Imphal seems to have formally been figured in the map of cities having weekend ‘night life’ when it experienced a dazzling glimpse of night life along its western Kanglapat moat on October 2 as the chief minister N. Biren Singh launched a Night Plaza, officially christened as Imphal Evenings. It was historic in its own right as the sleepy city promisses to transform itself from being ‘asleep’ to being ‘alive’ at nocturnal times. Yes, the sleepy Imphal is ready to become alive with night life at least at the weekends. It could be the perfect way to end one’s week if not one’s day. The event itself was unique in Manipur where sunset defines the end of a day thereby herding the people back home abandoning the city with a deserted look. It is not that Imphal had been without any kind of night life before. In its several non-descript ‘wet-pockets’, the capital city had its peculiar individual hidaak-soaked ‘traditional’ night life, which is second to none of its kind, albeit not at the so-called night clubs or bars but centred around local brew vendors for night trance. Besides, public night life has been occassional during festivals like Yaoshang, Christmas and other entertainment-related occassions. The launching of night plaza was like never before as turning out of people in large number itself clearly indicated the beginning of the possible end of the fear of untold mystery that has been shrouding the insurgency-hit state where each sunset brings curtain down on mundane activities since the nineties. In one way, it also indicated that the people of the state are ready to embrace the night culture which is prevalent in cities of other developed countries over the globe. Potential domestic and foreign tourists and investors can be ‘icing on the cake’ in any city’s night life since nightlife tourism is known to be one of the most important economic policies. In such a situation, the government’s endeavour to depict the state as peaceful and free from armed violence is appreciable so as to show that the law and order situation in the state has considerably improved thereby building confidence. After all these fearful years, the state in general and Imphal city in particular deserves such a welcome change to break its enforced tradition of ‘calling the day a day’ at the sunset considering its vibrant and classy side becoming more cosmopolitan over the years. If the massive turn out is anything to go by, now people no longer fear to venture out of their homes at night. And this would be a very positive and significant message to the whole world, particularly the tourists who wish to visit the state. This initiative of the BJP-led coalition government in the state could be seen as a first step towards realising its stated goal of bringing ‘Achhe Din’ (good days), Hindi slogan of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), coined by the Prime Minister for the 2014 general election. By opening the night plaza and promoting night culture in the state the government’s initiative has potential to usher in good days in the state. We for one wish so. However, despite the governemnt’s meticulous planning, there have been many a feedback and criticism pouring in from different quarters, regarding improper selection of location, traffic congestion, power issue etc. And it is also worth questioning as to how far this one step will change the ‘fear-beaten’ popular imagination of the residents who have developed the tendency of being confined to their homes soon after night falls for many years due to restive situation which had been prevailing in the state for decades now. And, what degreee of confidence building would it register on the worry of parents and family elders when the youngsters plan to go out with their friends at night for such a recreative moments of night life? Above all, crimes may come with night life. These pertinent issues should be addressed since night life is necessary for a developing city like Imphal which is in the run to become one of the smart cities of the country. It will also help boost tourism thereby increasing the overall economy of the state. As of now it is limited night life with limited peace at limited places but it is good for a starter and as a confidence building measure. Speaking with optimism, while the Union Government’s ‘Achhe Din’ is ever elusive, the state government’s Night Life may bring ‘Achhe Raat’ (good night) for Imphal with a hope for a vibrant tomorrow when Imphal never sleeps. May it be the Good Night before the Good Day.
Leader Writer: Zeet Nawaz Thouba