Poverty: The Root of Maladies

Published on October 31, 2008

By Letkhomang Haokip


“1.36 crores, the highest salary offered at IIM-C, top investment banking companies visiting campuses across India offering mind boggling remuneration, sensex touching the magical 20000 mark, easy credits available in the market, confidence of consumers as well as industrialists touching zenith.” These are few of the headlines that dotted our morning papers not long ago.

Markets across the world are tumbling and there is not any relieve in sight. Sensex is continuing its bear run and it is now half of what it was worth few months back (and the sliding continues as I write this article). Suddenly, there is dearth of money everywhere, retail investors having no clue about whatsoever is happening in the market just like the big investors.


Environment in the campuses across the country are gloomy since top recruiters are reluctant to take fresh graduates. It will be extremely difficult for fresh graduates in  premier institutes to expect the kind of pays and perks the seniors had commanded a year back while those from the second rank colleges can only hope for  placements keeping aside the consideration for a  fat pay-check.

The question that arises is the ever intriguing nature of market’s volatility. How the confidence of consumers as well as that of the industrialists fluctuates or rather vaporizes at such an ease. How the wealth created is gone with the speed of its creation so much so that it does not take time to make a pauper out of the rich and vice-versa. Some even start to question the basis of our economy and most importantly the way capitalist society like the United States behaves.


The pace of development over the past few decades in the West and that of India post liberalization is unprecedented. We have graduated into a consumerist society living on a huge credit, which is easily available in the market knowing little that the present heaven-like situation might be that proverbial “calm before the storm.”

Fortunately or unfortunately in our context (the Kukis), the world’s market doesn’t affect us so much save for few of us who are outside our home state. But this should not be the reason to be complacent because the hard fact is that we have not been integrated into the Indian market let alone the world’s market. Our economy is so primitive that we hardly have entrepreneurs except for few ones like the HAOKIP TRAVELS  and other small enterprises.


This is very disturbing since we claim to have the largest land holding rate in the state of Manipur and yet our lands are left barren. There is not enough food production nor we have the purchasing power to obtain what we need. It is time we take a closer looks into what really is wrong in our economy. Are we by nature not fit to be entrepreneurs? It is time to think beyond the civil services (which definitely is the most prestigious job in the government). The fact that among hundreds of  aspirants very few get into the services should make us think of alternative careers.


No matter how good a civil servant is for the society, we cannot afford to waste more time when things are rapidly changing in the 21st century.  Why on earth we as a community having one of the highest numbers of civil servants lag pathetically behind other communities in terms of economic well-being. We have to diversify our expertise, knowledge and interest into various other fields like the non-governmental organisations, entrepreneurships, other small scale undertakings and corporates…etc.

Sooner or later, we will be part of the larger human society. We cannot remain isolated because if we choose to be like what we are now, we will have to surrender what is left of us – our lands will be occupied and this is not so far if we remain in this state of affair. We have seen what the Manipur valley-based militants have done to us in some part of our land and this is just the beginning. We will be slave in our own land because people with huge wealth will take away everything from us, as is happening in CHURACHANDPUR (LAMKA) and MOREH at the moment.


If the much touted look-east policy of the Indian government takes off as planned, we will become part of Southeast Asian economy. With God’s grace, we are occupying strategic towns like MOREH in India and TAMU on the other side of the border in Burma. God gives us everything that we need, but it is our duty to make the best use out of them and not be complacent on the little dough we earn each day.


These towns are the natural transit point for goods and people flowing between South and Southeast Asia. If we learn from history and resolve to take our future in our own hands, we will have a strong basic economy with which we can survive even the hardest of times like the one the world is facing at the moment. We have to be prepared to face any onslaught of recession and negative growth if we are to stand as a strong nation in future.


We must cultivate in us the willingness to be honest and hardworking. For instance, the town of Moreh is economically run by outsiders as we are helplessly watching them take away our God’s given wealth right under our nose. If rumours are to be believed, we are happy with easy and less money and remain complacent with a square meal a day.


There is hardly any trust amongst us and our selfish nature coupled with our lethargic way of life will lead us no-where. Here I would like to mention what the famous communist leader of China Deng Xiaoping had said as he transformed China into an era of economic prosperity that is unprecedented in the history of the world. He said  “it is glorious to be rich.”


There are many ways to be rich by just working hard and being honest. Let us help and encourage each other and support whoever is undertaking a venture. It is time we should be rich and rebuild our land.


The writer is an engineer at the National Thermal Power Corporation Ltd (NTPC), West Bengal, India.