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Festival of gimmicks

If there is one thing that the people of the state can predict without the slightest of doubt, it has to be the knack of the state government to stir up controversies and criticisms; even for the noblest of intentions. Hardly has the dust settled after the Sangai Festival after weeks of frantic arrangements and haphazard touch-ups, the murmurs and rumours of misappropriations, allegations of siphoning of funds and even theories of deliberate stalling of decisions till the last minute to create confusion and omissions in accounts and other financial procedures that would have to be followed otherwise have started doing the rounds. If reports are to be believed, as of today, there are more than a hundred RTI applications seeking details regarding various aspects of the just concluded festival which will very well stir up further dirt and unwanted news later. Perhaps, the clearest and undeniable example of the style of working and administering of the state can be had from the long stretch of green screen which have been put up around the Kangla moat after weeks of last-minute show of efforts which are doomed to prove useless right from the start. It would be naïve for one to think that the state government and all the think tank that drew up the concept of ‘beautifying’ the moat would have expected the job done before the inauguration day, and yet with a show of urgency, the work was taken up anyway, much to the inconvenience and physical risk to the public owing to the littered mud and spewing dust resulting from the work. Now that the event have come and gone, work on the moat has come to a screeching halt. It would no longer come as a surprise to anyone anymore if we are to see the same state of completion of Kangla moat this time of the year next, or the year after for that matter. The management of the event also still leaves a lot to wish for, especially for the old and the infirm who have no chance of witnessing the greatest tourist show in the state. Are they, as well as the differently abled, not part of the consideration in the larger scheme of things? Turned out, the festival is a gimmick to portray a rosy picture of things to the visiting dignitaries and for the amusement for the VIPs and the well-connected, while it continues to be an exercise in desperation for the general public who have to undergo undue difficulties and suffer manhandling by the security who are supposed to be guarding the public. If those who are in charge of organizing and managing the festival have done sincere retrospection,  things could have improved dramatically over each editions, and the fact that that has not happened till now is evidence enough that the enjoyment and accessibility of the general public to the festival is the furthest thing from their minds. One thing is certain though: a few in the inner circle would have made a windfall, and judging by the turn of events, the gimmick is sure to continue without any real benefit or fillip to the proposed development of tourism in Manipur so long as the intent to provide meaning to the whole exercise is absent. 

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