TODAY -

Resolving the present crisis of Manipur

Paikhomba Khuman *



In the present scenario, three schools of thoughts have emerged in Manipur on the continual existence of Manipur as an intact entity. The extremist group advocated that Manipur should be balkanized based on ethnic lines. The nationalist group asserted that unity of Manipur is paramount and should be protected at all costs failing which the ripple effect of break-up may engulf Manipur and neighbouring region into a never-ending conflict. The moderate group believes in maintaining status quo and autonomy to the hill-regions of Manipur.

The extremistís view has some support in the hill-regions, but given the geography and existence of many ethnic groups among the hill-people, it is not in the interests of those behind for sustenance in the long-run. Some minor ethnic flare-up may occur based on emotion and sentiment, but this vanish in thin air as basic economic activity becomes more important for survival.

Between Moreh and Imphal, there are numerous informal collection centres for tax, and if vehicles from stop plying to-and-fro in Indo-Myanmar Road lots of people will starve both in hills and valley. For VDF and IRB, the vehicles plying to-and-fro in Indo-Myanmar Road are extra source of income. In the valley or amongst the Meiteis, the extremistís view has no taker at all except for a minuscule of ideal thinkers. So, the extremistís view poses no danger to the integrity of Manipur.

The viewpoint of the Nationalist has mass-support among the people of valley or the Meiteis. If we recall the history of Manipur, the Meiteis are very emotional about the integrity and any threat to it cannot be tolerated by them. The Meiteis are not confined to Manipur alone but spread out in Assam, Tripura, Bangladesh, and Myanmar.

The Meiteis residing outside Manipur will not remain silent spectators in the event of Manipurís integrity under threat. It is amazing to see that the revival of Meiteisí culture started not in Manipur, but in Tripura. The Nationalistís feeling is more intense amongst the Meiteis working outside Manipur so that their loved ones can sustain even in the event of 100 years of strikes, bandhs, economic blockades, etc.

One para officer jokingly opined that during the recent 2 months shutdown in Manipur it was amazing to see the innovative tactics used by the strikers. There is no doubt that the Meiteis are born warriors. Therefore, given the dormant warrior nature of the Meiteis, big third players with stakes in Manipur will not activate the sleeping giants hidden amongst the Meiteis. Sovereignty within sovereignty cease-fire, SOO, etc. are just jargons or creative words to mark the end of an ailing lion or some lions, who wish to have a peaceful departure from worldly affairs. Hence, the emergence of a nationalistic Meitei is very remote.

The moderate viewpoint does not have mass-support among the Meiteis and the Chingme. The Meiteis alleged that they are fed up with highways blockade and they should also be allowed to purchase lands in hills and given ST benefits, but they forget that they were the ones who started strikes, bandhs, economic blockades, etc and chose to be General then.

The Meiteis burnt down library, offices, etc. and engaged in frequent bandhs. But, when this same ploy and tactics are used in hills, the Meiteis are alleging that they are disrupting our life-lines. The Chingme alleged that they have been looted and look down upon by the Meiteis, but the fact is this cannot be empirically verified at present.

Historically, the Meiteis suffered a lot under Monarchy as compared to the Chingme. The arrival of Hinduism was accompanied by some form of casteism in Manipur, but that was not confined to the Chingme alone. The Lois also suffered a lot under the hegemony of the Ningthouja rulers in Manipur.

During the last two decades, the Meiteisí culture has been reviving and is becoming more accommodating, but the unfortunate thing is the Chingme because of certain influences are diverting away from the Meiteis. It is high time for both the Meiteis and the Chingme to understand and discover each other, and make Manipur a developed region.

Geography and location play very crucial role in developing a region. The ecosystem in the hills are very fragile as compared to the valleys. We all know why civilization developed along river banks, and why big cities exist near coastal region. The Meiteis should also understand this simple facts and should shy away from capturing land in the hills.

Instead, the Chingme should be encouraged to migrate to valleys and that was how Shanghai, Singapore, Mumbai, etc. were developed. The Imphal Valley is big enough to accommodate 30 lakhs of people. Labour mobility is also required but fairness can be attained by social responsibility rather through a legal recourse. The fact is we cannot live in autarky.

Reservation in higher education and jobs is big curse in the new era, as this helps in further downgrading the ability of a community. The creamy layers want a perpetual reservation policy so they can enjoy the benefits, and they never want the other people even in their own community also to get such benefits. Therefore, the Meiteis should learn from the mistakes of the Chingme and should give up their demand for ST status.


* Paikhomba Khuman wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer can be reached at paikhomkhuman(aT)gmail(doT)com
This article was posted on September 25, 2015.


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