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E-Pao! Opinion - Open the Door

Open the Door

By: Sushitra *


Many say, "Manipur is the jewel of India," "Manipur is the Switzerland of the East, "A paradise on earth."

Yes, Manipur is indeed one of the most beautiful places on this planet: the breathtaking landscape, the calm and serene Loktak Lake, the unique cultural heritage, and the exotic orchids, which are hardly available in any parts of the world; the list is endless.

It is a gift of God, and Mother Nature has been very kind to us. After looking at these unique characteristics of Ima Manipur I ask myself, are we preserving our heritage and making something out of this beauty given by nature? The answer would be "no."

The ongoing violence and bloodshed has made this beautiful jewel a rotten meat. The green and serene landscape of Manipur has become red and merciless, and the face of Ima Manipur has been painted red. The question is who is responsible for this? I would say, "we all are responsible for this." When I say "we" it includes the Central Government, the State Government, and the two million people living in Manipur, and a few Manipuris living in different parts of India and abroad.

The central government has been deploying its troops in Manipur for a long time. I still remember those so-called combing operations when I was a child. Though I was a still young girl I knew that something was wrong, but I had no questions and answers. Now I ask the Central government, what makes you think that it is normal for your troops to enter anybody's home with weapons and do what they want?

We all know how many innocent lives have ended; many of them were young people, who had dreams and aspiration in life. The Central Government might say, "We want to capture terrorists, and bring peace and harmony in Manipur." Then I would ask, is it necessary to murder innocent people for peace and harmony? The troops are paid for their work, and their work is to capture the insurgents and unharm the civilians. I like to appeal to the Central Government to bring an end to this violence against civilians.

Further, I like to appeal to wipe off the brand "prohibited area." Keeping Manipur isolated from the rest of the world would hinder any progress in the region. Please open the door for us. Now, here comes the State Government.

I have been living outside Manipur for several years. However, I keep an update of what is going on in Manipur. I have studied and worked outside Manipur. This is the reason why I have never come across any corrupted politicians, whom I have to give bribe and beg for a job. However, many Manipuris are not as lucky as I. There are many causes of this ongoing conflict in Manipur, but one of the core causes of this ongoing conflict is unemployment.

Can you imagine the frustration of an unemployed person, who has worked hard, and spent time and energy studying? When you do not have a job, you have no money and you cannot take care of your family. Then, the person tends to look for other means because everybody wants to survive. A person, who has a job and a steady income, will not think of robbing and killing other people.

As we all know there are many educated unemployed people in Manipur because only those, who can give a few lakhs of rupees to the corrupted politicians, get jobs. This has become a normal trend, and most Manipuris have accepted this trend. Corruption has deeply rooted in our soil, and the State Government is responsible for this. This corruption is going to devastate the future generation.

We can take a look at the result of board exams as one of the examples. Why do the private schools do so much better than the State Government schools? The answer is very simple - most teachers at government schools are selected by corrupted politicians. The politicians only know how to put public money in their pockets.

I have been working in education for a long time. According to my experience, all the children, it does not matter which part of the world, are born equal. If a teacher takes her/his responsibility of the profession, she/he can change the life of a child. There is nothing as such that a mission school student is better or more intelligent than a government school student.

I do not deny the fact that the motivation from the family plays an important role, however a teacher can do a lot. I ask the State Government, is it normal to give jobs by taking bribes? I appeal to the State Government, please root out corruption from the Manipuri soil, and change the system. Be open and honest to the civilians who have chosen you as leaders. Next to the State Government are the civilians in Manipur.

Civilians in Manipur are parts of corruption and suffering. As we all know, the common people in Manipur have been struggling for decades. There are groups that are known as undergrounds, there are also groups that kidnap people and extort money at gun points. The innocent civilians are victims of the Indian troops, corrupted politicians and several insurgents groups.

However, we can make a change. When I say change I mean both physically and mentally. Many Manipuris still prefer to be isolated from the rest of the world. We do not welcome outsiders and, many of us prefer to live in this small isolated corner. It is high time to open up our hearts and minds.

Living in an isolated corner would be just like locking yourself in a small and dark room, just as North Korea. We need to open the door for ourselves and for others, because Manipur is beautiful, and Manipuris have a lot of potentials.

Tourism can contribute economic progress to local people. This means we need to open the door to others instead of chasing them away. As I have said in the beginning of this article that nature has been kind to us, we can make something out of this natural beauty. When I say make something out of this natural beauty I do not mean destroying the beauty.

We should be very proud of this beauty, and we should show this beauty to the rest of the world. There is nothing wrong if the local people are benefiting from this natural beauty without destroying the nature. We talk about Switzerland, and we see it in many Bollywood movies and admire it (the grass is greener on the other side) without realizing that we are living in a more beautiful place than Switzerland.

However, many would object the development of tourism because tourists would corrupt our cultural heritage. I must say that it is possible to develop tourism by preserving our cultural heritage.

We need to change our perspectives. Every change or reformation has positive and negative sides because nothing is perfect in the world. However, we need to look at the advantages and disadvantages. If the advantages are more than the disadvantages, we need to accept the change by compromising those few disadvantages.

We need to get united and work together. Blaming the Central Government, and destroying Indian companies and firms are not going to solve the problem. I like to give an example here: A few years ago I visited my parents, and I came to know that Bata was closed and there was no more Bata in Manipur.

Has this solved the problem? I do not think so because Bata has not lost anything since it is a big company; closing one small agent of Bata in Manipur is not going to give any economic disadvantage to India. The destruction is only for the Manipuris, who were running the Bata because Bata provided them a stable income. The end of the business means the end of a stable income.

It is just like dismantling McDonald's in some Muslim countries as a protest against America; the lost is not for America but for the local people, who had an income from McDonald's. Destroying Indian companies in Manipur is not going to help anything. Unemployment rate is very high in Manipur; therefore we need to encourage the establishment of private enterprises from outside; we cannot depend on State Government jobs.

Anything that will bring economic benefit to the local people should be embraced. I like to say to the young and talented Manipuris: Go out, take risk, and explore the world; don't wait keeping your hands cross.

Manipuris in different parts of India and abroad, too, need to contribute something. We may not be able to do anything physically, but we can write because there is nothing in the world that is more powerful than words. Besides, we have an overwhelming and amazing e-pao website where we can post our opinions. We should contribute whatever we can.

I like to say to all the Manipuris in Manipur, in different parts of India, and abroad: Because of the Internet the world has become very small, and we live in a small global-village. Let's open the door for ourselves and for others, and be a part of the international community.

A few words to readers: I am not a good writer, but I have put my streams of thought in words. I understand that words are easy to say, and executing the words is the most difficult part. This article is a very small contribution to Manipur, just as a single drop of water in the ocean. Nevertheless, one should not forget that single drops of water form the ocean.

I like to thank e-pao team from the bottom of my heart for putting in incredible efforts to bring Manipuris together via your website.


* Sushitra is currently doing Master in Education at Amsterdam as well as teach English in Kollege in The Netherlands. She has worked as a PE teacher at a school in Delhi for 6 years. This article was webcasted on July 29th, 2007.


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