By Amar Yumnam
The Mega Manipur School recently had her Sixth Foundation Day. This function is going to be particularly memorable for me. After my speech at the function and while I was coming down from the dais a little girl, lovely one at that, of the Pre-Primary Class and whom I had just met asked me straight on my face as to what all I was talking about. This had multiples of lasting impact on me. First, in any case, I was completely floored by her straight innocent query. Second, what was my point of speaking any if I could not communicate with all who were present at the function? Was it a case of my suffering from the usual community habit of taking the children for granted? Should we not be altering our way of looking at things as in every generation the children were getting smarter? Above all, I was taught a lesson by this little girl about the need for communication. In fact, there cannot be any thriving society without an effective communication flows across communities, ages and space. Thanks to that little girl of whom I have taken photographs; I would forever cherish her refreshingly inquisitive face.
The necessity of communication is further reinforced by what is happening in connection with the political conclave at Senapati. The absurdity of all sides is being established by this and the reactions to it. It is absolute and unwarranted political gimmick which amounts to nothing more than a social noise for a head of people of one province trying to fan political instability in the neighbouring province. It is equally funny for the opponents of such political gimmicks to come to a reactionary mode and organise actions dictated by this. Neither side has nothing to gain nor proves any point whatsoever. While the organisers would presume to themselves as barking successfully, those opposing are to be blames for their own failure to endeavour for effective communication and surfacing only when something is being planned. The political class has to be cursed for its failure to evolve a system of communication and inclusiveness while being busy in self aggrandisement.
Absence of Enlightenment: All these make one seriously think of as to when Manipur would usher into a phase of Enlightenment like the one experienced by Europe in the eighteenth century. Well here it would be relevant directly to quote from a recent book on the phenomenon and impact of what we call Enlightenment: `Radical Enlightenment is a set of basic principles that can be summed up concisely as: democracy; racial and sexual equality; individual liberty of lifestyle; full freedom of thought, expression, and the press; eradication of religious authority from the legislative process and education; and full separation of church and state. It sees the purpose of the state as being the wholly secular one of promoting the worldly interests of the majority and preventing vested minority interests from capturing control of the legislative process. Its chief maxim is that all men have the same basic needs, rights, and status irrespective of what they believe or what religious, economic, or ethnic group they belong to, and that consequently all ought to be treated alike, on the basis of equity, whether black or white, male or female, religious or nonreligious, and that all deserve to have their personal interests and aspirations equally respected by law and government. Its universalism lies in its claim that all men have the same right to pursue happiness in their own way, and think and say whatever they see fit, and no one, including those who convince others they are divinely chosen to be their masters, rulers, or spiritual guides, is justified in denying or hindering others in the enjoyment of rights that pertain to all men and women equally.` (Jonathan Israel, A Revolution of the Mind: Radical Enlightenment and the Intellectual Origins of Modern Democracy, Princeton University Press 2010)
We do not observe any of the Enlightenment principles taking roots in the soil of Manipur. While all are busy with communitarian-based politics, the society in Manipur today does not show any signs of positive engagement on issues capable of taking the collective forward. The long years of non-inclusive governance and development interventions had had a lasting impact on the propagation of non-inclusive politics. Now this has reached such a level that we are at a stage where it looks as if nothing positive is going to happen at the politico-economy-wide level. This indeed is the issue the political leadership has to address in right earnest so that a legacy of exclusion and chaos is not left for the generations to come. What Manipur needs today is initiation of a cycle of honesty, honest communication, inclusive approach and initiation of a cycle of positive loop for collectively shared progression. The current ruling paradigm of looting through contracts, supplies, nepotism and favouritism have failed and would fail to serve any social purpose today, and the scenario would only worsen once the larger Asian integration process starts impacting Manipur.
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