E-Pao! EI - From Poetry to Prose

From Poetry to Prose
- Academics Vs Bureaucracy -

By: Kshetrimayum Imokanta Singh *

Is society all facts and figures? Or is life only here and seen? Are real and reel; facts and fictions; prose and poetry and for that matter, bureaucracy and academics just binary opposites?

In common parlance people often talk as if they are really binary opposites, so as to give words to their thoughts. These categories are often invoked to differentiate what they think is real from what is unreal.

If we try and delve into little carefully and ponder on what lies beneath the surface, there come out many exciting and not yet seen and known knowledge.

In this endeavour one gives herself or himself the privilege to be 'philosophical' which is violently mocked at in today's Manipur, in particular, and world, in general, so that the mundane world dominates her/his existence. So, let us now do some soul searching.

Poetry generally is replete with metaphors, expressing something with the help of something analogous. What we call 'flowery' language is the basis of most of the poetry, in both oral and written literature.

On the other hand, prose is mostly in mundane language. In this vein it has been discerned, generally, that poetry is above the mundane world. That is, it inhabits in the realm of imagination while prose connects directly with the 'real' day-to-day world.

The dynamics between poetry and prose is also seen in the same wavelength as idealism and praxis. Those who are not practical are often mocked at as being idealistic.

By practical we generally mean when a person is able to mingle around with people, attend social ceremonies, take care of family members, participate in bandhs and strikes, having yu (in some places it is now synonymous with AMADA) with friends even if he is not really willing to do so, etc. The list is eternal, to say the least.

When one is lost in his own world, fumbling with beautiful ideas, constructing a vision for a beautiful society, he is often stigmatised as idealistic and as a result he inhabits in the world of poetry. If we follow this line of thought the world today, mostly, dwell in the domain of prose.

Is the transition from student's life to a government servant a case of transition from poetry to prose? To go little deeper, is the transition from academics to bureaucracy a disjointed journey?

Do they not meet each other? Does joining bureaucracy mean unlearning or complete discarding of what has been learnt in university?

This was the impression shared by some of the serving and retired bureaucrats of the Government of Manipur, when they educate the recently appointed probationers of MCS, MPS, MFS and SDC. They say, whatever we learnt in M.A., M.Sc, M.Phil. etc. will not serve much once we take the duty in Governments offices.

Most amusing was when somebody said that my Ph.D. degree would not be of much help. My contention is just the opposite. But then, today is not tomorrow and I have not seen my tomorrow. On the other hand, they have seen their tomorrows much in advance in their pasts. So, the contrary opinions need to be kept in suspension mode until I see my tomorrow.

It is accepted that there are different subjects and specializations within subjects. In this vein, training to be bureaucrats gives a fresh experience, which is a bit different from what we learnt in universities.

If we follow the aforesaid general argument, it is a transition from poetry to prose. The topics related to office procedures, fundamental rules and regulations of the government service, financial matters etc., which are taught in the training programme, are a means to really feel the working conditions of government office.

The anecdotes, related to their service period, narrated by the trainers are really exciting. They prepare the probationers for their future postings and duties.

But then bureaucracy is not a new term, especially for the sociology students. Though the term is French in origin, it is an old administrative system practiced in Imperial Rome, China and many monarchies.

It is generally characterized by behaviour which are prescribed and controlled through the enforcement of rules, a hierarchy representing a chain of command, promotion based on competence, creation of continuous and full time employment, clearly defined job duties and documentation and record keeping.

A name, which comes to mind, is Max Weber who regarded bureaucracy as a rational legal way of administration. This knowledge about bureaucracy came much before the current training. In other words they were part of what we call academics.

In common usage, especially in Manipur, even within academic circle, when a speaker wants to say something not directly related to day-to-day life, he says, 'academically speaking'. This is the starting point of misinterpretation or misunderstanding or non-understanding of the very word 'academic'.

If we go back to the question of bureaucracy, the different facets of bureaucracy taught in the training are not diametrically opposite ot what we learn in subjects like sociology. So, it is substantiated that theory cannot be established in vacuums.

They have to be based on the empirical world. If there is no connection at all between the two, then why there is much debate on the truth and falsity of a theory? This will alert those who use the word 'academic' very loosely and clumsily.

Bureaucracy today is not that respectable among some who think ideology cannot be connected to practice. For them it is synonymous with red-tapism, chamchagiri, and abuse of power. They think that it is an unnecessary evil.

They are always ready to shout against the system, no matter how good the system does. They think any self-respecting person should not be in bureaucracy. The basic question remains, will only being critical all the time without giving better alternative and shout from outside solve the problems?

Instead of creating an imaginary wall between academics and bureaucracy, there should be a mutual transaction of ideas and actions. After all bureaucracy is not a den of devils, if one is determined to stick to his basic principles.

One more issue in hand is the applicability/non-applicability of the specialized knowledge, studied by the probationers in universities, to the duties they are given according to their cadres. Some subjects might not have direct applicability.

For instance, an engineering graduate may not be able to use her/his technical knowledge in financial dealings when she/he joins Manipur Finance Service cadre. But then life is not all finance and accounts. There is life beyond them.

Again those who are interested in theatre, music, painting etc. may still pursue their passion along with the particular service they join. This depends on how much one is determined and able to take up multi-tasking.

Poetry is as real as prose and academics as practical as bureaucracy. Life is not constituted by matters and mundane dealings alone, there is also much space for fictions, imaginations and irrationality.

The curtain (a metaphor) between them is an osmotic one, if not hollow.

Related Articles:

* Kshetrimayum Imokanta Singh, Manipur Finance Service (MPSC); Submitted Ph.D. Thesis to JNU, contributes regularly to . The writer can be contacted at kimokanta(at)yahoo(dot)com . This article was webcasted on October 17th, 2007.

* 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 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.

  • Kakching Garden :: 360 Panorama View
  • Folk Dance Festival #5 : Gallery
  • Kailam Sanctuary threaten to displace tribes
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand :: Timeline
  • Kuki-Zomi Insurgency in Manipur #3
  • Prof L Janmejay: Reminiscence as teacher
  • In The Annals of Time :: Poem
  • 128th Birth Anniversary of Ho Chi Minh
  • Challenges to Digital India initiatives
  • Pressing issues before the Govt
  • Aerial view from Chingmeirong : Gallery
  • Governor's Taekwondo Cup: Gallery
  • Entrepreneurship in the context of Manipur
  • Face scrubs to avoid dirt this summer
  • Ah, me - Now Happy, Now Sad :: Poem
  • Rio assures of co-existence with neighbours
  • Nandeshwore- President, Manipur, RJSP
  • 'PDA Govt is functioning smoothly'
  • SC voices displeasure at defence ministry
  • Manipur NPF differs with Shurho over BJP
  • Khangkhui Cave, Ukhrul #2: Gallery
  • Chhungthianhoih, Agui :: eMing
  • Identity crisis : @Somorendra Lecture
  • Reflection on Tour of Dubai & Abu Dhabi #2
  • Khangminashi - II : Report
  • Globalization & its impact on our culture
  • District Demand 2011-2018 :: Timeline
  • Dishonouring the Constitution of India
  • From EVM to floor test Onus on BJP
  • Curtain Raising- Sangai Fest 2017: Gallery
  • 4th MCA Plate Tournament : Gallery
  • International Nurses Week #1
  • Story of Silence : @Somorendra Lecture
  • Apiculture (bee-keeping) #2
  • Khangminashi - II : Invitation at Thoubal
  • IBSD-ILS Centre set up in Bhubaneswar
  • Of 3 Ws - Beware
  • Forming the Govt : Office of Governor
  • Lainingthou Lai Lam thopka #2 : Gallery
  • Manipur Fight League Season 1 : Gallery
  • Prison Diary of Lamyanba NK Sanajaoba #3
  • Rights of indigenous people & merger
  • Manipur's tryst for a native Chief Secretary
  • Marxji, Modiji & Birenji
  • Naga Peace Process :: News Timeline
  • Reasoning without disparities
  • Regulate movement of auto rickshaws
  • Healing Touch: A case of still to outreach
  • Re-visiting Khangkhui caves in Ukhrul
  • Sandrembi Cheishra :: Book Review
  • Homecoming & Other Stories :: Review
  • Kuki-Zomi Insurgency in Manipur #2
  • Cry of a Dying River - 29 :: Poem
  • Shija Hospitals MOU for RBSK Nagaland
  • Are we waiting for the "Go-dot"
  • Understanding with KSO : Reaching to all
  • NNC observes 67th Naga plebiscite anniv
  • Event on martial art ends
  • Garlic Festival @ Ukhrul #3 : Gallery
  • Dr. Cesarczyk drizzled harmonics in the rain
  • Tlanglhungbung Leikol - Tourist destination
  • Manipulative skill pays in usurping power
  • Khonzel TV : New Manipuri Streaming TV
  • Naturopathy as career option
  • Free Eye Camp at Wangoo
  • Khongjom Day: OK to observe on Apr 23, but
  • Outside Manipur after Class XII
  • TRAU Vs Langsning FC : Gallery
  • Ngasepam Nalini : State Akademi Award
  • Construction of Ima Keithel
  • Dreaming :: Poem
  • Test for dengue fever
  • Home Coming & other Stories : Book [upd]
  • Eco Tourism as alternative to Timber Trade
  • Go to Village - boon .. but a scourge for PRI
  • Citizenship Bill ... on basis of religion!
  • Gardening @Ema Keithel #2: Gallery
  • Front Page Photo 2018 #2: Gallery
  • Course in Book Publishing at IGNTU, Kpi
  • Reflection on Tour of Dubai & Abu Dhabi #1
  • Gurudev :: Poem
  • Counseling to Delhi University Aspirants
  • Poumai Purul Hiimai Paoki #1 : Gallery
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • Apiculture (bee-keeping) #1
  • Entrepreneur find ways to recycle plastic
  • Social impacts of Mapithel dam
  • Cyber crime defined: The Bhopal case
  • Timber banned but no ban on firewood
  • Traffic chaos : Regulate not ban entry !
  • Cheiraoba Thabal by LGBTQ #2 : Gallery
  • Culturals @Shirui Lily Fest : Gallery
  • Kuki-Zomi Insurgency in Manipur #1
  • Civil Service as a career option
  • The plight of education in Manipur
  • Appeal to Stop Oil Exploration
  • TechExpo at IIT Guwahati
  • Awaiting- a light at end of the tunnel
  • Wanted : Responses not reactions
  • Kabo Valley: A brief history
  • 'Autonomous Naga council'- a major hurdle
  • Cry of a Dying River - 28 :: Poem
  • Admission :: SAIRAM college at Patsoi
  • Khangminashi :: Lecture series at KKT
  • CASO conducted at Mantripukhri
  • PRI & the Mission- "Go to Village"
  • Final pact likely soon : Stand of CSOs
  • Pakhangba Cheng Hongba #2 : Gallery
  • Steelheart @ Shirock , Ukhrul #3 : Gallery
  • The Killing Fields - 2013-18 : News Timeline
  • A village "wall" a destruction for others
  • Thank you Mangaal Rural...
  • Lack of proper investigation- minor girl case
  • Nagaland Cong shelved plans to contest LS
  • Employment drive through Afforestation
  • Bid to attract the brightest
  • A. Halim Chowdhury: A Profile
  • Gardening @Ema Keithel #1: Gallery
  • Occupational hazards of journalists
  • Election: The greatest weapon of the people
  • Community Gardening in memory of Belinda
  • Politicians need a thorough headbanging
  • Beauty essentials for your holiday
  • NPF will not attend meeting..
  • A view on "Go to Village" Mission
  • Littering Shirui peak after Lily Fest
  • Polo ground & institute in Manipur
  • Khangkhui Cave, Ukhrul #1: Gallery
  • Dance competition @MANFETE #2 : Gallery
  • Bracing for monsoon madness
  • When I'm sick :: Poem
  • 1949: Story of India's Takover of Manipur
  • You can't defile a Judge like that
  • Legal provisions for misusing Social Media
  • Bill for non-local: Need to learn from 2015
  • Heart OPD Camp at Youth Club Brahmapur
  • Flood in Imphal [06 May ] : Gallery
  • Gudui Ngai @ Ragailong : Gallery
  • Ode to Inle (in Myanmar) #2
  • AFSPA Repeal from Meghalaya, Arunachal
  • Reclamation of eutrophicated water bodies
  • Hey smartphone! Free me from your spell
  • Job Positions at VITSOFTS, Canchipur
  • Lainingthou Lai Lam thopka #1 : Gallery
  • Phumdigi Tantha Dance Drama : Synopsis
  • Speaker List at Seminar on Atomic Energy
  • The making of village republics
  • The Sunset Blues :: Poem
  • Rio for development on eastern corridor
  • Welcomes decision on mini hornbills
  • Good show only from Imphal
  • 'ZB (AMN) President creating confusion'
  • Zeme Nagas aggrieved at 'non-inclusion'
  • Class XII Exam Toppers : Gallery
  • Prison Diary of Lamyanba NK Sanajaoba #1
  • Communal Harmony in a Multicultural ..
  • Community Gardening Event at Ema Keithel
  • Usurped Domain
  • Fruit stalls : Who gave them the license ?
  • 60 best social media practices
  • Pakhangba Cheng Hongba #1 : Gallery
  • Class XII Result : Science Toppers
  • Class XII Result : Arts Toppers
  • Class XII Result : Commerce Toppers
  • HSE Result 2018 : District Wise
  • HSE Result 2018 : Highest Marks
  • HSE Result 2018 : Science Stream
  • HSE Result 2018 : Arts Stream
  • HSE Result 2018 : Commerce Stream
  • Scholarship for Civil Aspirants : Gallery
  • The Streets Of Imphal
  • Civil Aspirants Scholarship Announcement
  • Vandalizing of fruit seller- protecting identity
  • Free Heart OPD Camp at Manipur University
  • Go to Village Mission: Another first for Govt
  • Khongjom Day - April 23 #2 : Gallery
  • 16 out of 18 clears IIT/JEE Mains
  • RIST Talk-36 : Enchanting Light of Firefly
  • Cry of a Dying River - 27 :: Poem
  • World Veterinary Day - 2018
  • Halt oil exploration work in Manipur
  • Snakebites and Uniformed Saviours
  • SRDP funds: NDPP calls for investigation
  • National PR Day at Guwahati
  • The only way towards salvation
  • Haudonggi Lamchat :: Funga Wari
  • Mukada: Eroding Festival of Kharam Tribe
  • Steelheart @ Shirock , Ukhrul #2 : Gallery
  • 'Go To Village mission' launched at Yaiskul
  • Quality assurance management as career
  • Test for Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)
  • UCM, MPP making clear their stand
  • Kh Sanjita & Saikhom Mirabai :: Gallery
  • May Calendar for Year 2018 :: Tools
  • How India Restrain NE Extremist Outfits
  • Liangmai disassociate from Zeliangrong #2
  • Climbing the Shirui Hills #1 : Gallery
  • NE Guide to Thailand : Gallery
  • Prof N Irabanta : Doyen of Aerobiology
  • Paintings @Imphal Art Camp : Gallery
  • Opening: Shirui Lily Festival : Gallery
  • Floral tributes to PLA members #3 : Gallery
  • Ode to Inle (in Myanmar) #1
  • Steelheart @ Shirock , Ukhrul #1 : Gallery
  • TRAU Vs Bengaluru FC #2 : Gallery
  • 'HUN' Thadou Cultural Festival #2 : Gallery
  • Khongjom Day - April 23 #1 : Gallery
  • Northeast Indian Guide to Thailand
  • Teinem Luira Phanit #2: Gallery
  • Naorem Kalimohon Singh : A Profile
  • Cheiraoba @ Kolkata : Gallery
  • Cheiraoba Chak Katpa [14 Apr] : Gallery
  • Md Awaysh Khan: Mr. India : Gallery
  • Mahesh Thounaojam #2 : eRang Photos
  • Mnipur Ima :: Seireng
  • Tributes to Khelen Thokchom : Gallery
  • Sanakhya Ebotombi Haorokcham: Biography
  • PM Narendra Modi @Imphal #2 : Gallery
  • Enakta Leiringei (Film) #2 :: eRang
  • Temples of Manipur : Gallery
  • Recipients of Akademi Awards for 2014
  • Old Manipuri Movie #1 :: eRang Classic