Ads for Appreciation
We have a ritual of publishing in newspapers an ad for appreciation whenever our elected representatives complete some sort of a task or a business. So far so good, but we have failed to realise that we have the mind of a slave that prompts us to appropriate this charade over the years.
Thagatpa Phongdokchari (Expression of Gratitude)
With utmost regards, we express our deepest gratitude to the minister of here-and-there for his contribution in making this-and-that successfully. On behalf of the locality, we will also want to show appreciation to ourselves if—by this kind of our collective servile nature—we have been able to take ass-licking to a new high. We also like to inform that, howsoever little, it is a good source of revenue for the local dailies.
|A screenshot from Poknapham’s 26 Sep 2015 edition, page 7|
It is a trend in and around the Imphal valley to pay for publishing an ad for ‘appreciation’, whenever an elected representative builds a community hall or inaugurate an event in her/his assembly or parliamentary constituency. The drift extends as well to those in a municipality or rural local governance and sometimes in other unrelated areas too. Such a kind gesture may appear laudable or even a certain refinement of the general public. Unfortunately, the superficial top layer of gratitude and refinement are just a cover for our hopelessness. When a minister builds a culvert in a neighbourhood, s/he is doing his job. It is her/his job to do such a task. We can thank her/him but not in a slavish and sycophantic manner and through a routine process like publishing ads in newspapers. Yet we do, in the most pathetic ways.
For example, there’s a thing called the Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme, under which elected representatives are sanctioned with earmarked funds to utilise them for welfare projects in their constituencies. It is an open secret, like anywhere else, that the politicians have a weakness for wealth. We have almost improve on it while extending the custom in every form of professions, while leading from the front are the government departments for security, education, construction and other public-sector branches. In this sense, the ads for appreciation are like: ‘We know you loot but to restore our faith in humanity, we thank you, at least for not robbing every paisa, and for spending some amount on welfare’.
Yet, that is not the case because we live the life of a slave. Starting from the top-most level, the state lives on free grants from the union. Remember how our honourable chief minister, like many of his counterparts in the region, almost shat in his pyjama when there were some media reports about scrapping the special-category status with the onset of 14th Finance Commission. (The Politics of Special Category http://kapilarambam.blogspot.in/2015/08/the-politics-of-special-category.html). Yet it is so absurd how the elites in the state behave like they are the masters but with ‘slaves’ written all over their bodies. We should excuse their kids and children and we will do anything for our second-hand ‘masters’. We have a native expression as well: minaigi minai, minai naithang—the slaves of a slave—that’s who we are.
There is another phenomenon of publishing the personal details of people who receive their PhD degrees. Apparently, they are the first scholars in their respective wretched villages to pursue higher studies and thus the excitement. Imphal is the largest town but essentially it is an urban village, where services are pitiable and infrastructure is dismal, leave alone the prevailing sociopolitical conflicts. It is unsurprising but there are times, and so often, that things become too hard to tolerate. Social mores identify us but it is unbearable to be a part of that identity.
If we consider the type of these ads, the winner will definitely be Sengdokchaba (read an oath-taking by a wrong-doer addressed to the parallel government that s/he will never repeat a mistake and that s/he will take full responsibility if any untoward incident happens in the future). The expression of gratitude follows close by. In the future it would be so run of the mill if we start publishing these ads for appreciation to felicitate arms and drug smugglers:
‘With due regards and fitting ourselves to the great level of smelling any derrière, we express our deepest gratitude to Mr Iboton-here and Mrs Ibeton-there for successfully smuggling one kilogram of heroin and 1,000 Chinese-made grenades respectively. They are a pride of our business-oriented and slavish village community.’
After all they are doing their job well. And we are a gutless yet dedicated slave. Meanwhile the other day, Dr Kondoom played a crucial role in a successful childbirth at the epicentre of (non-medical) graft, or the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences in Imphal. Virally shared and liked images of the baby showed that he was the ugliest baby but still the honourable doctor should be welcomed with a garland of marigold any day when he returns home for his ‘successful’ job. The local youth club can take some initiatives in organising the auspicious function.