Teach your children


One of the most intriguing questions that would have occurred to most parents in these troubled times is, what is the right thing to teach your children? To merely say send them to good schools and colleges where they will be taught the sciences and arts, is to be over simplistic and escapist. For schools and colleges are not everything about education and children learn a lot more than what they are formally taught. And they should, for education as William Butler Yeats, and indeed so many others in their own ways have so observantly said is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. The challenge before any society is, what must be the nature of the fire that must burn in the hearts and souls of its future generation. What light must this fire emit to enlighten the hearts that host it, and consequently the society and the world? This dilemma becomes even more accentuated in a society torn by strife and unsure even of its own stance. There is no gainsaying Manipur is such a society today. It is a society deeply fissured both spiritually and physically. In the absence of a central authority that commands at least a reasonable degree of moral authority over the people, what the society’s right hand does the left would objects and vice versa. Our society is not even sure where its loyalties are. Hence you have people on a violent campaign to enforce Meitei Mayek on the one hand, and on the other, those who would oppose its enforcement with equal passion, even as the state government remains clueless and watches the drama unfold helplessly. You also have people vociferously and passionately campaigning against the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act, AFSPA, and yet this same people votes back to power with the most unambiguous verdicts, a party which has opposed the removal of the AFSPA on several occasions, and quite arrogantly, even on election eves.

But strife throws up other soul wrenching dilemmas on the issue of what legacy to pass on to the next generation. How must the present generation interpret violence in all its manifestations to their children? Must categories be created between what constitute legitimate and illegitimate violence? In the legal sense this is well defined by the Weberian notion of legitimate violence, constituting of the violence that the State perpetrates as part of statecraft and administrative exigencies, supposedly for the greater good of the population. That is to say, police or military violence has legal sanction and the perpetrators of this violence, if it is within the limits set by the State, need not feel any guilt. By the same logic, all non-state violence is supposed to lack this legitimacy. We have a situation in which various non-State players in this conflict theatre too claiming this legitimacy, and indeed have gained a good degree of moral grounds for their claim. This is principally on account of two things. One, the non-State players too function as putative States and in this sense their claim to legitimate violence is a reinforcement of the original Weberian postulate of legitimate violence being a monopoly of the State. In this sense, what we are witnessed to is a tussle for the authority of the State between the existing and the putative States. Two, in this conflict, the legitimacy that the challengers to the State gain, is largely on account of the moral legitimacy the State surrenders by virtue of its incompetence or else utter lack of commitment to State responsibilities.

Follow any local newspapers for a while and the reader will find out how a lot of what should have been governmental responsibilities have now been taken over by non-government organisations – hence justice dispensation, anti-corruption drives, excise control, education monitoring etc, have all been snatched away from the government’s hand. All these are happening even as the government turns a blind eye and pretends there is nothing abnormal. Our children too inevitably see these transfers of authority. As they come to be conscious of the world around them, they too get to understand which power to be in awe of and which to ridicule; which to respect and which to scorn. In such a situation, what is the present generation to teach them as right and wrong? Must the picture of corrupt politicians and officials which have come to predicate any thought of the State be treated as an aberration or a nature of the State as such. The latter is cynical, but the tragedy is, those at the helm are not leaving much choice to believe otherwise. The bigger tragedy is, they are still simply not willing to acknowledge this tragedy and make amends.

Source: Imphal Free press


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