Examining Some Aspects of the Political Economy of Manipur from the Perspective of Amartya Sens’s Theory of Development

By Ngahpi Lhouvum

The paper examines the political economy of Manipur and explores whether Amartya Sen’s theory of development as freedom could be applied to elevate the economic backwardness and other socio-political problems in the state. Sen’s theory of development states that development is to be measured in terms of the freedom people have to choose the kind of life they want to lead. Development requires that an enabling environment whereby people are empowered economically, socially and politically in order to have the capability to make rational choices. Traditional yardsticks of development like high GDP, increase in per capita income, growth in GNP, technological advancement, etc. do not capture the true essence of development. Besides economic growth, there are also equally important factors of development such as civil and political liberties, justice, equality, health, education etc. So, development would mean removing all sorts of what Sen would call “unfreedoms” which could be economic, social and political in nature. Manipur is one of the most disturbed states, economically backward and politically unstable due to various insurgent groups operating in the state. AFSPA is used to maintain law and order thereby curtailing various rights and civil liberties granted by the Constitution of India to its citizens. All sorts of ‘unfreedoms’– the obstacles that stand in the way of development – have their nagging presence in this state. So, Sen’s theory of development has special relevance to the problems of Manipur and may serve as an effective remedy.

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