TODAY -

Superlatives In 2012

Seram Neken *

Superlatives In 2012



10% of the whole area of Manipur is valley and 70% of the total population lives here. The people of the hills can live, settle and buy lands in the plains. However, the people of the plains are not allowed to buy lands and settle in the hills. Under such a condition, what more special arrangement does the Centre favours for them ?
(The Best Quote of the year, 2012)

On the very second day of 2012, the Naharolgi Thoudang daily received a nicely packed hand grenade gift, slapping the beauty of press freedom in democratic India's Manipur state. Less than a week later, the Sangai Express received another one, heralding an era of mandatory security cover for media houses. Freedom of the press was at stake with rampant threats and assaults on media persons during the last year. Rampant attack on media persons was at its peak at the fag end of the year, with the brutal shooting down of cameraman Thangjam Dwijamani@Nanao while covering the recent molestation protest.

The most expensive of the State Assembly elections so far was held on 28th January 2012 amid strict implementation of election code of conduct and stringent vigil on expenses of candidates. A fierce war against the Congress party also coincided the pre-election epoch. Bomb or Grenade was the cheapest item in the first quarter of the year. In defiance of the boycott call by major underground organizations, the Indian National Congress unexpectedly won a sweeping majority with 42 out of 60 seats.

Shri O. Ibobi was sworn in as the chief minister for the third consecutive term on 14th March last. Marriage of convenience among the five political parties was easily shattered. The hopeful Peoples Democratic Front (PDF) jointly formed by the MPP, NCP, RJD, JD(U) and CPI(M) ) with the sole objective of defeating the Congress party in the 10th Manipur State Assembly Elections failed to pay people's aspirations. Although the technical lacuna of the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) was lamented at most quarters, not a single protest against the machine was effectively sounded for obvious reasons.

The opposition members of state assembly were weak enough to initiate wordy scuffles regarding big scandals ranging from Loktak Phumdi clearance to irregular appointment in assembly secretariat. Although Dr. I. Ibohalbi Singh may be termed as the best parliamentarian of the year, opposition as a whole was said to be truly non-existent in uncovering scams. Had there been a strong and vigilant opposition, Loktak Lake might have flowed to change guards in the state.

Last year also brought forth innovations in education sector. Promises for framing a teachers' transfer policy, finalization of teacher's seniority list, enacting of state education service, conduct of teachers' eligibility test etc. are the valuable reforms initiated by the education minister M. Okendra Singh. Something has been done and many more are yet to be accomplished. Promises for streamlining state police could not however be materialized in its year of initiation, in spite of repeated assurances of the Home minister.

RTI (Right to Information) appeared to be the most powerful pre-poll weapon of the electorate in the last panchayat elections. A number of panchayat members, pradhans and jilla parishad members were booked for fund misuse. However, no spontaneity and no continuity of the weaponry are seen after elections. Panchayat elections during 2012 were the most expensive so far with maximum number of candidates.

The dirty practice of feasting, cash distribution and political lobbying in assembly elections was copied and followed in this local body election.

No wonder, child rights was clearly at stake during the previous year. A number of state's girl children were either raped or murdered, the cases of which were not effectively registered, investigated and finalized. The Manipur Commission for protection of child rights could not be properly functional during last year, may be due to lack of due attention of the government. Right from the commissioning of the Act to the appointment of the members, the concerned ministry failed to demonstrate integrity and transparency. Apart from innumerable cases of child trafficking and child labour, we witnessed the brutalities against Maibam Miranda, Laishram Sumitra Devi, Nongthombam Bineshwori Devi, Kh. Catherine, Sinam Sonia, so on and so forth.

2012 also featured ugly incidents ranging from date-rape of a schoolgirl in the restaura, death of an HIV positive lady due to apathy of health authority, rape of girls by alleged deserter-cadres of the Zeliangrong United Front, molestation attempt of Livingstone on Manipuri actress Momoko and very recently molestation of a girl by alleged underground cadres in Napetpalli. RAPE indeed was the most familiar vocabulary of the year.

The most questionable institution of the year was VDF (Village Defense Force) created in the aftermath of Heirok incident. The huge number of VDF personnel were neither well trained nor well paid.

Recruitment of the young unemployed of the state as VDF was somewhat helping in checking expansion of insurgent organizations. However, VDF has become problematic rather than bringing relief to law and order turmoil. Open firings in public, brutal assaults of innocents, taxing of vehicles etc. were regular features of the VDF.

Drought in the field and flash floods, drastic cold and severely hot weather due to climate change were witnessed during last year in Manipur. In the night of December 10 last, vehicles abruptly halted in the valley for the fogs rendered many sightless. During 2012, ground works for extraction of crude oil from Manipur soil was stealthily executed by a Netherland based company. Outcry against this move last year became a valued public protest for the future.

Amidst the dilemmas and perplex issues of Naga integration, the seasoned chief minister of Manipur handed over Deputy Chief Ministership to Shri Gaikhangam and allocated Home portfolio to him. It was really a turning point in the political game of the already turmoil state. He seemed to escape the scene, as he did not like to become another Maharaj Bodhachandra. If executed successfully, Manipur Chief Minister's craft of a mechanism for balanced development of hills and valley will somewhat pay.

Let's hope for the best in 2013.


* Seram Neken wrote this for Hueiyen Lanpao (English Edition)
This article was posted on January 01 , 2013

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