On stepping into a brand New Year
The next 365 days
2021 is now upon us and like other years earlier, this New Year too will come with its set of challenges and obstacles and how these challenges are met will go a long way in deciding how Manipur opens its doors to the later future. The first challenge will obviously be the ongoing political negotiations between the NSCN (IM) and the Government of India. New Delhi has already made it clear that all stakeholders will be consulted before the final deal is inked and the important question is how well prepared are the State Government and the numerous civil society organisations, which have stuck by the idea of a Manipur as a geo-political reality, to put forward the case of Manipur and the people. Important to ponder whether meeting and discussing critical issues with the Naga CSOs which have been clamouring for the integration of all Naga inhabited areas under one administrative unit is worth it. Even if there are no meeting points, it shouldn’t hurt to get across each others’ point of view on a table, going beyond issuing statements in the newspapers. Perhaps this is where meaningful people to people contacts become all that more important. Afterall the fact stands that the two major communities in Manipur, the Meiteis and the Nagas will have to live together, whether one likes it or not. This much is clear, but like all the preceding years, the world will step into 2021 carrying traces of 2020 and COVID-19 is definitely one of the traces that will enter the New Year along with the people. With the race to find a vaccine beginning to fructify in some countries and even India rolling up her sleeves to receive the first batch of vaccine, even having conducted dry runs in four States to test the readiness of different States to receive, store and make the vaccine available to the people, the BJP led Government at Imphal has its task cut out to ensure that everything is geared up to receive and dispense the same to the public.
Effective distribution of the vaccine. Making sure that it reaches the people without much ado. This, apart from the ongoing negotiations between the NSCN (IM) and the Government of India, will be another challenge before the State Government even as Manipur steps into 2021. Encouraging to note that the State Government has gone ahead and identified those who would be given priority in receiving the vaccine. This much seems to have been worked out and now the next task would be to ensure how the vaccine reaches the rest of the population. It will also be interesting to see how the State Government handles the demand that a recommendation be sent to the Centre to include the Meiteis in the Scheduled Tribe list of the Constitution of India. This question is relevant in the backdrop of the fact that apart from the All Tribal Students’ Union, Manipur, which has made its stand known to all, not all from the Meitei community agree with this demand. It is not the State Government which will decide the merit of this particular demand but the Centre, but it would however be interesting to see how Imphal responds to the demand amid the conflicting and contrasting stands adopted by different sets of people. Many would be bidding adieu to 2020 with a sense of relief-COVID-19 has made sure of this-but how 2021 unfolds will largely depend on how people get down to scripting the next 365 days.