TODAY -

Strategy to Bring Peace And Development in Manipur
in view of the Strategic Importance of the Northeast Region

P. Bharat Singh *



The Northeast, which is inhabited by more than two hundred ethnic communities speaking mostly Tibeto-Burman languages, provide one of the most alluring and colourful ethno-spacies in the world. They are the Mongoloid India, the section of the Indian nation-state proud and strong, providing what one formerly terms as 'rainbow country', extra-ordinarily diverse and colourful, mysterious when seen through parted clouds, a distant and distant frontier for all to many. The Northeast was always remote to the 'heartlanders', its two great rivers hemmed in the penetrating jungle and soaring mountains, curtained for many months by incessant rain.

Now, the Northeast is in the ascendant. There is a fundamental unity of mongoloid India. The people retain in their hearts what they had inherited from their civilizations - a common strand of human character, respect for elders, hospitable to others who visit their homes, willing to share their wealth with others and exceedingly painstaking in food production and manufacturing activities, deeply religious -respecting all faiths of all denominations and exuberant in expression of happiness and welfare, vibrant in the arts and dances unique in the world.

Manipur is a composite state of Indian Union having an area of only 23,327 square kilometers. It is geographically divided into the hills and the centrally situated oval shaped valley. The hills surrounding the valley constitute more than 90% of the total geographical area of the state. The hill ranges are higher in the north and their elevation steadily decreases towards the south.

Inspite of the geographical isolation due to the encirclement of the hill ranges on all sides, Manipur is the abode of various ethnic groups of people of which the Meiteis who reside mostly in the valley are the largest group. There are many similarities in customs, traditions, habits and manners between the Meiteis and the hill people. Hence, they have been living together with peace and harmony even after the adoption of Hinduism by the Meities and Christianity by the hill people with the change of time.

After Indian Independence, Manipur adopted a democratic constitution i.e. "Manipur State Constitution Act, 1 947" which had the features of a constitutional monarchy. Manipur was merged with the Indian Union on the 1 5th October, 1949 under an agreement titled "Manipur Merger Agreement". Now it is a state of India.

Manipur has been afflicted by internal conflicts for the last many decades which not only caused loss of many precious lives and properties but also seriously hampered the socio-economic development of the state. It is considered that the people of the state cannot remain trapped in the past, paralysed by the memories of injustice and grievances. It needs to identify and evolve a constructive path that will lead to fundamental transformation of the state.

Violence has no place in a democratic society which provides many inbuilt mechanisms for the resolution of the grievances through peaceful means. These peaceful options need to be explored seriously to bring peace and normalcy in the state.

The continuing spate of violence, frequent bandhs and blockades, extortions, kidnappings in the state has resulted in making Manipur a disturbed state for a long time. Hence, we need to put our hands together and apply a collective mind to identify and analyse the cause and arrive at possible remedies before it reaches a point of no return.

It is suggested that the Government of India in collaboration with the State Government may evolve a grand strategy to bring peace and development in the state on the following lines:-

  1. To adopt a policy for resolution of all issues through peaceful means for maintaining peaceful co-existence of various sections of the society.
  2. To check and root out rampant corruption in all spheres of life in Northeast in general and Manipur in particular. It should be the endeavor of the Government to ensure transparency, accountability and pro people in the administration and also to see that people have effectively participated in governance.
  3. Insurgency problems of the Northeast should be settled permanently through peaceful means for bringing peace and all round development in the region.
  4. To request the Central Government for giving adequate financial assistance to create infrastructure and development of human resource on top priority basis being a poor region.
  5. To find out ways and means to remove the ever increasing problems of unemployment in the Northeast in general and Manipur in particular.
  6. The Central Government should immediately look into the large scale human rights violation occurring in the region particularly
  7. Awareness Programmes should be made for speedy socio-economic development, woman empowerment, ill effects of frequent bandhs and blockades, protection of human rights, role of media in bringing peace and harmony in a conflict zone, role of the Government for permanent solution of all issues in time etc.
  8. Frequent interaction with prominent citizens and NGOs for bringing out permanent solution on various issues may be organised by the Government.
  9. As Manipur has geographically proximity with the South East Asian countries, the Central Government may advocate for expeditious promotion of Indo-Myanmar Border Trade and also with other ASEAN countries.
  10. To promote tourism as an industry in the region. So far the tourism sector in Northeast region is in a very infant stage. Cultural exchange programmes between the Northeast region and the ASEAN countries may be arranged for better understanding of the land and the people.
The national unity should be built on the firm foundation of love. It is therefore, a must to educate people and make them acknowledgeable to meet this end. Over and above, the numerous organizations should have a unified organization comprising of all groups and communities, only then could we strengthen the unity of the country. The responsibilities of our youth who are indeed the pillars of the nation is indeed great in this aspect.

Governance transcends the state to include civil society organizations. Government is just one actor of governance but for good governance it should ensure that concerns/ sections are taken into account particularly the most vulnerable sections of our society. It has been recognized that stability and peace do not stem from authority but from a broad sense of justice. The first step to resolve any conflict situation is to sit together and deliberate upon issues of conflict and work-out acceptable solutions.

We should observe the principles of Mahatma Gandhi i.e. love for mankind, truth and non-violence so that we could lead a meaningful life where mankind is one and the world is also one. This should be the ideal for future generations.

Lastly, the goal is to ensure permanent peace and harmony by engaging some of the stake-holders in a dialogue. Only, honest and sincere efforts of the Government and the people together will bring peace and development in the state.


P. Bharat Singh


* P. Bharat Singh (IAS - Retd) wrote this piece originally. This was published in "Manipur Today" - a publication from DIPR, Govt. of Manipur on the eve of Khongjam Day 23rd April 2010. This article was webcasted on May 03rd, 2010.







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