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The Social Direction in Manipur: Time for Inevitable Rethinking on Leadership

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The Social Direction in Manipur: Time for Inevitable Rethinking on Leadership

By – Amar Yumnam
Imphal, April 22:

France happens to be the First Country I had spent time outside India. The spring season of 1994 was the period I lived in France; though visited the research centres across the country, I was based in Paris of all the places of the Great Nation. Spring was such a lovely period to study the comparative scenario of the experiences of Industrial Revolution of France and the United Kingdom. There were certain indigenous factors in the French experience and I did produce a paper on this. Maurice Aymard, one of the top Social Scientists at the global level happened to like my paper very much, was leading the institution I was attached to in Paris and he so lovingly offered me to keep staying and not to go back as none ever wanted to go back to India. As for me, I insisted on going back and came back for two reasons. First, there is our Manipur, which needed and more so now, the application of academic and intellectual mind to make our birthplace to enhance her nature-cultural attractiveness to still higher levels and make it multi-dimensional; this is a very personal and natural pride of a Manipuri. I would like to add before proceeding further that, as my mother had breast-feeding problems, I was breast-fed in quite many places by our Hao Imas (Tribal Mothers) in any place wherever we went; I know retrospectively that our family – my lovely parents- did not have the ethos of differentiation. Second, I was the eldest surviving child of my parents, which made me to think for going back.
Now one may ask me as to why I am recalling this experience. It is true that in those years we did not have access to the digital telephonic system. But in the occasional communication with the family and friends over the landline telephones, we were made to feel missing the home and prefer going back. But today, with increasing intensity we read and hear about diversifying news of a society – a society whose character, cultural beauty, natural attractiveness, coherent inter-ethnic relationships, and other qualities of potential enrichment are all moving in the negative direction. The kind of news we keep hearing about our motherland every now and then only reminds us of what Robert Heinlein asserts: “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyse a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”
It is in this present context that I am reminded immensely of some books I had read while I was in the Los Angeles for a year during 2006-07. The first book I remember is Thoms Wren’s Inventing Leadership: The Challenge of Democracy. It does look like that our motherland is deeply suffering from deficiencies in this arena. Manipur today is very much like a society which has lost her sense of social philosophy. She has lost the sense – the social sense of – of how a Few (political leadership in a democracy) should connect with the large (the public). While democracy is enjoying both deepening and widening at the global level, the scenario is increasingly wearing a dress of endeavouring of a few colluding with a few to possess the leadership and exercise dominance in a violent way. Democracy ultimately implies continual evolution of a relationship between the Few and the Public such that there is increasing empowerment of the general public. But this definitely not what is getting revealed by the present happenings in Manipur.
I would like to assert that Manipur needs a contextual rethinking on state, leader and leadership. Let me end with Thomas Wren here: “If concentration shifts from ‘leaders’ to ‘leadership’, … new possibilities beg into unfold. Leadership should be understood as an influence relation among leaders and followers that facilitates the accomplishment of group or societal objectives.1 This shifts the focus from the leaders to all members of the polity, and suggests an ongoing process of mutual influence. The central tensions of a democracy remain, but the leadership process, if properly understood and implemented, holds the promise of mediating those tensions. For example, one of the central dilemmas of democracy arises when there is a belief in the power of the people, yet at the same time a distrust of the ability of the people to govern well. Leadership is a construct that seeks to mediate that dilemma through the actions of leaders, structural constraints and the utilization of appropriate processes. In a similar vein, leadership, rightly understood, mediates the tension in a democracy between the desire for strong and visionary leaders and the deeply held values of participation, egalitarianism and diversity. In short, leadership, both as a construct and a reality, promises to hold the key to a viable, functioning democracy in our postmodern world.”

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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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