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Love in Pandemic times and Lai Lamthokpa

by Sh Ajit
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Idea of strengthening the administrative structure in rural and hill areas is not bad in all possible meanings. This idea will be subscribed by one and all. However, the idea of strengthening should not be confused with Lai Lamthokpa and MeleiLangba. Let us not forget one fact that the authority of Government is extended all over the state, be it ‘villages’ or be it ‘hill areas’; and state agencies are there in every square inch of the state.
The ideal picture of N Biren’s idea of ‘Go to Village’ or ‘Go to Hill’ is understood by many in different connotations. Some take it as the ‘physical presence’ of chief minister in a particular place on a particular day to deliver the ‘benefits’ of governmental, state or centre, schemes (as Chief Minister always counts the number of beneficiaries on every event). If physical presence of Chief Minister and his followers dominates over identifying the structural weakness and loopholes in administration, then the very idea of strengthening and reaching out the villages and tribal peoples is defeated. Physical presence and giving political speeches, as it looks like today, in a particular place and delivers some benefits which are expected to be done by officials (from District Collectors to Section Officers to Peons) are not proper ways of strengthening administration in rural and hill areas. His ideal concept is defeated by his own action; this may be due to lack of clarity and proper understanding of what he thinks.
Even in feudal days, the King used all his men at a different levels of administration, from a Leikai to Khungang to State level; sometimes the King himself went to some important and strategic places to interact with people so that he would be able to overcome or adjust the weakness of the structure. God did not show his miracles everywhere. In modern times, Chief Minister needs not to go every square inch of the state, he has to ensure his men are working properly and are performing in accordance with available schemes under different policies. Giving a wheelchair to a PWD in a hill station or a village does not signify anything. It looks like throwing out some coins on the road when Churachand Maharaja came out of his palace to show his authority over his subjects. If Chief Minister, as there is no Churachand Maharaja these days, likes to help needy persons in accordance with the principle of the welfare state, he should look into various departments linking with social welfare schemes, not that he helped one person who set in his eyes. Helping a road-side sweeper who came across while ‘Chief Minister’ is cycling in his leisure time cannot be equated with fulfilling the duties set in the constitution; likewise taking ten-thousand applications on a one-day event of ‘Go to Village’ does not suit the goal set by the same principle. It is not even the ‘showcase’ of various departments; it is a loss of ambitious governance to the feudal ego.
Make feel the people that the government is everywhere and the government is a democratic government. For this, rural and hill peoples should be integrated into the democratic ‘mainstream’ rather than speeches and activities for electoral gains. Integration requires complex coordination of different departments, agencies. This was known perfectly to those feudal kings of the state. Using khullakpa, lambus, Maibis, and performances like Lai Lamthokpa, the ancient and medieval kings could successfully integrate the peoples, urban, rural, or tribes. One should however know that the feudal mindset, institutions, and performances cannot hold water in democratic systems. You need to develop, strengthen democratic agencies, administration. Chief Minister is not EibuLoibaLeimaba; his council of ministers is not Angam-athou. Even though no one knows whether Narendra Modi performs rightly, one should understand not even the Prime Minister is EibuLoibaLeimaba, but a Pradhan Sevak.
Moreover, loving people is good; to show your love, you do not need an event. Amidst several thousand fears due to pandemic, crowd-pulling events, like the rallies from Mao to Moreh or Going to hill stations or villages, are not a proper expression of love. Let the people come to different departments according to their needs throughout the years and serve them every day with your agencies. Simple logics suggests to think, on a particular day, if ten-thousand persons are given their benefits (out of public money), then what the government and its agencies did in other 364 days. Practically, Chief Minister cannot go to every single village in his five-year tenure, then showing love, that too in pandemic days, in the crowded event does not mean anything but just a meleilangba.
As one suffers if he crosses the front line when Umang Lai marches along the road, one should not be made suffered if he crosses the line of Go to Village because Chief Minister is neither king nor umanglai. Moreover, Go to Village or Go to Hill should not be a mere event; it should be a continuous process in which even the single person sitting in the Chair is immaterial rather than the idea of democratization of every single feudal and tribal institutions, laws and associations.

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