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Democracy, Head of the People and Lies: The Manipur Case

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Democracy, Head of the People and Lies: The Manipur Case

By Amar Yumnam
Imphal, April 15:

In a democracy, it is imperative and necessarily so that the Head of the People does not speak lies. The Head of the People can be at two layers – one at the Union Level and another at the Provincial Level. In any case, in a very recent case the people did not feel that the Head of the People at the Union Level was speaking the truth. The people at the provincial level felt rather that they are being treated very lowly and worthy of little respectable value if any.
It is known to the world that Manipur has been facing a crisis of inter-ethnic killings for a year now with hundreds killed and thousands displaced; despite being a powerful country, India does not have the capability to resolve this crisis even after a year for reasons best known only to the powers that be. When the Head of the People of India, Narendra Modi, mentioned and commented about it for the first time after eleven months in a press conference – record it, it is a press conference not held in Manipur and mainly related to the forthcoming Elections for electing representatives to the Lower House of the Parliament – that they (a few in the government) are responsible for resolving the crisis and bringing peace back to Manipur. The general public definitely felt and knew that the Head of the People of India was speaking a lie. The contextualised tragedy of Manipur today, very unfortunately, has some very negative qualities. First, the general public do not feel that it is right to point out the wrongs of the government for it could be very costly for him/her; fear prevails rather than trust. Secondly, the general population feel that the Union Government does not care to be concerned about Manipur for a few pretensions would easily serve what it has in its mind. Third, the media – both at the Provincial and the Federal Levels – prefer to be looking elsewhere as a more profitable approach rather than seeing what is happening in a place of people with flat noses in an expensive way. Fourth, the Federal Government does not have time to spare for a small place like Manipur where social crises could have international political economic implications while they have larger places involving richer resources and people looking more or less like the ones in control of political power and having much higher profitable economic potentials. Fourth, if the Head of the People of India were speaking Truth, we may ask why is it that the inter-ethnic fights and killings during the past week has not drawn his attention. This also happens to be a case where the so-called national media have just ignored to report – it is a by and large scenario during the last few years that drawing the favourable attention of the Head of the People is more profitable for them while attention on “small cases” in Manipur could be only expensive. Fifth, with the replacement of egalitarianism by equity has also necessarily led to the abandonment of the principle that “provided there are people in society who have not yet achieved efficiency, and provided that we have in mind limited, or at least finite, budgets and financial resources, ….views appear to converge on the same general policy prescription in the short to medium term: identify the worst off and take appropriate steps so that their position can be improved.”.
I am quoting this in order to establish that the present time demands the relative disadvantages of each region to be appropriately appreciated while framing social policies of a large and diverse country like India. After the Green Revolution period, the development needs of each region have become very diversified and the very term development cannot be thought of in a singular format in today’s India; when I talk of development, I do include the electronic and digital issues too.
Here I am reminded of a very significant book of Catherine Frost titled Morality and Nationalism, which “argues that the grounds of nationalism lie in its role in representation, and that the limits of nationalism lie in the conditions for a useful frame of reference.” What is happening in Manipur is a frame of reference where the general public sense a case of cheating on them by the Head of the People. It also happens to be a case where they are afraid to exercise their democratic strength to convey disagreement. Further still it is a case where the larger and wider media have a frame of reference devoted to giving precedence to biased preferences.
Manipur has been known for so long for her wonderful manifestations of cultural variety and beauty. Now all these are under threat with the fast degradation in the qualitative strength of social capital due to intentional interventions to destroy. There does not seem to be any governance endeavour to save the situation. Governance has necessarily to move with the people in an atmosphere of trust – a trust which is robust. From a charming atmosphere of robust trust – between people and people as well as between people and government – Manipur is now fast moving towards complete breakdown of all these. I would certainly end recalling what Jon Elster so wonderfully wrote in Reason And Rationality: “As the agent moves through time, a moment will arrive when the remote good that initially seemed to him more desirable will cease to be so, leading him to choose lesser and closer good.”

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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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