Immediate Manipur

Lucky Sapam *

Even though there is the fact that a political/regime change is seen in the state, there are also many contradictions which are not easy to sweep by under the carpet. This glaring view of incompatible is hard to give a miss. There are important outstanding issues both in the local context as well as in the larger context.

Reading between the lines, you can see the predicament of all the stakeholders at the moment. These stakeholders are surely in a dilemma and they are walking on a tight rope, but they will eventually have to come out one day and take a stand. Or will they?

As of now, it seems like, the revulsion towards the previous regime, the penchant for a change and holding on to a chair are only sustaining these stakeholders together. The answer to the question like, “Can there be a concrete assurance that no more economic blockade will ever occur again?” is not uncomplicated. Relying heavily on past histories is a futile exercise. Unless there is a meeting point or some sort of common agenda/goal now, it will be tough for Manipur to stay united in its true sense.

Coming to the present state of affairs, the exercise of the democratic process in a state like Manipur is flashing out a general outlook which is confusing. For one, we do not really know how to read the mandate given by the people. People complaint in loud voices whenever there was an anomaly. These voices of protest were often frequent and also were serious in nature.

But when the verdict came out, it painted a picture which seemed to suggest that everything was in order. Perhaps, the accumulation of many injuries has superseded one another and that could have possibly made the original injury to be forgotten. That is a plausible perspective because we know that, temporary reliefs are available in abundance in the state. Maybe, people have mistaken these band-aid treatments as the surgery. Or maybe people are genuinely content with how things are. It is hard to tell.

In the heyday of campaign in the late 2016 and early 2017, the core issues were sidelined and the centre stage was taken over by rhetoric. Take for example, the burning issue in the state was the issue of demographic alteration and the apprehensions arising from it and yet, the issue was put on a backburner and was completely buried into oblivion by the campaigners using well crafted political jargon.

And also, tragically, the delicate issue of integrity was used as a political football. Yes, the key to winning the election requires multipronged strategy and not just the individual’s principled stand or the party’s manifesto, but charily there seemed to be some sort of a shackle tied to all the campaigners.

The commitment was not prominently seen, but instead elements of strangleholds and scripted narratives were more visible. Delinking an issue with the election only because of the fear of its consequences is wrong and it doesn’t set a healthy precedent. Everything is political. Political incorrectness has eroded the system and the mindset for long now.

The real issues are never debated. Deliberations and debates are the essence of a healthy democratic society irrespective of whether the arguments are just or unjust. The concern is: Is there a room for debate? Again, there is no concrete assessment or certainty of an answer here.

In the midst of all these dramas, verbosities and confusions, there is a genuine fear in the minds of the people of the state today and this fear is only growing bigger. Allaying this fear by mere words alone is not convincing as this fear comes from a visible source.

According to the 2011 Census report: Thane district in Maharashtra has a population of around 1.1 Crore. Population of Gujarat is 6.1 Crore. Madhya Pradesh is 7.2 Crore. Andhra Pradesh has a population of 8.4 Crore. Delhi is 1.6 Crore. 10.4 Crore is the population of Bihar. Uttar Pradesh, being the highest state has 19.9 Crore population. Considering the population of the states mentioned above and their composition varieties, there is not much of a problem at the moment.

But in the context of a state like Manipur, the vulnerabilities are manifold. The population of Manipur (encompassing everyone) is around 28 lakh which is 0.24% of the total population of India and stood in 24th rank in the state-wise list. The fragility of Manipur is very much evident as it will only take a few lakh of people to entirely change the demography of Manipur.

One lakh Manipuris migrating to different parts of India will not adversely affect the demography of that particular region, but if one lakh people migrate to Manipur then we can expect to see, out of 60, at least 10-15 new ‘Member of Legislative Assembly’ (MLAs) who are not fluent in any of the indigenous languages of Manipur. That will be a confusing time.

From 2001 to 2011, the population of Manipur increased by 24.5% and we know that, the period from 2001 to 2011 was a period of reasonable development in the health infrastructure in the state, which is always a key component in the control of population growth. But the reality seems to be otherwise.

And also, unlike the olden days, there is a general decline in the number of family members in the Manipuri society today and there is some sort of equilibrium of replacement level at the moment. However, the population of Manipur continues to grow at the rate of 20-30% per decade. So, the question is: Who is contributing majorly to it?

Now, through the initiative and the vigor of various pressure groups, there are hectic awareness campaigns going on for quite some time now. Times like these are crucial as any small deviation from the intended line could invite strong reactions and could also send out a wrong signal to other parts of the country. Let every organ of the state perform its duties effectively and promptly, especially the organ of the law making. The approach has to be absolutely accurate and strong. It need not be a loud affair.

Policies need to be formulated for the interest of the state while taking along on board all the sections of the society. This is a delicate issue as every time an enquiry comes up from the other side, it obviously tends to question the motive of the said law/act or the policy. Sometimes, the chance of sliding the whole debate towards the debate of hegemony, bigotry, chauvinism or even secessionism is high. Due care should be taken for that.

On a gloomy note, we know that, there is a perpetual chasm between the grievances of the public and the actions taken up by the authorities to address these grievances. Sustained periods of unorganized affairs of the state and the whimsical attitude shown by the successive regime have brought a lot of difficulties.

These difficulties persist on till today, which leads to many undesirable things like the widening relation between the communities, mistrust amongst the members of the society, low level of faith in the judiciary, which leads to people taking the law into their own hands, the degradation of work ethics and moral values etc. But we know that, admission of blunders committed by the state is a rare thing. We can expect nothing significant in this regard.

Bluntly speaking, there is this trend in the state where the administration becomes boisterous only when there is a crisis or when the damage has been done already. Hope this time around, the administration is more prescient and proactive. Abiding by their pledges to the allegiance to the constitution, the elected representatives of the state will always be politically correct in their words or deeds.

But, in life, sometimes you need to take the bizarre road to reach the destination or for that matter, shout a little louder in inconsiderate words in order to be heard. That is perfectly fine. People will understand.

* Lucky Sapam wrote this article for
The writer can be contacted at sapamlucky(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was posted on January 02, 2017.

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