TODAY -

Manipur's Draft Bamboo Policy: Timeliness Cluttered By Casualness

Prof. Amar Yumnam *

 World Bamboo Day at Singjamei Community Hall, Imphal :: 18th September 2018
World Bamboo Day at Singjamei Community Hall, Imphal on 18th September 2018 :: Pix - Shankar Khangembam



The Manipur Government has recently come out with Draft on Manipur Bamboo Policy. I was very happy to learn of this for various reasons; let me spell out some of the reasons to begin with.

First, the ongoing COVID-19 crises are testing the resilience of governments worldwide, and Manipur is no exception to this. However, to hear of a Draft Policy Paper on Bamboo in the midst of this crisis is absolutely heartening.

Second, Bamboo constitutes a key component of the socio-cultural and economic life of the land and people of Manipur.

Third, Manipur has been looking for a policy on Bamboo very seriously at least since the early 1990s.

Fourth, in recent years the multidimensional significance of Bamboo as an input for various products is being increasingly explored, particularly in the Southeast and East Asia.

Fifth, Bamboo has been proven as an important input which meets the requirements of environmental sustainability, principles of hygiene, norms of healthiness, and convergence with the livelihood enhancement properties particularly of the lower strata rural populace while converting into end-products.

Sixth, the Post COVID-19 world would certainly be not the economy where agglomeration holds the key for (economies of scale) taking the industrialization forward. This is where the critical significance of Bamboo as an Industrial input arises. For all these reasons inter alia I personally felt very excited to hear of a Draft Policy Paper on Bamboo in Manipur.

It was with this mental frame that I read the thirteen pages of the Draft Manipur Bamboo Policy with hope and expectations and full concentration at one go. Without mincing words, I must admit that I find the document as a very disappointing application of mind. Let me put here a few instances as to how do I say so:

A. In the very first para of the Preamble we find "The myriad uses...has [sic!]; first instance of carelessness in language;

B. The last para in the Preamble reads thus: "A planned, scientific and holistic approach to cultivation and management of bamboo on a sustainable basis can be an inexhaustible source of goods and services which will contribute significantly towards the socio-economic development of the State and the region as a whole." This is a very complex sentence implying strategy and objectives with none defined properly.

C. When it comes to Vision, the Document states: "The policy seeks to harness the economic, social and environmental potential of the Bamboo resources of Manipur. It seeks to develop the economy of the State and provide employment and income generating activities to the farmers, rural poor and unemployed youths of the State. A market led, community owned sustainable development model for bamboo shall lead to an increase in quantity and quality of bamboo resources and enterprises to meet the current and future requirements of not just the State and Country but also the larger international market." One cannot make out whether this is a Vision Statement or a Statement on Strategy.

D. In more than one place, the Document mentions "bamboo based industries" implying the poverty of understanding of the very concept of industry.

E. In the many sections on Resource and talking about strategies, in one it is stated that "Bamboo cultivation to synchronise with existing farming practices such as jhumming, etc. to maximise interim benefits". What does this mean other than giving official approval to shifting cultivation?

F. An instance of being very simplistic in a policy document: In order to fight bamboo-flowering by mitigating the adverse effects: "Give monetary incentives for collection of bamboo seeds."

Having spelled out as to how the Draft Manipur Bamboo Policy is such a big disappointment let me also spell out as to how a Policy Paper should be like.

1. A Policy Paper is a paper with a huge instrumental value to evolve into institutional norms for future functioning of governance, evolution of policy agenda and the relationship between state and the people; it goes much beyond a write-up of a few pages by putting together some sentences relating to the subject. A Policy paper is always and necessarily has to be a coherent exposition of the ideas of the government manifesting a matured exercise of mind and knowledge.

2. A policy paper must also identify the "what is possible" and the "what is imperative." In the case of Bamboo in Manipur, the paper must have a clear exposition of the state's perception of the scenario of the bamboo sector, and how strategies are being devised for addressing the weaknesses and enhancing the strengths. This is where the linkages with the Scientific World and framework for R and D would be defined. This is also where the comparative route map vis--vis the rest of the would also be articulated.

3. The biggest drawback of any framework for development and industrial sector has been the tendency to become hierarchical in functioning rather than fostering an atmosphere for collaborative functioning. The way the Draft Policy talks of so many Committees, and the nature of the composition of the Committees indicate that the objective of the Draft Policy paper is rather creation of a hierarchical structure (the world knows the weaknesses of this) than a vibrant bamboo economy.

An absolute confusion as reflected in the Vision statement " A market led, community owned sustainable development model for bamboo shall lead to an increase in quantity and quality of bamboo resources and enterprises" wherein market led and community owned are just mixed up for the sheer appeal to the reader rather than substance can never be the foundation of a Policy Paper.


* Prof. Amar Yumnam wrote this article for Imphal Times
This article was posted on 11 June 2020 .


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