Manipur has suffered from militancy for more than the 34 years I have been living on this planet. Geography has also been a villain of sorts. But Manipur has seen development in various aspects, though not on a scale comparable to the rest of the country. Had there been no obstacles and hindrances, we would have been much better than what we are today.
I have seen Manipur change considerably from the days I spent as a nonentity in a backward village named Kangathei (under Henglep assembly constituency in Churachandpur district). The state has nurtured my sporting ability, given me the opportunity to make a name in the world of women’s boxing, and earn laurels for India. Despite hurdles, many other sportspersons have made Manipur and India proud. They include Thoiba Singh in field hockey, Kunjarani Devi in weightlifting, Laishram Bombayla in archery, and Devendro and Dingko Singh in boxing.
But the greatness that Manipur achieved in sports appears to have slanted downward in the last few years. Apart from a Sports Authority of India centre and state’s only Khuman Lampak (Imphal) stadium, there is hardly any good sports complex with all necessary facilities. Besides, we also need to have qualified coaches and trainers, beyond traditional experts.
Everything, I believe, will fall in place with improvement in the existing systems and planning and an end to strikes and blockades that have held Manipur back. An ideal Manipur would be one with more job opportunities for qualified youth, peace and security, reform in the education system, preservation of wildlife and forestation to cope with climate change, people-friendly atmosphere, and equal promotion of inherited cultures.
In a nutshell, Manipur needs to address three prime issues – unemployment, insurgency and corruption. Survival of jobless youth is at stake. The number of militants is increasing each day; this has to be controlled with peaceful dialogues and understanding. Corruption is visible everywhere and development projects are not implemented properly by stakeholders.
Manipur also needs to improve its image – that of not being inclusive. All communities residing in the state need to respect each other genuinely. We need to instil a spirit of broad-mindedness and patriotism, stop being biased, reach out to the most remote and backward areas and communities to understand their needs and thoughts, making sure they get their rights and their shares. There is an urgent need to re-cultivate a mindset that Manipur does not belong to a particular community, but to all communities settled in the state. Everyone should maintain integrity with the right attitude, words and action.
The people should choose the ones worthy of leading them, ones who can address sensitive and controversial issues diplomatically and neutrally.
(As told to Rahul Karmakar)