TODAY -

2010 : Beyond the Years of the Centipede

By Angomcha Bimol Akoijam *

Celebrating New Year is an act of reaffirmation of the reflexive consciousness of human beings that enables them to engage with the past and visualize futures while still being in touch with the immediate experiences.

No wonder then that as the New Year approaches, reflections on what had happened in the preceding year and the likely trajectories of events in the days to come are visible in many societies, particularly in their media, a crucial site of what is called the "public sphere".

This sphere of our modern life is where the civil society airs its views and discourses are generated (beyond what is being dictated by the state). Absence or lack of such a reflection can then be regarded as an indication of a society that is incapable of a reflexive consciousness, and perhaps a defunct, if not, non-existent, "public sphere".

Another New Year : Drifting flawlessly

A glance at the media in Manipur would reveal that, over the years, there has hardly been any display of such New Year reflections. Incidentally, such absence complements the typical reportages in Manipur's media that usually describe the events, as it were, without a narrative structure or analysis that contextualises the same.

That this absence points to reasons beyond the issues of space or economic imperatives of the production of media in the state need not be reiterated. The question here is not so much on the media practice per se as it is on whether this aspect of the media reveals something about the nature of 'civil society' and 'public sphere' in Manipur.

It makes one wonder as to whether these expressions are modern concepts and institutions that exist in form-without-substance in the state or that the people in general in Manipur are not given to reflexive consciousness.

Surely, the people of Manipur are aware of their lived experiences, and there is nothing inauthentic about that consciousness or that their responses to their situation are informed by the same. But then, direct consciousness of a lived experience is something and being (reflexively) conscious of that consciousness is quite another.

Incidentally, for the taken-for-granted worldviews and a concomitant lack of reflexive awareness amongst the scientists, it is said that scientists know about what they do as much as a centipede knows how it walks. And people's understanding of their situation in Manipur, notwithstanding the authenticity and certitude of the consciousness of their immediate experiences, could be as good (or bad) as that of such scientists.

Indeed, come 2010, the people of Manipur with the immediate consciousness of their myriads of issues are likely to walk, like the centipede with its segmented parts and legs, as they drift flawlessly into the trajectory of yet another year.

Given the ways people have acted in response to some of the critical events during the first decade of the present century, such a prospect is not an unfounded conjecture.

Self-deception : Its ways of thinking

Take for instance, the upheaval of 2004 over the murder of Monorama and the notorious Armed Forces Special Power Act; it was a "people's movement", marked by an unprecedented self-immolation that took the life of a student leader and women baring their naked bodies in protest in public, that had brought Manipur to a state of siege for months.

Demanding the punishment of the culprits and repeal of the notorious Act, the leaders of that movement had sought to make the political leadership accountable on the matter by seeking to make AFSPA an election issue. But ultimately, a party with an election manifesto sans AFSPA came back to power with an unprecedented victory in that election!

It doesn't require a genius of a Michel Foucault to tell people the truth that "the way people act or react is linked to a way of thinking". People's ways of thinking about their situation — insurgency, AFSPA, elections, development etc — have lots to do with that electoral response.

And, explaining away that response with "people do not understand" or "people were bought during the elections" (while simultaneously blaming the election procedure with a paradoxical refrain that majority of the electorates who had voted the winners were less than those who voted for the losers) only reaffirmed the disconnect or depravity of the same ways of thinking that had produced that amazing electoral response.

After all, if people could understand the issues by themselves, what was the need for mobilization or leaders to be there in the first place? Besides, issues do and can influence electoral outcomes and under the same electoral scheme, despite its shortcomings, people did change discredited regimes through elections.

Unfortunately, a self-deception continues to obscure failures and issues of responsibility, and a lack of reflexive consciousness ensures that there is no deepening of people's understanding of their lived experiences and changes do not come about while tragedy can repeat amidst episodic reactions.

That the AFSPA could not become an election issue probably due to a failure to fully expose the subversive political premise of the Act has hardly been acknowledged. And significantly, despite the all pervasive legal discourses on human rights, a basic sensibility of rule of law remains a far cry amongst the people.

Consequently, a tendency to determine the legitimacy or illegitimacy of a murder in terms of the victim's "guilt" or "innocence" based on her/his membership of a proscribed organization continues to obscure a critical legal fact that it is an illegitimate act to execute anyone, including a person who has allegedly committed a crime under the law or a prisoner of war, after taking her/him under custody.

Thus, in 2004, the Chief Minister and the military officials, responding to the custodial murder of Monorama, had insisted that the victim was a member of a proscribed organization. Those protestors responded by saying that she was an "innocent weaver".

Five years later, déjà-vu returns; while addressing a press conference in Imphal, just after returning from the Chief Ministers' Conference at New Delhi, Shrijut Okram Ibobi insisted that Sanjit (the victim of an alleged custodial murder at BT Road) was a member of a proscribed organization "at the time of his death".

Of course, from day one of the carnage at BT Road, the family members of the victim have asserted Sanjit's "innocence" by maintaining that he was no longer associated with any proscribed organization.

And revealingly, during that press conference (or its reports thereafter) held after the Tehelka exposé on the manslaughter of 23rd July, none seemed to have asked the Chief Minister as to whether the issue at hand was Sanjit's (alleged) membership of a proscribed organization or that of a serious allegation of a cold-blooded custodial murder by a lawful agency of the state.

Presumably, such responses and ways of thinking also indicate a general understanding of the situation in Manipur. It is quite apparent that the people in general understand the situation as primarily that of under-development, petty crimes, extortions, kidnappings and murders rather than as a situation which has been critically shaped by a dynamics of armed insurgencies (striving for, amongst other, a "sovereign" Manipur) that affect various aspects of their life in many different ways.

Such is the understanding of their situation based on the consciousness of their immediate experiences that it might have come to many as a weird nonsense when an army general said in a recent press meet in Imphal that "for whatever else insurgency has become, the very fact that it exist(s) is the indication that there was something wrong…(that gave) the reason for insurgency to sprout in the first place. This original problem needs to also be addressed with (sic.) earnest".

One hopes that 2010 brings in some light to a people who have learned to live in darkness with 3/4 hours of electricity in a day for years on, and heralds a new beginning beyond the self-deceptions that have come to characterize every New Year as the Year of the Centipede!




* Angomcha Bimol Akoijam wrote this article for The Sangai Express. The author teaches social and political psychology at School of Social Sciences, JNU, New Delhi. This article was webcasted on January 12th, 2010.



* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of e-pao.net. We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.


LATEST IN E-PAO.NET
  • Mary Kom - Meethoileima : Gallery
  • Cultivation of low Chilling Apple Variety
  • Sangai Fest: Nagaland : Gallery
  • Human Rights Day & Draconian law
  • Oh! Joy of being veteran
  • War and Peace :: Poem
  • Bali Jatra- Odisha's maritime heritage
  • Understanding nature's gift
  • SC stand on victims of rape
  • Nupi Lal Ningsing Lamjel #1: Gallery
  • Chingningthou, Chaonu :: eMing
  • Chengni Khujai: Insurgency Chronicle #2
  • Taboo of Casteism in Manipur
  • Cry of a Dying River - 57 :: Poem
  • Understanding CMA as career
  • Smallest Child's Heart operated at SKY
  • Channeling the drive
  • Big anti-incumbency factor: Lok Sabha poll
  • Lamklai Kummoi Maring Fest #3: Gallery
  • Nupi Lan : Women Agitation, 1939-40 #2
  • Sangai Day 1: Inauguration #4 : Gallery
  • Tibetan Refugees in India :: Review
  • Nongpok Thong Hangba ...opportunities
  • Significance of Panti Neimei
  • Memoirs of love :: Poem
  • Developers required for Jobsenz @ NIELIT
  • On assembly election victory of Congress
  • The day after tomorrow
  • Kudos to rights defenders
  • Sangai Fest: Maibi Jagoi : Gallery
  • NEROCA FC Vs Indian Arrows : Gallery
  • Nupi Lan : Women Agitation, 1939-40 #1
  • Promoting Human Rights: A Perspective
  • Khongji :: Poem
  • Surveying tigers: A big challenge in Manipur
  • Terrorism & Technology - II
  • Silencing significance of Human Right Day
  • Trun up to Parliamentary polls: Issues
  • Deteriorating Tumukhong Village road
  • Sangai Fest: Chareng Len : Gallery
  • International Mountain Day, 2018
  • Loudness not ok please
  • A wounded Pine Tree :: Poem
  • Natural remedies for hair growth
  • BEHS office inaugurated at Motbung
  • Tattooed With Taboos :: Review
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • Stone Forest @Yunnan, China : Gallery
  • Eerie, Eerier, Eeriest :: Review
  • Sangai Fest: Muay Thai : Gallery
  • ..that made me fall in love with Naga
  • Research Support Officer wanted
  • Condemns arrest of Journalist Wangkhem
  • The Killing Fields 2013-18 : News Timeline
  • Programs at Public Health Foundation
  • Fixing the broken window
  • Head count of dogs !!
  • Pari Imom (Film) #2 :: eRang
  • Matheous Thingbaijam Cycling NE: Gallery
  • Gwangju Prize for Human Rights 2019
  • Tests for allergies
  • Cycling across NE: Matheous Thingbaijam
  • Site Officer/ Manager @R-Square Design
  • Armed Forces Flag Day celebrated
  • A lasting legacy
  • 'Stray dogs' as predators
  • Sangai Day 3: Pung Chollom #2: Gallery
  • Thai Princess @Imphal Airport: Gallery
  • Fashion Show @Sangai Fest #1: Gallery
  • Mysterious Animal Attack of Manipur
  • Khelen Thokchom Media Fellowships
  • Career option in Purchase Management
  • Terrorism & Technology - I
  • Intimidation to media person
  • Ban on hunting migratory birds
  • Manipuri Diaspora in Myanmar #3
  • Sangai Day 3: Pena: Gallery
  • I am a beautiful HIV Virus :: Poem
  • Teacher & Student: Stop eroding education
  • Diaspora unites at Thadou Nampi, USA
  • Deciding Mary's title :: WJ
  • A good man perspective
  • Now people need to extend co-operation
  • Day 3: Kabi Burnan : Gallery
  • Art meets Fashion : Gallery
  • Sangai Day 5: @ BOAT #3: Gallery
  • NAF announces Annual Scholarship
  • Preventing methods to save livestock
  • How Do You Do ? :: Poem
  • Competitiveness of Manipur
  • Shattered dream - "The Smart city"
  • Arrest, release & re-arrest of young man
  • Ningol Chakouba @ MBC #3 : Gallery
  • Sangai Day 3: Thang Ta #3: Gallery
  • Stalls at Hapta Kangjeibung #1: Gallery
  • How do you see 'disability' today ?
  • I don't exist without polo: Rafael Secco
  • The Road :: Poem
  • Students needed for cultural revolution?
  • Hard stand, hard decision
  • Cong rolling up sleeves ahead of LS polls
  • Day 8 : Arambai Langba : Gallery
  • Sangai Day 2: Evening Program #3: Gallery
  • The Midnight Hunter : Analysis
  • Art exhibition "Art meets Fashion"
  • The Haipi Lho-lhun Kut
  • Gaudiya Vaishnavism in Meitei Nation #3
  • Sangai Day 9: Thadou Dance: Gallery
  • Sangai Chef: Cooking Final : Gallery
  • Han Kang's The White Book
  • Sangai Day 4: Yubi Lakpi : Gallery
  • Sangai Chef: Season 1 Cooking Final
  • Disaster Management Course at NEHU
  • Training on Online Fact Checking
  • Clarify : Impact of Act East Policy
  • On the series of Killing of Livestock..
  • Today is World AIDS Day
  • From entrails to body now
  • NESO : abolish Citizenship Bill
  • NEC building cultural centre at Delhi
  • 12th Manipur Polo Intl #1 : Gallery
  • Sangai Day 9: Kabui Dance : Gallery
  • Day 5: Stalls @Keibul Lamjao: Gallery
  • Sangai Day 2: Holi Pala #1: Gallery
  • Importance of TESOL in Government School
  • Farewell to Lt Gen LN Singh, VSM**
  • Waphong Inthan - A failed village
  • On the arrest of Kishorchand
  • Blank Editorial
  • Predator or predators on the prowl
  • Thai Princess visit Kangla #1: Gallery
  • December Calendar for Year 2018 :: Tools
  • Sangai Day 8: Mukna Kangjei #1: Gallery
  • Sangai Day 2: Evening Program #2: Gallery
  • Polo grows on you: Col Tarsem
  • Rediscovery of Gangmumei Kamei: Review
  • For whom does she cry ? :: Poem
  • DG Assam Rifles visits Manipur
  • Detention of TV journalist not fair
  • Arrest of 8 mountaineers from Manipur
  • Sangai Day 4: Lai Haraoba #1: Gallery
  • Bangladesh Manipuri Students : Gallery
  • Sangai Day 3: Pung Chollom #1: Gallery
  • We have a balanced team: George Shelton
  • Cry of a Dying River - 56 :: Poem
  • Sangai with Sumo & Samba ?
  • Morphing : An innocent loses her life
  • Bangladesh Manipuri students at Sylhet
  • Thai princess visits Kangla Fort
  • Olympics gold my dream : Mary Kom
  • Exploring the beaten path
  • Opening up Manipur: Visa office assurance
  • Thai Princess Sirindhorn @Sangai : Gallery
  • Featured Front Page Photo 2018 #5: Gallery
  • Sangai Day 6: Pherzawl Dance : Gallery
  • Manipuri Maichou 7 :: Book Review
  • Chandon :: Poem
  • Conservation of biodiversity
  • Defers proposed indefinite highway bandh
  • 19th Hornbill Festival at Kisama
  • Sangai stops dancing
  • Mary Kom: Epitome of sporting excellence
  • Sangai Day 5: Evening Prog #1 : Gallery
  • Sangai Day 5: Thailand Dance : Gallery
  • Sangai Day 2: Imphal Art Camp : Gallery
  • Edward Armstrong - USA Polo Team
  • An abrupt journey to an oasis of blue bull
  • Winter Blues :: Poem
  • Technical Internship Training for Japan
  • NPF on Nagaland Deputy Chief Minister
  • A ditch to Technology
  • Border row: India Myanmar, sacrificial lamb
  • Sangai Day 4: Pena Esei :Gallery
  • Day 5: Sangai Chef: Season 1 : Gallery
  • Sangai Day 2: Evening Program #1: Gallery
  • Sangai Festival 2018: Turning into a Mela?
  • Sumo Wrestling: popular event in Sangai
  • Sangai Chef: Season 1: Cooking : Day 5
  • Truths in rumours & humours
  • PANE Conference organized at AUDC
  • Sangai Day 2: Dance from Kamjong: Gallery
  • Sangai Day 3: Thang Ta #1: Gallery
  • Can we have the Sangai festival daily?
  • Platonic love :: Poem
  • IGAR(s) congratulates Mary Kom
  • WPW Syndrome operated and cured
  • NSUD clarification on Nagas' Meet
  • National Highway bandh from Nov 27
  • Prospective candidates of Cong, BJP
  • Sangai Day 2: Sumo Wrestling #1: Gallery
  • Sangai Day 2: Myanmar : Gallery
  • Sangai Day 2: Geet Govinda: Gallery
  • 2017- a watershed year for Manipur Polo
  • Faculties (PG) at Gauhati University
  • Biodiversity for economic development #2
  • Mera Kongchat Mass Rally #4: Gallery
  • Sangai Chef: Season 1 : Day 1
  • GC Tongbra's 'Chengni Khujai'
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand :: Timeline
  • Thy name :: Poem
  • Bartending as a career option #2
  • Legal Awareness Programme
  • Tribute to Bhupen Hazarika at London
  • Blessing for Manipur
  • Cherry Blossom & Sangai: beyond Imphal
  • Sangai Fest: Inauguration #2 : Gallery
  • Mera Wayungba #2 : Gallery
  • Ningol Chakouba @Pune : Gallery
  • ChingTam Ningol Chakouba @Goa: Gallery
  • Ningol Chakouba @ Mysore #2 : Gallery
  • Scaramouche, Fandango, Galileo, Figaro..
  • Laija (Film Scenes) #1 :: eRang
  • Ningol Chakouba @ Dubai #2 : Gallery
  • Rajkumar Jhaljit : Sahityaratna 2017
  • Ningol - mapam lamdam : Gallery
  • Mera Houchongba @Konung #3: Gallery
  • Fabrics of Bangladeshi Manipuri: Download
  • Naga Peace Process :: News Timeline
  • Eepan Thaba #1: Gallery
  • Manipuri Calendar for 2018 : Download
  • mtM :: Seireng
  • Front Page Photo 2018 #4: Gallery
  • Manglandasu Nang - OST :: e-pao Radio
  • Old Manipuri Movie #1 :: eRang Classic
  • SPONSORED ADS