Uncultured question on culture Art of committing a gaffe


Describe culture in 100 words. Nothing wrong in this, but when this question comes from the Governor of a State and is directed to an august gathering of cultural doyens, then there is something drastically wrong. And this exactly what happened when former Governor of Manipur V Shanmuganathan posed this very question to well known personalities of the State while inaugurating the University of Culture and Manipur State Film and Television Institute on August 12. As if this was not enough, the Governor went on to say that whoever could define culture in 100 words will be invited to tea with His Excellency. If the topic was not so serious it would have elicited guffaws from all over. Obviously not at all amused, noted film maker and a Padmashree awardee, Aribam Syam Sharma wrote an open letter (published in The Sangai Express) to the Governor dubbing the challenge thrown by the Governor as ‘Thakshi Khasi Naidaba, Leibak Macha Tadaba.‘ The film maker went on to suggest that the Governor ask sportspersons, including Olympians, to define sports in 100 words when he inaugurates the Sports University in Manipur. Likewise the Governor may also ask a gathering of politicians to give a definition of politics in 100 words, suggested Syam Sharma. Not surprisingly the letter went viral on the social media, attracting derision from a number of people.
More than a gaffe it was for it reinforced the thought pattern that people from mainland India impose their culture on the people of Manipur. Runs contrary to the approach of Prime Minister Narendra Modi towards the North East, wherein all Union Ministers have been asked to visit the region at least once in two weeks. No doubt V Shanmuganathan was in charge of Meghalaya and Manipur, but just a few days after this gaffe was committed, the Centre appointed a new Governor for Manipur in the person of Dr Najma Heptulla. This is probably a coincidence and nothing may be read into this, but the former Governor absolutely had no right to belittle cultural doyens of the State, for in doing that he was also seen to be insulting the culture of Manipur. This is what has not gone down well with the people and not only the august gathering on August 12, when the Governor came out with his uncultured statement. It was a question on culture, no doubt, but in raising the question to people who are cultural ambassadors of the land, the Governor came off as an uncultured individual. This is what is rankling.


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