Urbanization in the Name of Development:Media Role in Manipur

Dr. Paromita Das*
Panthoi Khaidem*

The term ‘development’ means what is necessary for a better living in a society. It includes not only economic growth but also human development which consists of health, nutrition, education and a well established environment. Although it is good for a society to develop, on the other hand there are many drawbacks and disturbances faced by the society behind the development. Sometimes it affects the human privileges and disturbs the peace and harmony of the society. It might also become the main cause of adverse environmental changes. Situated in the easternmost part of the country and being a conflict zone, development in the state of Manipur is lacking behind other states. All-round development of the society is much needed in a state like Manipur to build a cohesive society. As an informer and communicator, the media has an important role in the development of society. It also plays the role of an educationist and a watchdog in every field. The role of media in the development of Manipur is vast and endless. The main objective of this paper is to highlight the development of Manipur, the role played by the media in it, and to find out the consequences of that development. Two case studies on development and urbanization have been taken up by the researcher as research material.

Introduction

The term development is hard to define and it is also a complex phenomenon. Many scholars and researchers have worked hard and tried many processes to define the term development. But the development scholars are yet to define development all across the world. The concept of development has been changing with the changes in the world. Due to globalization and frequent changes in social structure, economic growth, policy, communication, technology the signs of development are also changing according to the needs of the society. Development literature has been ruled by several indicators like economic growth, per capita income, social welfare, urbanization, etc. But in today’s world, many other terms have come up in the literature of development. Human development and environmental development are the terms that have been included in the dictionary of development. In general, the primary indicators of development have been identified as economic growth, social welfare, and good communication facilities.

Good communication facilities here mean mass media which consists of print media, electronic media, new media, and social media. Mass media or mass communication is the process of delivering information and ideas, thereby educating and communicating with the masses all over the world through a common medium. In this world of new technology, many new methods and processes have been employed to inform, develop, and strengthen the power of a nation. Mass media is the most powerful tool of communication. The present paper deals with the development, urbanization, the role of media in the development of society, and the merit of all-round development and demerits of urbanization in the name of the so called development.

Development in Manipur

Manipur is a state in the northeast and situated at a corner of India, development in the state is quite lacking behind. Development in terms of economic growth, social welfare urbanization, new technology, policy, and communication in Manipur is still in progress. The government has taken up many steps, policies, and programs to help the overall development of Manipur. Certain programs have also been taken up for human development and environmental development. But the main focus of the state government is on the urbanization of the state. In the name of urbanization, work has been taken up in the construction and expansion of roads. Some government office infrastructure was also expanded in the recent past and some small- and big-scale industries have been built up. Plans are on for more expansion in the state. Due to this urbanization, the society and the people of the state have been enjoying a lot of facilities. Despite all these urbanizations, the state has a long way to go before being called developed. An all-round development in the state is required. Urbanization alone cannot build a well-developed and solid society. Development in every field is much needed. As has already been mentioned the primary indicators of development, in general, are economic growth, mass media facilities, and social welfare. None of these three primary indicators in Manipur is up to the mark. Society and the government need to discuss the relevant issue of development to build a well-developed society. A society can develop only when its people are well educated and the environment surrounding that society is congenial and well developed.

Media in Manipur

The wave of mass media in Manipur entered in the early part of the 1920s with the introduction of print media by Hijam Irabot. The first recorded event in the history of the print media in Manipur is a publication of the journal Meitei Chanu by Hijam Irabat in 1922. But many do not see it as a pioneering effort. It cannot be called the first chapter of the print media journalism in the state as the said publication was not in the printed form. It was a hand-stenciled one and cyclostyled by Irabot himself. The State of Manipur witnessed a sudden increase in newspapers and magazines after the attainment of full-fledged statehood in 1972. There was a big wave of mass media blowing in all parts of the state. The people of Manipur, particularly the ‘hoi polloi’, started to understand the importance of media in the development process. Awareness among the public was visibly increasing. A new media spirit took over the journalists’ community following the attainment of statehood. It was, therefore, not surprising that the number of newspapers and magazines increased by leaps and bounds.

Media Role in the Development of Manipur

The impact of mass communication and mass media on society is phenomenal. It unfolds before the masses what is happening in society. The media has a constructive role to play in society. The print media, the electronic media, and the new media are the subsets of mass media. As media is the new mantra of development, it can play the role of solving many social problems and become a force multiplier of modern civilization. It also plays a very important role in shaping the personality of people. So, mass media are the storage and transmission channels or tools for storing and delivering information or data. It bridges the gulf, broadens the horizon of knowledge and understanding, and inculcates scientific temper in this global world. Truly, it can be mentioned that mass media act as a bridge in this information world in getting information, education, knowledge, etc. It can function as a watchdog, ombudsman, constructive critic, public investigator and expositor, philosopher, guide, and even an entertainer of the society. It is, therefore, called the fourth pillar of the state.

The role of mass media in development can be defined from the responsibilities and functions that are vested in it. And Manipur is no exception. The media needs to stay attentive and keep an eye on the development of the state. Media also needs to stay alert on the policies and programs taken up by the government in the name of development. Their duties are to inform and give knowledge to the society about these new policies and programs. Their duty is also to examine how far these new policies and programs are useful and utilized by society. Not only examine the importance of these policies and programs, but media also has to look upon both the merit and demerit that development will bring before society…

The development has brought a lot of changes in today’s society. In Manipur, urbanization is taken as one of the most important changes in the development of society. The government has started many policies and programs for urbanization. Urbanization in one way is very important and useful for the people, but on the other hand due to this urbanization, many have been adversely affected. These adverse effects can be termed as a violation of human rights. In such cases, the duty of the media is to look upon both the benefits and demerits of urbanization. They have a duty to inform society as well as educate the policymakers of the consequences of such policies and programs. Simply reporting the news is not their duty. Their reporting will expose society to both the advantages and disadvantages of urbanization.

Urbanization Case Studies

Two case studies have been taken up in the present research, each of which is of prime importance in the development of the state of Manipur. The first case being the building of Sport University in Manipur and the second one is the building and expansion of the High Court of Manipur.

Sport University

The 100-day program of the Modi government included building a Central Sport University in Manipur. After the announcement by the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, the government-sanctioned Rs100 cores for this program. Needless to say that Manipur is extremely privileged to have a Central Sport University in the state which will be the first of its kind in India. The state government of Manipur has selected the site for the university which is at Loushi Loukol near Yaithibi Mountain in the Thoubal district. Loushi Loukol is farming land. Though the land is not very good for farming, people have been in this area for ages. As a result, when they found that they would become landless and jobless, they started to question the selection of the site. The people are divided into two groups. One group is against giving their farming land to the government and the other group supports the government. Many controversies surround the location of the Sport University. In the meantime, some other regions of the state have urged the state government to locate the Sport University in their area. These proposals have come from Khumbi Moirang, Lampang Candre, and Senjam Chirang. The proposals have been flashed in newspapers four-five times, but the state government has not given any definite response about the site even after four or five months. The new sites offered for setting up the Sport University are not agricultural land and most important of all, the people there have wilfully agreed to house the project.

The issue has compelled the people of Manipur to suspect that the state government is playing some game or there is some hidden agenda behind it. They are wondering whether the state government is unable to make a decision due to controversies in the areas which have sent the proposals for an alternate site.

Building the first Central Sport University in a remote state of North East like Manipur will give a lot of importance to the state and it will definitely help in the all-round development of the state in general and human resource development in particular. However, considering the controversial situation, the state government has to find out a way that will not render people homeless or jobless. If the intention is to develop, the government should have a good and balanced policy thereby building the Sport University without affecting the nature, environment, and surroundings. The media has a very important role to play here. It can bring the entire controversy into focus and force the Central government, if not the state government, to rethink the project and find a site without disturbing the resources.

Capital Project:

The Manipur government has constructed a Capitol/Capital Project in Manipur. The project includes the expansion of the state Legislative Assembly, Secretariat, and the Imphal branch of the Guwahati High Court. The state cabinet took a decision on 16 December 2011 to acquire land in Lei-Ingkhol village, in addition to the land that has already been occupied in Mantripukhri for the project. Tension has been rising among the villagers of Lei-Ingkhol following the decision of the state cabinet. The villagers continuously protested from February 2005 to September 2006 against their displacement from their village. Lei-Ingkhol is a village located at Mantripukhri Tahsilin Imphal East District, which is five kilometers from the hub of Imphal City, Manipur. It was originally an unoccupied marshland which is an isolated area. Around the 1940s medical services were provided in some areas of the village to lepers and tuberculosis patients. Several socially ignored and ill-treated landless patients suffering from these diseases, who could no longer stay with original families, settled in this marshy land. In the late 1970s, due to social fear of spreading the diseases, they were compelled to confine themselves to one location and the village became a settlement of the lepers and tuberculosis patients. The state government’s decision to shift the village to another local area is inhuman. Several protests have been carried out by the villagers but the government is indifferent towards them. The government has promised the villagers that they will be relocated and land will be provided and houses will be built for each household. The government has decided to shift the villagers to the Koirengai side. It has been four years since the state government acquired the Lei-Ingkhol village for the new capital project but to date, Koirengai has seen only a few houses built and the majority of the villagers are still homeless.

The capital project taken up by the state government cannot be termed as a developmental project because it is not balanced in nature. It is trying to develop a section at the cost of depriving other sections of their livelihood and leaving them homeless. The project lacks transparency and public accountability. Displacement and destructive tendencies in the selection of the site for the construction of the project and frequent changes in the blueprint of the project are the main controversies of the project. The affected village has its own history, environment, and natural boundaries and its people face the issue of their economic survival and psychological impact. Disturbance of these factors will not bring in any development, rather destruction. In this case, the government’s role is in question and the role of the media is important.

Conclusion:

Development is necessary everywhere for an individual and a society to build up. But the steps taken up for development should not disturb the environment and already existing convenient livelihood. The economic zone should not be disturbed for settlement areas and vice -versa. Development can only be in the truest sense if it is well planned. The Government and the society should have good planning for development. Without proper planning, there will always be chaos in the blueprint, and the project leaves alone development. Thus to bring in development, proper planning is needed, and the future balance should be kept. From the above two case studies, it can be concluded that the State Government of Manipur has taken up certain projects, and policies without proper planning.

In the meantime, media has also failed to play its role as an informer, and watchdog of society. The media here had a role to play by informing the government, and the civil society about the consequences.  Though some news items were covered in the local newspapers but simply reporting the news will not bring in the desired solution. An analysis should have been done by the media houses so that the consequences of the issue could be understood beforehand. There were protests but their voices were not heard. Media also could have played a role here, and let their voices be heard not only at the state level but also at the national level. Thus there is no denying the fact that Media contain the strong potential for combating the evils of society. It can be used as an effective means for social, economic, political, etc. transformation.

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