Monday, June 15, 2009

Manipur at the Crossroad: A Critique on the Existing Order

There cannot be any civilization without the struggle for progress. Why do we need to critique our social order? Indeed we need to critique it because every civilization advances from the premise of debris of inadequacy that is being exposed by creative human minds. Deconstruction, to use the post modernist conception of tearing apart a text in order to expose its inadequacies and constructive criticism of an existing social order is the very heart and essence of progress and development to which history is a testimony. Even if one uses the method of dialectics which essence is the uncovering of law of social development through thesis, antithesis and synthesis, one will find the relentless struggle of human beings for a higher or a better socio-political and cultural-economic set up through which the human needs and aspirations can be fulfilled universally. I am using the term universally because the progress and development must not be the luxury and privilege for a few individuals at the expense of teeming millions. The fruit of development must percolate down to the bottom layer of the society.
The growth and development of the notion of justice, equality, freedom and democracy are the result of the application of our creative thinking to a particular socio-political and economic reality in the annals of history. It is, therefore, not surprising that great personalities are the product of their times and every theory is a response to a particular problem of a particular age. Every nations and civilizations encounter great socio-political upheaval or crises and dislocations which threatens the very orderly existence of that nation or civilization. It is at the time of crisis that the varied qualities and capacities of a people are manifested while trying to resolve the crisis/problem.
It is again in response to a crisis that our thinking stretches to the point of its limit so as to expand the frontier of knowledge so that human spirit and effort can triumph over the problems. During the process of expanding our horizon of knowledge and creativity, “critiquing” as method of surgical analysis and enquiry to the existing realities in order to understand it properly and perceptively constitute part and parcel of this exercise. As a result the development, progress and even survivability of a nation or a civilization is solely or substantially dependent upon the intellectual credentials and collective willingness of the people to take on the challenges. This inexorable and intricate relation between the crisis and people’s willingness to resolve the crisis is one crucial area that is lacking in Manipur.
It is suffice to say that Manipur today is going downhill and it is drifting towards an abyss with unbearable problems. Whereas societal response towards it is quite disproportionate to the intensity of the crisis because of various factors. Sociologically speaking, our crises ridden society presents a fertile environment for intellectual growth and a much needed condition for the production of new ideas and theories. Unfortunately we failed in this aspect also. It is time we ponder seriously on the factors that hinder our intellectual growth and in the production of innovative ideas and theories which are relevant to the solution of the problems besetting the society.
Problem Without End in Sight
It has become an undeniable reality that Manipur as a historico-territorial and cultural entity is under serious threat. In fact, we no longer deny the fact that the State is passing through a hard times which perhaps might be unparalleled in Her history. Indeed the State of Manipur in its millennia long existence had encountered war, external aggression, internal rebellion, cultural proselytisation and many other socio-political crises, however, it survived through the test of time. No doubt the survival of the State through the ages with great historical forces unable to destroy this once sovereign State narrates the story of resilient nature of her people, vigour and courage with which this people had fought their fortune. It also indicates the inert strength of her people and deep rooted attachment to their country.
However that strength and content of the character seem to be losing amidst the present socio political realities under which the State of Manipur is reeling. We the people of Manipur seem to be losing or rather sinking in the vast ocean of confusion, chaos and terror from which never to be regenerated again. The problems in the State are so huge, varied, intricate and complex that our society is experiencing a withdrawing syndrome.
A sense of helplessness, losing of hope in everything and everybody on the one hand, frustration, anxiety and militant character on the other hand are the hallmark of socio-psychological reality of the people in Manipur. One simple question is do the people having a written history of nearly two millennia old deserve such kind of life and social order? Why do we fail to evolve a socially accepted way of engaging disagreement? Do the people of Manipur have a national character? If so what are its defining aspects and values? What are the values and ethical codes that we have inherited from our past? Can the past be a sole and effective guide for the present and future?
These are some of the questions lingering in my mind for quite a long time. I think academic community should engage on these aspects in order find out rational and sensible answers to the questions poised by present condition of our State. If present is the reflection of the past and future is determined by the present, then we need to reject certain aspects of the past and create new values suitable to the present context in order built a stronger and better future. This in no way means that one has to reject the past outrightly because history contains the wisdom of a bygone era and that can be used as an effective guide for the present and future.
Coming to the present context of Manipur one needs to interrogate whether various unwanted happenings such as factionalism, internecine killing, leadership crisis, corruption, political intrigue etc. are manifestation of the remnants of the past or creation of socio-economic and political formation of the present. Or whether both the past and present factors are collectively responsible for the present sorry state of affairs?
In order to explore a sensible answer to the question one may, perhaps, need to go through the hitherto subjugated and unexplored site of our history. This can be a crucial arena of intellectual engagement. With the State having multiple centers of power this kind of exercise is not an easy task and problem is all the more complicated with each centre of power trying to impose each view as truth and absolute, thereby preventing debate and discourse.
To all these centers of power, both State and non-State centers, my humble appeal through this article is to respect and preserve the sanctity of intellectual autonomy. My appeal to those who are concerned with the well-being of Manipur is that self-deception is nothing but an act of cowardice to evade the real issues and problems of the State. As long as we remain voiceless and continue to hibernate in a state of ‘self imposed intellectual exile’ in the face of myriad problems besieging the State at present, the spectre of social Darwinism that is ‘survival of the fittest’ and Hobbesian state of nature where ‘life is short, nasty and brutish’ will continue to haunt us, there is no way to escape.
(posted on The Sangai Express, Imphal, Tuesday, June 2, 2009)

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