Bridging the Personal & Professional: Entrepreneurship in Manipur

To decide and to organise a business venture of your own and to bear all the associated risks with it, in my opinion, requires proper planning, dedication and a go-getting attitude. Money really talks. But in my humble opinion, entrepreneurship is not just about money. It is also about pursuing our cherished dream in a professional manner.

For a sarkargi job, money of course matters. So, you want to crack MPSC exam? Have you arranged for lupa 30–40 lakh? So, you want to apply for the post of SI, have you arranged for 10–15 lakh? Such is the norm that goes on in our state. But there is nothing to be proud about it.

In a land like Manipur where unemployment problem breeds like mosquitoes in a filthy nala, I consider entrepreneurship as one of the probable solutions. The challenges of entrepreneurship are however of different types and nature.

Sometimes our own family would fail to understand what we love to do or want to do. Let me tell you a personalised example right from my family. My mom never understands what I do. In her opinion, I am wasting my time, money and energy investing on various activities that are apparently clueless as much as meaningless to her.

The same goes for my saagei-naatei and all the mari-mata under the sun. Ever since I passed my graduation, my relatives expect (read want) me to get a stable job at one of the sarkargi offices. Their understanding of a stable job is however beyond my good understanding. Some of them keep nagging me, “MCS kumba atei peikha gumba thajinlu yadro nangbu matam paamudro?” If I had 30 lakh, there is nothing to stop me from investing in some of the ideas that I have for my future ventures.

Alright, it’s not a shocking discovery that the value of an individual (as per the understanding of our society) is evaluated according to the post s/he holds in a particular government sector. For that matter, it is a matter of pride and prestige that is measured in the amount of money one can steal from the public exchequer. Such is the fate of our society.

I do not have anything personal against any of the government officials/employees but trust me I would be the last person on earth who is ever interested in a regular sarkargi thabak. I have never ever bothered to appear for any of the competitive exams so far (patting myself on the shoulder). Please excuse us, the opportunists, read optimists, who believe in changing from ‘inside’ the system.

Piles of files on the table, a cranky ceiling fan, giggles of ladies over gossips, the smell of bora-kanghou and the most important of them: marup houbi, fee yonbi and yengnabi among the staff — all these form the picture of a typical government office. To add, a file from one table to another takes days/weeks/months or even years depending on how much amount we are ready to pay the lazy clerks. A single signature that does not even take 10 seconds actually takes days, weeks or even months. It has nothing to do with thabak chinba or chindaba of the particular official. We know it why.

Like bones for doggies, it’s always money-money-and-only-money for the government officials. In quite a thou leitaba way, I wonder how they flaunt themselves as the educated lots when they have reduced themselves to a shameless breed of ‘ekai khangdaba siki anada choppa’ people. It is no surprising though, when their seniors and heads of the departments are leading the bandwagon.

Over the last few months — after I have decided to start standing on my own, doing my own stuff in Imphal — I have been familiarised that muscle and money are the only two things that matter if we are desperate to get something done.

The other power which is genuinely needed by us is altogether a different machal of discussion here. Amid the mess, it is quite a challenge for any individual to sow the seeds of entrepreneurship in a land like ours where many are ready to criticise and demoralise with the ‘oiroidabada or yaroidabada’ comments. Comments are free and the Manipuris just cannot ignore the free stuffs. Look at our government for instance, waiting for the freebies from New Delhi year in and year out.

But then again, as some of the pioneers of entrepreneurship have shown us, it is a lucrative career option to invest in our ideas, especially for those who have taken a daily dose of anti-corruption pills. The guild of entrepreneurs has taken root over the last few years, much thanks to technology and the energy of our generation. It is time to look ahead for empowerment. It is time for a wind of change in Manipur.

This article was published on 9 June 2014
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