TODAY -

Past to the future?

N. Arunkumar *



The senior citizens of Manipur have now come out with a clarion call for negotiations between the insurgent groups of Manipur and the Govt. of India, without preconditions. Certainly, it is a good beginning to come to the negotiating table with an open mind and find ways to thrash out a solution to a problem that is critically getting out of hand and is now a huge trauma for all of us living here in this picturesque piece of real estate on the planet. I intentionally term it as real estate, on account of the manner in which the different ethnic identities dotting the land, are imparting their own brand of administrative enigma on their individual patch of homelands and neighborhoods. It is for this reason that we are perennially plagued with non – stop highway blockades, class boycotts, general strikes and what not. There simply seems to be no end to the myriad issues that crop up in our normal routine life, making life more than miserable for everyone. And, with as many as thirty odd groups vying for a piece of the cake in our midst, the horrible fact of life and death is breathing down the necks of all of us. It is widely believed that pumping more money and more security forces will curb the penchant for violence that is growing exponentially in our land, and nothing can be further from the truth than that.

The results of these measures have been counter productive as far as we can see for ourselves today. In fact, more money has made our people more dependants on hand – outs by the government through various schemes, for almost every ordinary needs of life among them. The fact is that we are often equating peace with insurgent related violence and forgetting that development needs to be tackled with an equally strong will. If the insurgent groups continue to interfere in all development related activities of the people and the government, it is highly unlikely that we can see any end to these brutalities going on in our land. Today, blood is cheaper than water is more the norm than the rule in Manipur. For a petty amount of extortion, people are taking the extreme step of even killing the one who dares to resist them. Life is worthless to them, who consider that with a gun in hand; it is their right to inflict untold terror on the helpless populace. I know that there are people in our land today, who are keeping guns with them to protect themselves from harm. The presence of unaccounted guns all over the land, and with all kinds of people is a sure shot recipe for disgust in real life terms. Anything can go out of hand at a moments notice. Hence, insurgency has become an industry that is thriving on the element of fear that the gun toting inflict on the unarmed.

Bakery workers, cobblers, juice vendors and so forth are today the most threatened species in the alleys of Manipur. We don’t need them here of course. But, are our people ready to take on these jobs and sell equally well? The migrant laborers are the ones who come here simply with the aim of earning, however meagerly and saving mighty hard to better their lots. Will we be able to follow their example and make sacrifices like they do and earn like them? No! For the simple reason that if we need to earn on the streets doing these odd menial jobs, we need people who will buy them and use them, and we just do not have the number of tourists here who will help to stimulate our efforts. Today, tourists are shying away from Manipur, as we do not welcome them with open arms like we used to some decades ago. The economy of small states like Sikkim, Goa and Kerala are thriving today, with better per capita incomes for the people only because of the various trades that go to add vibrancy to the tourism scenario. People are happier at these places and the problem of law and order is also much under control. Stray incidents of violence are reported as crimes against the society while we cannot claim the same for our state. Here, we have often seen people taking law into their own hands and delivering justice without the need for an enforcement agency to handle it. People go and burn down houses and destroy properties of those who are suspected as perpetrators of crime against our society, while in other states the episode would be viewed as wrong. Television reporters across the diasporas will be seen discussing the matter and asking the question as to whether it was right for the people to take recourse to such extreme measures to deal with a suspected criminal. Crime committed against the society needs to be tackled by the competent authorities, though their efficiency is debatable.

Yet, if we do not have such extensively accepted institutions to ensure our overall safety, we are bound to be living in fear of those who take it upon themselves to deliver justice or so called justice to the society. No doubt, crimes like murder, rape and sodomy are abhorred and deserve the strictest reaction from the society, although the manner in which it is delivered should confine to civility, acceptable to the bigger world order. Acts of killing are inhuman, and a criminal indulging in such is not necessarily trained as a criminal by his or her family, and so it is not right to uproot entire houses of people who are suspected or proved beyond doubt, are involved in such activities. However, we are often doing just that and the popular reactions are that they deserved that treatment. It is a clear indication that law and order do not exist here among us. The family might be ruing the fact that a member of their household has brought shame on their ancestors name and might even disown the culprit completely. As a society, we have broken down in many spheres of activities that lend us credentials as highly refined and enlightened people. We have to work on this aspect and overcome the causes that make us behave in such manners and for that reason, a good beginning would be to understand our strengths more than our weaknesses and set the grounds for development first. Peace will be a natural fall out, of development. The senior citizens must therefore be taken into contemplation, so that some sort of sanity is brought back into our lives. We are fed up now with all this ruin of our own civilization, in the name of a Utopian freedom struggle. Some of our stereotypical thinking needs to be reworked to suit the times we are living in.

It is more than apparent today that we are heading recklessly towards a deep pit of self demolition. Our youth are buttonholed by thoughts of violence since their formative years as they are living in an atmosphere inundated with it. We hate, surely we hate! But, for how long can we let this negative emotion rule our conscience and allow it to fester like gaping wounds? The blood is being sucked dry from the veins of our beloved Motherland, through these wounds. The route has now taken on outrageous proportions. We need to save ourselves from annihilation of the degree witnessed only during the Second World War pogroms of the demon called Hitler. We have no time to wait longer, as we have to redefine our priorities and work towards achieving a glory due to us in this world. Or else, we face the odds of blaming none but ourselves for our total collapse, and oddly so, in the final analysis when we might have to take stock of our past at some time in the future. Seriously!




* N. Arunkumar contributes to e-pao.net regularly . The writer can be contacted at hareedesiree(at)hotmail(dot)com This article was webcasted on February 23rd 2010.

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