Ring out the old, ring in the new Bye 2022, hello 2023
Ring in the new and ring out the old. Bye 2022 and hello 2023. This is what Manipur, like the rest of the world, has been doing every year, but as in the past, one can be sure that what was seen or experienced in 2022 will definitely stretch over into the new year. Some things never change and this is one fundamental fact that cannot and will not change. This is also that time of the year when resolutions are made and one wonders what resolution the BJP led Government would have made to proceed with 2023. Only time will tell, but is it going to be a case of responding or reacting to a situation and take things as it comes or can one expect some far sighted steps being taken up so that the issues which hogged the limelight in the year just gone can be bade farewell. No easy answer here and the only thing that can be said with a degree of certainty is that certain issues which dogged Manipur in 2022 are sure to be carried into the new year and this is how things have been like for decades. One hopes 2023 sees the War on Drugs campaign taking a step or two or three up from the exercise of razing poppy plantations to the ground, arresting village chiefs and actually get down to the business of finding out under whose nudging or influence the village chiefs gave the permission for some villagers to go in for poppy plantations. The Government cannot rest easy on this and one hopes that 2023 sees some big fishes being netted and the arrest of the village chiefs is perhaps the point from where intensive investigations may be started. To be sure there will be influential folks pulling the strings, financing the whole business of picking up the harvested poppy plants or its extracts, packaging them, smuggling them and taking them to the place where the poppy extracts can be turned into drugs and this where it becomes necessary for the Government to go beyond what has already been achieved. Crack the nexus, the nexus between the village chiefs who acted as the go between the ‘financiers’ and the people who actually till the soil to rear the poppy plants and perhaps one can expect the jigsaw to fall into place. The Government will need to go beyond the task of just arresting the drug pushers from the lanes and bylanes of the more infamous localities of Imphal and elsewhere. Time now also for the Government to unmask those who were or are instrumental in setting up the drug manufacturing units, which have been busted in the past one year. Such steps will give a semblance of substance and meaning to the War on Drugs campaign and not reduce it to just a slogan, which is no doubt quite catchy.
Manipur will also have to address the ST tag demand for the Meiteis raised by the Scheduled Tribe Demand Committee and supported by different organisations such as the World Meetei Council. It is now nearly ten years since the Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs asked the State Government to send the specific recommendations to grant the Scheduled Tribe status to the Meiteis/Meeteis and ten years is a long, long time indeed. The communication from the Centre was sent on May 29, 2013 and surely nine years is long enough. A ten year old girl back in 2013 would now be a lissome lady of 19 years and a 41 year old man back in 2013 would now have hit the half a century mark. One wonders what the State Government has been doing all these years. Or if the demand is not tenable, then let them have the conviction to say it in black and white and invite all concerned to a debate on the matter. This particular issue is also surely to accompany Manipur on its journey through 2023 and one can expect the STDCM, WMC and others to have rolled up their sleeves to give more bite to their demand. How abut water and power supply ? Can Manipur expect to see a better year in so far these two are concerned ? Remember ahead of the 2017 Assembly election, the BJP had promised tap water in all households. More than five years down the line and why should many continue to rely on private water tankers ? Despite the prepaid system, why do so many households continue to buy candles and have battery backed power supply (inverter) in their houses ?