TODAY -

Wasting seven months
- The People's Chronicle Editorial :: December 02, 2023 -



WITH just a day short of completing seven months, the violent ethnic conflict that broke out between the Meitei/Meetei and Kuki-Chin communities on May 3 last continues to keep the tiny northeastern Indian state of Manipur on the boil with no sign of any solution.

This is indeed very sad. In addition to loss of hundreds of precious human lives and displacement of thousands of families on both sides of the clash divide, not to speak of putting people of all communities living in this multi-ethnic society through untold suffering despite their neutral stance, waste of seven months in a year is going to cost dearly the resource-starved state in the long run.

Even if there has been no official data that we are aware of on the extent of losses suffered so far, how the agricultural activities, which are the backbone of the state's economy, got affected this year due to the ethnic violence has been well-documented by Loumee Shinmee Apunba Lup (LOUSAL), a farmers' body in the state, when the conflict entered its 5th month.

In its independent survey, LOUSAL had predicted that the state's agricultural sector may face loss to the tune of over Rs. 266 crore as around 9,719 hectares of paddy fields in the Imphal valley alone could be cultivated as farmers were afraid of going to work in their fields located in foothills because of sporadic firing attacks by armed Kuki miscreants from the nearby hilltops.

The fact that the Government of Manipur had taken note of this independent survey conducted by LOUSAL and the agriculture department subsequently came up with a crop compensation package as relief for the affected farmers to the tune of Rs 38.06 crore, howsoever small the amount it may be, shows the seriousness of the food crisis that the people living in the restive state are staring at.

With the harvesting season almost wrapping up now, we may, hopefully, get a true picture of the losses suffered by the state's agricultural sector soon enough.

Amidst this gloomy Scenario, a research team of the Delhi NRC-based Centre for New Economics Studies has cautioned that the repercussions of the current conflict in Manipur are going to be multi-faceted and not confined to disruption of economic activities alone.

In one of its recent studies, the research team, which has been involved in bringing forth a series of field-based reports spotlighting on lesser-known cross-cutting humanitarian issues that are emanating from the ongoing conflict in Manipur, has red-flagged decline in investment, loss of human capital, declining labour force participation rate, rising unemployment and migration, among other issues that the Government of Manipur and its people need to brace up for facing as consequences of the protracted ethnic conflict.

With the economy of Manipur already characterised by a high rate of unemployment and poverty, low capital formation, inadequate infrastructural facilities, geographical isolation, communication bottlenecks, and minimal industrialisation, the research team recommended that it is time for the nation to collectively work towards upliftment of the state in addressing its economic conditions, which will also help in alleviating the historic conflict the state has witnessed.

Prior to this, there was another report on the conflict taking a heavy toll on the economy of Manipur with goods and services tax (GST) collections during the April-October period contracting to 19 per cent at a time when the country's overall GST mop-up rose in double digits.

All these show that if one care to look beyond the immediate impact of the conflict, like loss of human lives and displacement, then, they would not fail to see how bleak the future of Manipur is going to be even after the end of the current conflict.

With seven months of the year already wasted and senseless bloodshed leading to nowhere other than dragging us all into a deep abyss, it is up to the suffering people themselves now to take a call on what kind of future they would like to bequeath to their innocent children.



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