Sunday, January 17, 2010

Yana-yanaba Syndrome in Manipur: Looking Back with Anger

Syndrome refers to a pattern of symptoms indicative of some disease. For example, AIDS (acquired immuno deficiency syndrome) is not the disease but signals symptoms indicative of some diseases such as tuberculosis or dysentery, on account of the virus (HIV) replicating and killing the helper T cells, and thus reducing efficiency of the immune system. At the same time, syndrome refers to a complex of concurrent (occurring or operating at the same time) things. For example, every word has a syndrome of meanings. Looking at the social and political life in Manipur, any keen observer would certainly observe a pattern of symptoms indicative of some disease. It means that the people are pathologically sick. Evidences of the sickness are experienced at every sphere of our lives. However, none of us are concerned about treating the disease but rather negotiated, like a farmer gulping down a bottle of Sekmai as hidak to cure his aching back after a day’s toil in the field. Nonetheless, we would be wrong to assume that only the disease is negotiated. At the elementary level, even the symptoms are also negotiated.
Telling sign of the disease afflicted upon the people of Manipur is often expressed and experienced in oft-used word yana-yanaba. Just as every word has a syndrome of meanings, this word too is ridden with multiple meanings. If Ludwig Wittgenstein (British philosopher born in Austria; a major influence on logic and logical positivism) had been alive, as a philosopher who held language as the source of all knowledge (on perceptual experience not on intuition or revelation, in short empiricism), he would have surely been fascinated by this word yana-yanaba, which governs every aspect of our lives in Manipur and the only word which finds wide acceptance in the corridors of power. Operation of this mode of thinking as well as implementation in letter and spirit, starting form birth to death, has led us to a situation in which even developmental works are negotiated, ethics of death rituals faces same fate and finally, civil society organisations as watchdogs of rights and dignity of the citizens are easily under the seizure of the State apparatus. We can then go even to the length of concluding that yana-yanaba is the root cause of all evils in Manipur.
News of a Wedding
Bone-chilled winds seem to be waiting for the Wakching-gi nong (winter rain) although Wakching has lazily given way to Phairen. And before the spirits of Lamta begin to break the sticks denoting the lives of man/woman who would pass away in the ensuing year, lovers and parents of eligible maids and bachelors look forward eagerly to this month of Phairen. Back-breaking toil of the harvesting season is over, now the gardens are filled with greenery – marigold and seasonal vegetables. Ponds and rivers shallow yet are filled with crystal clear water. Chiming along with the rhythm of nature, human beings are busy making their nest to begin a new life.
A week or so ago Yenning heard the news of a wedding. Our loving cousin has eloped (just a week ago) and she wants to get married within the first week of February (of course in Phairen). What perplexes us is the speedy nature in which she wants to get married. This does not mean to say that we do not share the joy or the happiness or that we are withholding our blessings for her new life. Our family members gathered for a special meeting regarding the proposed wedding. The central theme of the meeting was yana-yanaba. For example, the house would be repaired in a way "appropriate" for the wedding ceremony; the lawn like-wise and gift items, too, in the same manner. Money for the wedding would be arranged on loan – what’s important is not the money but the dignity and elementary needs for our daughter, opined our wise uncle. Here enters the personal dilemma. In principle, Yenning is against any form of yana-yanaba. In fact, our reasoning, for example to postpone the wedding so that money could be arranged without loan, etc. went to empty ears. More embarrassingly, we were indicted as someone who does not want to contribute anything for the wedding. Thus, we ended up succumbing to the same disease in the name of dignity and social responsibility. In turn, Yenning ended up borrowing money and sealing up our lips.
Replication of such incidents are witnessed in the field of education, for example when it comes to the question of enrolling our children for education, or paying tuition fees even when schools were locked up for almost four months, or buying expired items from shops just because we happened to know the shop keeper personally, and thus do not want to hurt his sentiments. Four months without any class, and many school authorities are demanding full tuition fees. Now parents are paying the fees, albeit there is some grudge, under yana-yanaba arrangement which ironically has become a way of life.
On the Corridors of Power
Yana-Yanaba syndrome has telling effects on the socio-political life of the Manipuri people as a whole. As the words suggest there is no room for persistence or far-sightedness in the concept of yana-yanaba. Any social ailment or political glitch is let off most unscrupulously without giving any thought to possible ramifications in the future. This syndrome or mental disposition is deeply ingrained in all our public servants starting from the Ministers to peons including MLAs and top bureaucrats. Yana-yanaba syndrome is manifested in the most crucial political decisions to the least mundane daily affairs. Silence of the vast majority, aloofness of the more competent ones from socio-political issues again point to this detested syndrome. One unique characteristics of the syndrome is that its effects are not felt immediately. But the cumulative effect is enormous and devastating. The socio-political degeneration witnessed in present day Manipur can be attributed to this syndrome. It is strange that we do not attempt to address or redress any social sickness or political mistakes when the first symptoms are observed. Rather, we look the other way and are more interested in overcoming the symptom for the moment with the temporary arrangement of yana-yanaba. Viewed from another perspective, the syndrome is a tell-tale sign of the corruption of Manipuri national character which began since the early 1950’s in the aftermath of Merger Agreement.
The conspicuous absence of any economic policy or industrial policy for the State even after 60 years of becoming a part of the Indian Union can be traced back to the concept of yana-yanaba adopted most conveniently by our political leaders. During this period, many political leaders have ruled Manipur one after another but none bothered to conceptualise any long-term policy for the State. They simply ruled the land on yana-yanaba basis. With no long-term policy of statecraft, the society is only plunging into a deeper abyss.
Let’s have a revisit to the just concluded by-election of Yaiskul constituency. We heard from hearsay about the distribution of money to the electorate. True we do not have any evidences to back up our allegations; nevertheless, people accept it as part and parcel of any kind of elections. The implication is that, afflicted by the yana-yanaba syndrome, the electorates just treated their right to vote as a cheapest commodity exchangeable for a few hundred rupees while overlooking the fact that the votes they cast most unthoughtfully would have serious impacts in all aspects of their life for the next five years.
Looking Back with Anger
Recent-most incident involving the Apunba Lup died a shameful death after having kept the educational institutions under seize in the name of right to life. Circumstances surrounding the "understanding" reached with the Government are murky; only plausible explanation Yenning has in mind is that Apunba Lup including the three student organisations became victim of the yana-yanaba syndrome.
This syndrome is a dangerous one for it ignites a chain reaction of negative impacts. For instance, appointment of one unqualified teacher through back door, only because he/she happens to be a relative or a favoured one of a Minister or he/she has the maximum capacity to bribe Government officials, would have serious repercussions. First, there would be protest agitation from students demanding his/her transfer jeopardising the whole academic atmosphere of the school/college. Under pressure, the Government would transfer him/her to another school or college inviting a similar protest agitation. Even if we assume there is no protest from students, nothing can be more worrisome if one thinks about students taught by the said unqualified teacher. At times of exams, the students would have nothing at their disposal to go through it but take recourse to unfair means to pass the exams on yana-yanaba basis. It’s anybody’s guess how many unqualified teachers are there in Government schools and colleges.
At the engineering level, we have many, many bridges, roads, dams and buildings, all constructed on yana-yanaba basis. This syndrome is also responsible for the collapse of ceilings and roofs of newly constructed buildings in Manipur University, the highest seat of learning as well as the pathetic condition of National Highway 39, the only practical life-line of Manipur . When the Government is afflicted with the yana-yanaba syndrome, it is only natural to run the administration, build public roads and buildings on yana-yanaba basis. At the end, we can only look back with anger. Governments have changed but the syndrome persists. So blame the syndrome, not the Government !
This article was posted on The Sangai Express on Sunday, January 17, 2010

1 comment:

  1. *appointment of one unqualified teacher*
    on these words I'd like to add some missing points which some may consider as opposite to the general thinking.There are no *unqualified *teachers in schools and colleges in Manipur,they have all the minimum qualifications as prescribed,which i can guarantee.You cannot/will not be able to find a graduate teacher who is not a graduate or a primary teacher who has not passed XII std (not counting the "fake* appointed teachers.But the main problem in Manipur is that the teachers after selection/appointment are not given proper/requisite training,only some 150/180 teachers are snd for training in a year.Just after selection they should be given 6months or 1 year just as IAS.MCS,Police etc are given.Only then the teachers will be qualified to teach.And for B.ED training before selection as prescribed now is just a waste of time and money for many students as many of them will not all be selected as teacher.Parents also should stop scolding teachers as it sends a bad message to the children instead they should send their wards to government schools.If the parents of govt school students take the same emphasis justas their counterparts in private school parents they will see the difference.Everyone blames the teacher forgetting their responsibilities.No one respects a teacher,and for that ther is repurcussion.It can be said the chaos in Manipur is due to the curse from teachers.Who are these student organisations to look after the work/duty of teachers.God knows how their parents moral would be.Instead of giving advice the parents are happy when their son's bring home money!!!Government Doctors are given non-practicing allowance and still they work at home,clinics private hospitals etc.They stay just for 2;3 hrs in their duty/office.But when a government teacher takes tuitions they are banned.No student organisation/NGO can look after a doctors duty/attendence but when a teacher is found absent he/she is called by these so caled students organisations beated and even killed.Quarters are not provided in far places.Quarters are meant to be build in far or remote places but all quarters can be seen in Imphal.All thes is for yana-yanaba so no need in lengthy comments I think.