Imphal Review of Arts and Politics

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To be positive is to see possibilities even in seemingly impossible situations

It is Time to Explore the Art of the Possible. It is Time to Say Oini-Yani!

It is not that people do not know the solution but the problems – GK Chesterton

One of the most respected former civil service officers, R.K Nimai aptly described Manipur as a state with, “full of problems” without any solution and in an earlier occasion not long after his retirement having seen the state inside-out he also described Manipur as ‘deeply militarized state’. If one puts these two descriptions or problem identities together as ‘deeply militarized state with full of problems’, then it must give us a shock and start taking matter seriously. What needs serious attention of the concerned citizens is also the pattern of seeking outside solution to local problems, and peoples’ ways of seeking private solution to public issues. It is also interesting to note that every person from the streets to the state assembly seem to have all the solutions to all the problems in Manipur. But the question is: why do we continue to live in a state of full of problems?

Some of these ideas for solutions to the problems often heard in public and private spaces are ‘India da tilloudrabadi Manipur awaba tarani’, ‘corruption free sarkar semgani’, ‘good governance thamgadoubani’, ‘dictatorship rule leiragadi phdouni’, ‘president’s rule laak a di phani’, ‘India dagi ningtamladi awaba pumanamak koklani’, hill area autonomy natraga alternative arrangement leiradi hill area development laakani’, ‘AFSPA leitradi kang-khong chairani’, ‘recruitment and posting si corruption free oigadoubani’, AFSPA louthakladi leibak sida Human rights violence koklani’, ‘emotional integrity leitradi territorial integrity kaigani’, private company laak a di chaukhatpani purakkani, Loktak project na cha-hong ngahong purakani, smart city semladi chaukhakpa oigani, Southeast Asian Trade Corridor oiradi awaba pumnamak koklani, corruption mutthatkei hairadi vote ta sen louroidani/yenloidabani, meeyamna gyan taradi problem leiroidoubani, Mayang/meetop loina tanthokladi akhoi hingba-ngamgani, ST Oiradi manaba samaja ama purakkani, ‘congress Sarkar laak a di Manipur tang-taba sason leigani, BJP laak a di Thambal satlani, etc, etc.

Such conceptions of solution ideas and actions are not only finding misplaced solutions but also complicating the problem further which is why Manipur’s problems keep piling up one layer over the other without getting any appropriate solution. It is like one taking paracetamol for acute colitis in the gut or at worst misidentification of local patriots and freedom fighters as ‘misguided youth’ or ‘anti-national elements’. In fact, the problem apparently is one of adopting, by design or by default, an entirely wrong diagnostic approach to the right problems of the people. It is within this deliberate political and legal environment that seem influence common peoples’ behaviors in seeking solutions to their everyday lives.  This, perhaps, is how generally people tend find private solution to public issues such as poor/no supply of basic needs like water and power. Every household solves these problems by spending their savings in purchasing inverters and batteries for lighting homes and buying water from private parties to keep body and souls together whenever the government fails to supply them. This has become an accepted norm in our society and so government sits comfortable in closed doors even in the worst situation with heavy security covers and civil/ consumer society remain inactive without any tangible actions to address the issues of rights and entitlements with the government.

There are hundreds of these solutions to the multitudes of problems in the state as GK Chesterton has rightly stated, people know the solutions but not the problems! But the question he raises is: do any of these solutions people have actually solve the problems? The answer for him which many would also agree to is a big “No”. Evidently, this is precisely the situation of Manipur today which is aptly described as ‘full of problems’ by a few honest persons based on their experiential knowledge of how the state system and society is actually working. What is also encouraging to note from R.K Nimai’s statement is the recognition and acceptance of the fact: ‘we have a serious problem in our society’. This is a sign of life or paradigm shift from the general attitude of hopelessness and denial of the existence of the problems like Ostrich or getting engaged more time in all kinds of diversionary activities like Eshei-nongmai, Chakcha-heijanaba, Laining-laison, Harao-kumei, Drug addiction and alcoholism, etc. by believing in “Manipur sidi Oiraroi-yararoi” syndrome in our society. But not all is lost and not everything dark.

Self-recognition and acceptance of the existence of problems in the society lights up the darkness with a bright ray of hope motivating to take a step forward from the normalized discomfort zones or from all the wrongs/diversion to the right direction. It is at this juncture Chesterton’s second part of the statement, “…but the problem” gives the direction. What next is the question then that must be taken upright? The answer to this question may well be put in another question: How well have we analyzed Manipur’s problems and understood the root-causes and contributing factors? Answer to these questions would certainly help us relocate the problem in its right place where it lays and so also ideate/generate the most authentic and appropriately solution emerging out of the problem analysis, and also consider the right time for delivery of those solutions/treatments. No problem can go without getting its appropriate solution this way like the best of the doctors spend more time in diagnosis first before administering the right treatment regime. It is also said all problems have seeds of solution within it. No private solution to public issues can help the government accountable to the people who vote them to power not any efforts to seeking Delhi solutions to local problems can unless some power somewhere wants to sustain the ‘disturbed conditions’ for meet their needs which has nothing to do with people’s right to peace, security and development in the state and region. It is time to stop saying and believing in Oiraroi-Yararoi. It is time to believe in, stand up and say Oini-Yani! We can do it with the power of knowledge accumulated in the educated civil society and traditional communities across the hills and valley without harming mutual interests.

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