Imphal Review of Arts and Politics

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Public leaders must learn to own responsibility for whatever fate befalls their people

Ownership of Responsibility by Public Leaders Vital for Society’s Health

It is in full public view that responsibility of restoring peace and normalcy in Manipur is not owned by any institution or authority. This is more than evident from what is on the ground for the last one year in the state. Editorial of English daily in Manipur, ‘Sangai Express’ repeatedly asks about absence of ‘rule of law’ and governance in the state. The same theme of inaction on the part of state government is seen often.

In the New York Times Bestseller, “Extreme Ownership How U.S. Navy Seals Lead and Win” by Jock Willink and Leif Babin, narrates real life events and strategies adopted by individual soldiers of U.S. to survive and kill enemies in hazardous Iraq War. In a nutshell, one’s alertness and anticipation of danger, and readiness to face any situation are keys to survive and win.

The future of Manipur is solely in the hands of administrators of the state now and ever, though the people at large try to send out messages of peace and normalcy to them sometimes. Voices of the people have been muzzled in several ways-arresting and charging those who blame the government, under the law, which gives a lot of room to the police to invoke the same as per the wishes of the power at the helm when displeased with the comments and analysis not so palatable to them. Protests on the streets by students and general public are dealt firmly by using all forces at the command of the state. In the name of prohibitory orders, any form of demonstration is banned-a blow to freedom of expression and assembly guaranteed as fundamental rights by the Constitution.

In the absence of sane voices from the people in general, administration is left with their best judgment to deal with the current situation in their best wisdom. Former Prime Minister of India, Narasimha Rao, is attributed with the quote, “Not taking a decision on a difficult situation is also a decision”. Such a line of approach may be relevant to situations which may allow delay in decision making. However, when it is a question of life and death, as in Manipur, where armed groups are facing each other, eyeball to eyeball, at the so-called buffer zones, decision has to be taken in split seconds if one has to live. Both the Central and State Govt. of Manipur seem to be taking roles in the play in Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot”. Finally Got never arrived. Hopefully, peace in Manipur should not be another Godot.

Any wound, if not treated in time, festers over time. It is already too late to be committed to find a solution acceptable to all stakeholders in Manipur. Assumptions of too many problems to the solution will serve to be roadblocks only. What is required is to pass the roadblock through dialogue and negotiation in the spirit of accommodation and reconciliation. Scriptures abound with edicts on forgiveness and reconciliation. It is now being hoped that the Union Government may take action after the results of election to Lok Sabha is announced on the 4th June, 2024. If the same BJP government comes to power as widely expected, will they act differently to the conflict in Manipur? Let’s hope and pray that whichever political party or parties are returned in the election, the crisis in Manipur should be first in their agenda for the next 100 days in power. Let the powers that be assume responsibility to resolve the over stretched conflict in Manipur.

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