Care for Children: Time to reinvent our social and collective strengths

By Amar Yumnam

Two very fresh adolescent related events are of critical significance to assess the strength, the orientation, the institutional character and the collective mechanisms of the Manipur society towards addressing the requirements of youths and nurturing them as foundations for future social strength. One is the recent Recruitment Rally of the Indian Army at Senapati. The other is the rise of Laishram Devendro Singh as a power to reckon with in international boxing arena.

In the Senapati Recruitment Rally, there were many adolescent boys who have just completed matriculation or about to complete and who are otherwise good in their studies. Now many of these boys did not join the rally not because there is an irresistible charm for the army and at a level stronger than their innate desire to study. There is something to seriously apply our mind here. They know for sure two things. First, they are fully aware of the inability of their parents to send them to educational institutions outside Manipur for competitive preparation for future competitions for life.  Equally, they are fully alive to the governance reality of Manipur that, despite their academic qualifications at the end of the day, their parents would never be able to afford (any job in Manipur is to be purchased through a bidding process) a job for them. All these are happening in a society and economy which has not shown any perceptible dynamics for onward transformation to a higher level of societal existence. So otherwise boys of the dreaming age are deprived of that beauty and opportunity but put into a contextual insecurity of future. So adolescents possessing the capability to emerge as top citizens are thrown into the search for immediate insurance for security; they have put themselves into finding the strength and atmosphere which are the responsibility of the state and the society to ensure to all the children.

Now look at Laishram Devendro as well. Kudos to the Indian army establishment for making a champion of this promising boy! Now we know that he was adopted by the army from a very young age of about ten or eleven (he is still very young). How is it that we as a society and the governance we have are incapable of attending to the needs of our children and even fail to appreciate the potential of even talented children irrespective of their levels of familial well-being?

It would have been even more wonderful and socially much rewarding if Devendro as champion were the product of a school/ college or a sports club here.

Suppose we did not have the Indian army to save the future and nurture at least a few of our adolescents, what would have been the scenario of Manipur for our children and youths?

These two realities are coming out in the backdrop of another series of social collapses of Manipur. For the last few years we have been fed with news of our children being rescued from all over the country. The last quite a few years, we have experienced the collapse of the school system in Manipur which was once vibrant and had produced most of today’s upper echelons of population. In the sixties and seventies of the last century, the adolescents in the schools and colleges could dream of a future and thus could afford to be youths while being youths. But today, the situation has completely altered for the worse. Today a youth has to resort to drugs if he desires to indulge in dreaming for the reality is so cast absolutely against him. If one is to stop oneself from this indulgence, one should take any opportunity which comes the way, like the recent recruitment rally of the army, as if it is the proverbial last straw.

What do all these imply?

First, the happenings of the last few years and the trends in youth related manifestations of societal existence have not produced the kind of social and collective response to the needs of the children and youths. Secondly, it is now as if we have collectively chosen to collapse as evidenced by our non-caring for the future of our children. We have proved to the rest of the world that ours is a society and ours is a governance with no conscience and conscientiousness.

Unfortunately it is a kind of scenario where the future of the children of even the well to do families of today cannot be ensured in the projected outcome. It is a situation which would lead to collective collapse for all. One fundamental lesson of societal progression and the history of development of the world is that a society is secured only when the opportunities for advancement are shared by the collective and never monopolised by a miniscule. The character of justice should invariably accompany the principles of progression. While the very old civilisations adopted the principle of the princes being given advanced training in combat and warfare in order to safeguard the kingdoms from collapse, modern development history has underlined the imperative for democratisation of opportunities for advancement. We can look at the policy approaches of social policy in Western Europe and North America as to how they have taken care of the needs of children and revolutionised their world environment in order to ensure continuance of a world of opulence. The same can as well be seen in Japan, South Korea and China (including Taiwan and Hong Kong). Let us look at how these countries are applying their mind and their policies in matters relating to the needs of their children and youths, it would be easily evident why Manipur refuses to move forward, development gets stunted here, and everything negative happens. Time is now for applying our individual and collective mind for evolving policies to enable our youths dream and pave the way for a bright future.

As of today, personally I would be very happy if Devendro now joins a university in America. I know many universities in that country could come forward to finance all his university education and ultimately produce a much more matured person of him, which the educational institutes in this country cannot.


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