This write up was presented by Yumnam Rupachandra, Editor-in-Chief ,Impact News (Manipur), Secretary General, Editors’ Guild Manipur in the late Harendra Nath Barua Memorial Lecture, in Guwahati August 31, 2016
Contd. from yesterday
This brings us to the issue and question –are we truly a democratic nation? Is regular elections with increasing participation the only determinant of a true democracy?
Though India is run by a civilian government which is heavily inspired by principles of our founding father, the Mahatma Gandhi, 16 years of Sharmila’s non-violent struggle and the state’s response to it has exposed how the civilian government is dependent on the Army and in name of the National security the army can get away undermining even a Prime Minister of this country. How can than we say we are truly democratic if our army dictates the civilian government.
And then what about our media, the so called fourth pillar. Just as Manipur and rest of the North east states are far from the policymakers in Delhi, the national Media- the patriotic national media, are far from us. News coming out of the region is about the killings and bombing but never about why. The national media which para-drops, in its ( NE’s) many theatre of wars disappears along with the firefighters waiting for the local news media to break fresh wars for its Delhi bureau to command them to take flights. The National electronic media with its agenda setting talk shows have just skimmed the surface even as North East has been categorised as non-TRP region. I am told Guwahati now only one “national TV Channel” reporter. Similar is the case with rest of the states where part time stringers who are placed on “per story payments” act as “fixers” and landing pad for the paratroopers. The print media seems to be doing better but the trend, I am afraid remains same.
Assam & Manipur and rest of the states of NE share a unique relationship. Yet we are as strangers to one another as we are to many so called “mainland” communities. Because, Sharmila fasted for a cause that impacts all of us in the North east, there is need for all of us to understand one another. Historical engagements are rather used to support hostilities than to bring harmony. History has that Assam and Manipur suffered similar fate in the Hands of the Burmese. We had our “Seven years devastation” and you had your “Maanor Din” –the dark days. It is also our shared history that Manipuri princess became one of your queen and landmarks like the “Manipuri Basti” are proof of those relationship. Yet today in days of “information technology” and far reaching mass media, we hardly understand each others pains and problems. Can our media and and keepers of our ways of life and culture – like the Asam Sahitya Sabha and their counterparts in different NE states do something about? I am told the Asam Sahitya Sabha is celebrating 2017 as its centenary year. May be you could engage with different literary bodies of the north East in this year long celebration-because Assam with its “big brotherly” position in the North East needs to take a lead in bringing about a collective change in how we think and face a great challenge that is about to come to all of us- the ACT East policy.
Sharmila may have ended her fast and those supporting her may have vanished. But because AFSPA remains with all its “draconian” facets to be used on its citizens, Indian citizens and people of North East still need to be on our toes. Every weapon is considered good when used against our foes but when it is turned on you, it is another case.
After 70 years of independence, India’s march towards a mature democracy is tested by likes of Sharmila and this nations has no answer but to incarcerate voices like her and paint her anti national because she finds support of those fighting the very notion of the nation called India.
It is with this foreboding that I present this paper, for anyone speaking against this act -AFSPA, if not the from the position of a Prime Minister like Dr Manmohan Singh or former Home Minister P Chidambram, you are likely to called an anti national. Sharmila was anti national when she fasted but now that she has embraced Politics, she has join what is popularly called “mainstream.” So be it.
However just as Manipur has contributed a mighty lot in national sports, let her 16 years of fast be a contribution to this nation in making it a stronger and more matured democracy.
(0.23 % of 1.2 billion contributes 8 out of 118 Olympic 7% (nearly)