A symptomatic crisis within Meetei society
- Part 1 -

Maibam Doren *

ILP : Cycle Rally at Indo Burma Road on 14 August 2015
ILP : Cycle Rally at Indo Burma Road on 14 August 2015 :: Pix - Shankar Khangembam

The recent public outcry demanding Inner Line Permit system (ILPS) has provoked people to think and initiate public debate. It also indicates more or less a symptomatic crisis, an expression of many bigger dormant crises, a tip of an iceberg. ILPS imbroglio has exposed many other silent crises within the body polity of Manipur, particularly of the Meeteis which are either not properly considered or thought of in the last half a century.

It exposes the poor political wisdom, will, skill, insincerity and hypocrisy of the ruling elites and their bureaucratic machineries. And on the part of the people, particularly the Meeteis, participation in ILPS demand/agitation is but a collective expression of dormant fears, frustrations, hidden voices that are unheard, suppressed and had been piling up for the last 65 years. And in both the sides, it also exposes intellectual deficiencies, lack of collective wisdom, political misperceptions, diplomatic and directional confusion, opportunist negative political culture, corrupt mindset, fallout of negligence of traditional institutions due to misunderstanding of undermining 2000 year Nation Building Process (the Core National Interest rather Meetei National Interest) in the last 65 years.

Now, the ILP issue has also presented another rare opportunity to the Meeteis for re-thinking on its strategies, change of direction, actions for resurrection from the bottom-line and take correctional measures in all fronts and forums – to m ake-up the lost balancing power so to enable Meeteis to protect themselves and their brethren communities – on individual and group capacities without synchronization and cohesion at the Meetei National level.

Because many beliefs, ILPS alone can’t save sinking Meeteis, it may be toothless in long term, if Meeteis, particularly leaders of different strata’s could not realistically understand the underlying problems of the Meetei society, its political culture, ethos, character, importance of traditions/customs and traditional Institutions as well as the visions and outlook of India and neighboring nations / communities particularly Bengalis, Biharis, Nepalese, Burmese, Kukis, etc.. Here are some topics for deeper deliberations and higher intellectualization.

Make Up: The Lost Meetei Power

A Nation exists, flourish and rise up on its Values and Power Base. Real Political Power in a democratic country primarily comes from the Quantity of Population, not from the Quality. Quantity creates competition, competition breeds Quality. Both quantity and quality together generate National Power. It is true more in Indian context where multi-linguistic, multi ethnic, caste based politics reign supreme in deciding fate of candidates for MLAs, MPs and in appointing plum posts in governmental and party posts.

This fact is the most important and most serious but a neglected part, the Meeteis have committed for the last 65 years. Meetei fought hundreds of battles, sacrificed hundreds and thousands of lives to emerge as the leading Nation and a political-economic power in South-East Asia. They succeeded to some extent.

They succeeded because they had a sizable Population Power, enabling development of Intellectual and Military power. But now, Meeteis have lost this power, respect and loyalty from other communities once they used to lead. Why? Because Meetei have lost the real national powers – population power, demographic power, intellectual powers, etc. …… Why? Firstly—because Meeteis failed to understand India’s population policy, Meetei foolishly and aggressively followed India’s family planning policy and propaganda, blindly cutting down itself which eventually reduced to a minority in their own homeland without considering their own national interest and its future impact on their community, who are comparatively a micro minority. As a result -- Meetei population has been drastically reduced to such extent that they lost their real national power.

Now, Meeteis are on the verge of extinction– in their own homeland -- Manipur/Kangleipak. Secondly, post merger Meetei political leaders were/are intellectual hypocrites, educated illiterates, greedy opportunists, unmindful of their national future and historical responsibility who misunderstood/misperceived the real India. They were/are low rated and treated as scum political subordinates easily maneuverable by the mainland leaders. This is why in the last 65 years history of India, no Meetei politician was ever appointed as Governor or Ambassador or to any plum post or picked up for any higher ladder of party central leadership, so far. Yes, there are certain other factors also but the emerging fact is so loud and clear – that Meetei Interest or Meetei Politicians are not supported by those mainland politicians, even by the Hindu fundamentalists, though Meeteis are mostly Hindus.

Now, Meeteis urgently need to correct such past mistakes. Meetei will do nothing against India. Meetei has every rights to survive as a historically founded Nation – the Manipuri nation, even within the Indian union. There is a dictum – “… to a solve a national crisis look back to your tradition and history” So now, let us try to find a long term solution of this problems from the wisdoms of our forefather, their national policies and Politics – to further continue the dynamics of Manipuri (Kanglei) Nation Making Process encompassing of all historically related communities. How? Let us see the following:

(1) Technically and situationally Meeteis are in a war like situation, invaded by people from Burma, Bangladesh, Nepal and others -- it is the root concept we have to accept. In a war situation, there is nothing wrong to take any means to survive or win the battle, nothing immoral or bad. So, do anything that will rapidly multiply real Meetei Power -- Meetei population.

(2) Meetei should readily allow to absorb / convert / naturalize any willing individual or groups as Meetei as much as possible through traditional ways under traditional authority and those who were converted / naturalized must be supported / respected /awarded / rewarded by the Meetei community;

(3) Support early married couple and encourage to bear more children and those parents who bear (say) 7 PLUS CHILDREN must be taken as PATRIOT; patriotic parents should be glorified, extend support financially and must also be respected /awarded by the Meetei Community; introduce Group marriage, discourage expensive marriage;

(4) Introduce a website as a platform exclusively for Meeteis which would facilitate healthy liberal interaction among men and women for mutual introductions, proposing marriage / remarriage of widows / widowers, divorcees; encourage / facilitate marriage to late singles; moreover;

(5) Accept and allow different types of traditionally sanctioned relations such as -- CHATNA-THOKNA LOUBA;

(6) Understand / accept polygamy as a healthy / respectable tradition (objectively to contribute more population) for those who can afford is good for Meetei nation.

(7) Meetei Community base – NGOs, CSOs, Traditional Institutions, Writers, Thinkers and Philanthropist – all must contribute to ignite a Meetei population bomb, also prepared in advance to provide free education, impart skill trainings, Jobs/earning facilities and Land in any parts of Manipur and adjoining states and beyond utilizing both the governmental machineries and traditional institutions.

2. Rebuilt Meetei demographic power

Fight For Restoration of Land Rights: If you agree or not -- now Meeteis has become a spent force (or power). Everybody knows that Meetei’s sphere of influence are now limited to the central plain of Manipur only. Meetei can do nothing beyond this central plain. Why? Because Meeteis are micro minority in their hilly regions. Why? Because they are prevented to settle there by their own Land Law. As a result after 65 years, now Meetei has become a spent force, visibly their agitation concentrated only in their pocket of settlements only.

Let all Meeteis know, that in earlier times there were many Meetei villages in every sides of hilly regions of Manipur which anyone can find in oral histories and Puyas. Those villages had to be abandoned or camouflage their identity to protect themselves from the repeated invasions by AWAs, MAYANGs, TAKHELs, TEKHAOs etc who subsequently assimilated to nearby tribal groups and eventually lost their Meetei Identity. Many of the Meeteis Villages in eastern hilly region including somra tract and in western region were easily converted as Tangkhuls and Kabuis respectively as there was very thin differences with them at that times. It happened in all sides around the hilly regions of Manipur.

Meeteis had to fight many battles and sacrifice thousands of lives to protect and preserve their country. But due to absence of large Meetei settlement in the hilly region a psychology has developed as if Meeteis are encroachers in hilly areas, even by those who were permitted by Meeteis to settle in the hills of Manipur. Moreover, they began to treat Meeteis as if foreigners / outsiders. They are also endeavoring to break up and divide Manipur to establish their homelands. Can any Meetei agree to this? Now, Meetei have to fight back and reclaim their rights in their hill regions.

This deprivations and wrong doings against the Meeteis must be urgently corrected without provocating false alarm to others. Otherwise Meetei will be vanished in a few decades.

To be continued.....

* Maibam Doren wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao
This article was posted on August 18, 2015.

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