to the past and see if something can be learnt. Why has rape increased so much now ? This is but just one question that comes to mind.