TODAY -

Looking back to look forward : A forgotten concern in economic governance in Manipur

Mohendro Nandeibam *



If we are really interested in the perceptible development of Manipur to catch up with the rest of the country, we have to look critically at history, development experience and standard of institutions. We cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by avoiding today. We should keep in mind that development cannot be created overnight. It evolves and passes through different challenging stages. As such, future is the creation of past and present. Good or bad, peaceful or hostile this is our own creation. The nature of relationship and linkage of past, present and future is critical to the destiny of a community.

Nowadays actual development is defined with particular reference to greater capability, wider range of alternative choice and freedom to earn betterment in well being. It should be planned change in desired direction. For actual development, we need the preparedness of people to sacrifice for the cause of development, political maturity and stability and atmosphere of peace and co-operation and meticulous planning. Above all good governance is a must. Manipur has to work hard to improve governance as the State right now stands 23rd out of 25 States and UTS.

Low rate growth

The history of growth of Net State Domestic Product of Manipur tells us of marginal increase from 6 percent in 2011-12 to 7.5 percent in 2018-19. The increase of 1.5 percent only during 7 years speaks volume. The stagnant character of growth is sad reflection of poor performance in all sectors.

The percentage contribution of primary sector remains at 20-22 percent for the last 10 years while secondary sector records decrease from 14.89 percent in 2011-12 to 13.57 percent in 2019-20 (p). In the same fashion the contribution of tertiary sector remains at around 64 percent. Because of structural stagnation suffered by the State economy, the limited choice of employment keeps the population of non-workers high with 54.32 percent of total population. Farmers remain farmers.

Poor agricultural performance

While primary sector is major component of State Domestic Product, the agricultural performance remains fairly weak with the growth rate of 4.21 percent and yield of 2192 kg/ha resulting in the creation of negative cascading effect on all sectors in spite of 60 years of economic planning. What about new State policy for farmers to double the farmers income ? What about food self-sufficiency ? “To bridge the supply-demand gap, the paddy yield needs to be stepped up by 25 percent” (NABARD).

Industrial standstill

Equally disturbing is the industrial standstill. The manufacturing sector contributes only 2.29 per cent of State domestic products. The Manipur Vision 2030 rightly concludes that there is insignificant growth rate of industrial sector during 2007-2014. There is a need for setting up Special Economic Zones for industry in order to take part in the global competition. Remember agriculture stabilizes the economy while industry strengthens.

Semi stagnant service sector

While the service sector contributes around 64 percent of State Domestic Product, larger portion is found in the unproductive employments such as teaching and subordinate administrative staff. Besides, the growth rate is also fairly low with 5.8 percent as against 10.5 percent of Tripura.

The quality of growth depends upon not only on the number of workers but also on the structure of employment. Value Added per hour worked in agricultural sector is only 1/12th of manufacturing and 1/7th of service sector (WDR-2013 Page-191).

Marked increase of marginal workers

Another disturbing development experienced by the Manipur is sharp increase of marginal workers who have opportunity to work for less than 183 days a year. In 1991 the marginal workers accounted for 3.63 percent of total population and 8.6 percent of total workers. Within two decades Manipur had to face the dramatic increase of 11.57 percent of total population and 25.33 percent of total workers. They experience life as daily struggle. They live because they don’t die.

Low per capita income

The Per Capita Income of Manipur increased from Rs. 39762 in 2011-12 to Rs. 75226 in 2019-20 with percentage increase from 3.7 percent in 2011-12 to 5.2 percent in 2019-20. During this period the Per Capita Income of Goa was Rs. 2,59,444 in 2011-12 and Rs. 4,30,081 in 2018-19. The percentage increase in 2015-16 was 15.7 percent. Meghalaya and Tripura have gone ahead of Manipur.

High poverty ratio

It is a surprise that the poverty percentage increases in the State while actual development should be accompanied and followed by reduction of poverty percentage. In 1999-00 poverty percentage of Manipur, according to Planning Commission was 28.84 percent of total population. It rose to 36.89 percent in 2011-12. How can we claim that development has increased in Manipur with increasing poverty percentage ? Today as many as 11 lakh is below poverty line.

High price rise

On price front Manipur is burning the two ends of the candle. In general, because of huge market imperfections and unabated cost disability, the level of price of all commodities coming from mainland India is higher by 20 percent in Manipur. Secondly during bandhs and blockades the price sky rockets to such an extent that the price of petrol is Rs. 250 per litre, that too after a long queue. We manage to survive with “kitchen garden” and “shared poverty” in the 21st century.

Look at the cost of a plate of food in Manipur. Under normal situation the cost of Veg-Thali at Imphal is Rs. 35 as against Rs. 25 in Bihar and Madhya Pradesh. In the same fashion the cost of a Non- Veg- Thali at Imphal is Rs. 45 as against Rs. 35 in Haryana and Punjab. The food inflation in the last few years is 8 percent in Manipur whereas it is only 3 percent in Delhi (GOI, Ministry of Finance, Economic Survey, 2020-21, Vol-2).

Drug dynamism

Perhaps the last but not the least issue confronting the traditional economy of Manipur is Drug Dynamism after Indo-Myanmar Border Trade, 1995. To understand this disturbing experience we have to look at three major events such as-(a) Indo-China War, 1962 (b) Look East Policy of India, 1991 and (c) Indo-Myanmar Border Trade Agreement, 1994-95. It is part of global change of extensive commercialization and negotiated market network.

Today the non-descript Moreh, situated on Indo-Myanmar border, has become a well-known center of attraction. Spread over 9.28 acres of land, Moreh has population of about 18000 in 2021 with Kukis accounting for about 40 percent followed by Meiteis with about 20 percent, Tamils with about 19 percent, Muslims about 17 percent and others about 4 percent. The Land Customs Station at Moreh handles about 99% of the NER’s trades with Myanmar.

The development experience is uneasy with negative multiplier effects of drug trade and trade of small arms. The Act East Policy brings with itself the seeds of both Development and Destruction. The rising apprehension of Manipur of being vitiated and ultimately emasculated may prove true. Every day is a new day for drug traffickers. They have their own routes. 1152 cases were registered during 2015-19 and 1462 persons were arrested. This maybe just a small pie of the huge trade. To our dismay Manipur is reported to have drug manufacturing locations.

What is the root cause ? Is it the golden opportunity emanating from the Golden Triangle ? Today Moreh is getting weighed down with conflicting interests of China, India, Myanmar, Manipur and natives of Moreh. Moreh has virtually become a mere transit camp without institutional foundation of Democracy and Development. Moreh, it appears is parentless and suffers heavily from the absence of institutional parenting. One finds age-old “deficit of democracy and development”. Militant conservatism is a new hybrid and this is bad for Manipur and worse for India. A time has come to break both political and social speed breakers.

The increasing importance of Total Factor Productivity, Quality Circle and Good Governance as overriding factors for accelerated development has dramatically changed the thinking of all Nations. Man at helm of affairs is now expected to be critically sensitive to varied dimensions of development. Today he becomes embodiment competent to look at development in its totality. The whole world is talking about good governance.

Good Governance has 12 principles namely participation, responsiveness, efficiency and effectiveness, openness and transparency, rule of law, ethical conduct, competence and capacity, innovation and openness to change, sustainability and long-term orientation, sound financial management, human rights, cultural diversity and social cohesion and accountability.

Good Governance has 7 distinct advantages. It improves the performance of business. It helps the region to be more stable and productive. It unlocks new opportunities. It reduces risks. It enables faster and safer growth. It controls corruption. It improves reputation and fosters trust. It is about the noble mission of an enlightened leadership who knows the heavy cost of failure and policy paralysis.

Right now, Manipur stands 23rd in National ranking of good governance. If Manipur can fulfill at least half of the 12 principles Manipur may be on the right path towards a new glorious future. It can also improve the 13th position of sustainable development goal.

The recent National policy for increasing attention to be given to NE region on priority demands a change in the State policy. There is a need for good governance and more human capital formation to take fuller advantage of huge investment in physical infrastructures in Manipur. Thus, we have to look back to go ahead with a new culture of innovation and efficiency driven government. br />


* Mingyashin Shaiza wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer was a member of Steering Committee, NER Vision 2020, DoNER, GOI.
This article was posted on October 06 2021 .


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