Sometime back, Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh expressed his frustration over the proliferation of civil society organisations (CSOs) in recent times making it difficult for the government or authorities to choose which CSO it has to negotiate in view of the current crisis. And he stressed upon the imperative need for unity among CSOs to overcome the current confusing scenario that has arisen from the proliferation of various civil bodies.
He emphasised that the recent mushrooming of such groups has left both central and state governments quite perplexed. He urged these bodies to amalgamate their efforts, fostering a harmonised approach to address ongoing conflicts more effectively. Chief Minister Biren is both right and wrong. He is right in the sense that every CSO seems to have a set agenda and sense of self-importance.
On the other hand, he is wrong for failing to see the root cause of such a proliferation. No, it is not the DNA factor which gives rise to such a phenomenon. There is a saying that there is lack of unanimity among the Meiteis and that that at most times they are divided on issues except, of course, on the issue of Manipur’s integrity and this is often painted as a negative vibe. It is also sometimes termed as ‘Ani Thokpi’ popularly.
Now, it has gone beyond ‘Ani Thokpi’ to proliferation. There is also a term ‘Hoi Laoba’ in which everyone follows the leader or the voice of the majority whatever be the consequences. This is simply not the case among the Meiteis. They always question the pros and cons of everything before forming an opinion. Whatever people say, we consider it as a manifestation of a sense of democratic spirit among the Meiteis. This is what one generally calls human development and a product of its civilizational history through the ages.
Look at the recent rise of youths. They are not only angry with the powers that be, but also with the way the general public’s energy and response is being channelised by different forces. They have become extremely frustrated with the utter lack of resolve of the elected representatives and their meaningless political stunts.
As they say, action speaks louder than words. They might give countless numbers of pledges in the name of Manipur and its ‘sacrosanct’ territorial integrity or its people. But, they are always hesitant when the time of reckoning knocks at the door. The word ‘political sacrifice’ does not exist in their vocabulary and their only prayer is of political survival at any cost.
On the other hand, those in the field fighting the militants with the bare minimum of arms to protect their villages and property are fed up with the way Imphal headquartered CSOs are trying to dictate terms with their conventions and conferences. The frustration is not only with the elected representatives, but also with the CSOs also who pursue different strategies and who all claim to be apex bodies.
Most of the youths and people dying in the attacks are villagers and volunteers, not the so-called leaders sitting in Imphal and negotiating Union Home Ministry mandarins in New Delhi. Also, they do not want to listen to sermons from either the Chief Minister or the CSO leaders. It is the confusing state of affairs within the government and conflicting stances of both the state government and CSO leaders that has led to frustration among the people and establishing of new CSOs.
With regard to the statement of the Chief Minister, we must say the government simply cannot afford to be confused in times of crisis. The government is there to restore order and establish the writ of law and it is the state’s basic function. If it cannot deliver on this basic function and let chaos continue in the state, certainly the government has ceased to be one.