Transformation of government into governance in Manipur

Transformation of government into governance in Manipur

Written By: / Articles / Wednesday, 21 December 2016 17:09

(Changing complexion of civil society: an assessment)

Dhanabir Laishram
Basically, the state itself is a society. Which can be divided in to two -   one is the political society and another is civil society. So, civil society means society minus government. But in democratic institution people’s partnership with government in order to make policy and implementation for the welfare of the greatest number is imperative today. The voice of the people should be channalised through mass media, political parties and civil society organizations from political environment. If the state is fragile, no one could get the positive response. So the role of CS in these critical days of the state is really significant. In connection with this, to examine the response of the government towards democratic politics is really worthy because the root cause of all the political violence in NE in general particularly in Manipur is related with this.       
The growing importance of civil society has also brought with it a variety of constraints and pressures. In reiteration of some of the maladies that have inflicted civil society, it can be pointed out that the civil society has not been conceptualized tightly, that is why varied perspectives on its meaning, nature and composition have come to camouflage its very essence. It has been observed by Neera Chandhoke that just as the attention paid to the state has failed to account for civil society, the focus on civil society fails to comprehend its complex relationship with the State. For instance, in Manipur like other Indian states, civil society is seen by most intellectuals as a hot-blooded association of social groupings, which are based on ethnic interest or on religious mobilization by conceiving the idea that they are assimilated coercively. The genesis of this problem is mainly colonial legacy of British and capitalist economy of India. In this economic system, privileged groups whether he may be from hill or valley got maximum values. So people always claimed that they are periphery from centre. But because of identity politics, instead of reacting against the structural injustice they also give their aspiration as periphery within periphery. Civil society of the majority community tried to minimize such trust deficits. On the other hand government tries to make more and more voluminous of internal contradiction within them.  
Ethnic identities have always been fluid in Manipur. This fluidity gives considerable scope for political entrepreneurs to reshape the boundary and the concerns of the identity of a community. In recent years, the process of modernization and participatory politics and access to media, and other technological devices have actually increased the mobilization potential and sharpened the self-image of splinter ethnic groups and sub-national identities, quite contrary to homogenizing efforts of modernizing elite. For instance, civil society groups like United Naga Council (UNC) in Manipur always asserted only the interest of Manipuri Nagas and Kuki Inpi for only Kukis while All Manipur United Clubs Organisation tried to bring unity among all the ethnic groups in the process of unity-criticism-unity. AMUCO hade already launched campaign for unity, development and peace. According to AMUCO, it could be brought by fighting together against the State if the state can’t give economic justice evenly in order to have living together and growing together.
But assertion of ethnic interest and reaction of each other make conflict situation in spiral. Even they have their ethnic army and fighting each other. That is the product of Globalisation, which associates with three fundamentalists, religious fundamentalists, ethnic fundamentalists and market fundamentalists. In that case robotically the complexity of civil society will be more and more in bottomless.
When civil society is seen as tradition, the internal contradictions between communities and within communities is completely overlooked. Andre Beteilli argues that the well –being of modern institutions can be guaranteed only if civil societies are understood as comprising truly autonomous bodies. In the view of Dipankar Gupta, there is a need to be wary of giving in to traditional solidarities and associations, as they are unfavourable to the modern institutions.
Civil society by itself, Observes Neera Chandhoke, has no technological virtue, unless it is accompanied both by an interrogation of the sphere of civil society itself and a project for democratizing civil society. And a call for rolling back the state has no particular virtue, unless it is accompanied by a determination that the oppressions of civil society will be dismantled. The ability of civil society to prevent the state from exercising absolute control is an essential but not a sufficient condition for democracy. The existence of civil society as a sphere of participation, deliberation, dialogue and contestation is no indication of the capacities of individuals to participate in all these activities.
Critics have even pointed out the various limitations of the idea of ‘social capital’ in explaining State-society interactions in the context of developing countries. It has been felt that there are a few potential problems associated with the development of civil society institutions that would nurture social capital. Looking at the State-civil society institutions develop in an authoritarian environment and what the State can do in enabling the growth and expansion of those institutions, the emphasis is one the ‘recursive cycles’ of the interaction between the State and civil society actors.
Here one may analyse the authoritarian environment of Manipur in which the State does not in favour of expansion of civil societies because such interaction between the two sides always brought against the wishes of the ruling elites. In a real sense it should be happening in the democratic system. Sometimes, the State deliberately tries to crust all of them. Recently maximum numbers of civil societies’ leaders were arrested and put into the jail by charging as anti social groups. It is happening so often in Manipur. As consequence the member of civil society seem to be in violent activities. That is the indication of authoritarian regime.
 As we have already mentioned that the civil society organizations are generally equated with NGOs. If NGOs are seen doing welfare and developmental work, we feel civil society is working well. This approach ignores the intermediate institutions and their role in the society. This tendency also limits our understanding of a broad process of interaction among different types of organizations. The concept of civil society, points out Alan Whaites, has been ‘grabbed’ by NGOs as one relating closely to their own natural strengths. On the surface, civil society is intimately connected with the role of local community associated or groups, and with the indigenous NGOs sector.
In the globalization scenario, it needs to be kept in view that among the donor agencies, the interest in civil society has been associated with the evolution of the conditionality of aid in the 1980s. Donors have begun to re-appraise the role of civil society in providing a foundation for sustainable democracy. The combination of donors’, NGOs and UN’s interest provides the background to what has been termed as the civil society ‘grab’.
The States are adopting new strategies, using NGOs for their own purposes.  In short, State-centred and society-centred approaches are now providing problematic and inadequate. Importantly, it is believed that the civil society approach is itself problematic, if it does not take cognizance of global civil society. The States are adopting new strategies, using NGOs for their own purposes.
The idea of global civil society combines elements of both anti-state and anti-nation positions. The growing size, sophistication, and influence of the Global Civil Society Organisations (GCSOs), have been facilitated and actively encouraged by one major factor-the Neo-liberal consensus that emerges from the power centres in the west. Among other things, the consensus dictates:
i) The State, particularly in Third World countries, should withdraw from the social sector.
ii) The market should be freed from all constrains.
iii) Communities in civil society should organize their own social and economic reproduction and well –being.
The State has thus been liberated from its traditional responsibilities of providing the conditions of human flourishing. This stance is particularly complex in context of ‘governance’, as the State has to assume the role of facilitator and catalyst in bringing about just and egalitarian governance. The Neo-liberal State’s roll-back ideology is misplaced in the context of developing countries like India. The same fate falls in the context of Manipur also as part of India.
The vision of civil society minus a well-defined role of the State is therefore replete with serious consequences, which not only weakens civil society, but also jeopardises the future of GCSOs. It has been pointed out that by drastically reducing the importance of proximity, the new technologies change people’s perceptions of community. The potential for building global civil society might come at the expense of weakened identity with one’s State and with the civil society within one’s country. In the absence of a global public space and an opportunity for dialogue, robust global community may remain a distant dream.
In the development administrative discourse such as public choice approach, and now the New Public Management (NPM) make an endeavour to provide alternatives to bureaucratic hegemony. But while the public choice perspective seeks to reduce individuals to utility maximisers and focuses on individual interest, it does not provide the mechanism for arriving at a collective general interest. The NPM, on the other hand, treats the citizens as mere clients and customers. The Pluralistic, Communitarian, New Public Service and Network Agency perspectives give due regard to community, non-bureaucratic institutions and values, but do not focus much on the development of the idea of autonomous, self-reflective, humane and conscientious civil society with an accent on genuine public interest.
That means there are not alternatives to the institution of the present representative democracy and the market. The future would, be the endless repetition of more of the same, with politics centred in bureaucratic problem-solving, limited social engineering and liberal compromise.
This, indeed, is a very pessimistic projection of the socio-economic and political reality. If one goes by it, the alternatives to absolute State or market control over production and provision of goods seem almost elusive. A ray of hope could be democratic decentralization, participative decision-making, institution-building and community management of resources through different civil society organizations which can surely solve the problem to some extent. Voluntarism and associationalism have been a part of the culture in the developing countries, their potential needs to be harnessed, more so, in the globalization situation. The very fact that the number of community organizations, voluntary agencies, self-help groups, and non-public, non-market associations has grown tremendously in the last decade is a step in the right direction. It needs to be seen that their welfare and developmental goals are not sidelined or discarded. The best example could be mentioned about COFPAI (Committee for Peace and Integrity) and its campaign to bring peace in Manipur when there was ethnic clash in between Naga and Kuki in Manipur.
COFPAI was formed by arriving together 48 voluntary organizations of Manipur including UNC and KIM under the initiative of National Research Centre (NRC) Imphal. Other prominent member-organisations include such as All Manipur Ethnic Social and Cultural Organisation ( AMESCO), All Manipur United Club Organisation (AMUCO), All Manipur Students Union ( AMSU), All Manipur Women’s Volunteer Association ( AMAWOVA), Fraternal Green Cross(FGC) a leading NGO in Manipur, Friends in Need Society(FINS), People’s Democratic Movement (CDM), and Chanura Lamjinglen Kangleipak (CLK), etc.
This is indeed a significant achievement as it took place amidst the speculation that the ethnic armies of both the groups involved warned their fellow tribes to abstain from participating in any of the meetings organized by the government or any organisation aimed at restoring normalcy and peace.
COFPAI started its movement with the motto of peace, integrity and development of Manipur. For the successful reconciliation of conflict, it is necessary to have as its stepping stone, concepts and tools for the analysis of conflict, and also to identify the debatable issue of the conflicting parties. For four months COFPAI surveyed all the hill areas and other places of Manipur to understand people’s aspirations. In this survey, COFPAI volunteers visited 1500 villages and 915 camera meetings were held at different place during that period emphasizing communal harmony and fraternal ties of brotherhood. The movement launched by COFPAI caught the imagination of all sections of population mainly younger generation of Manipur both hill and valley. Finally COFPAI could turn into practice the objective which was dreamed by its members.
The United Nations Development Programme (1977) has viewed governance as “the exercise of economic, political and administrative authority to manage a nation’s affairs at all levels. It is the complex mechanisms, processes and institutions through which citizens and groups articulate their interests, exercise their legal rights and obligations, and mediate their differences”. UNDP has laid down following characteristics of good governance viz, participation, rule of law, transparency, responsiveness, consensus orientation, equity, effectiveness and efficiency, accountability and strategic vision.
Thus we have several interpretations of governance and use in several contexts. The way in which changes is taken place i.e. government, governance and good governance. New public management is relevant to the discussion of governance because steering is central to the analysis of public management and steering is a synonym for governance. Osborne and Gaebler distinguish between ‘policy decisions (steering) and service delivery (rowing)’.They argue that bureaucracy is a bankrupt tool for rowing. Hence, they propose entrepreneurial government based on certain principles, viz, competition between service providers, empowering citizens, focusing on outcomes, decentralization of authority, catalyzing all sectors, putting energies into earning money, missions and goals, etc.
New public management and entrepreneurial government share a concern with competition, markets, customers and outcomes. Governance calls for more steering, providing impetus to other forces, rather than rowing. The emphasis has thus been placed on ‘enabling’ rather than ‘providing’.
Good governance means bringing about goodness in all the three sectors: government, civil society and corporate world including transnational corporations. Good governance is a tryst with trust, a commitment of the people, for the people, a social contract for the greatest good, and the collective conscience of the community.     
From the above paragraphs, we come to understand that earlier the term ‘governance’ was used in a broader sense of government, which is not appropriate in present times. Governance means more than maintaining law and order. In other words, we can say that it is a participative system in which those who are called upon to govern on behalf of the people are motivated with a will to giving their best, serving and doing well to the people, solving their problems and making their lives more liable, satisfying and enjoyable. But before Manipur attain statehood (1972) and up to 1990, the ruling elites of the state were administering the state by their own wishes not based on people’s choice and reflection. That is the outdated concept of government. It could be transformed into governance when the government makes partnership with the civil society and starting to open their eyes for giving economic values to people and protection of their rights. One may come across such state function in later part of today’s Manipur whether for the good of the greatest number or not is another question. The following discussion will give the real picture of it.   
Basically, the question of good governance is raised if the state is fragile in character. In the fragile state the decision making and process of implementing it are not always based on people choice and reflection. So it has full of negative indices such as:
1. Electoral rigging and irregularities.
2. Protest demonstrations by the use of violence.
3. Anomic disturbances under-ground activities and armed attacks.
4. Political defections for selfish gains.
5. Fragmentation of political parties.
6. Suppression of dissent.
7. Idolisation of the rulers.
8. Glorification of the official ideology.
9. Political assassinations.
10. Politicisation of the armed forces.
11. Commitment of public services to the line of ruling party.
12. Wide corruption and maladministration.
13. Concentration of powers
14. Mass arrests and
15. Foreign interference in domestic matters.
In this political development of Manipur, one may put a question again that what the people are entitle to and what they receive? So, civil society is enthusiastically waiting the total quality management from both permanent and temporary executives. It indicates that we have need meaningful partnership for governance by large scale participation of masses as attentive publics. Therefore in this paper, my effort is to examine the governance concern from civil society point of view and how it can go hand in hand. There are a number of aspects in this chapter. Firstly, I seek to identify the various governments concern in Manipur since Chief Commissioner to today’s government whether they are administering for the interest of the both hill and valley people or not. Secondly, I intend to examine the civil society and its response to the government. In this analysis, one could easily see transformation of government into governance in Manipur. If it could be happened with its good governance, it can occupy the middle space by maintaining social, economic and political justice, automatically peace will be followed otherwise it could not be beyond the question. (Concluded)

About the Author

Maheshwar Gurumayum

Maheshwar Gurumayum

Maheshwar Gurumayum, Sub-Editor of Imphal Times is a resident of Sagolband Salam Leikai. He has been with Imphal Times since 2013. An avid adventure lover, writes mostly travelogue. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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