A collection of opinions sourced from Manipur-based English newspapers and published after the Assembly Election 2017

Pic: Shankar Khangembam/E-pao


The New Chief Minister: His Strengths and Challenges

by Amar Yumnam

Imphal Free Press

Manipur is facing a most critical phase in her evolutionary trajectory as a society and most challenging time for a Head of the People to prove his mettle. The last few decades have been facing rising socially divisive articulation of interests. There has been a very politically shrewd Head of the People during the last decade and a half. His political acumen has been put into service more for personal political gains. He had the political clout to evolve a shared and encompassing transformation scenario of Manipur, but unfortunately he focused his political capability on something else.

The gut feeling of this person was visible no doubt in the lifting of AFSPA from limited areas in the plains of Manipur. But he unfortunately stopped short of applying this strength to the cause of the entity called Manipur as a whole in something other than this act. The power of this gut strength was also visible in the creation of the Seven New Districts, but this has turned out to be mainly political oriented instead of part of a larger design for a grand Manipur.

This is exactly where the new Chief Minister has come into the scenario. He comes into the position in the context of the widespread feeling of failures and lapses of his predecessor. Since he represents the wishes and expectations of the people of Manipur for a change from the administrative style of his predecessor and the consequential challenges of this, the challenges he faces are of a larger kind and of bigger consequential implications. The larger the challenges, the bigger the opportunities. This is where the inherent strengths of the new Chief Minister need to be appreciated.

In a discussion on the current political scenario and the likely implications the other day, a good colleague of mine pointed out that N. Biren also possesses the gut strength of his predecessor to respond and act on a situation. I also agree with this. Besides I also feel certain additional strengths in the new Chief Minister. A very senior and highly reputed scholar on international relationships telephoned me from West Bengal enquiring if the news of a footballer becoming Chief Minister of Manipur was right. He was happy to hear confirmation of this and I am also happy on this fact.

This is because the new Chief Minister has an inherent characteristic in him in working and achieving goals in a group. This is a very important personal trait in a Head of the People in a democracy. The second characteristic I would value in the new Chief Minister is his background as a journalist. This experience as a journalist would certainly couple the strength as a Football Player. As a journalist, he definitely must have seen the dynamics of the crisscrossing of the diverse and conflicting, if any, interests in play in Manipur. Further, he is not a political novice. Above all I would like to add a personal view on him. In the many years of close interactions with him, he has always displayed a shared and larger design for Manipur. This is not a small prerequisite for a political leader in Manipur, given the historical and contemporary contextual realities. All these qualities would stand him in good stead while facing the contemporary political challenges for social transformation in Manipur.

Now that we have a Chief Minister with aptitudes prepared to face the contemporary socio-political challenges for a Smart Manipur, the question is what next. The first few steps and statements emanating from him are very positive. First, he has shown his long term commitment for evolving a governance which touches the life of the people of Manipur irrespective of terrain and distance. But extending coverage of governance without generating opportunities for participation in the development process would be only imposition of violence. This is exactly where another statement of the new Chief Minister is considered a very positive one among the Social Scientists, particularly Economists in Manipur. He has emphatically stated just after assumption of charge of administering Manipur that he would apply his governance to evolve a kind of development model which brings about development contextually in all the terrains of Manipur. As someone conversant with the latest trends in development thinking, I find this particularly attractive.

Further his reported statement of creating market centres in the mountain areas of Manipur also sparks a kind of new development trajectory for the people in the interior regions of Manipur. This is a wonderful understanding of the development needs of the people living in the mountain areas of Manipur for increasingly delinking from the exploitation of the fragile nature and linking more with the market. This is the only way to nurture entrepreneurship and facilitate emergence of new economic activities in the mountain areas of Manipur. In fine, in N. Biren we see someone conscientiously committed to establishing a new Manipur where opportunities are equalised and development is inclusive.

If the new Chief Minister is able to carry forward his convictions and establish the development trajectory he has in his mind, it would be path-breaking. He would in this case establish a kind of place in history for himself in a way qualitatively very different from that of his predecessor. Now that his ideas for designing a new Manipur have shown the glimpses, the immediate challenge lies in forming a stable political coalition. We wish him luck in his efforts to prove his political acumen.

The Formation of New BJP-led Government in Manipur

by Khelsoril Wanbe

The Sangai Express

The fifteen-year long reign of Indian National Congress under the leadership of Okram Ibobi has finally come to an abrupt end. The former footballer, journalist turned politician and former congressman Nongthombam Biren has been appointed as the leader of the new government.

People of Manipur had been wondering as to what would be the outcome of the General Election of 2017, what would be the popular mandate of the voters. At some points in the run up to the election there were serious doubts about the ability of BJP coming to power in Manipur especially in view of the boisterous wrangling and tussles for leadership and candidacy in the party.

There were predictions galore that only very few seats would be won by BJP mostly in the hills and that Congress would return with thumping victory; but quite contrary to the predictions of those political pundits, BJP won a handsome number of seats and the incumbent party lost considerable number of important seats leaving them with just three seats short of the required 31 MLAs to form a government.

With bated breath we waited to hear which of the two, Congress and BJP, manage to acquire/secure the required 31 MLAs by any means to be in a position to form the much awaited new government. The INC with 28 MLAs was thought to have the shorter or easier road to power but Bharatiya Janata Party whose national heavy weights were camping and keeping vigil at Imphal somehow managed to come up with the magic number of 33 MLAs. Now that the new government has been formed, people of Manipur, both big and small, are anxiously watching what positive changes are brought about by the new government under the leadership of the new honourable Chief Minister, N. Biren .

A number of grand and tall promises were proffered by the BJP on the eve of the General Elections. Now the time has just started for the new government to begin to act. The Act East Mission is now at its best favourable time to get translated into action and reality without further procrastination. However, what cannot be winked at at the moment is how the new government is going to keep itself up in a good form given the fact that it is a Coalition and not a single party government.

It is high up in the realms of speculations and surmising as to how long the new government is gonna last – Is it going to last the full five year term and even get consolidated and go beyond into the next term or is it going to derail abruptly before the maturity of time owing to some unforeseen developments are the two million dollar worth questions that perplex the minds of the people.

Alleviation of unemployment and poverty problems, reduction and eradication of corruption, better development of infrastructures like road, rail, air connectivity, provision of cheap and efficient internet facility, provision of piped potable drinking water to every household, provision of job to every family, connecting of all districts with four lane highways etc are some of the visions of BJP that were highlighted before the elections. People were enchanted by the grand promises and despite all the unfavourable circumstances surrounding the party, BJP managed to secure 21 MLAs.

That was indeed a great achievement on the part of this party which had never experienced such success in the past. All these had happened by dint of the party being the ruling party at the Centre. And as everybody knows BJP has been achieving successes both at the Lok Sabha Elections and State Assembly Elections by virtue of the stand against CORRUPTION by the party and particularly its leader, . Narendra Modi who has been projected as spearheading a national campaign against the hydra headed monster called CORRUPTION.

I personally feel that it is not on account of its being a religious fundamentalist party backed by powerful Hindu religious organisations that BJP has been experiencing a series of success in the recent time but primarily because of it being seen as a probable force or wave against corruption, unemployment, poverty and underdevelopment.

In fact, the party needs to always keep in mind the trust and high hopes that the people of India repose on it to be an agent of change and force against corruption, poverty, underdevelopment etc and that politics is a dynamic entity that keeps on changing from time to time – what is true in the present time may not be so in the future.

Presently, BJP is the most formidable political entity of the nation and its wave has not failed to make a powerful impact in the state of Manipur. However, despite all that have transpired in the past few days the party and its government cannot remain complacent and incautious of what may develop any time.

The only source of confidence and security seems to be the fact that BJP is the ruling party at the centre and by past precedent what we observe is that Manipur, being a tiny dependant state, always looks up to the Centre for perpetual financial help and support. But in the game of politics, it is always difficult to accurately predict what will happen next.

Keeping aside all that might or might not happen in the coming days, what the people of Manipur expect the new government to do is to translate into reality and actions all the promises that it had made and all the visions that it had presented on the eve of 2017 General Election. There have been allegations and accusations of the former incumbent government being indulging in corruption and this and that but one should not forget all that it managed to accomplish during its long fifteen years reign.

All their accomplishments had been highlighted in the past too. The former CM Ibobi led government too was undeniably a dynamic one that made many things really happened. Some of the remarkable ones include the introduction of prepaid power billing system that completely revolutionised the way we experience and perceive power supply in Manipur, completion of a number of projects like Capitol project, Manipur High Court, significant development of JNIMS, completion of Flyover Bridge, completion of Ima Market Complex, completion of Convention Halls, Completion of Sanjenthong Bridge, recruitment of Medical doctors, engineers, MCS, Nurses, and other employees in various government departments etc.

On the negative side, there were many complaints and accusations of the government being indulging in corruption, the frequent bandhs, blockades, strikes, agitations, uprisings etc . One very disturbing event that began only few months before the Election was the indefinite economic blockade called by United Naga Council against the proposed formation of two new districts namely Sadar Hills and Jiribam and its continuance in the aftermath of controversial declaration of seven new districts.

. N. Biren , on his appointment as the new Chief Minister of Manipur, asserted that resolving the blockade crisis would be his priority and expressed his desire and intention to bring about egalitarian development in the state citing the composition of his new coalition government comprised of representatives of all the different communities of the state. The people of Manipur are in high hopes that the new government will keep its words of doing away with corruption and striving to bring about an economic equilibrium in the hills and valleys of the state.

Downfall of Congress party in Manipur and India

by TK Haokip

The Sangai Expres

The Congress Party has been ruling India for more than 57 years out of 70 years of Independence in 1947 and in Manipur for the last continuous 15 years with O. Ibobi and Gaikhangam as the Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister respectively.

During this 15 years regime Ibobi has been holding most of the important portfolios including Finance resulting to desertion of the party by most of the senior Congress Legislators except the junior Legislators who cannot raise any question against the Chief Minister.

In addition to this he left his home-Constituency (Khangabok) making his wife its Legislator and now his son, MLA of the same Constituency. This is an insult to and a great loss for many leaders and people of Khangabok Assembly Constituency.

During the rule of Congress, there have been bandhs, blockades, communal tensions, more and more dissensions among the different communities of the State, corruptions, misgovernance etc. in the State. They blame the UNC, NSCN (I-M) and the Centre for the 100 + days Economic Blockade imposed by the UNC for their wrong steps of creating 7 new districts within a night for Election campaigns without considering the difficulties to be faced by the people of Manipur while implementing the new districts.

As the UNC did not agree to withdraw the Blockade, the Central Government sent many Companies of Para-Military forces to escort the vehicles carrying essential commodities for the people of Manipur.

But, to misguide the common people the State Government did nothing just to blame the Central Government/B JP so that the people of Manipur may vote against B JP. But, their dirty games failed and the State is now ruled by the B JP and its allies. Alas! Almighty God is there and suppressed now the corrupted Congress Government in Manipur.

The Congress Government have attention to Thoubal District and Imphal City only forgetting/neglecting other districts of the valley and the hill areas of the State. Such divisive attitude of Mr. O. Ibobi is no longer tolerated by the leaders, the youths, literates and Civil Society Organisations of Imphal East, Imphal West and Bishnupur Districts and took crucial role in eliminating the Congress Government from the State.

The Congress Party in Manipur and at the Centre should accept that a new generation has come after 70 years of Independence and should co-operate the new Government and its Party as corrective but not destructive Opposition Party and not to criticise everything whatever done by the Ruling Party in a Democratic and Federal Form of Governments of the States and the Central Government as Opposition parties are not foreigners to criticise the Government all the time.

Democratic form of Govt. means the Government run by the majority of total number of the Assembly or Parliament and there is no question of single largest party in the Constitution or any Act. 50% + 1 and above of the total no. of the House means the majority to form the Govt. Counting only larger parties and neglacting / not counting the smaller parties is not Democracy.

Lastly, the claim of DESAM boycotting Jiribam AC MLA Ashab Uddin is not expected from the State’s one of the trustworthy Students’ (literates) Organisations like DESAM. If it is a fact, it should have been raised by other candidates during Nomination, Scrutiny, Withdrawal or election Campaigns. Boycotting a person after having been elected is like illegal and forceful ill treatment of minority people by the majority without any reason and it is not welcome and not expected from .the majority community of the valley, if we expect blessing of Manipur by Almighty God.

The Congress is defeated now and it will never come back again in India and Manipur. Hence, it will be better for the elected junior MLAs to leave the Congress and join the BJP for development of the Constituency and the people they are representing instead of travelling in a sinking ship by leaving the senior 7/8 MLAs who had earned much from the Congress rule during the past 15 years.

Almighty God will bless Manipur now with the rule of BJP-free from corruption with good Governance. Then, Manipur will surely become Sanaleibak. May Almighty God bless Manipur and all communities in Manipur to live in peace and communal harmony.

Testing the Patience of Manipuris, the Congress-UNC Way

by Dr Mohammad Imtiyaj Khan

Imphal Free Press

Every election time, Manipur is blockaded by hillsmen particularly Nagas (in 2011 and 2016). Back in 2006-07, the blockaders were hillsmen, Kukis and Nagas together. And, the peculiarity of the blockades/bandhs was that it always culminated to Congress’ victory in the following election. At least in the last three elections, excluding the just concluded election, preceded by widespread protests/blockade, O. Ibobi ended up becoming the chief minister notwithstanding the turmoil prevalent just before the elections. This trend indicates that the Congress party is hand in glove with anti-social elements who resort to bandh/blockade at the drop of a hat. More so, the Congress is a party that works for nobody, not even for the party itself, except for cheap politics to be in power. The lamp of socialism and accountable leadership lighted up by freedom fighters has now gone dim and it will be extinguished by its own members in days (not years!) to come if the results of just concluded Assembly elections in five states are to be taken seriously.

Self-damaging politics

In Manipur, over time, the party has proved its unbreakable commitment to the self-damaging political tactics. Take for instance, in the last five years of Congress Government, Manipur had seen a series of public outrage. In 2012 and 2013, United Naga Council (UNC) imposed blockades/bandhs on and off demanding alternative administrative arrangement for tribes in Manipur. There was brewing trouble in 2014 on account of inner line permit system (ILPS) demand, which reached its peak in 2015 causing wide-scale damage to public property, forced shutdown of schools, colleges, University affecting academic activities severely, and crippling the economy and daily life. In 2015, the first half of the year witnessed public unrest demanding implementation of ILPS played out in the valley districts, whereas the second half played out in hill districts opposing the demand of the valley people. The ILPS chaos overshadowed another bloody agitation, which continued till late 2016 resisting the state’s illegal land acquisition for National Sports University, and high handedness in tackling the genuine concerns of Affected Land Owners’ Association against Forced Land Acquisition for Sports University. Apart from these major issues, communal passion was whipped up allegedly by implicit patronage of people in the Government on several occasions at Uchiwa Nastao in 2014, Mayang Imphal, Lilong Nungei, Kakwa in 2016 targeting Pangals. In addition, clash between Kukis and Meiteis at Moreh in 2015 aggravated the grievous situation. Law and order condition worsened as there was increase in number of mob-lynching of Pangals culminating to an open gun-fight in Mayang Imphal between Meiteis and Pangals, both valley-dwellers of Manipur. Writing for The Wire on the trend, Pradip Phanjoubam, editor of Manipur’s leading English daily, lamented:

‘Regrettably, the Pangal community in Manipur has come (to) be stigmatized as habitual offenders given to petty crimes like vehicle theft, shoplifting etc., so that in the Lilong mob frenzy, once the victims came to be known to be Pangals, there was likely to have been an extra kick from some or a more vicious punch, causing much more grievous injuries to the victims.’ (Ref. 1).

It is worth mentioning that the Ibobi Government worked overtime to compromise the parties involved and settle the matter without legally pursuing and punishing the culprits of the numerous cases of mob-lynching. It is abominable fact that mob-lynching had happened even for as unseemly and unconvincing a cause as calf theft by none other than a school head master.

Economic loss

During 2008-2011, there were around 600 bandhs/blockades along NH2 and 37 (Ref. 2). Out of the total 365 days, 224 days were affected by bandhs and blockades in 2010 (Ref. 3). This severely affected the state’s economy. A cursory glance at the available reports released by the Directorate of Economics and Statistics, Government of Manipur revealed that due to bandhs/blockades/strikes in 2004-05, Manipur lost Rs. 7.7 crore per day, which increased to 30 crore per day in 2010, and 36 crore in 2014-15 (Ref. 2 and 3).

RSS-styled majoritarian politics

By now it is a common knowledge that Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s (RSS) plan to make India Congress-free is not by defeating the party politically but by ideologically assimilating the Congress into RSS-fold, thereby weakening the political strength of the party. Congress has been practising majoritarian politics in the guise of secularism for many decades resulting in RSS’ rise in popularity so much so that the communally divisive politics of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), political party backed by RSS, has gained acceptance among the electorate and is now enjoying absolute majority in Lok Sabha. Many disgruntled Congressmen have spoken out against this covert practice. Congress Working Committee member A.K. Antony once admonished party workers to stop ‘being congress during the day and RSS at night’.

Back home in Manipur, the Congressmen have tirelessly paved the way for the success of BJP, by not focussing on good governance and realpolitik, to make electoral inroads in Manipur. Multiple defections from Congress to BJP ahead of Assembly elections were like icing on the cake for the saffron party. This contributed to a sharp rise in vote share from 0.85%, and 2.12% in 2007, and 2012 respectively, to a whopping 36% in 2017. This is really what defection means.

UNC blockade saga

Forget about good governance in Manipur, the Congress has been employing nefarious designs just for electoral gains. A case in example is the way Congress handled UNC declared indefinite economic blockade along NH37 starting from November 1 last year protesting the state Government’s alleged attempt to carve out new districts from Naga-inhabited areas. The Government anyway went ahead with the plan to create not one, but seven new districts in Manipur. In response to the UNC-called economic blockade, it was surprisingly amusing to hear Chief Minister Ibobi ‘s insensitive remark in the media that there was no need to have a public discussion under tent on the formation of new districts as it was merely a matter of administrative convenience.

The three-time CM could not give a valid reason as to why his Government did not create the districts in the beginning/middle of his third term or earlier, instead of doing the same towards the term-end. Public were even doubtful that he consulted the members of hill area committee (HAC), required under article 371C, as they had put in papers protesting the ILPS bills in 2015 meaning that they will be not taking part in decision-making process. Later, the vice-chairman of HAC alleged last December that he was not consulted and hence, he was resigning from the post as well as primary membership of Congress.

The timing of the decision to create seven new districts in financially-crunched, infrastructure-challenged, increasingly-corrupt Manipur, where under-staffing and non-payment of salaries have been marring the Government offices, was questionable as elections were knocking at the door. If the timing of the decision indicated anything at all then it was an attitude of passing the buck while scoring political points just ahead of assembly elections. Interestingly, the recusant public refused to be recoiled and coaxed into believing the CM’s justification of the timing: to avoid political instability and disturbance to development works his Government was doing or intended to do. Soon enough, the people’s hardships turned into communal passion between hillsmen and plainsmen, while the clamour of ending the blockade became ller.

Even so, Ibobi Government steered clear of talk with the blockading United Naga Council at Kangpokpi to end the stalemate citing a reason that UNC cannot dictate the terms and conditions of the talk to the Government. UNC, on its part, repeatedly demanded immediate release of its arrested leaders to facilitate meaningful talk, though the Government turned it down every time asking UNC to lift the blockade first to hold talk. However, to calm down the perturbed electorate just before the elections, the Government afforded to airlift the jailed UNC leaders from Imphal to Delhi to carry out a tripartite talk, involving the Union Government, which failed miserably.

After that O. Ibobi had reportedly spoken time and again during election rallies and press meets that his Government was ready to talk with UNC. United Naga Council also has been saying the same. The inconvenienced and hapless public also want the talk to happen, but it has not happened meaningfully to lift the blockade. It appears that UNC and Ibobi Government are two sides of the same coin: one exists because of the other.

The way ILPS, communal tension, widening hill-valley gap, and United Naga Council blockade issues have been dealt with had vividly exposed how the Congress government is testing the patience of democracy. The Government lacked in political will to take decisive action on socio-political issues and pulled itself away from realpolitik. As a consequence, the vote share of the party slumped to 34.7% in 2017 from 42.4% in 2012.

Manipur Vision 2030

by Dr Bishwanjit Loitongbam

Imphal Free Press

As per instruction of India’s PM Narendra Modi, NITI Aayog aims to triple India’s GDP by 2032. Underpinning this initiative, annual GDP growth rate is required to grow at least eight percent on average for the next 15 years. This initiative is known as ‘India Vision 2032’. It is undertaken in accordance with United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). According to UN, SDG is defined as ‘development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’.

At the Millennium Summit held in September 2012, UN had adopted a vision called Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to free the world from extreme poverty and to uphold the principles of human dignity, equality and equity. It has eight main targets. They are – reducing extreme poverty and end hunger, providing primary education to all children, promoting gender equality and increasing women empowerment, reducing mother or child mortality rate, saving lives from HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases, ensuring sustainable environment and developing global partnership for development of different countries.

Even though all of these targets had not fully been achieved ahead of 2015 timeframe, some of the targets were fulfilled. For example, the extreme poverty had been reduced by half in 2010.Between 2000 and 2012, in Sub-Saharan Africa, 3.3 million of people had been saved from Malaria.22 million lives had been saved from tuberculosis in 1995.2.3 billion people gained access to safe drinking water. Primary school enrolment of boys and girls increased significantly in equal proportion in developing countries. Women started holding important position in political arena. In 46 countries, it makes women occupied 30 per cent of their total MP.

By 2013, developing countries increased their exports to developed countries by 80 per cent thereby reducing their debt burden. In spite of these achievement, protection of environment, reducing hunger, averting death of children less than 5 years old due to malnutrition/undernourishment, reducing infant or mother mortality rate, etc. could not be reduced. These targets have been failed to achieve up to the extent it has targeted. Though access to antiretroviral therapy (ART) for HIV infected people saved 6.6 million, it further requires expanding its coverage in order to save many more.

In continuance of MDG, UN has recently proposed ‘The Vision 2030’.It contains 17 SDGs along with 169 targets. It is mainly based on MDGs and its unfulfilled targets and also a step to convert those targets into action. This vision contained17 important SDGs namely – 1. No poverty, 2. No hunger, 3. Good health and well-being, 4. Quality Education, 5. Gender equality, 6. Clean water and sanitation, 7. Affordable and clean energy, 8. Decent work and economic growth, 9. Industry, innovation and infrastructure, 10. Reduced inequalities, 11. Sustainable cities and communities, 12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production, 13. Climate action, 14. Life below water, 15. Life on Land, 16. Peace, justice and strong institutions and 17. Partnerships for the goals.

In conformity with the Vision 2030, NITI Aayog has initiated to make vision 2030 for India too. As far as North East States are concerned, making of Vision 2030 document for Assam, Nagaland and Mizoram is underway. Likewise, Manipur is also preparing ‘Manipur Vision 2030’ document. Centre for Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy (CSSEIP), Manipur University has solely responsible for making this vision document. It is highly recommended that while making this document one should thoroughly examine SDGs, NER Vision 2020 and Act East Policy. It is a step to lay the foundation of future economic, political and social condition of Manipur. Some points are highlighted herewith to be considered in making this vision.

Manipur’s NSDP should try to achieve double digit growth rate. This economic growth alters sectoral composition – agriculture, manufacturing and services sector – of our economy. It is questionable whether agriculture should be expanded more or we should give more priority to already well-developed services sector. On the other hand, it will be prudent to include some policy program to improve our retarded manufacturing sector. If these three sectors can attain a balanced growth, then the motive of making the vision bears fruit. Investment is highly needed to regenerate this region. We should carefully examine what kind of investment and from whom we should look for investment. A priority list should be made stating what investment should be taken from which countries and how this investment should be attained, and what investment should be asked from Centre. In order to enable local firms to sell our local products to the global market, we should make a policy program to find out what and which products should be focused and produced. A roadmap should be made to increase economic activity of each 8 states by connecting Manipur to other North East states through value chain link.

People’s standard of living and quality of life need to be improved. It is highly necessary to gain access to safe drinking water to every household, and to improve transportation and communication means. The two national highways which are considered as our lifeline remain as usual. There is no new road being made. When Act East Policy is fully operational, Manipur will be called a gateway. The condition of national highway connecting from Imphal to Moreh is not up to the level of international standard. It is necessary to construct express way to connect Manipur with other states and foreign countries. Our energy used is going to be increased in coming years.

It is impossible to establish heavy industry in Manipur with this current state of energy such as power. Presently small and light industries are facing many difficulties in undertaking their economic activities due to shortage of power unit. So, it will be highly benefitted if we can highlight the adequate and necessary energy and infrastructure facilities for making Manipur an ‘industrial state’ through this vision. Urbanization process has not been kicked off in Manipur yet. The rapid expansion of this process should be encouraged. Rapid urbanization process leads to higher economic development.

It should ensure to provide primary education to all children particularly girls without leaving any behind. Our health sector is still highly backward. Forget about hill and far away regions, there is any good government hospital in sub urban areas. Thus, all rush to RIMS and JNIMS for treatment. There is still news of child or mother death during child birth. The number of HIV infected person has not been reduced. The participation of women in Manipur politics seems insignificant.

Promoting women participation in decision making body in Manipur is necessary. It will be good if we reduce deployment of women only for distributing tea, handing over certificate, memento during award distributing ceremony and for felicitation program. This condition might improve only when they attain higher level of education and they are promoted into decision making body as possible as we can. We should try not to deteriorate from the present environment condition as well as we should try to improve from this present state. In SDGs program, it contains not only to conserve life on land but also life on water. It is recommended to include policies to use natural resources efficiently and effectively to develop our state. In short, it means that it ensure ssustainable environment and sustainable use of natural resources.

In order to bring about a change and development in Manipur, every section of our society should work together. ‘Manipur Vision 2030’ has provided this opportunity. To make this vision complete and more sensible (or realistic), we should contribute our best to it. Bringing about a change in socio-economic condition of Manipur at a large scale requires inclusion of necessities and need of each section of the society after thorough examination. It requires honesty and sacrifice. In order to make this vision success, it requires to state clearly how to implement ‘monitoring process’ and if we fail to make a plan about how to do ‘resource mobilization’ in order to achieve those targets of the vision, we will face a big problem in the future.

If someone wants to give any suggestion or commend regarding ‘Manipur Vision 2030’, Please feel free to contact at this email (csseipmu@gmail.com) on or before 25th March, 2016.

Manipur and the Democracy of the ‘Others’

by Chingya Luithui

The Sangai Express

With the election and the political intrigue of government formation over, for most individuals in Manipur, it is back to the everyday grind of their ‘normal’ lives—a normality defined by inefficient governance, corruption, ethnic divides and its concomitant politics of the ‘others’, diktats of armed groups, martial powers of the police and armed forces, infrastructural deficiencies, etc, to name a few.
An essential strain in Manipur is the inability to bridge the sense of ‘otherness’ each community feels, and the failure to accommodate the different perspectives that result from this.

Take any issue in Manipur: be it infrastructural deficiencies, the pathetic education and healthcare system, issues of land and territories etc; in every community, be it the Chin-Kukis, Meiteis, or Nagas, there is an immediate tendency to feel victimized without really analyzing whether these are issues common for all or whether there are shared experiences and, if at all, common solutions can be identified. There exist an ironic situation where problems are owned as ‘ours’ in so far as it allows one to feel unjustly treated but not when it comes to the question of taking responsibility, then it becomes the property of the ‘others’.

Then the blame game starts. Tribal groups will point fingers at non-tribal groups and vice versa; people in Imphal will blame those not from Imphal; valley-based organizations will accuse hill-based organization and so on. It is a pervasive malady that has infected each an every level of social interactions in Manipur. This tendency becomes a problem in itself. It leaves no one accountable, especially those who hold the reins of governance.

Tied into all these, and a root cause, is a very distorted understanding of democracy in Manipur. Simply put, the hallmarks of democratic governance is one which guarantees the rights of citizens, where rulers are accountable, the process of governance is transparent, and in which everyone participates on an equal footing in decision-making, and specifically which ensure the consideration and inclusion of minority opinions in all processes and thereby restricting and preventing the hazard of an individual or a dominant group hijacking the system for their gains, particularly at the expense of others.

Unfortunately, as it stands right now, ‘democratic’ governance in Manipur is all about the power of the majority along with which come privileges of doling out favours to the ‘us’ and, conversely, of exercising dominance over the ‘others’. This majoritarian mindset has removed public institutions and the process of governance from the reach of those who genuinely need access. It has led to a situation where legitimate concerns are unaddressed and viable options left unexplored.

Unfortunately, once majoritarianism takes hold, there will always be an expendable minority of the ‘others’ at every social level and at whose expense a few inequitably benefits.

For instance, it has been a constant assertion of the various communities living in the hill areas of Manipur that they are discriminated and inequitably treated when it comes to the distribution of development schemes and projects vis-à-vis those settled in and around the valley areas. Whether this is true or not is another matter; however, in such a context one often sees the formation of an ‘us valley’ collective which readily spring to the defence opposing such claims of the ‘others’ from the hill areas. But move away from this scenario, say toward an issue confined to the valley area itself, then interestingly even within the ‘us valley’ collective, one notices a number of fissures that indicate the ‘otherness’ of some. The same is true for the hill areas.

However, a general feature that can be noticed in the ‘othering’ of some is that often they are the weakest, the most vulnerable, and the poorest within a given social set up. In other words, how otherness is defined depends on the locus of privilege and power one enjoys and is able to exercise.
This trend of ‘us’ and ‘them’ has been so effectively milked in Manipur’s political arena that it has become institutionalized which further feeds into the vicious cycle of divisive politics. It has obstructed the implanting of meaningful democratic institutions like free elections, rule of law, transparent and accountable bureaucracies etc. As a result, political parties (including informal political groups) have hijacked all available democratic space and transformed into instruments of control; it has further stunted the growth of independent political thinking and severely impeded the exploration of innovative practical solutions.

The priority then is clear: to build democratic institutions that are inclusive. However, the processes toward this have to be principle-based and the initiative has to come from the people themselves. A principle-based approach would allow room for levelheaded, and unemotional, exploration of fundamental issues such as the question of land and territories, territorial integrity, equitable distribution of political seats and economic benefits etc. It would allow recognising and respecting the differences in the identity of each ethnic community and being practical in regard to their different, and sometimes contesting, political aspirations.

The starting point in all these has to be the acceptance and respect of the principle of the right of each community to self-determine. Unless this is recognized and acknowledged, it will be a futile exercise; Manipur will remain stunted at the puerile level of the politics of surviving with much of its people indifferent as it does not offer them anything that substantively improve their lives.

Election Regale In Manipur– Reflecting A Societal Point

Roviso Marza

This short essay was published by the Sangai Express one day before the Phase 2 election

Many do not like the churns of elections, even those dealing the subject. It is often considered a pattern run by those who are for it, and for them alone. Other professions and those disliking it end to stay away even during voting, apparently due to election’s volatile form, however powerful it gives. Are elections really corrupt? Which type of people should take part in it? Certainly it’s not corrupt per se. It is only by people who fail in the field bears bad testimony.

Politics has its spur which is inevitable; it doesn’t depart from the heaves we so want to breathe in life. It is an element to governing peoples’ life which requires serious commitment and devotion like any other profession. Election is an agent of politics trying to engaging people their interests and outlook of the world. Civilized societies had undergone similar spate of contests that our side faces now, although we are still held far behind from these societies who exercise freedom according to values and respect. ‘Money and force’ has no scope for them to win election, because to them politics has tall claims of humanity and commitment.

Our part of the world sadly rolls into a disturbing mess, waxing paradoxical scenes and hatred. Politics at best, is the art of the possible. It allows clear political contestations and conduct, whereby judgment is taken on ‘fairness’ and values of the people. This is the kind of model which democracy allows people to acquire their course of freedom, to think one. The atmosphere is wide loose as well as promising. Interestingly today, many in our society talk on this buzzword politics in their ‘aimed coffers’ without else know the braid of it. Money does not draw all practices no doubt. There are but those run in the lure of blind politicking and much daring to it for money.

I have had the personal witness of it recently, the shameful part of this ill in our land, our own people. There are yet indeed, good motives doing their part – ‘my vote for truth’ campaign, selfless take on politics with vision, and genuine involvements around the same plank of connecting people. Many of the interview clips on the Hill candidates I listened online are echoed excellently on the ensuing Manipur elections scheduled March 4 and 8, 2017. Thanks to Indigenous Voice for garnering such values into our society. But votes for what and for whom, has proven many times futile due to not standing by it. Politicians must reconsider their stake very seriously, let alone followers and voters. The price of damage and failure is more than anyone of us wants to pay, as put by Kofi Annan. And our scuffle today would not easily heal the scars unless taken first to clean our house.

In a significant record of democratic elections, the recent one of the United States took jibe over incorrect manoeuvres in media and social circles which America does not regard in its pride of values. Interestingly, the republican won the presidential election popularly on factors over wrong projections and overrated strength by the democrats. Apart from the conservative claims of the republican policies, many Americans did not want their democratic values to be on wrong lines and monopoly. CNN commentator quotes views of voters saying the people didn’t want to be humiliated that way through regulated views, hence the citizen mindscape increased against the democrats. It went to reiterate that the force of democracy is with the ordinary people, and that they would only decide their own political fate.

The choice of democracy in our political spectrum misses almost all the values prevalent in the societies referred during elections. Freedom to politics, as generally followed in any democracy, has miserably seen our society in blatant negligence to public interests and demand. Democracy has for clear reasons departed from the bastion of the public. Good governance for one, should anticipate the resilience of democracy, in so far as the people would exercise freedom to restrain any force jeopardizing their rights and security. However, democracy must be invested on correct application of the values in society. It is not a necessary triumph of majoritarian politics. The ideology would commensurate with patterns and interests of the people in the long run.

Although democracy is regarded to the best desired form of government in the modern society, it suffers defeat during elections on such assessment of the people forming the polity. Ugly part of democracy also evolves when individual liberties manifest towards individualistic interests. Considering these aspects of democratic operation in society, democracy would redeem its long standing goals through agents and institutes responding sincerely to the enormous demands of the people. Leaders enjoying democratic mandate of the people must realize that the powers of democracy resonate on societal values and change, which people regularly attach in their normal ventures.

Our society is no exception to the findings of democracy drawn from various societal lessons, because elections offer good avenues to reflect societal polity and values. For Nagas, when we are taken by a chunk of political movement with anguished frontiers, the lot of elections across the business has spawned an added importance to question. More importantly, the helm of power being employed by certain groups to curb free and fair poll would only defeat the organizational objectives of entering electoral politics. The larger scope behind ideal elections cannot be ruled out in our society even while there are justified election manoeuvres and plans done exclusively. It is to not think pragmatic over a game of elections in our own world frame while at the same time subscribe to the election mode which has tremendous impact and modernity over the age. Open platform of debate now operates in large parts of India during elections, which is anticipated by all. Voters here don’t expect money from candidates but are eager to hear from candidates the issues and programme ahead.

The system has been successful in conforming to values of choosing a leader on actual assessment point. On account of these understandings of democracy and politics, though limited, and which has included Naga’s situation, I reasonably see the current political formula of our actors a disdain record. The critic applies to all sections of the state in Manipur. Worst government that can be imagined has been voted to power in recent past and should hence recast wisdom to see change in our land. However, with election sizzles grappling our homes, I humbly feel concerned and thus urge our folks that anything of violence and ‘force’ is to discard; anything of peace and respect welcome. Shall we not envy our society on respectable and honourable ground?

Threats and ploy in tune with ‘election regale’ only shows how much one place on the wrong lane of politics. Look to a world so wide and clear, lest we all rest with elections under India’s ‘brute state’.