Four Positives – One in the Neighbourhood and Three Within: What next for Manipur?
By Amar Yumnam
Four positive developments are visible and salient for economic opportunities and social advancement. One is happening in the neighbourhood – in Myanmar. Until very recently, the reports and commentaries on Myanmar were mainly focused on the strong potential for economic expansion and social advancement in the country. But now change in happening in this country. The beauty of this change is the visibility of the indicators of the underlying dynamics. First, though as a key economist friend of this country puts it while discussing the transformation – “Change is happening but not up to the expectations”, the change is nevertheless happening. Second, the changes seem to be acquiring the South East Asian characteristics in terms of speed. Third, the changes are both economy-wide and deep – the changes are across the country and have slowly but surely touching the core socio-economic features. In other words, development is getting unfolded in our neighbourhood with extensiveness and inclusive properties.
The other three positive developments happening within Manipur relate to economic activities. There are prominent modernised activities for economic returns in the service sector. The youths are entering into attractively contemporary participation in the service sector activities. The earlier pan-dukan hesitant engagement has now been more or less fully replaced by contemporary – either technologically or commercially – dynamics of of at least new way of doing the old activities if not altogether new ones; a kind of Schumpeterian innovativeness There are activities being undertaken with full manifestation of pride of dignity of labour, charm and competitiveness with what the youths engage in elsewhere in the advanced world.
A similar kind of innovative engagement in farming sector activities is now rooted in the horticulture sector of Manipur. Now the huge imports of potato, onion and fishes are going to be fully replaced by own provincial production sooner than later.
The fourth positive aspect is the ongoing improvement works under way in the Pallel – Moreh sector of the highway supposed to be international. Unlike earlier interventions on this sector, the present nature of work displays application of the technological mind rather than usual plain construction activities.
Now there is a beautiful and sustainable strength in the within dynamics happening in Manipur. In all the new engagement in service sector activities and the farming sector dynamics, one prominent feature comes out. Almost all the youths adding colour and innovativeness in all these activities possess degrees of post-school education, and in quite many cases, they have had exposure to situations outside the homeland of Manipur. Whatever the case, the possession of education and ability to apply education to acquire contemporary techno-scientific knowledge is salient whether physically exposed to outside scenario or not.
Given the transformations happening in the neighbourhood and the new-found strengths of education-based economic engagement, the issue before us is about the ways to widen and deepen the strengths and thus evolve a sustainable transformation of the socio-economic dynamics. Without mincing words and struggling with the technicalities, we can just list out some interventions. To begin with, let us be very clear of the fact that the education-based dynamics getting unfolded are without much involvement by the government of the day; these have been despite the absence of convergence from the governance interventions. Thus a little commitment of the government towards facilitating the engagement of the youths in innovative participation in both new and old activities would go a long way. Further, since education is the core strength of Manipur, policies should now be put in place for facilitating the youths in their conversion of enthusiasm into national and global participation of activities. Still further, the educational strength should now be linked with the evolving linkages with South-East Asia. Education should be made the continual core foundation of sustainable global manifestation of readiness for competitive relationships. The contemporary meaning of global engagements has gone much beyond the merchandise items, and the youths of Manipur have the capability and orientation to join in the new stream.
As regards the improvement of the highway linking Manipur to the Myanmar border, the visible display of the application of the technological mind to designing is an encouraging fresh wind in Manipur. Having said this, I must hasten to add that the linking with the technological mind should be brought to completion along the contemporary lines. Two interventions to complement the current undertakings are paramount. First, the concrete works should be necessarily coupled by environmental interventions to ensure longevity and being alive to the climate change issues. Second and in a very related way, the treatments of the mountains should be put in right earnest along with the construction activities such that the soon-to-be-arriving monsoon cannot play havoc with the outcome of works being undertaken now.
In fine, development is happening in the neighbourhood and we have the capabilities within to achieve innovative transformation with environmental justice. Government should rather be focussing on this rather than giving individualised responses to public criticism of seemingly un-public acts.
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