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Same planet but worlds apart

by Rinku Khumukcham
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Manipur, though small with its myriad problems and lacunae, haven’t lagged behind in celebrating any and every festival and occasion, and with increasing gusto, one may add, over the years. The revelries and observation functions, though, haven’t had much impact on the outlook of the society as a unit which points to the fact that the organisation of such observations and occasions are carried out more with the intent for gaining political mileage and popularity rather than to impart the importance and publicise the vital theme of the occasions, and while everybody who claims to have a say in the way things work, be it the politicians, bureaucrats of civil activists, whether with cocked guns or without, are spouting the right slogans from the texts they so meticulously prepare beforehand in their feeble attempts to gain acceptance or submission from the public, the gist of the matter has been lost in the melee. There is so much going on in our state, which unfortunately happens to be the wrong kind, and everybody is busy blaming the other guy with studied finesse and dexterity, all the while extolling virtues about themselves and the sacrifices they have professed to have committed for the public. The public, fed up with the senseless mudslinging and counter accusations, have settled down to make the best of the situation, trying to carry on with our own lives as best as we possibly can, while the powerful, influential and intimidating ones are left fighting for a piece of the pie meant for the disinterested general public. The ironical part is these are the very ones who are self appointed to carry forward the aspirations of the common man. Governance has been reduced to a game of one-upmanship and opportunitism at the cost of development and progress. The immediate riches and profits have far out-weighted the need for sustained growth and planning for the future, and the myopic outlook is only getting worse. Halfway across the world, another scene is unfolding even as we are going about with our inured existence. In Santander, a quaint port city in the northern part of Spain with a population of just under 1,80,000 (2013 census which will be more precise than any method or means ever used in our country), around a thousand sensors are being installed at various public places that is proving to accelerate the development and cutting the cost of governance in a very short span of time. Sensors inside the street lamps are reporting back about the condition of the garbage in the area as also the availability of parking space, making real-time management of public facilities a breeze. Traffic conditions can be monitored and accessed to plan alternate routes in case of congestion in a particular route, and files/documents can be traced and tracked across the departments of the government. All these facilities can be accessed and utilized by the residents through a centralized site, and complaints and recommendations can be looked up by the public to check if they have been acted upon. Such a system, if one could use just a bit of imagination, could drastically and forever change the society and the system of governance from the tooth and nail fight for gains and glory to one which puts the people and their everyday lives at the forefront of planning. Maybe the overworked heads of our society could do with a much needed break at Santander in the near future, if only to come back with the memories that would make them sit up and flush once in a while.  

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Imphal Times is a daily English newspaper published in Imphal and is registered with Registrar of the Newspapers for India with Regd. No MANENG/2013/51092


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