Evolving Peace Models


Amidst a crowded field of Non Government Organisations, NGOs of different hues in Manipur, at a crucial juncture like the present, the absence of one class of NGOs is felt painfully. We refer to serious, academic, autonomous researchers on peace and conflict dynamics. If this were not so, when the state is craving for a method to end the madness that has come to grip everybody’s life, and there are opportunities for this opening up either by chance or design everywhere, there are no institutions to look for any credible peace model. It is quite surprising that even the state’s highest institution for learning, the Manipur University, is caught on the wrong foot when the state needs its informed inputs on the matter the most. True there have been numerous so-called public debates and symposiums where MU highbrows along with other “public intellectuals” were called upon to give their views, but it is quite sad that none have been able to go beyond rhetoric or stating the obvious, this too over and over again almost as a matter of routine at every one of these meets. It is now almost entirely predictable what many of the well known speakers would say in these gatherings even before they have spoken a word. It is also equally predictable that there would be no voices of dissent especially when the topic is conflict, lest they end up displeasing the Big Brothers whose ears and eyes are everywhere.

The point is, it is time for the NGO focus to realign once again to the needs of the time. We are of the opinion that it is time for at least one or two serious and sincere NGOs, if not more, which can do in depth and ground breaking researches on conflicts around the world and with such knowledge as foundation, evolve conflict resolution models suited for the situation in the state and the region. As and when a time comes for a democratic settlement of the problems vexing the land, there should be experts who can offer more than mere platitudes and rhetoric. As other academic NGOs elsewhere do, they should be able to come out with quality publications on the subjects of their researches which again can serve as beacons for the government and other institutions responsible for peace building, in their quests for an end to the turmoil afflicting the land. It needs no reminder that there are a number of these autonomous or else independent academic institutions elsewhere, doing yeoman services in researching areas of governance where the government attention has not been adequate, or else limited by administrative and other state responsibilities, or even more likely conditioned and trapped to think of only responding in the usual sterile, statist and militaristic way. It is common knowledge that many of these independent institutions elsewhere can and have acquired reputations that rival the best of universities anywhere in the world.

Even as the NGO world gather courage and resources to embark on such projects, perhaps it the government which should take the lead and set up an autonomous research institute on peace and conflict studies. Such an institute must be mandated to research and bring out publications of worth in furthering the understanding the nature of conflict as well as possibilities of peace through elaborate structures which are region specific. But then, with the prevalent culture of making easy money, and nothing other than those projects with prospects for fund siphoning commanding interest, it is unlikely anybody who matters in the government would care for the suggestion. Moreover, the logic of power is such that those in power do not ever want anything autonomous growing out of the system, even if such institutions are what make democracy meaningful. Today, even institutions which are statutorily envisioned to be independent and autonomous, such as the Manipur Human Rights Commission, MHRC, the Manipur Women’s Commission, MWC, the Manipur Information Commission, MIC, etc, have been systematically reduced to mere caricatures, doing the biddings of the government rather than be its foils and critics. This being the prevailing mindset of the government, it is quite likely that tomorrow if a situation arises that there would be peace settlement with all or some of the insurgent organisations in the state, the government would simply be groping in the dark, running into surprises and hurdles at every corner. As being witnessed with the peace talks already in progress, chances are any new one too will meet the same fate of frustrating stalemates.

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  1. My apologies for becoming side tracked. Part of me wants to explain that the lock of Berenice was ascendant not Scorpio as you looked East when I was born in Zanzivar and there’s a story to that. But just as you won’t understand my summary of the Heart Sutra, and even if you did only connatural, experiential understanding counts.

    What I am trying to put across is it pointless for Manipuris to lecture to me about the world you have never seen only read about, and even less worthwhile for a Manipuri to try to explain to me who I am although hmm. Tell me about yourselves.

    And returning to the title of this piece. I am drawn to vipassana and Za-zen as practices, these are not religions. I would prefer administrative supervision so in between visits to Manipur I have a one month Mayasi Sayadaw style retreat in Nepal, then a three month in Burma the home of Vipassana, and then I’ll head south via Thailand for Za-Zen in Korea. The largest order of Western Zen is based there. I am looking for a Master to give anchor the Ashram.

    Please stop irritating me with gormless gossip. When I was a young man I occasionally threw up after drinking too much, I have done terrible things now grow up and let it go. The only difference between us is that I am better educated, more intelligent and have travelled farther but as the Heart Sutra assures us essentially there is no difference between us, and there is, and both etc. I am sure I could explain this clearly but the insight is worthless until you have eaten it and it has eaten into your flesh, until no trace remains and this no trace. Hmm. Come see me in Manipur if not on this visit then a later on or at the Ashram.

    I find the most aggressive internetters the most diffident when I actually meet them. I am in Imphal from Tuesday. Don’t be frightened I won’t bite.

  2. @sanjib According to the Buddhist No I am not that person and Yes I am that person. And I am both not that person and that person. And I am neither that person nor not that person.

    Though I would strongly object to the Astrological sign of Scorpio that’s just a Bot determination. During the year of my birth Sun did not enter Scorpio until the afternoon and I was born in the morning making me a Libran Sun. But with the precession of the equinoxes or have I lost you now.

    Ah but you will accuse me of prevarication. I confess Guilty as Charged. In mitigation a truly serious person is never always serious that me dear would be more I dunno sombre pompous something like that.

    I had if I recall just been asked to leave the Friar servants of Mary due to my myocardial infarction they gave me a year in Dublin for burn outs hence the I wonder are you that interested. The allusion to chocolate mousse comes from the novel Confederation of Clowns which is itself a literary allusion to a work with which you will not be familiar. But now I sound pompous.

    If there is anything else you would like to know I shall be staying at the Imphal Classic for two weeks from Tuesday please drop by for chats on astrology mousse or any other subject that takes your fancy.

    And Manipuris say I have nothing better to do with my time then trawl the internet and speak about Irom Sharmila and the evils of AF(SP)A

  3. Oh and I forgot the more obvious Nelson Mandela Foundation, the Tony Blair foundation and the Americans. There are plenty of centres who can help and advise. If you build it they will come.

    • Are you this person??

      Desmond Coutinho
      •Gender: Male
      •Astrological Sign: Scorpio
      •Industry: Non-Profit
      •Occupation: unemployed
      •Location: Ealing : London : United Kingdom
      About Me
      I am a friar, which is like a holy person only more dodgy, think Tuck, think Van Helsing, I want to fall in love get married live happily ever after then obtain irish citizen ship so I can be eligible to be dubbed a stranger knight of the garter and also earn the rank of officier de legion d’honneur for services to humanity. Not necessarily in that order. And any of the above would be nice. Recently I closed the Temple of Janus by opening a McDonalds in every major city and wasteland in the world heralding another unprecedented age of peace and global capitalism. I have now retired to occasional hoovering and the making of chocolate mousse which I always thought I could do rather well.

  4. As AF(SP)A repeal or radical reform comes closer I have been thinking more of what Sharmila might do once she is free. Now that PAP is lifted I will fly down I hope on Monday and if possible see her. I want to invest my inheritance in Manipur. Looks like a deathly awful land but I love her and she loves Manipur.

    The thing about autonomous growth if it’s authentic it doesn’t need that much support. Foreign academics love all expense paid conferences in Switzerland but I can’t imagine the bigwigs coming anywhere where there were any risk to their life or limb at all. The other kind the people who effect change they might be easier to entice. Thich Naht Hahn for example has sent groups to broker peace in Israel/West Bank. Though he is more known for his work in Vietnam. He is based in Plum Village France and once I have something established it might be easier to persuade him to send a team over.

    My inclination is to stick with the plan for a peace Ashram, a space that is beautiful and founded on a spirituality. Not the wishy washy kind but the one that believes pain is the soul of meditation and you should relish the taste in your flesh. A space to meditate and a space to take tea and somewhere for she and I to live.

    So with the Master Thay and the Buddhists I’d also ask Sri Sri Ravishankar. He already has the money and he’s always keen to send in teams if you don’t mind the Hindu evangelical style. Quaker groups who are transdenominational Christian have a long tradition with practical conflict resolution and they prefer simple accommodation and support.

    As for serious academics there are summer schools on peace studies at Oxford for secular academics, Maynooth in Ireland for Roman Catholic, and I have a half-invitation from a small student think tank at Cambridge. I’d like her to see my lands too in the summer it isn’t too cold. Maybe that will lead to something. Yeah and although I like the idea of a cave of the panis, a sacred space. No point meditating and then becoming attached to an idea. If the money could be better spent on scholarships for promising local practitioners you still are in awe of Western Degrees in Manipur in India, far too much so for my thinking. I hope one day as you say Westerners come to Manipur to take degrees in conflict resolution and peace studies but you have to believe more in yourselves first.

    And the obvious route for those damned insurgents is to stop hassling people like me who come to help a country when we really don’t have to, and the advantage of spending the entire inheritance is when I tell them I have no money for their taxes it will be true. Once the morons realize that in a power sharing deal with the Indian Government they will get thousands of crores and all they will have to do to ensure that they eventually rule Manipur instead of the incumbents is to actually spend the money on building roads, schools hospitals. It’s not rocket science.

    That’s what the IRA did in Northern Ireland instead of robbing banks for a few million here and there they run the country with its budget of billions. Instead of organizing punishment beatings for a few boastful youths they now run the renamed Northern Ireland Police Service. Manipuris keep telling me how educated and talented they are. Show me don’t tell me. I hope to arrive this Monday if the PAP removal is genuine and if they allow Irom Sharmila to meet her fiance then we can start work on something to lead into her release once the black law is gone. It’s a plan. I am open to new ideas as is she.


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