Saving Tarao tribe from extinction
- Hueiyen Lanpao Editorial :: December 20, 2014 -
Manipur can never be identified either with just one community or with a few prominent groups whose voices are loud and whose presence is felt at the political, social and economic helm.
It has long been a composite entity. History of Manipur is replete with tales of infightings, amalgamations and unions among the variety of ethnic communities, their traditions and culture since times immemorial.
Such a scenario is the unique characteristic that identifies Manipur from its counterparts.
As Manipur without the Meities, Manipur without the Tangkhuls or Manipur without the Hmars is meaningless; this hilly state will never be complete without the Tarao tribe which has been on the verge of extinction.
Although the State Government had recognized Tarao tribe which has a distinctive cultural heritage especially its traditional attires and dances as one of the aboriginal tribes of the state in 2003, it has to go a long way to bring the marginalized Tarao community at par with others.
That the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) declared the Tarao language as extinct in its report of 2009 is a great lost to kaleidoscopic existence of Manipur as a composite nation.
The UNESCO report under the 'List of endangered languages as in the online version of the World Atlas of endangered language (vis-a-vis census 2009) said that languages spoken by Aimol, Andro or Phayeng, Chairel or Chakpa and Tarao have become extinct.
However, the Tarao language, which is being spoken by over a thousand individuals, has ample time for preservation. Here we may deem UNESCO’s report as a signal which awakens the populace as well as the polity of the state.
Tarao Tribe, the population of which has gone down to a meager one thousand residing at just four villages of Manipur, has not been declared as Minority Community by the government.
Even though they are quite fit to be provided with immunities entitled to a minority and endangered group, the government has been remaining adamant to the call of this endangered community.
The existing meager population of the Tarao group is also settling scattered, which has been a hindrance to their development.
Taking advantage of their weakness in all aspects of life, bigger communities have always devoured this ethnic population at various points of time.
Development and preservation of their own tribe have not been possible, as the Taraos have no representation in the Autonomous District Councils or in the larger state polity.
Considering the endangered status of the tiny ethnic group and immense need to save them from extinction, the State Government should take urgent steps to declare the Tarao tribe as Minority community.
Under the United Nations promulgation of ‘Declaration on the Rights of Persons belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities’ 1992, states shall protect the existence of the national or ethnic, cultural, religious and linguistic identity of minorities within their respective territories and encourage conditions for the promotion of that identity.
Tarao community needs the special nourishment of the government and other major communities of the state.
Their gradual demise from Manipur will be an irreparable lost to the beauty of this land.
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