Symptoms and antidotes

A screenshot of the PDF I had created for this piece

Now that we know the symptoms,
we can get the antidotes

It's no more a secret how the union of India is averting the Northeast to keep the region as a frontier. The blatant error of its nation-building is best illustrated in the anarchic Manipur, where the contest for power between the military and the militants is playing havoc with the social, political and economic development processes. The solution or even the pursuit of a way out seems next to impossible.

Over the years, we have been observing several symptoms of this malaise called state. Politically so incorrect these terms are, but we cannot help anti-establishment ideologies taking roots; the negative progress of mutually exclusive histories of different groups of people; having redefined colonial occupation and military suppression; and other disgusting social mores.

The government is always at fault in these regards. Its employees are a disgruntled lot; it cannot utilise funds properly from New Delhi; and above all, the leaders are spineless. But at the end of the day, it is like pointing our fingers at ourselves for it is only us who elects these representatives. We have to have an attitude that we cannot be taken for granted. It should not only be for the name's sake that we live in a democracy.    

This state is no master of its own destiny -- the reasons, though, are not far to seek. One of the most pervasive feedbacks is its location, being situated towards the eastern end of the hostile Himalayan ranges. It obviously calls for policy improvements to ease the geographical constraints and what we need is the attention on action-oriented specific measures -- the implementation of which would be measurable and feasible. And now, the moot point is not in diagnosing more symptoms; rather it lies in finding the antidotes. Yet, if things were that easy we might not have been suffocating in this melee. 

Earlier this year, the Senior Citizens' Society made a dramatic announcement to bring the conflicting parties on the table but they had to retreat awkwardly after a diktat from one of the rebel groups. Simultaneously, what the state has been doing to end this problem is akin to making the Burmese military hide its tails between its legs. Simple reason: we live in an insurgency-infested region and are seemingly more militarised than our despised neighbour.

Reduce the expenditure in recruiting policemen and bringing in paramilitary forces. Only a few people have confidence in them anyway. Instead the money can be invested in providing quality education and establishing accountable governmental institutions. The fear psychosis of the people should be obliterated so that there exists a condition conducive for taking up constructive work.

It has become a cliché that the AFSPA 1958 should be scrapped, seeing that it has failed to contain the issue whilst bailing the military out from gross human rights violation. And why are these rebel groups reluctant to sit for talks? They are hesitant to come forward and at the same time the people, with multiple self-interests, are also disinclined about talking sense into the social unrest. Disinclined and neutral are the people, simply because bullets are so cheap.

With so little space between one crisis and another, it is pertinent that the people should ever be on guard. We will be more proactive this way than being reactive that we always have been. When the state is incapacitated, we have the additional burden from the individual level in bringing a radical change and justice in the society. For that, we need to fine-tune our consciousness.

Now we are back to our debate with the mainland. At face value, there is a confusion regarding the political solution in the state. For us, it is the end of insurgency whilst it means a totally different thing to the non-state players. As such, we need to redefine the controversial Merger Agreement. The ball is in New Delhi’s court.

The textbook approach to claim India as the largest democracy is as flawed as the greed-driven Indian Premier League. The concept of frontier must change from a mere boundary area to one of its own land. A prospective future power it is, there is little doubt about its sustainable resources – apart from heavy military deployment -- to maintain a tiny state like Manipur. Otherwise, we will ever be miserable and which in turn will have a direct impact on the national prestige.



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