By Amar Yumnam
Whenever I meet a friend, influential as well as not so ones, I am invariably asked and naturally too as to how I am. My response is absolutely in the affirmative, and very strongly at that. All would express surprise that I could claim as being very happy when the circumstances facing the land and people here are so terribly confounded. Now I owe an explanation to all of them as to why I claim happiness in the same circumstances I share with them. There are at least two. First, it is luck that has given us the opportunity to share the issues and concerns of the people of the land through having been born here. It is such a lovely place and such a set of lovely population. The second reason is pathological in nature. The physician would treat a patient with very serious and mixed illness as an interesting case. Similarly Manipur is an interesting case for a social observer.
The Unfortunate: One would really long for a situation where the first reason for happiness predominates, and the second irrelevant. But quite unfortunately for all of us `“ the land, the people, the country and the region `“ the second reason is getting an upper hand almost to the point of being the only reason for interest in existence here. This is where we need an aggregation of individual exercise of application of mind to the worsening scenario.
A boy gets shot to death due to overtaking brawl in an absolute display of material supremacy on the highways, which are public places for public good otherwise. It would not move the aggregation of individual psyches of the people of the land in an impactful way. Individual lives would be put to an end by both state and non-state agents, and the reasons would be either non-existent or fabricated. This again would not turn the individual aggregation of psyche for a positive social outcome. Three women get hurt in police firing of tear gas in this land of Nupi Lal and presumably a land of high status of women. This would of course make headlines of the dailies, but would not enter the individual psyche of the individuals for the emergence of a collective social ethos for development. Imagine all these phenomena were unthinkable only a few years back, but today all these are a dime a dozen.
Now Why: Now it is incumbent on our part and on the part of everyone of us as to why such a situation has arisen at all. Events are to happen in every society. These could be of both types, positive and negative. The society should be able to absorb lessons from the negative events and absorb lessons out of those for affecting a future outcome. But there has to be a limit for the negative phenomena. If these become too intense and too frequent at that the society might move beyond a threshold at which it just cannot digest the phenomena, cannot learn lessons and may ultimately become benumbed by the unfolding events. While the positive events would have positive spill-over effects and carry on a momentum of their own irrespective of whether the society digests them and absorbs the lessons, if these happen on the reverse side the impacts are anybody`™s imagination. The latter seems to have been the one applicable in the case of Manipur. In this small region, territorially as well as demographically, we have had more than our share of non-positive events.
The Demise: Here we need to be reminded of the basic components of any individual`™s thinking on social issues. Being human beings living in a society, all of us need our perception of reality to be informed by moral elements. No reality can exist without a moral perspective of it. This moral side of perception of reality is both fragile and strong. It is very strong and hard to be broken, and would resist attacks for demolition for quite some time. But it is only moral and not invincible. If the society allows banging of this component of social perception of phenomena for a sustained period, it is possible that it becomes fragile and ultimately non-effective. In the case of Manipur, it is as if we have been hitting hard at the moral component of social perception that today nobody is moved by negative events. The people are behaving as if they are being `realistic`. This is a very dangerous situation where we allow `reality` to prevail without a moral component. The history of development of the world has established that this is never a sustainable situation.
Even more unfortunate for us is the push of political economic forces, as understood in the sense of state-policy making, towards such a scenario. Almost all the policies affecting the interests of individuals and aggregation of individuals have been adopted by the state without ever bothering to have an examination of the possible social impacts of their implementation. The naÃ¯ve logic of just paying compensation and providing alternative spaces has been the only guiding principle in such cases. No wonder there is never-ending problem of providing spaces for the street vendors. We must realise that the issue is not just of a space but multi-dimensional. Market is social event, and ipso facto, it involves much more than a geographical space.