E-Pao! EI - Why I chose to stay in Manipur

Why I chose to stay in Manipur

By: Dr Aribam Devadutta Sharma *

First I was born here.

All of my early childhood memories are of Manipur. All of my childhood cherished dreams revolve around a ‘golden Manipur’.

A Manipur which grows up with my dreams to its full grown adulthood- strong and resilient, mature and rational, vibrant and spirited, sensitive yet firm, and generous and forgiving and warm and bright. A place where justice prevails like the basic amenities of black-topped streets leading to houses fitted with potable water, cheap electricity and well maintained sanitary systems .

Where there is dignity of labour and primary education and basic health is a fundamental rights of one and sundry. Where sounds of temple bell echoes as colorful butterflies spread among flower gardens.

Where the morning dues gives way to the yellow awakening rays of the sun as bright innocent faces break into wide smiles against the backdrop of a beautiful day.

Yes, dreams can change and in fact should change after each one if fulfilled . I too was tempted to go looking for greener pasture in search of materialistic rewards and borrowed ‘happiness’ by going abroad. And it is not a case ‘ graves are sour’.

It is just that graves can be grown in one’s own backyard. I am not averse to the idea of going abroad for limited period of time in order to obtain certain ingredients necessary to make our land even more fertile in terms of ideas and manpower.

The bottom-line is you will die a Manipuri wherever you are and unless you do something in your capacity to realize that fact I believe one’s life becomes a mere pity.

After 11th September, the world is not the same again. The ‘american dream’ is shattered. The days of the ‘Indian brain –drain’ phenomenon are coming to an end. It is 21st century!

You can be in the USA while physically you are in Imphal. Earlier, one used to go to the USA for financial gains, for example, and now with breaking down of national barriers and economic boundaries, the temptations are not what it used to be anymore.

And I believe it is pointless abusing one’s birthplace but on the other hand, it will be enlightening if one could share their practical suggestions as to how to change the present situation or at least hand over ‘the seeds of future trees which will grow when the season arrives ‘ while keeping the spirits and visions alive.

Similarly, it is also futile agonizing over past mistakes of our forefathers. We are the better versions of our forefathers and if we don’t deliver, we are not the descendent nor the’ forefather ‘of our future children. Past mistakes can be corrected to the extent it applies to the current situation and not to the extent that we go back in time and get stuck.

I have been countered by the seemingly convincing argument that the place is beyond repair. While it is true that the system is corrupted rather badly, it is not true that there are still people out there in hiding who are not .

They are hiding or retracting rather because they lack in spirits. I know these arguments sound quite silly. I am writing this because there must be some of us who would think otherwise.

My basic premise is simple - I am a Manipuri, therefore I have every right to contribute to shape of Manipur’s future. One doesn’t have to join the armed brethren.

One can contribute by conviction in one’s beliefs and safeguarding one’s integrity with utmost care like how one would care about the OS of one’s PC! If one can imagine the corrupting forces as the dark Empire taking over the senate, we can imagine ourselves as the hiding jedi.

We need to restore balance and order of the forces. We must keep our jedi temple intact, at least in our minds. It is our last fortress.

If we look the problem facing Manipur from a different perspective, it becomes quite obvious that it can’t be solved overnight and that,too , without broadening our horizons of perception because everything cannot be explained unless one tries to understand the imposing and overwhelming transforming forces of economy and societies the world over. We must strive to regain the sovereignty to our reasons first.

The people who subscribe to the notion ‘this place is gone to the dogs!’ are usually the ones who don’t mind the transition from their palace like abode to the immediate muddy roads merging into the maddening highway dust swirling up into one’s conscience.

The problem with Manipur is not that it is democratic. The main culprit is the general public belief that democracy means jungle rule which values only might and whims!

Democracy and capitalism pre-supposes that they must exist only in the context of rationality. Opportunists are weeds in the democratic paddy-field. To re-iterate the obvious for the benefit of ‘the hard-of-hearing’ populace, the present modern societies are based on meritocracy.

I mean , uncorrupted meritocracy! It is surprising that the word ‘corruption’ has completely lost its ‘ shock and nuisance’ value on the Manipuri ears.

To the extent that there are people who comes up with sheer idea of legalizing corruption ( social sanction is already available) in order to better regulate it.

The problem with this innovative idea is that corruption is like cancer in as much as it is unpredictable, disorderly, biased, selfish and costly. And it stands for all that is not our future. And, corruption can’t be uprooted overnight.

We have to wait up till the present corrupted units dies out while preserving the uncorrupted units with condition that the fresh crops of our population is brought up geared for the tasks ahead of them. That requires that they be taught how to reason and think independently instead of being forced fed ready-made formulas.

As for the current thriving corrupted units they can be controlled only when we can bring in transparency and start rewarding the uncorrupted units. All these are hard work. I belief it would be worth the try.

I for one, have been a victim of corrupt practice since 1986 and that made my resolve to fight it with ways and means available to me even stronger.

Right now, I am , myself, in the midst of the battlefield. And I am convinced that it is too late to change because I identify with intergrity and justice.

These are my raison d’tre.

* Dr. Aribam Devadutta Sharma, MBBS, MS, MCh, is a Gastrointestinal Surgeon at RIMS, Imphal and the first MCh–GI Surgeon of the North–East India. He contributes regularly to and can be contacted at aribam(dot)sharma(at)jipmer(dot)net or d_aribam(at)yahoo(dot)co(dot)in . This article was webcasted on 21st December 2007.

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