Corruption & Insurgency - A Combo Pack for Manipuris

We have a modern sense and understanding of things. We have tech-support. We are connected to the rest of the world within seconds. The world is on our finger tips. We see many swanky cars in our localities. We have many geniuses from multiple fields. There are just so many things we can boast about, except a liveable place to survive and sustain.

Hola! Welcome to the brand new Manipuri society where corruption and insurgency are the best ever combo packs for every Manipuri. Be a police and get rich. Be a revolutionary and get rich. Be one of them!

Corruption is like a bottle of whiskey in a room full of thirsty teetotallers with no other brew to quench their thirst. They do not have an option but to end up drinking it. First, they hate even the very thought of trying it. Later, out of their thirst, they change their mind and think about giving it a try. After the trial peg, they got the kick that they never had and they, kind of, enjoy it. After the second peg, things do not remain the same. The kick gets ‘higher’, and they become wilder. This is just an exemplified understanding of how corruption becomes addictive among most of the bureaucrats in every system including ours.

We have more than enough eligible officers in the system who can collectively transform it. But it’s quite a risk bearing task. Things will be topsy-turvy, their careers may even be at stake. So, they have only two options – to resist and bear with a hell lot of frustration or to surrender their conscience and self-respect. And as we know, most of them prefer to choose the latter for reasons that need not further exaggerate.

As for insurgency, it is a never-ending discussion. We can be proud of the very fact that many of our folks have innovative ideas (a hell lot of them). The hurdle is how to implement those ideas in one such place where owner-less bombs and bullets would play ‘dhampa-espaait’, sans a defined playground. A bomb can surprise anyone anytime, anywhere with a banging ‘dhampa’ on the way while one is driving back home or when one is leisurely enjoying a cup of tea at one’s own maangon or shumaang. We have no clue where all these bastardised bombs and bullets come from. At times, we would wonder if there is a secret bombs and bullets’ factory right in our ‘Awaanglom’ or ‘Makhaarom’ leikai. Though that would not be a plausible discovery, we could at least congratulate the CEOs of those factories for their insightful venture.

Imagine things were a little different. Imagine there were good colleges for our students. Imagine there were good employment facilities for our youth. Would they ever prefer to leave their sweet homes for better education or employment opportunities in different places across the globe? Eight out of ten would say they would love to stay at home. They stay out of Manipur as they are compelled to do so. Never mind, the you-do-it, so I do-it-attitude. The remaining 2 are categorized under amateur travelers who love exploring new places. They, however, have the same yearning feeling to return back home — a place where their hearts are.

Too much imagination can affect our already disturbed mental peace. So, let us keep wondering, discussing and brooding on all the issues. Let us share our opinions. Let us also not forget to share our opinions on crucial issues like AFSPA and insurgency. It’s more or less the question of who comes first – the hen or the egg. Some opine that insurgency is the main reason why a draconian act like AFSPA has been imposed on our society. While some others opine that AFSPA is a step-motherly treatment of Indian system in our society as a result of which insurgency rules the roost in the state.

Let the interesting discussions continue. Let more intellectuals share their valuable opinions. As for the mapaamgi chaaksu chadaba, mawagi chaaksu chadaba types like us, it is a wiser option to remain as some keen observers. The crore-dollar question about who will change Manipur is perhaps a siki-worth question inspired by the fable – then again who will bell the cat? We are the rats, let us silently enjoy our share of stale cheese and let all the fat cats enjoy their milk served in expensive bowls.

This article was published on 28 April 2013

Switch Off the Frenzied Show of Rapists, Murderers and Morons

Can you imagine a world without men? No crime and lots of happy fat women.
Nicole Hollander.

I cannot help agreeing with Hollander. I cannot help imagining a men-free world where women rule the roost and roam anywhere and freely sans any fear of getting molested, raped, tortured or killed. Of late, we are nauseated by too many news of girls getting molested, raped, tortured or killed.

A few months back, the molestation case of an actress from the film fraternity disturbed our sanity. As usual, we protested and raised our voice. Some got hurt in the protest; one lost his life. And after a few weeks, the news of that case became stale. No one ever gives a damn about what or why it happened. We were temporarily very mad and angry. We showed what we could do and dusted away our hands. And that’s it. It was just another case.

Repeated dose of insanity

After a few months, a more gruesome case again perturbed our sanity. This time, it was a case of murder so we were more fumed. A research fellow was murdered, her face and arms charred. After finding the culprits, we could not help but resort to violence. We burned down the homes of the accused persons and proved what we could do. In a few days or weeks, the story is going to be dumped like an officially unwanted file. The short public memory is just too much sometimes.

The rest is ‘kana khangjabano’. We think we are doing our part by calling bandhs and burning down the homes of accused persons.

We might as well give the judgment and send them directly to jail. Some of us would even want to execute them. The deliberations on capital punishment across the world would enter only one side of our ears. We know exactly what happens to the other side!

Everybody hurts

Many probable factors create gender-biased chaos in our society. I can name one distinctly.

Technology (sans any sense of civilization) is one of the factors we can consider. Technology has transformed our lives with so many innovative tools and toys. Sometimes I wonder if technology is taking a toll in our lives. It seems that we have chosen technology over other basic needs, like education and civic sense, which are more essential to reconstruct our society.

To cite a laitrik-laiba example, it does not matter if one is a Matric failed or a double PhD. Yet, it matters a lot to one’s reputation if one does not have a smart phone. I earnestly believe that mobile phones have done more bad than good to us.

The recent case of Satyabhama is one fine example to cite. For a lady who had been having a decent career, she could not help; she was going out with a guy, who was indulging in fake identity, thanks to the mobile phones. There are perhaps many similar cases like Satyabhama’s that are secretly stored like skeletons in the closet. Maybe, we would never know about them.

I have come across thought-provoking remarks by friends and acquaintances on fighting for our causes in a more realistic manner. I do consider the realistic ways (if there is any). But as far as I know, there is no such thing like a realistic or virtual way when it comes to share your opinions with your fellow beings about a cause or issue.

As for the so called revolution, we don’t need armed crusaders to bring a change in our society. We don’t need to elect a particular leader to lead a revolution. We must first understand the real meaning and sense of what a revolution is.

The politics of phanek and khudei

Empowering the fairer sex is one of the crucial steps we can take. My understanding of women empowerment might be different from others. Women empowerment, in my opinion, does not mean competing with men or feeling superior to them. We do not need to do much to empower women as such. We can start by changing our age-old psyche like ‘Shumaang matonda fanek fouba touheide’.

All we need is a society where women can dress, speak, act, as they want to; a society where women are not considered as mere child producing machines or bed warmers; a society where phanek is equally treated as a khudei.

If we start preparing our mind for at least some of these basic stuffs, we need not waste further time articulating on women empowerment and related issues. All in all, let’s switch off the frenzied show of rapists, murderers and morons.

This article was published on 21 April 2013

A Yaoshang to Remember

A tug of war showdown at a park in New Delhi

A festival is celebrated for its essence. So, sometimes it does not matter where and how you celebrate a festival as long as we keep up the essence. This year, we celebrated Yaoshang, coinciding with the last day of the festival, in our traditional style but with a typical quintessence in New Delhi.

We organized typical games like chafu thugaibi and thouri chingnabi. The best part of the event was the tambola housie. We had gathered at a popular park, as we scratched and shouted for the quick fives, stars, the lines and the like.

For a while, we felt so closer at home. It was indeed a typical spring evening. The only sad part was time restraint. Sundays are always precious for working professionals. We had to spare our Sunday afternoon to catch up with one another. The event, which was supposed to start hours earlier, began a little late. Yet, we make it up with unrestrained fun and frolic. I am sure, as a side note, we managed to redefine the concept of ‘Meitei pung’ here in Delhi.

Well, I do not intend to bore you all with my personal experience of how awesome my Yaoshang festival was. Still, I would like to stress on how important it is for us to catch up and celebrate every festival together, whether we stay back home or elsewhere across the world.

I have observed in all these years that our folks in Delhi do not have a unifying factor. Most of the diasporas and expatriates rely heavily on internet, and social media to be precise, to connect with their friends and families. I consider it that there is always a strong undercurrent of nostalgia among us. Most of us are homesick during many occasions. In fact, festivals fuel up our nostalgia meter.

Beyond the Yaoshang play-field

Quite contrary to my over-expressive opinion, I have also come across many Manipuris in the city who get pissed off with the smell of ngaari, soibum or hawaijaar. They, in my opinion, are the chanafam khangdraba kaangbu.

Ngari, soibum and hawaijaar are a few of the distinguishing factors of our community. The smell of ngari or soibum while crossing a building or ally makes most of us nostalgically hungry. And that’s a unique specialty of our community. Correct me if I am wrong.

No doubt, we have students’ associations here but in my opinion, I think we need a body that unifies both the students and working professionals in the city. Don’t you think we are quite used to community living? Besides, we get more ideas that further grow when we interact with one another. I used to crack jokes about a demand for a greater Manipur in the capital. I hope this does not sound like a step to launch a demanding crusade, like a homeland — a concept that we find it hard to resist.

Back at the Yaoshang arena

Nevertheless, I missed the original flavour of Yaoshang back at home — those countless games and sports at the leikai lampak, many chaak chanaba programs, getting pampered by mom’s delicious insaangs and the list is endless. I do miss all my leikai friends and cousins, with whom I grew up together celebrating Yaoshang and many festivals to the fullest.

We do celebrate Yaoshang here but we celebrate it paying a due homage to all the best memories about the festival we have. I had wished many a times to celebrate Yaoshang in the city. I randomly shared my plans then but never had any support from anyone in particular.

This time, we managed to make a difference with the help of some very good friends. We wore colourful phanek on that day as a reminiscence of good old Yaoshang days. Nothing can beat that.

We do have terrific plans for celebrating the forthcoming Cheiraoba in yet another compensatory attempt to lessen the degree of missing home. No matter, how and why we celebrate it, what makes us feel good is the feeling of being together with our own folks in the city. We come from different leikais; most of us did not even know one another but then the nostalgia factor, like a strong yubi thouri, binds all of us together.

I am glad to share that a Yaoshang, Cheiraoba or Chakouba in Delhi will never be the same again. Thanks to all my friends who have supported me and chanura marup (a group of exported Meitei chanuras) in pioneering this endeavour. We hope we can repay our gratitude with a scrumptious Cheiraoba meal soon. You might even want to join us. Cheers!

This appeared in 7 April 2013 edition of the Sangai Express 
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