E-Pao! Essays - Where do we go from here?

Where do we go from here?

By L. Keivom IFS(Rtd) *

Ours is a proto-nation, a nation in-the-making, in a cocoon. Our ethnic group living in India, Myanmar and Bangladesh is conservatively estimated to number about 2.5-3 million with a rare distinction of having two full-fledged federated states, Mizoram in India and Chin State in Myanmar.

Though we claim to have our ancient roots in China and elsewhere, our modern history began barely a century ago after the advent of the British colonialist in our then undefined region where we lived independently in our city-state-like villages with little or no contact with the outside world except when we raided our neighbors occasionally. The British stopped all these for the better, imposed law and order and introduced administrative system. Then, the missionaries entered our lands to sow the seeds of the Gospel and education that quickly germinated all over. Soon, majority of our people became Christians, learned the magic Roman alphabet and came to possess a script through which we could penetrate the world of knowledge. For good or for bad, our encounter with the British and the new religion turned our world upside down and opened up new vistas. Many of the good things we have inherited as also the many ills our society has been suffering from are the outcome of visible and invisible imbalances created by this abrupt change.

The greatest harm the British Raj did to us was the bifurcation of our inhabited areas into different administrative units under their divide-and-rule policy. This arrangement seemed to matter little until formal borders were drawn up by them when we suddenly found ourselves all divided up as we are today in three different countries. On the eve and immediately after India's independence, strong voices were raised against this unholy divide by the newly formed political parties with common agenda to bring our ethnic group under one roof in the form of 'Greater Mizoram'. In what way and shape this vision will continue to evolve is any body's guess. However, we can assume that the strategies and modalities we have to adopt in realizing the dream, and what will be its final manifestation, and most important of all, our very own survival, will be determined by various internal and external factors within and outside our control. Whatever be the case, cultural unification will have to precede any form of political realization. The latter cannot be achieved without the former. This calls for a common name and a language, the fevicol of a nation.

With this haphazard introduction, let us briefly survey our present situation and suggest some possible steps that we should consider and take, with special reference to Manipur, whenever appropriate.

Political Scenario
Our ethnic group has been variously known as Chin, Kuki and Mizo/ Zomi (Chikumi), the first two being assumed names given to us by others and the last by ourselves. But there are many tribes within these groups who have preferred to be identified as a distinct tribe and accordingly registered themselves as such in Government of India's Scheduled Tribe list, thereby further complicating the meaning and interpretation of the generic terms given above. This is a divide and rule policy applied by us to ourselves because of ignorance and lack of political vision. It is a lethal dose for self-destruction. Small is not beautiful in national politics and survival. Thinking small and acting foolish is courting disaster. But why did we do it?

After our dispersal from the Chin Hills some 400 years ago, our forefathers in batches moved out and settled in clan groups in different hill locks. Because of lack of communication, each group started developing their own form of speaking and gradually formed themselves into new dialect groups. Consequently, they began to treat each other as belonging to another tribe and therefore different from each other. This tendency to highlight and give more importance to our dialect affinity than our ethnic oneness is our national curse that has been afflicting us. We have become worshippers of our respective dialect group at the expense of the growth of our ethnic unity with a common language and purpose.

Now let us turn to Manipur. What is our politics today? It is dialect politics at the ethnic level and election politics at the party level. Both have as their backbone underground elements, the Frankenstein monsters we have created but do not have the magic wand to control them. We have been caught in our own folly and hoisted in our own petard! Self-centeredness has consumed us. Like Cain, we say "Am I my brother's keeper?" Madness has taken over us. We fight and kill each other and make a public spectacle of ourselves. What a shame! If we cannot be our brother's keeper, we do not deserve to survive as a nation.

What do we do then? So long as we love to embrace our folly, we will continue to head for destruction. But the moment we realize the futility of our folly and decide to face evil bravely by placing the common interest of our ethnic group over clannish considerations, things will change for the better. We can then unitedly face the dangers lurking around us and save ourselves from being swallowed up. We must stop ourselves from remaining instruments to preside over our own funeral at the grave dug out by our foolish hands.

Socio-Economic Scenario
We have no means to support ourselves economically. Like most states in the north-east, we are depending on the center's largesse. But whatever fiscal support we have received so far from Delhi, a large chunk of it is ploughed back to the mainland India from where we get almost all our essential and critical supplies. The rest has gone to different educational institutions outside the state where many keep their children for studies. The outcome is that we have become more indebted, more dependent, more corrupt and more restive day by day.

Besides, Manipur state has no capacity to absorb the hundreds of graduates we have churned out every year. Successive ministries in the past had wasted most of their precious terms to form ministry after ministry but had little time to run the government and look into the explosive socio-economic situation. Political leadership is totally bankrupt and the moral fabric is in tatters. So what do the educated unemployed have to do? They either have to go outside the state to find jobs or remain in the state to indulge in senseless agitation and crimes to bring more misery to the people who are already groaning under the weight of our own folly.

The crux of the matter is that whether we like it or not, we have to look increasingly beyond our state for education and employment. In this regard, persons who have studied outside the state have, in terms of linguistic ability and competence, a much better chance of getting employment than the one brought up at the State's corrupted educational institutions.

It is high time we realize that the small states of the north-east with little or no economic and industrial infrastructure have very limited capacity to absorb its unemployed youths and that they have to find employment for them elsewhere. However, this realization is not enough. We must prepare the youths so that they can compete others, if not excel them. This naturally calls for revamping and reorientation of our educational system and curriculum contents to suit the job market.

Cultural Scenario
We now come to the most sensitive part of the scenario. Given the fact that for economic compulsions our youths and all the capable hands have to chance out to advance their prospects, what guarantee do we have they will continue to maintain their distinct identity and culture and that they will not get lost in the ocean of more progressive and established cultures?

We are a people highly susceptible to stronger cultural influence and even while rooted at home in our poorly lit thatched roofs, many of our youths love to ape western, if not the Bollywood, style of living, dress and music, speak in degenerated English, dabble in drugs and all forms of addiction and think and act like zombies. If they get lost so quickly even while at home, how will they survive an onslaught of city life and culture? How many generations of the children of officers studying and living outside our community survive culturally and continue to speak, read and write in our mother tongue and value our culture? We do not last even one generation!

The prognosis
This is where the danger lies. The ten tribes of Israel who formed the Kingdom of Israel had a bitter taste of this experience after their Assyrian exile in 722 BC and got lost, completely assimilated and submerged in a matter of few generations. But the tribes of Judah and Benjamin helped by the Levites who established the Kingdom of Judah at Jerusalem survived the Babylonian exile of 608 BC, returned in two batches after 150 and 164 years numbering about 125,000, rebuilt their Jerusalem and till this day stand proudly in the comity of nations. But remember this, they lost their Hebrew in the process! When they returned from exile, they came back with a Syrian-based language called Aramaic, the lingua franca of all South West Asia those days, a language spoken at the time of Christ in Israel. It does not take more than 50 years to bury a language into oblivion.

What was the magic key to their survival? Could we also draw useful lessons from their experience? The first Israeli nation, more than a million strong, was born and brought up during their 430 years sojourn and exile in Egypt. How did they survive? As we move out of our hearths and homes because of economic and other compulsions to work and live in different stations amongst a sea of strangers and exploiters, we must remember that we step into a mine of extinction and therefore be careful. If we have to survive as an ethnic entity and a nation, we must sink our petty squabbles for the common good and take a cue from the Israeli experience. If we do, we survive, if not, we perish.

L. Keivom IFS(Rtd) writes regularly to
The writer can be contacted at
This article was sent by Isaac L.Intoate < >
This article was webcasted on February 11, 2005.

* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.

  • Enakta Leiringei (Film) #2 :: eRang
  • Mangchinkhup, Bondangpou :: eMing
  • Stall @Science Congress, MU #2: Gallery
  • Legal Awareness Workshop for Women
  • Jobs @Aayukshetram in Trivandrum
  • World Water Day 2018
  • A Homage to Stephen Hawking :: Poem
  • Is SoO serving its purpose ?
  • Nambul water : No longer safe
  • Yubi Lakpi @Yaoshang #1: Gallery
  • Cheirao Chingkaba @Singjamei : Gallery
  • Intl Day to End Racial Discrimination
  • Listen :: Poem
  • Burglary: security emergency in Lamka
  • Career options in printing press #2
  • Vitamin C: Antioxidant in your anti-ageing
  • Clarification regarding NIA summon
  • Issues of education should be priority
  • Why outside after Class XII ?
  • NSCN-IM asks Centre for 'clarity'
  • Teinem Luira Phanit @Ukhrul #1 : Gallery
  • PM Narendra Modi @Imphal #1 : Gallery
  • Candle Light for Pravish @Delhi: Gallery
  • RTE taunts Kamuching: Mapithel Dam
  • Please dont become slave to any holy book
  • Pravish's Parents meet HM Rajnath Singh
  • Assam Rifles celebrates Cheiraoba
  • Job requirements @SKY Hospital
  • Nursing opportunity across Europe
  • The Killing Fields :: News Timeline
  • Education: addressing the core issue
  • Call to amend the Army Act
  • MoUs inked to boost tourism in NE
  • Sajibu Cheiraoba Chingkaba #1: Gallery
  • Yaoshang Sports @Kakwa: Gallery
  • Human right intimidated by SF: Amnesty Intl
  • Bikers rally to spread awareness on Cancer
  • TB survivor resolves to make TB-free ..
  • State Level World Kidney Day
  • Course in Comparative Literature at NEHU
  • Candle Light at DU for Pravish Chanam
  • PS issue stands as litmus test for CM
  • Cheiraoba Chak Katpa #1 : Gallery
  • Premier League coaches train : Gallery
  • Culturals @ Republic Day #3 : Gallery
  • Draft Asian Declaration: right to justice #4
  • Radhakumar's Atoppa Sansar Amada #2
  • Prevention of cruelty to trees
  • Premier League coach train NE participant
  • GoI may sign agreement without NSCN(K)
  • Manipur celebrates New Year with gaiety
  • Zeliang denies involvement in terror funding
  • Shopping: Sajibu Nongma Panba #1: Gallery
  • Stall @Science Congress, MU #1: Gallery
  • Sajibu Cheiraoba (Meitei New Year)
  • Saving Nambul: Convergence of view
  • Job @ PR Enterprises, Khurai
  • National Institute for Locomotor Disabilities
  • Seminar on 'Conflicts in South Asia'
  • Luck matters; but not always
  • On completing one year in office
  • Spectacle distribution at Loktak Station
  • DGAR visits Manipur on his farewell visit
  • PM at Science Congress @MU #1: Gallery
  • Yaoshang Water & color #3: Gallery
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • A tribute to Stephen Hawking
  • Draft Asian Declaration: right to justice #3
  • Effect of a Sleepless Night :: Peom
  • Psychology at MIT School of Vedic Sciences
  • So near yet so far
  • Naga CSOs walking with JCILPS
  • Vegetables grown @Thanga #1: Gallery
  • Yaoshang Fancy Dress Contest: Gallery
  • Yaoshang Sport @Khagempalli #2: Gallery
  • Truth of Life :: Poem
  • Celebration of womanhood
  • HQ IGAR (S) celebrates 15th Raising Day
  • Jet Airways for more flights for NE
  • Publicity doing good, Garbage filth continue
  • Other issue overriding education: Class XII
  • Wortam: The Rising Young Mashangva
  • Eidi Ethantani by Eyoom :: Review
  • OMCT : UA on harassment of Ranjeeta
  • Mass destruction of opium poppy cultivation
  • Career options in printing press
  • IBSD launches hi-tech facility for farmers
  • Bangalore Yaoshang - Cheiraoba Thabal
  • Quality over quantity
  • What will the PM have to say ?
  • Zeliang gets fresh summon from NIA
  • Lui-Ngai-Ni @Longmai (TML) #4 : Gallery
  • Yaoshang Water & color #2: Gallery
  • Draft Asian Declaration: right to justice #2
  • BJP led Govt, not flunk in first year
  • Demand handing of Pravish case to CBI
  • PDA Govt claims false credit: NPF
  • Feminism & Path to Women's Liberation
  • Word of caution from Ibobi: BJP to listen
  • Yaoshang Cooking Contest #2 : Gallery
  • Yaoshang Mei Loukhatpa #4 : Gallery
  • Radhakumar's Atoppa Sansar Amada #1
  • Nigol :: Poem
  • List of Portfolios : Nagaland Govt
  • Clarify: Report of Zeliang summoned by NIA
  • Academic Programs offered by PHFI
  • Cong speaks: Changes expected in future
  • One year under the BJP: Significant but..
  • Students @ Class X Exam #2 : Gallery
  • Yaoshang Sport @Khongman: Gallery
  • Draft Asian Declaration: right to justice #1
  • Cry Of A Dying River...21 :: Peom
  • Manipur-Nagaland border disputes
  • Not a word on beauty on Women's Day
  • Women Religious Tour reaches New Delhi
  • Yaoshang Mei Loukhatpa #3 : Gallery
  • Chirom Indira- Nari Puraskar Award: Gallery
  • Human Rights Defender intimidated by Army
  • Rooftop Solar Power Plants: Gallery
  • Home stay for nature tourism in Manipur
  • Moodle: A learning management system
  • You can't stop small newspapers ...
  • BJP show in NE State: The backroom boys
  • Moldhin Chan: A Thado-Kuki Folktale #2
  • Yaoshang Nakatheng Chatpa #2 : Gallery
  • Mapithel Dam, Thoubal River & Tumukhong
  • Yaoshang Mei Loukhatpa #2 : Gallery
  • Time for "Nokphade" to go global
  • Campaign on International Women's Day
  • War between Left & Right has begun
  • Poppy plantation, destruction & missing link
  • Yaoshang Halankar #1 : Gallery
  • Yaoshang Water & color #1: Gallery
  • Harassment of Ranjeeta (HRA) by Army
  • Women's positions need to change
  • The Weeds :: Poem
  • We now know gold was created in space
  • Issues of women's rights should be priority
  • Protection of paddy land Act
  • Thabal Chongba @Khurai : Gallery
  • Bor-keina race @Yaoshang Fest : Gallery
  • Front Page Photo 2018 #1: Gallery
  • Tanushree @Elecrama Startup Award: Vote
  • Indian Science Congress in MU: Act East?
  • Fulbright 'pathways' for college leaving class
  • Job @ St. Stone Medical Devices
  • Army jawan martyred in Bongjai IED blast
  • National Integration Tour for Women
  • AR conduct Yaoshang sport festival
  • Condemns rising vendetta politics in NE
  • Yaoshang Sport - Marathon #1: Gallery
  • Yaoshang Sport @Keishampat #2: Gallery
  • NERIST Director post vacant since 2014
  • Dynamic Startup 3.0 at MIMS, MU
  • NDPP Legislature 1st Meeting at Kohima
  • 8th Theatre Olympics at Guwahati
  • Yaoshang Cooking Contest #1 : Gallery
  • Yaoshang Sport @Keishampat #1: Gallery
  • Sentinel Cup Equestrian #5 : Gallery
  • Translating inclusion into seclusion is..
  • Condemns land acquisition of muslim
  • News erroneously portraying Zeliang
  • Report: Shillong Lajong vs East Bengal
  • Yaoshang Sport @Khagempalli #1: Gallery
  • LGBTQ Yaoshang Sports Meet #1 : Gallery
  • M. Shenbangpu : Akademi Award 2014
  • Tribe: A concept in a state of crisis
  • Neiphiu's NDPP-BJP alliance stakes claim
  • Digital footprints: Blueprints for detection
  • Rio refutes news about 'Naga Peace'
  • Yaoshang Mei Loukhatpa #1 : Gallery
  • Yaoshang Nakatheng Chatpa #1 : Gallery
  • Yaoshang with Governor : Gallery
  • Yaoshang Mei Thaba : Gallery
  • Saroi Khangba #3 : Gallery
  • Chirom Indira: Highest Civilian Honour
  • Rejoinder to "MCPCR in dire straits"
  • Stop harassment of Urikhimbham
  • Sadar Hills District Demand :: Timeline
  • 8th AMWJU Sports Meet : Gallery
  • March Calendar for Year 2018 :: Tools
  • Yaoshang Thabalgi Sen Khaiba #2 : Gallery
  • Lui-Ngai-Ni @Longmai (TML) #3 : Gallery
  • Cultural @ Republic Day #2 : Gallery
  • Festival of Colours to Sports Festival
  • Food Processing Training @Oinam : Gallery
  • Loree Kaju Luita Phanit #3 : Gallery
  • Yaoshang Thabalgi Sen Khaiba #1 : Gallery
  • Lui-Ngai-ni Token Celebration at Chadong
  • Students @ Class X Exam #1 : Gallery
  • AoNna tEnaba :: Seireng
  • Thanga Keithel : Gallery
  • Indo-Naga Talks 2017 :: News Timeline
  • Temples of Manipur : Gallery
  • Singcha Wuya Won @Kamjong #5: Gallery
  • Recipients of Akademi Awards for 2014
  • Old Manipuri Movie #1 :: eRang Classic