18 Oct, 2013, New Delhi
A round table “Towards a Resurgent Manipur: Reflections on the Challenges and Prospects” was held at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi to commemorate the second anniversary of the People’s Campaign for a Resurgent Manipur. A new website (resurgentmanipur.org) was also launched in the anniversary.
Noted journalist Kishalay Bhatacharjee chaired the event. In his opening remark, he stressed on the importance of technology and citizen participation in forming a healthy civil society. The new website, he said, will play a major role in creating a space for discussion and dissemination. He explained, “New social order and the internet are playing a major role in it, more than the stringent traditional media“.
Speaking on the anniversary, Dr G Amarjit Sharma of the Northeast India Studies Programme, JNU, spoke on the idea of Manipur, particularly on cultural and political ideas as one area that we must address for a resurgent Manipur. He questions the popular belief that arrival of Hinduism is a major factor which is driving a wedge between the hills and the valley. He argues that a rethinking on such issues as a part of idea of the Manipuri is needed to put in perspective some of the critical existing sociopolitical condition in the state.
Dr L Lam Khan Piang of JNU in his observation emphasized the need to address ‘common issues’ across different communities as a crucial starting point for imagining a new Manipur, besides addressing competing demands from different sections of the society. He also reminded the gathering that the issues and problems that we confront must be looked upon primarily as our own creation and we must look for the answers within ourselves rather than looking ‘outside’ for solution. He further reminded us of the abysmal infrastructure and the lack of governance beyond the towns.
The other speaker Dr Kamei Aphun, who teaches Sociology in Delhi University expressed the need for “conflict resolution should come through capacity building”. He also draws the attention of the gathering to the need to look at the way ‘history’ has been read or interpreted as one site which contributes to the conflicting situation in the state. He points out the dangers of ‘colonial writers’ take on the history and situation of the state which some tend to accept uncritically. He further insisted on the need for a “inter-community’ forums or exchanges to deal with some of the issues that confront the state. He also brings out the gaps in development issues between Manipur and other states, including from the Northeast as well as within Manipur. One critical issue that we fail is, according to him, the inability to accept the increasing social differentiation within the state and its impacts on the very nature of ‘solidarity’ in Manipur.
Earlier the programme started with a welcome address by Davison Kumam and a brief introduction to the history of the campaign that started on 18th October, 2011.
After the round table, Dr A Bimol Akoijam laid out the following aims and objectives of the Campaign as (i) fight against the private and vested interests that seek to undermine the basic fabric of a collective life in Manipur and (ii) bring about a new political culture wherein public morality and issues of public importance play significant role in our society and polity.
Correspondingly, he noted, the Campaign seeks to (i) cultivate a culture of dialogue and debates in order to generate informed opinions and choices on public issues and (ii) make the political class, public institutions and leaders accountable to the citizens as individuals and as a collective.
And In pursuance of the above aims, the Campaign seeks to (i) encourage and cultivate the involvement of private citizens in the affairs of the collective, and (ii) engage and monitor the functioning of public offices and institutions as well as the ways in which public officials and elected representatives of the people respond to or address the issues of public importance.
He also shares that although the Campaign has been initiated by a group of citizens—mainly, professionals, students, youths — of and from Manipur who are concerned with the prevailing state of affairs in our beloved state and thereby seeking a change towards a new and better Manipur wherein the people—as collective and individuals—can live with dignity and well-being, those who have initiated the Campaign are only the facilitators and co-participants of a process for a resurgent Manipur. The Campaign is fundamentally all about self initiative and involvement of each and every citizen of Manipur to bring about a change in the affairs of our beloved state and thus, it is, and has to be, a Campaign of the citizens, for the citizens and by the citizens, he added.
He also explained the purpose of the new website is to encourage and cultivate the involvement of private citizens in creating informed public opinions of public issues as well to monitor public institutions and leaders. The hallmark of the site will be its attempt to provide a platform for the general public to share and monitor the government departments and activities of the assembly constituencies and MLAs
Later, Dr A Bimol Akoijam along with the president of the function, Kishalay Bhatacharjee, officially launch the website, resurgentmanipur.org. The anniversary was also marked in Imphal by members of the Campaign along with other civil society groups and concerned citizens.