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EDITORIAL: Confusion. Thy Name Is Manipur, Method Behind The Madness

Confusion. This perhaps sums up the Manipur that we know today. To this we may add Anarchy and Chaos for the images that come to mind whenever we talk about Manipur invariably means a place where everything has turned topsy-turvy and everything that represents a set order or system is turned on its head to such an extent that 2 plus 2 is no longer 4 but depends on how the persons responsible for calculating it come up with the answer. As things stand today, public interest can be anyone’s interest and so a 48 hours bandh or an indefinite economic blockade comes with the qualification, ‘In Public Interest.’ This is the place where anyone can lob a bomb, force the closure of a hospital, set deadlines for some individuals to repent and clarify their ‘misdeeds’, as long as it comes cloaked in the name of doing something meaningful for the land and the people.

In short there is confusion and chaos all over but the interesting part is the unmistakable stamp of a method behind all these chaos and confusion. The actors may come in different shapes and sizes, with some donning the role of the protector of the law while some will try to gain social legitimacy by talking about sacrificing one’s life for the greater cause of the land and the people. In fact so methodical is the confusion, chaos and anarchy that there is always a director at the helm, directing and barking out orders to the lead actors as well as the supporting actors and actresses. A powerful script adds to the method behind the madness and the script writer could be anyone, ranging from those who come under the highly threatened species called the VIPs to some jailbirds cooling their heels behind bars, but with the means to dictate how things should proceed. Hats off to the rapid progress in technology and the boom in the mobile telephony.

It is another story that the same set of people, who carry on their modus operandi from some inaccessible areas with the help of a mobile phone, do not hesitate to pump in a bullet or two at the employees of the private mobile service providers for failing to cough up the money demanded. Surely none can say that there is no method here. This is one part of the story and the more interesting part is the manner in which some universally accepted beliefs and practices have been turned on its head by those who we call the political leaders of the State. So while the rest of the world understands political stability as the means to effective governance, in Manipur it has come to mean that the chair of the Chief Minister and his men will not be disturbed for some time to come. Governance is not something which figures anywhere in the scheme of things. Not surprisingly, Congress wallahs and their sidekicks have been tom-tomming the excellent showing put up by the party in the election to the 9th Assembly as well as the subsequent by elections, with the exception of Konthoujam Assembly Constituency, while refusing to see and acknowledge that the good showing at the hustings has not been translated into governance at all.

It is obvious that to the Chief Minister and his men, governance begins and stops at digging up portions of the main roads and then leaving it for years without attending to it, all in the name of one project or the other. It means talking tough and hauling the BRTF over the fire for the abysmal condition of NH-53, never mind the fact that a second lifeline of the State is a must, not only because of the frequent bandhs and blockades on NH-39, but for the sheer compulsion of a land locked State like Manipur, which has no rail connection till date. To the Government, maintaining law and order has come to mean letting the cops throw their weight around, while ‘extortion bombs and grenades’ continue to rain on the residences of Government officers and traders and places like hospitals are forced to close down due to a looming threat perception from some gun wielding goons.

With such an understanding of governance taking firm roots, it is not surprising therefore to see the construction work of the retaining wall of Nambul river being reduced to a fiasco. Not once, but twice, portions of the retaining wall have collapsed at certain points and here again the method behind this fiasco is prominently visible. It may be sheer engineering genius or a pioneering step towards saving cement, if we take into consideration the report that the ratio of cement and alluvial soil used to build the retaining wall that collapsed on May 24 evening, was in the range of 1:7. Maybe it was sheer back luck that the retaining wall had to cave in, or else Manipur may have just entered the record book for an engineering feat, that was hitherto thought infeasible.

The Government also came up with the grand idea of shifting the foot path vendors from Khwairamband Bazar and resettling them at Lamphel, where a defunct market complex once stood. This is a constructive move, but where will the Government be without the ‘method’ rearing its head? A look at all the approach roads leading to the market place at Lamphel is an apt reminder that the decision makers need to go back to their class rooms and revise the chapter on what makes a market successful. The pot holed roads, the half dug out roads, the unmotorable roads, are ample testimony of a Government coming out with yet another half baked idea. So we have a market to cater to the citizens of Imphal, but no roads worth the name to take the buyers to the market place! If this is not confusion, chaos and anarchy then what is?

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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