TODAY -

Next Cabinet meeting at Ukhrul or Tamenglong?

Free Thinker *



Sometimes it gives us a sense of belongingness when powerful people (Ministers) come and take crucial State decisions at our place and also take cognizance of our woes and worries. It may be symbolic but it has emanated a strong message for reaffirming the ties between the people and the government.

The Cabinet meeting recently held in Churachandpur was a sapient step in the right direction. Next Cabinet meeting may be held in any of the far flung areas of the State.

Advisors may question the prudence of such meetings. They may opine that it is sheer wastage of time, money and energy. It is glaring demolition of tax payer’s money from the State exchequer for political stunts and gimmicks which serve no purpose. Intelligent people also know that such measures are to influence the gullible minds and impress the masses.

However in a democracy common people are more important than the wise advisors and intelligent people. Many a times logic and rationale does not work in public life and governance. Matured politicians can fathom the minds of the people and they act or pretend to act according to the whims and fancies of the people.

During the first NDA regime at the Centre there came up a proposal to link all the Northeast State capitals with railways. This idea was floated by some political novice from the region. It was struck down instantly by economic advisors and experts saying that these are not commercially viable lines and moreover the cost of construction will be obscenely high.

The then Prime Minister who was a visionary intervened and perhaps maintained that ‘we should not be guided by loss and profit alone at the time of nation building; these rail lines may not be economically viable but these lines will remain vital arteries of the nation; these lines will certainly strengthen the unity and integrity of the country’.

Finally in principle the idea was approved and even mentioned in one of the budget speeches of the Rail minister. After him nobody bothers to pursue or pick-up this powerful idea. Sometimes we miss out very crucial issues as we always give prime importance to profits and benefits. There are many things in life which are equally important as economic development and material growth.

The idea of oneness, feeling of belongingness, emotional integrity, brotherhood/sisterhood, sense of security etc., are equally important for a people.

Even for that matter the Manipur State Transport (MST) is again a useless venture in terms of economics and commercial profitability.

But it not only provides cheap mode of transport to the people but also it serves a systemic purpose; most importantly the buses of MST are the symbols of the State( which are often set on ablaze during bandhs and blockades) and they also signify the presence and benevolence of governance.

Most of the State transports in the country are running into losses but they still run their buses because they are still serving both the people and the State. I was told by a senior bureaucrat that there is only one state transport in the country which is running with profit. I am still searching for it.

Many of our problems are triggered or propagated by non economic causes. For instance the cry for breaking the State, demand for expansion, revolt for a separate state or union territory etc., are the culmination of neglect, suppression, oppression, deprivation , alienation etc. Far sighted leaders and statesmen can comprehend the weal and woe of the people. And they are the ones who surely know the pulse of the people and act accordingly.

We all know the cost of conducting a cabinet meeting at Tamenglong is exorbitant. All the cabinet ministers are to come along with their officials plus security. Transportation and accommodation will be a major headache. If they go by car it takes about 6/7 hours to reach the district headquarters. If they take the Helicopter, just calculate the expenses.

Moreover the presence of top bureaucrats including the Chief Secretary and concerned officers is necessary. Even if the number of officers and staff are slashed, a bare minimum is a must. What is that bare minimum? In fact logistics and infrastructure will be a humongous challenge. Still I insist to move out of the comfort zone.

Do you seriously think that holding a cabinet meeting at ‘Mao’ will serve any specific purpose for the people living in and around the town? Yes, of course it will certainly make the people feel that the government has given some kind of respect and recognition to them and to their area.

Many may remain skeptical about such seemingly futile exercise. But it has a magnificent purpose to serve. Carry on Darling!


* Free Thinker wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on July 26, 2017.


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