Would any journalist dare to stand up and call a spade, a spade?
- Part 2 -

NS Hemam06/08/2019 *

5. The overdraft crisis was it an excuse?

The overdraft and subsequent banning of transaction by RBI was a serious blot in the state BJP Government's record. The crisis resulted in rolling of powerful heads the Dy. CM was stripped of Finance portfolio and the all powerful Power minister was stripped off Power portfolio.

Later on, as the ex-Finance minister put it, every transaction above 2 crores had the approval of CM. Then, the question arises who was at fault? Similarly, the Ex-power minister also said, 'the transactions were all within the approved budgetary allocation.' If that was the case, then where did the deficit come from? Was overdraft issue a deliberate ploy to remove portfolios from the two senior ministers? What happened to the investigation?

Where has all our investigative journalists gone? Or, are they just afraid to go the Kishorchandra way?

6. Financial crisis and massive recruitment drive

Isn't it strange to have a situation where the state had acute financial crisis (overdraft) just a few weeks ago, costing a few ministerial portfolios, and now the government is in the midst of recruiting thousands of security personals? Where will the money come from to absorb the massive extra expenditure? When there is so much uncertainty in the ministry itself, the motive to rush to get every recruitment process done in a short notice sounds very fishy.

7. What have the 'Go To Village' or 'Go To Hills' or "Go to Schools' or 'Peoples' Day' missions' achieved? Have these missions achieved the expected targets?

Serious doubts have been raised over the sustainability of such high flying missions, without appropriate institutional back-up plans. There is no budgetary allocation to cover such missions, and the officials are left in the lurch to cover the massive expenses incurred. If the mission is for awareness campaign for various schemes, it is a great initiative but if the mission is for delivering the service, it is a failed initiative.

It is high time that our media also acts as truth seekers/tellers rather than publishing only verbatim information planted by various interest groups.

8. A paradox called Manipur government

It's an irony that when people of Manipur are fighting for ILP and protection of indigenous rights, our Hon'ble CM is being guided by a Non-Manipuri as Chief Advisor. No one doubts the intellect of the individual, but his loyalty to Manipur is. It's not a parochial view of a few biased observers, but a ticking time bomb ready to boom at any point of time.

Is it morally right for the Government to let a novice (with no experience in Manipur) to hold the most important non-executive post (Chief Advisor to CM) and set the agenda for our (Manipuris) future? How on earth a Non-Manipuri could impartially advice the CM on the issues of Non-Manipuris or the state boundary issue for that matter? No wonder then an officer who questioned the veracity of Border Pillar No 81, against the liking of Central Government, is now languishing in jail.

Manipur is at the crossroads the Naga Framework Agreement issue is lurking all over the state as it approaches its final lap, the issue of ILP and protection of indigenous peoples' rights are likely to become more intense, the controversial shrinking boundary issue of the state has reached a flash point all these issues are likely to put the state in loggerheads with the centre.

Both the chief advisor and political mentor of CM being main ideologue of BJP, their priority and allegiance would naturally lie with the BJP or the centre, but not certainly with the state. Would they stand up for Manipur in case there is divergence of views between the center and the state?

I think we need to set our priority right. Our esteemed media and political commentators should honestly ask the compatibility of the present arrangement in the government. As long as the state is in sync with center's policies, the arrangement may work; but when the state is conflict with center's policies, then we would need people with Manipur in heart.

9. Manipuri tradition and the issue of protocol

Manipuris are very proud people with rich cultural heritage and tradition. Treating a guest honourably and respectfully is in our blood. However, being the Head of a State one must also respect the protocol accorded to the post. The learned media should also read the protocol rulebook and find out if it was all right for a sitting Chief Minister to receive or see-off at the airport a BJP party functionary whenever he arrives in Manipur or leaves Manipur?

It is rumoured that the same party functionary coincidentally was responsible for elevating the incumbent CM to the CM's chair. If that were the case, then that would be an extremely unfortunate breach of protocol.

10. Splurge to Media

Why should the government welfare incentives be extended only to the media groups? It may be worth exploring the freebies extended to Media persons since the arrival of the new government (starting from pension scheme to CMHT) and compare it with people working in other non-government sectors. Increased of pension to retired journalist from Rs 4000 to Rs 10000; family pension from Rs 2000 to Rs 5000; Untimely death from Rs 2 lakhs to Rs 5 lakhs, just to name a few. Now CMHT has been offered on a platter without any sweat.

Just think of how much a poor illiterate person would have to run around and provide endless number of documents from every department to get a CMHT. Besides, there are some markers as well either you have to be included in the bogus SECC 2011 or an AAY household. A lengthy and cumbersome process of photo shoots and document filing, and the usual informal fees follows, only then you are certain of getting a CMHT.

I believe our well-off Media personals should surrender their freebies offered by the government, just for the sake of journalistic morality, so that they could write as freely and responsibly as they once used to do be. It would be morally irresponsible for state media if they were to remain only as cheerleaders of the state government.

The brief is not to paint anyone with a borrowed brush, but to provide alternate possibilities and leads that may give different perspectives. It is almost certain that, given the gung-ho style some media groups and political commentators go against the "rebel" MLAs as if all the problems in the state were their creation; they would ignore such hints from unknown quarters as mere speculative. In their desperate attempt to paint "rebel" MLAs as traitors, they seemed to have forgotten that the government is run by the Chief Minister and his council of ministers, but not by MLAs.

The same could be raised about the CM as well, say, why not question the competence of a leader who couldn't control and manage his own flock? Similarly, one could also question the liability of a leader who is totally dependent on the centre for his chair if there were divergence of views between the state and the centre, say Naga issue, boundary issue, etc.

In the same way, one could raise the morality of a leader who is rejected by two-third of his colleagues. All of these could be mere speculative as well, but truth must be told by listening to both sides of the story. It is a big wake-up call for state media from its long slumber and an opportunity to call a spade, a spade to restore its credibility and morality.


* NS Hemam wrote this article for
The writer can be contacted at hemamns(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on 11 August, 2019.

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