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Pure Milk Available: G20 and Manipur

by Rinku Khumukcham
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By: Amar Yumnam
Imphal, Nov 30:

We get Milk or Vegetables as Milk/Vegetables in Europe, America, East and South East Asia. But one of the most “incomprehensively unique” features of India is that we get Pure Milk and Pure Vegetarian Foods in this country.
Coming to Manipur, some recently evolving social characters are also “incomprehensively unique” – something like a la joining the Mainstream. The worsening scenario of youths remaining unemployed has been taken advantage of by the powers that be to cultivate and exploit a fraction of the youths for their own advantage by promising them something in return for their violent allegiance. Second, an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty has been superimposed on the potential sources of any differentials in voice and action. This has particularly affected the mindset and thinking process of the not so firmly established qualified personnel.
This context is now coupled by the failure to expand the scope for livelihood endeavours to keep alive the generalised scope for hope and positivity. Here the paradox is that the powers that be have allegiance and obligations to outside the province and not basically to the people of Manipur. This institutional fact is trying hard to conceal the fact by forceful compelling the intentional acts of as many sections of population as possible. The ultimate objective is to construct a kind of social reality which is not a product of the natural dynamics of the society but an outcome of enforced impact on “human agreement.”I cannot resist to quote John Searle, the author of The Social Construction of Reality: “we need to insist that all of institutional social reality, all of money, cocktail parties, governments, football games, and the stock market are observer-dependent or observer-relative.
Now given this distinction between the observer-dependent and the observer independent we need to notice a remarkable capacity of humans and many other animals: That is the ability to impose functions on objects. …. This leads to an important point: all functions are observer-relative. If we say the function of the heart is to pump blood, we are saying something in addition to saying that the heart causes the circulation of the blood. We are also saying that the pumping of the blood relates to the overall economy of the animal body in such a way as to contribute to its health, survival, flourishing, and reproduction. To put the point very succinctly, though roughly, a function is a cause that serves a purpose.
The crucial argument that all functions are observer-relative is that the notion of function introduces a notion of normativity. To say the heart causes the circulation of blood is quite different from saying that the function of the heart is to pump blood. Causation, by itself, sets no normative criteria, whereas functions do. Once we have said that the function of the heart is to pump blood we can talk about malfunctioning hearts, about heart disease, in a way that we cannot talk, for example, about malfunctioning stones. We can only talk about a malfunctioning stone if we impose a function on the stone. If we want to use it, for example, as a paper weight or a projectile, then given that assignment we can talk about its correctly performing its function or its “malfunctioning”. It bothers a lot of people to think that all functions are observer-relative, because they think that somehow or other, observer relativity implies no reality or epistemic subjectivity or some other dreadful low ontological and epistemic status. But this conclusion does not follow.
The piece of paper in my hand is a twenty-dollar bill, and that is an epistemically objective fact, even though, because money is observer-relative, it has an element of ontological subjectivity. Observer relativity does not imply epistemic subjectivity. It does indeed imply ontological subjectivity, but ontological subjectivity does not necessarily carry with it epistemic subjectivity. It is for this reason that we can have an epistemically objective science that deals with money (economics)even though something is money only because of certain attitudes that people have toward it. With the concepts of intentionality, collective intentionality, and the assignment of function in hand, we can go to the next step in the explanation of social ontology, the introduction of the crucial notion of status functions.
Many functions of objects and people are performed solely in virtue of physical properties. Thus an object can perform the function of a hammer, a watch, a car, or a pen solely in virtue of its physical structure. There is, however, a fascinating class of functions where physical structure by itself is not enough, rather people have to assign a certain status to the object in question. And with that status goes a function that can only be performed in virtue of the collective recognition and acceptance of the object or person as having that status. Think of what it is to be a twenty-dollar bill or the president of the United States and you will see that the objects and people in question are indeed capable of performing certain functions, but their having the status of money, or president, is crucial to their being able to perform the functions that go with those statuses.”
Bertrand Russel wrote in his The Political Ideals: “We may distinguish two sorts of goods, and two corresponding sorts of impulses. There are goods in regard to which individual possession is possible, and there are goods in which all can share alike…….There are two kinds of impulses, corresponding to the two kinds of goods. There are possessive impulses, which aim at acquiring or retaining private goods that cannot be shared; these centre in the impulse of property. And there are creative or constructive impulses, which aim at bringing into the world or making available for use the kind of goods in which there is no privacy and no possession… The best life is the one in which the creative impulses play the largest part and the possessive impulses the smallest.”
Whereas the resultant social reality and intentional actions of individuals as members of a society should be ones coming out of the play of the impulses as explained by Russel, in Manipur today the person in status maintaining governance is possessed by the what Russel calls possessive impulse. The functioning of this impulse has reached a level where there is a kind of competition generated among susceptible individuals to display convergence to this impulse. This is why we saw individuals participating in discussions on G20 and with no knowledge of what it is but with the impulse to converge digested. Pure Milk Is Available.
By the way, G20 has no subscription, no constitution, no secretariat and with the Chairmanship rotated annually among the five groups of countries. There are already scholars from Germany as to what is the reason for this G20, and other scholars from Europe and South East Asia questioning the performance of G20. There is no obligation binding the Member Countries to comply to any decision taken. Even climate change area is one where G20 is facing existential question.

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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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