Salvaging artists’ lost space


With much pomp and gaiety the annual Sangai festival has begun. With the president of India inaugurating it, this edition of the festival has drawn more significance. The praises on the beauty and potentials of the state showered by the dignitaries were received with resounding applauses by the jam-packed audience. We are sure the heart of every Manipuri swelled with pride when president Ram Nath Kovind extolled the state as a paradise. However the joviality of the inaugural night was rendered short-lived on the following day. Reports of mistreatments meted out to the artists who performed on the inaugural function came up. A leading artist of the state complained that she had to change her costume at a balcony near the venue as there was no enough space in the green rooms of the Bheigyachandra Open Air Theatre. One can well imagine the scenario given the sheer number of artists who were confined in the inadequate number of green rooms. As a security measure they were summoned early, much ahead of the president’s arrival to the venue. They had to stay put, crammed inside the green rooms like Broiler chicks. To make the ordeal worse no one came to attend the artist. The artists were offered not even a glass of water. It is apparent that the officials were occupied standing in attention to the so called VIPs. Besides it must have been exasperating for them, fitting the long list of VIPs onto the over-sized sofas especially placed at the front portion of the amphitheatre. In this ugly display of power the artists and what they represent were left forgotten. One lady artist pointed out that this kind of treatment is nothing new. In her words, “most of the time artists are treated as mere pieces of entertainment and nothing more.” The organisers must make note of her statement, and work toward proving her wrong. Eulogising the rich cultural heritage of the land on one hand and mistreating the artists on the other can show only one thing – the extent of our aesthetic and ethical bankruptcy. Let us not forget that a successful organisation of an event lies in giving attention to the detail. Some of the artists also aired their disappointment with the security personals over the latter’s overzealous conduct. It is understandable that the security of the president cannot be compromised at any cost. But giving undue harassment to the artists who had already been provided identification card by the CID police makes little sense.

This time around the festival impresses in its magnitude and ambition. The organiser has put in effort to expand the venues to different places. Unlike the previous editions a whooping thirty-nine Memorandums of Understanding involving Rs. 500 crore were signed between the state government and different companies. The multi-sectorial MoUs were signed on the concluding day of the North East Development Summit organised for the first time in Imphal. Chief minister Biren maintains the summit as a new beginning between the government and the private companies towards collective effort of unlocking the potentials of the state. We sincerely wish that the MoUs unlock whatever it aims to unlock. Barely eight months old BJP led state government would surely be happy to pat its own back for signing a record number of MoUs on a single day. The details of the agreements are awaited as of now. It is hoped that the government which espouses transparency in governance will not keep the contents of the MoUs opaque confines. One would surely expect that the MoUs will not attain the mysterious status of the ‘Framework Agreement’ signed between the Centre and the NSCN (IM).

Leader Writer: Senate Kh.

Source: Imphal Free Press


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