Czadanda Saint *

Political map of Manipur

"I have a pair of shoes which I think belonged to Rajnikanth once. Because, no matter how much I walked on the paved roads of Imphal, it is only the paved roads which gets worn out first. But the soles of my shoes, well, they are foreverů"

The word 'pot' in Manipuri have a myriad of meanings. Etymologically, it is supposed to mean 'thing' or 'things'. But like any other thing, with the passage of time, its meaning or rather its usage has diversified so as to include a motley collection of 'things' in its connotation. And so contemporarily, 'pot' can be used in reference to many 'things' (annoyingly ubiquitous by now, I assume).

For instance, 'pot' can mean a militant or an underground outfit. It can also mean guns, bombs, bullets, ammunition and what not. Or it can also mean alcohol- rum, whiskey, vodka, gin, beer, scotch, port wine, wine, rice beer, andro, sekmai, feiyeng. chamelei, nongoubi, khari, waiyu or whatever name we choose to call it. Or in a totally unrelated sense, it can also refer to a particular structure in the anatomy of women (and men). Pursuing this line of thought, 'pot' can also mean a commercial sex worker and sometimes to the 'not-so-commercial' ones in a derogatory way. And much more recently, the growing relevance or the use of the expression- pot kappey hey, or pot thok ae.

According to the urban linguists, it is supposed to be the verbal equivalent of the thumb up sign (and mind you, not thumbs up). But, perhaps, in the likely scenario that a very hot girl comes your way and you verbally exclaimed, "pot kappey hey!" what exactly is supposed to be the interpretation? Are you only giving her the verbal equivalent of the thumb up sign? Or are you teasing her with some particular structure of her anatomy? Or are you suggesting that she belonged to the 'not-so-commercial' ones category? Or is the implication supposed to be a bit of all three? A bit of dilemma for the social scientists. Nonetheless, since time immemorial, when the subject is a girl, the usual rules never apply. You have to go a bit beyond.

What's there in a name, you might say. What's there in a phrase? At the most, they are just a bunch of words. A rose, by any other name, would still smell as sweet. The famed words Shakespeare comes to mind. However, as the word 'pot' has so crudely demonstrated, a rose may not mean a rose at all the times. And before going into some light-hearted discussion, another totally unrelated example can be cited. The naming of potato in Manipuri.

In Manipuri, potato is called 'alu'. But 'alu' is a Hindi word. So, how the f%%k do we call potato in Manipuri? "Matum taba korok koiba chaba yaba pot". Manipuri is indeed a funny language, full of funnies. 'Rajiv Gandhi Bharat ki kaya suba Prime Minister noh' is one quintessential question in Manipuri which literally cannot be translated into English. And so, it can be said that 'pot kappey hey' is just another add on to the names and phrases in Manipuri lingo. And, in any case, the land of Manipur is one frigging hell of a Potleibak at the end of the day. And yes, in Potleibak, there are lot of 'pots'.

In a far flung corridor of India is situate our dear Potleibak. Manipur is one unexplored paradise, far away from civilisation as tourism advertisements usually go. And as per the mainstream (oops mainland) media, Manipur is supposed to be a place where the feeling of alienation is so strong that the tendency to separate from India should be just like waking up and having a cup of coffee (If I am to quote Noel Gallagher). And if you go by the bombs, songs about the bombs, and the bombings and the killings and the shootings, there is, of course, some truth behind the prejudiced perspective of the mainland (oops again) media.

But again, Manipur is not just about this. Manipur is a bloody Potleibak. And there is frigging more than what meets the frigging eye. And above all, Manipur is very much a part of India regardless of what the prejudiced perspective points us to the contrary. And being a part of India (a bona-fide state of India since 1972 A.D.), Manipur enjoys all the benefits of being an Indian state, inter alia, all the welfare schemes aimed at 'upliftment and development'! And all Manipuris are beneficiaries. And this is something we, the f##ked, can't change notwithstanding the shouts of anger and the cries of lamentation to the contrary.

MGNREGS, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, formerly NREGS, National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. As my disjointed colloquial piece is dealing with names as of now, I had this whimsical question- why the hell was it renamed? Why was NREGS renamed? I mean I love our Father of the Nation and all that, but honestly, would M.K. Gandhi give two shit whether an Employment Scheme is named in his memory or not? If we follow the life and the times of our Bapu, it is crystal clear, without a trace of a grain of salt, that this is certainly not the legacy he had desired.

So, the question is why was it so necessary to rename it? Or is it the 'Lage Raho Munnabhai' effect? Gandhigiri flexing its well-toned muscles to twist some hands in the corridors of power. But the point is not what happens at the corridors of power. But what doesn't happen at the far flung corridors, where the 'loosely-held-lands' are supposedly falling over to Myanmar and China, by inches, every day. But elections have come and elections have gone, and it doesn't really matter anymore why NREGS was renamed into MGNREGS. And that's it. Period.

But our dear Potleibak is never short of names.

Now, we have ILP. And VDF. We also have Commandoes. Or Comma doh. According to, commando may mean as follows (reproduced in verbatim) (v.) To not wear underwear. The origins for this are either "out in the open" or "ready for action". Maybe others.
(n.) A non-stop Arnold Schwarzenegger movie with him jumping from an aeroplane, overturning a porsche, and killing entire armies without a scratch. Far from his best (terminator series, predator and jingle all the way), but better than that cold heat one.

However, I highly doubt this is the correct definition I am looking for. (F%%k you Urban Dictionary). Such acts of bravado are nothing in comparison with our 'commandoes'. In any case, we are a nation which have produced Rajnikanth. We seriously can't expect anything less from our law enforcement agencies. That being said, it was really unfortunate to see some of our commandoes going commando against the students, in their uniforms. The sanctity of education seems to be destroyed by that mindless act.

Of course, the protests they were carrying out were very close to the Legislative Assembly where all the high and the mighty of Manipur had gathered around to discuss the general welfare of the people. But if the very people for whom the discussion was about were rounded up like pigs, and made to suffer like pigs raised for slaughter, it is quite literally a f%%ked up situation. Nah, forget the sanctity of education, it was the Manipur society which died that day. With vox populi silenced, God has already left the plains of Manipur!

Dear Home Minister, it's high time to weed out the VDF Thasanas, the rotten apples, and the ones which left a bad taste in the mouth. It's time to get reminded of the Latin phrase "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" from the Satires of Juvenal which can be roughly translated into 'who will guard the guards themselves?' Where is the fail-safe mechanism to protect the common man from the horrendous acts of the proactive commandoes and VDFs? Justice not only needs to be done, but it also needs to be seen that justice is done. We have to move behind the veil of departmental inquiries and administrative sanctions.

The common man needs to be assured that that thuggery has no place in the law enforcement agency of a democratic society. In this age of smartphones, where the whole world is at the touch of the thumb, it is very well advisable not to raise some technicalities of law as an excuse for failure to take action against the erring state actors as well as the non-state actors. There has to be transparency. There has to be accountability. Transparency and accountability should no longer remain as lifeless words in the reports of the Commissions and Committees. Want of political will is what is required at the moment. And it is precisely to utilise that political will that the people transposed their faith and elected you as their representative. The mandate needs to be fulfilled. Otherwise the lingering bad taste will remain.

Moving on, we now have the ILP.

First and foremost, it is to be remembered that- the way we (Manipuris) understand ILP is in the same manner we understand the word 'pot'. By saying this, I don't mean that we equate ILP with IPL and PIL interchangeably. No, no. certainly, we don't do that. We are not dumb. Even though some VDF Thasanas might give a prejudiced perception to the contrary. We know that PIL stands for Public Interest Litigation and ILP stands for Inner Line Permit and IPL stands for Indian Premier League.

Well, that's that. Coming back to the point, my argument is that it would be a very grave mistake to study the demand of ILP only within the narrow confines of the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulations, 1873. Of course, it is much larger than that. Because quite antagonistic to popular view, it has very less to do with the hate and dislike of the outsiders or with the protection of our traditional cultural expressions and traditional knowledge systems. And also, it has nothing to do with the suspicion of the mainland Indians that it is to further our separatist ambitions. No, the reason is plain, simple geography. Okay, it relates to the right of self-determination; but self-determination, in its truest form, is only a procedural right which endorse the attainment of another right.

The demand for ILP in contemporary Manipur relates to the carrying capacity of land. According to Wikipedia, carrying capacity means the number of individuals an environment can support without significant negative impacts to the given organism and its environment, or to say so, the maximum load of an environment. Keeping in mind the limited nature of our resources, there is always the dire need to keep the population size at optimum level. An equilibrium always need to be maintained between population size and the resources available so as not to exceed the carrying capacity of the land.

This is also in concurrence with the larger picture of sustainable development and the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs must not be compromised. And if we consider the district-wise decadal growth rate of population of the last census, we will find that two hill districts of Manipur registered two of the highest growth rates in India. How is that even possible? Keeping aside other factors, we can safely assume that there is a huge influx of both legal and illegal immigrants during the last decade in Manipur.

Though, I am very sceptical of whether there are any legal immigrants in Manipur. We also have to take in account the numerous migrants, who come on a temporary basis, usually for economic activities. Thus, certain regulating factors are required to keep the population in check and to maintain a favourable demographic ratio. The stress, however, should be given on the word 'regulation' and it should always be differentiated from 'prohibition'. It should be a regulatory measure and not an in toto prohibition. And as simple as that, ILP is viewed as one such regulating factor to sustain the carrying capacity of the land. And nothing else.

Therefore, it follows that when we, Manipuris are demanding ILP, it means that we are only voicing our apprehensions regarding the carrying capacity of our own lands in the backdrop of the huge influx of outsiders, especially illegal immigrants. And it goes without saying that our fears are very genuine. But it should also be emphasized that ILP is a mere catch-phrase. It is only a form of our expression. It need not necessarily mean that there should be a strict implementation of an archaic law, word for word. With regards the exigencies of time and circumstances, we only want a workable regulatory framework to negate this growing disparity between population and resources. We are only stating our legitimate concerns, and obviously, it is our fundamental right.

* Czadanda Saint wrote this article for
The writer can be reached at saddanskhaibam(at)gmail(dot)com
This article was posted on August 04, 2014.

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