By: Amar Yumnam
The recent announcement of the decision to lift prohibition by the government of Manipur has definitely not served the interest of enhancing or at least retaining the image of the government. There is one Irish proverb which I keep recalling in every opportunity – Justice should not only be done; it should also appear that justice has been done. When the announcement was first made by the government I was anxiously looking forward if the State Government was going to present to the people a kind of collaborative model in development where the private roles are given a place in converging with the governance objectives. In the case of recent announcement of the decision to lift prohibition, the government has portrayed herself to be on the wrong foot instead. All the supporting statements of the government rather seem wrong. Further, the government seems to have resorted to telling lies to carry the day, but the lies themselves do not sound convincing. It is a case of where the main arguments do not carry validity, and the lies too turn out just looking as blatant lies.
Blackwell Dictionary of Modern Social Thought (2006) defines action and agency thus: “Someone performs an action when what he or she does can be described as intentional. Actions are practical conclusions drawn from intentions and beliefs; ‘action’ and ‘rationality’ are interrelated. Sociological action theories from the time of Max Weber build on this relation in analysing action into components and types. Social actions are always part of larger systems and of processes of inter subjective understanding, and this raises the question of the role of the acting subject (‘human agency’) in the processes by which actions are coordinated. Aristotle, in his Nichomachean Ethics, saw the rationality of an action as lying in the conclusion which leads from intentions or norms and from assessments of the situation and of the available means to immediate consequences in terms of action. Action is rational in so far as it follows premises which ground and justify its performance. A minimal rationality must therefore be presupposed in any action, in any bodily movement falling under this definition. …. A simple example of purposive-rational will formation is provided by Kant’s technical imperative, the ‘imperative of capability’, in which intentions are extended from ends to means..Someone who wants something and knows how it is to be obtained must want to obtain it by these means. Even the complex process of social will formation, coming to a decision as a consequence of collective deliberation, can be described as a process of practical inference. This involves a union of many (at least two and at most all) actors concerned with a common purpose or problem. If this union is not brought about through force, threat or propaganda, it must be through the free compulsion of argumentative inference, that is through convincing reasons.”
While announcing the decision to lift prohibition the government portrayed it as if “not brought about through force, threat or propaganda” but after consulting with Experts. But immediately after this the leadership spoke in public reflecting an absolute conceptual confusion relating pineapple to beer and thus betraying the claim of a long-term application of mind on the issues. Since prohibition of 1991 came to Manipur after a long social struggle of two decades and a struggle consequent upon social and familial crises during the 1960s and early 1970s, it is important that any decision on this should necessarily be a prudent one. In other words, the government should not have betrayed itself the initial announcement that the decision was made consequent upon consultation with the Experts. This issue is very important as the government has been consistently charging the public (what an irony that the government does so in a democracy) as opposing anything the government takes up, and the primacy of initiating something on which the public would have very little to oppose to. If the Government has at all consulted the Experts on this, the announcement should have been accompanied inter alia by (I) targeted resource items for production of liquor varieties; (II) the annual production targets over time; (III) the annual valuation implications for both domestic consumption and exports to outside the State; and(IV) the potential technological collaborations identified. In other words, the Experts would definitely have analysed and understood the way of scientifically behaving as Mullard and Spicker (1998) say in Social Policy In A Changing Society: “Understanding society is mainly done in two ways. One is to begin with observations about society, and then to try to interpret those observations—identifying patterns, trends and relationships for the information which observation makes available. The second main way is to theorise about society, suggesting ideals and then seeing to what extent the social world can be interpreted in those terms. These methods are not really different; they are two sides of the same coin.”But unfortunately, it has not turned to be so on anything. On the contrary, what we are observing today in the social media is the exchange of counter-accuses devoid of all the culture of public debate.
Any public policy cannot be without some attached values, for as Easton (1965) emphasised in A Framework for Political Analysis, politics is the “authoritative allocation of value.” Let me end with a quotation from Jenney Steward’s Public Policy Values (2009): “policy values are the valued ends embodied in, and implemented through, the collective choices we make through policy processes. Values are also functional. From a psychological perspective, they can be ‘thought of as priorities, internal compasses or springboards for action’. A policy value, therefore, can be defined as the informing principle of collective action: it is both motivator and object. A public policy constructs a sense of reality by orientating both observers and participants in a kind of emotional space. The values it represents are the mechanisms of this orientation – sometimes explicit, sometimes implicit.” Manipur is still looking for a government that surprises its sceptics, which can be done only through a rationale public policy.