With the perfunctory obeisance and practiced eloquence having dispensed with, it is now once again that time of the year for the state government when fervent efforts need to be invested to present a fleeting façade of the Imphal city-town to the rest of whoever is visiting the state for the much trumpeted ‘Sangai Festival’- the only extravaganza touted as the showpiece that represents and promotes the rich and diverse cultural and traditional treasures of the state. One surely cannot miss the spurt in construction and repairing activities being started in and around the main city areas. While such development activities are worth applauding and needs to be encouraged, one also cannot help but puzzle over the rationale behind the decision to concentrate such activities to a very limited area or for a very limited timeframe. The conditions of the roads, especially after the prolonged heavy deluge a few weeks back, have become worse, and one need only to travel just a kilometer in any direction from the main city point to validate the point. The city itself does not fare any better. Putrid stench and rancid stagnant waters welcome one and all, with no sign for things to change in the foreseeable future. The increasing height of the refuge bears testimony to the level of diligence of the concern department as also the strictness and efficacy of the state government in making its employees perform their assigned tasks. The Sangai Festival, no doubt, can be an event to promote the potentials of the state which, to put it bluntly, will only present another problem if the state government really and earnestly starts to explore, because of its enormity. But in order to do that successfully, there is the necessity for the state government to ensure that positive things and long term development projects have actually been initiated and are moving in the right path to progress irrespective of the rate or rapidity. Presenting a gleaming park or sparkling avenue does not constitute development, and it would be very unfortunate for those at the helm of affairs in the state to delude themselves otherwise. Be it tourism or industrialization, development demand funds and funds means investments, or more precisely investors. If we are to tap the still unutilized potential for tourism, we need to put in place certain basic infrastructures for the tourists to use and enjoy. For the potential investors to have any interest in the state, there must be a proven system which is conducive to the growth of industrialization. Sadly, both these criteria are sorely lacking at present, with no scope of change in the immediate future. But most of all, a politically stable and socially accommodating atmosphere needs to be developed for all these things to materialize. There is no short cut to progress and a lot is required to lay the basic foundation. For now, all that we are experiencing is just a flash in the pan with no substance or synergy. As is often repeated, real development comes from the villages and far-flung areas of a state. Time to focus the energy and the reserves of the state to these hitherto neglected areas then.
- Published in Editorial