Of the future of Moreh: Development partnership is the best option

Professor Nandeibam Mohendro *

 Integrated Check Post (ICP) at Moreh on India-Myanmar border :: second week of January 2019
Integrated Check Post (ICP) at Moreh on India-Myanmar border in January 2019 :: Pix - Lamdamba Oinam

The commencement of Indo-Myanmar Border Trade in Moreh sector in 1995 without adequate preparation and sufficient infrastructures may be said to be the cause of concern of uneasy development experience. It marks transition from the traditional border trade to the modern international trade. It also marks the practical arrival of globalisation. The future is going to be tough.

The development experience of Moreh for the last 23 years is, by and large, uneasy. The present sorry state of affairs in and around Moreh reminds us of the established fact that “peace” is a “dividend” and that “stability” is “engine” for both short term and long-term development. All civilised nations never compromise “peace dividend” in their calculation.

What can you expect when your house is in deep trouble of uncertainty? Creation of something new and good needs peaceful state of environment. Peace is decidedly a lasting asset and acts as a secure foundation for any perceptible transformation. Who would like to come, invest and undertake competitive business in the place plagued with hostile atmosphere?

No sensible and self respecting person would like to come and stay to be harassed and insulted? He has a fair option of investing his hard owned money and experience in many parts of the world where there is plenty of peace and lasting stability.

Nobody welcomes insecurity of business, insecurity of employment, insecurity of production, insecurity of income and insecurity of life. These insecurities normally go together. As such, if we have genuine concern for and sincere commitment to fast development of Moreh, we should not rule out the meaningful presence and participation of world class businessmen and potential investors for massive investment in almost all economic activities.

Remember, successful entrepreneurs are fully conscious of their position and prestige and therefore, after a careful analysis, they will come with sufficient money, sound knowledge and vast experience which we do not have. When we are connected with the best, the opportunities are unlimited. Of course, selection of the best is not easy.

Let us see what are distinct advantages of larger market interaction? Larger market interaction gives us four economic advantages. First, increasing transaction of hundreds of goods and services creates consumer surplus. We can get better commodities according to our preference at competitive price. This is the outcome of large scale transaction.

Second, savings increase. This is a beginning of financial discipline. Now, you know how to save?

Third, with higher savings, you feel like investing the saved amount in right business.

Fourth, after successive investments, you become gradually innovative. Now, you can become a potential competitor.

These distinct advantages are possible only when we welcome large number of businessmen. In fact, larger market interaction teaches you how to become a rational consumer, a potential producer and a successful entrepreneur. If we are hostile, they will go away. Ultimately we become loser. Welcome them. Work with them. Learn from them. Earn with dignity with them. What is the harm in being good? What is the harm in following the best option?

We are not born as traders. The traditional barter trade is not the modern international trade. ‘Learning by doing’ is said to be best strategy followed even in China and Japan in their initial stages of development. When their experience becomes part of their knowledge; and when their knowledge becomes asset, they acquire confidence. They act successfully. Development cannot be created overnight. It evolves. It passes through a number of difficult stages.

You cannot develop your community in complete isolation in cocoons. Think globally and Act locally. Interdependence is backbone for any perceptible advancement. We must accept greater commercial expansion and larger arrival as a sign of growth. As long as we allow free play of militant conservatism as hybrid of commercial rivalry and ethnic conflict, the future is extremely limited. All doors are shut to militant conservatism.

The culture of excessive rent seeking of extortion and improper payment is highly counter-productive and ultimately destroys the foundation of competitiveness. The political economy of feudal society and liberal culture of globalisation cannot go together. We should not forget that the availability of opportunity is very very rare and that utilisation of the golden opportunity is another thing.

Yes, the Look East Policy of India (now Act East Policy) has unleashed a wide range of opportunities. But how far we are systematically and scientifically prepared to capitalise the opportunities. It is largely the question of competitive and enhanced knowledge. The challenges have to be accepted and converted into opportunities with new knowledge, new technique and new environment. What we require is not mere domination; but largely the unhindered rise of competitiveness.

What is competition? Ultimately it is competition of knowledge. What we need is a change in the technique of thinking and apparatus of mind. The age-old institutional rigidity remains a serious impediment. It is really unwise for us to get weighed down by the burden of ignorance and arrogance in this highly competitive and troubled age.

The case for larger arrival and larger market interaction may be strengthened if we look at the inner strengths of various kinds. Where there are many firms, there is competition. Where there is competition, there is efficiency. Where there is efficiency, there is strength. Where there is strength, there is growth.

Business is a two-way traffic. Of course, unbridled arrival may create social and economic problems. For this, we need strong public law to stop harmful practices. We have to insist on the acceptance of general framework of Line of Control (LOC). Only then, we can assure development with distributive justice. The market economy cannot be left without necessary regulations.

In turn, for this, we need a noble custodian of Moreh who can put into effect major highlights of Vision- Moreh, 2022. Right now, the institutional Parenting is extremely low and perhaps practically absent. Can we think of a strong Moreh, a peaceful Moreh and Moreh ready to engage with the rest of the world by 2022 ?

This calls for a renewed attempt to redefine milestones of development process. Prolonged wilderness, at the crossroads, with the bubbles of temporary gains, oblivious of long-term dynamic contributions, may not be good for Moreh and for that matter, for Manipur also. Let us recapitulate that a nation is made great by its own people, by the right strategy, by the right connectivity and by the right neighbourhood.

Are we ready to sacrifice present pleasure for the cause of a better future of Moreh. The fate of this border town is largely determined and shaped by the standard of commercial and social interaction. Development partnership is, perhaps, the best option. Otherwise we may face a dismal future equally.

A time has come for Meitei Council Moreh to create a cell known as “Moreh Development Foundation” to conduct regular programmes on Trade, Investment and People with a view to strengthening the synergy of regional integration, social integration and commercial integration. This could be a great contribution.

* Professor Mohendro Singh wrote this article for The Sangai Express
Professor Mohendro Singh was a member of High Level Committee on Indo-Myanmar Border Trade, Ministry of Commerce & Industries, Government of India, 2012.
This article was webcasted on May 16, 2019.

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