Diversity and Convergence `“ Good; Diversity and Non-convergence `“ Unstable: Manipur in the latter category


By Amar Yumnam
In early and non-complex environments, people generally prefer a non-diversified society. It makes management of society easier and make early breakthrough possible. But it usually slows down after a point and breakthroughs become increasingly difficult.  But the recent researches in development increasingly point to the role of diversity in ensuring a faster and sustainable development. As society progresses the challenge for further development becomes more complex. This rising complexity demands more innovation and higher density of knowledge inputs in decision making. A homogenous and less diversified society finds the scope for innovation and raising knowledge density relatively difficult as it moves forward. But a diversified society finds this challenge more easily addressed. In fact, diversity thrives as complexities rise.

But this positive scenario is possible only when there is convergence in the spirit of the diversified groups. When the power of richness in diversity is directed towards a convergent goal of social advancement, there is no complexity to stop the onward progression of that society. However, if the diversity is also accompanied by non-convergence in social spirits, the spontaneous backwardness is ensured. Every complexity would be a huge burden that this society finds hard to tackle. Small scale complexities would transform into larger ones in course of time. The creation of knowledge and emergence of innovativeness would be stunted in such societies. The richness in diversity would not be a power for addressing complexities but would rather be a source for further confounding.

This is the reason why the United States of America beats the rest of the world in development speed, level and stage. The biggest strength of this country is the committed unanimity in encouraging diversity in every sense of the term and not only in demography. This commitment to diversity and diversification is accompanied by an equally strong individualized collective convergence in social purpose; the collective objective converges. Now the world has absorbed this lesson in an increasing pace. With the rising need for knowledge as a major determining input for development, the emerging economies are increasingly trying to absorb this lesson and make it inherent in social functioning. The recent aggressive globalization of the Chinese education sector is in the line of this policy. The Thailand and the Philippine education sectors too are following this policy. The South Korean and Japanese are also following this policy. These countries have realized that diversity of population makes the possibility for innovation and growth of knowledge only wider. The United Kingdom has also been advised recently to follow this policy by the Growth Commission at the London School of Economics.

It is in this global context that Manipur finds herself today in an absolutely unenviable position while it possesses the looked-for diversity historically. The inherited diversity of Manipur runs along two lines. First, there is the geographic diversity. Secondly, there is the demographic diversity. At this point, we need to ask ourselves as to why diversity has not been a blessing as it has been in the developed countries. Why is it that diversity has rather led to instability and social turmoil in the case of Manipur? Manipur has what the world is looking for, but does not seem to have benefitted from it.

Now let us go back to the American story and the story being unfolded in China, Japan, Korea, Thailand and the Philippines. In all these countries, certain policies have been made inherent features of national commitment. These countries have always invested in certain key areas which go in fostering the convergence across diversity. They have unstintingly invested in improving the quality of human capital across the diversity. This investment has been directed to touch the diversity in such a way that no group is left out. The skills and general education should be targets of investment for growth and should touch every segment of the diversity. This investment on human capital should be characterised by a structural approach such that quality teachers are ensured across the diversity.

The investment on human capital should also be accompanied by an investment on infrastructure in the broad sense of the term. This would enable raising the density of interactions across diversity. This again would have the impact of enhancing the flow of knowledge and innovative ideas. Such a society naturally scores over others on technological innovations and adaptations. The society does not require fresh adaptations to a knowledge society but spontaneously evolves into one in the routine process of transformation.

Now these are the absolute characteristics Manipur has been missing all along. The land has not had policy which addresses the human capital investment requirements of the diverse population. She has also not had any policy to address the infrastructural requirements of the diverse population and diverse geography. The blame game has been given a fertile ground to flourish. While the diversity could have served the purpose of enhancing the power for innovation and development through collective convergence of the spirit of diversity towards a social goal, it is only served in multiplying the social goals. This diversification of social goals has only created an unstable social atmosphere. While the diversity could be the strength for meeting the challenges of complexity of transformation, the diversity itself has turned out to be complex and confounding.

This is exactly where and the reason why we are looking up to the leadership of the land. We are looking with a critical mind at the behaviour of the political leadership. With equal curiosity, we are also looking at the performance of the academic leadership. Further we are also observing the leaders of the civil society sector with a curiosity as to how they are trying to help the society evolve towards convergence. The sooner these different sets of leaders are able to take Manipur towards a collective convergence of social goal, the better. Otherwise, the potential for for positive advancement would turned out to be the mantra for doom.


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