Magicians at their best

          THE protracted economic blockade being imposed on the two lifelines of Manipur and the ensuing Manipur Legislative Assembly election seem to be the right concoction for astute individuals with political ambition as well as established politicians to pull out their best tricks, just to keep the state masses spellbound. Taking into account various political and apolitical events happening at a rapid pace in Manipur, including the dramatic pictures, which were uploaded through the social media, of oil tankers rolling out from a huge military aircraft at Tulihal airport, there is apparently no serious efforts being made by either the state or the central government to end the humanitarian crisis other than putting up some cosmetic measures. From the perspective of the agitating United Naga Council (UNC), whose leaders have been insisting that the state authorities by disesteeming the memorandums of understanding involving Naga civil organisations, Government of Manipur and officials of home ministry, set the tone for enforcing the highway siege; then chief minister Ibobi and his cabinet colleagues deserved to be counted among the first to put on the magic hat and cast the spell as the government’s move to create seven new districts had drawn wide applauses from substantial population of the state. Even though those opposed to creation of the new districts may view the government policy as a political ploy but there should be no argument that the bold move could be equated to a magical move for it enlivened the mood of many. Moreover, people residing in the core zone of the on-going economic blockade not raising much objection to the highway siege could also be assumed as un-parallel support to the agitators and success of the ‘performers’.

        Considering the roles being enacted by the main characters of the drama unfolding on the two national highways, these performers are no less than any accomplished magicians for all of them have been literally successful in keeping their respective supporters in a cheerful mood amid serious inconveniences. No wonder magic is being defined as one of the oldest performing arts in the world in which the audiences are entertained by staged tricks or illusions of seemingly impossible or supernatural feats using natural means. With the exception of cargo airplanes bringing in live-saving medicines when Manipur was hit by a similar economic blockade some years back, none would have imagined that a military aircraft, which was recently inducted to the fleets of the Indian Air Force would be used to ferry in two fully loaded oil tankers in each of the two trips, and the dramatic scenes uploaded through the social media. The ‘oil tankers in aircraft’ move could have involved some minute scripting on the part of the Union government but such an audacious strategy is unlikely to change the distressful scenario enveloping the state, where the daily requirement of petrol hovers around 160 kilolitres and diesel over 260 kilolitres. Rather the people would be expecting that the state and central governments work out strategy on judicious and effective deployment of security forces on one of the safer routes out of the two national highways so as to ensure regular supply of essential goods to the people of Manipur. Pulling out a rabbit from an empty hat, fan of cards from thin air, shower of coins from an empty bucket, dove from a pan, or the magician himself or herself, appearing in a puff of smoke on an empty stage may have high entertainment value but those at the helm of affairs need to understand that magical tricks will have no impression or impact in easing tension gripping Manipur.

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