The politico-socio scenario of Manipur – given the worsening employment scenario, inability to generate public trust by the governance because of failure to generate credible policies and trend towards generalisation of distrust across individuals and diverse ethnic lines – is a very dangerous one.
By Amar Yumnam
How is the Politico-Socio Scenario of Manipur today? It is bad, really bad. It is a kind of atmosphere where all – starting from the Political Leadership to the Diverse Collective – indulge in strategic manoeuvrings. Even more unfortunately, the political economy of policy evolution is absolutely present by its absence; the governance functions on the likes/dislikes of the political leadership. The scenario is not defined by the Ethics, Philosophy and Structure of any policy whether Social or Economic but by preferences of the leadership.
But this is not a sustainable situation. Even in Europe, what is happening right today is as Gunnar Beck, a Member of the European Parliament representing Alternative for Germany (AfD) puts it: “The cost-of-living crisis is undermining governments and European institutions. Of course the war in Ukraine has made things worse, but things like the European Green Deal and monetary policy from the European Central Bank were pushing up inflation before the war. The erosion of living standards means people are naturally becoming dissatisfied with their governments and the political establishment…Something is definitely happening. From France and Italy, major European powers, to Sweden … it feels as though a rejection of the manifestly failing pan-European orthodoxy is taking hold among our citizens.” Well in the case of Europe, the system has evolved towards a robust self-regulation. For instance, the functioning of the AfD, for the first time since the Nazi era, has been put under surveillance by the German government and the Central Council of Jews in Germany welcoming it: “The AfD’s destructive politics undermine our democratic institutions and discredit democracy among citizens.”
The politico-socio scenario of Manipur – given the worsening employment scenario, inability to generate public trust by the governance because of failure to generate credible policies and trend towards generalisation of distrust across individuals and diverse ethnic lines – is a very dangerous one. Let us remember Benito Mussolini worked on the principle: “My own doctrine, even in this period, had always been a doctrine of action.” (as translated from the Italian by Jane Soames). But he failed or the people made him failed.
Without meaning the presence of a Fascist-style governance in Manipur, it should be remembered that, in a democracy, the survival and robust transformation of the polity demands the evolution and implementation of coherent and inclusive policies, and not just actions. Further the evolution of policies should necessarily be based on contextual understanding of the institutional and the geographic realities. Populism cannot be the basis for evolution and implementation of policies. Federico Finchelstein puts in From Fascism to Populism in History: “The paradox of populism is that it often identifies real problems but seeks to replace them with something worse.”
The way the governance functions in Manipur today almost reminds one of The Paradox of Analysis: “We can analyse the notion of brother by saying that to be a brother is to be a male sibling. However, if this is correct, then it seems that it is the same statement as To be a brother is to be a brother’. Yet this would mean the analysis is trivial. But surely informative analysis is possible? ..Consider (1) A brother is a male sibling; (2) Lines have the same direction if and only if they are parallel to one another. If these analyses are correct then ‘brother’ and ‘male sibling’ are synonymous, and so are the expressions for the analysed and analysing notions in the second example. Yet to say (1) is not the same as to say that a brother is a brother – any more than saying (2) is saying that lines have the same direction when they have the same direction. The paradox poses a threat to the possibility of giving an analysis of a concept, the threat that such an analysis must be either trivial or wrong.” But Calculus needs to be taken to analyses to establish the set of real numbers as the set of infinite decimals.
It is exactly in this sense that, to begin with, Manipur needs to have a relook as to what kind of Leadership she is looking for as a Polity constituted by diversity-shared social groupings. Manipur today needs to have an escape from the daily preoccupation with short-term trivialities (looking as good as governance-induced on a regular basis) as the only social challenges and to move onto a shared endeavour to embark on a long-term social evolution with public engagement. Group mobilisations, with political endorsements, have put the trend towards rationalising hooliganism as the method for collective performance; a true danger of populism.
It should be reiterated that Democracy looks for a Leadership and not for a Manager; this is a point very vividly emphasised by Joseph Schumpeter in his classic contribution Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy. This is how the social scientists underline the significance of democracy to be based on deliberations, Deliberative Democracy, to be sustainable and resist the tendency, if any, to evolve towards authoritarianism. For a Democracy to be Deliberative, the Leader should be necessarily committed to deliberative justice: “Deliberative leadership is characteristic of any situation of collective choice or consultation in decision-making, whether by an electorate, assembly, committee or any combination of two or more people within the same or different institutions.” (Paul Brooker, 2010, Leadership in Democracy, p.5). Thus: “Leadership should be understood as an influence relation among leaders and followers that facilitates the accomplishment of group or societal objectives. This shifts the focus from the leaders to all members of the polity, and suggests an ongoing process of mutual influence. The central tensions of a democracy remain, but the leadership process, if properly understood and implemented, holds the promise of mediating those tensions.” (Thomas Wren, 2010, Inventing Leadership: the challenge of democracy, p.1) The Leader in a Democracy should be able to move beyond authority and behave accordingly: “I believe that we need leaders who can create their own legitimacy. Because they see further and wider – and maybe even deeper. Because they are not in it for themselves. Because they care for people and practice courage. Because they can express their vision in ways that resonate with people. Because they can inspire. Because they know how things work in different worlds and they can bring them closer together. Because they have not allowed their success in their core circle to corrupt them, to convince them that they are right and everyone else is wrong. Because they have learnt how to deal with complex equations, rather than shy away from them and stick to simple ones. Because, like great actors, they want to achieve great things and they will happily play bit parts in the great achievements of others too.” (Julia Middleton, 2007, Beyond Authority: Leadership In A Changing World, p. 163.
In fine, Manipur needs a Leader who understands that there is Analysis beyond Calculus, and committed to this understanding. Any Democratic Leader, present or future, should be committed to the cultivation of this approach.
(Amar Yumnam is Visiting Professor, CESS: Hyderabad)