TODAY -

Growing need for negotiation : Internal differences and external threats
- The Sangai Express Editorial :: September 01 2015 -



Now the three Bills have been finally passed.

After months of violent protest movement which entailed huge casualties, a giant step has been made towards enacting a constitutional safeguard for the indigenous people of Manipur.

Whereas the total population of India has crossed 121 crore, the population of Manipur according to the 2011 Census report is just around 28 lakhs.

These statistical data are one major factor which propelled the mass movement for months without any respite.

There is a growing fear among the indigenous people that they would be overwhelmed by non-indigenous peoples within a decade or two.

Once they are overwhelmed by non-indigenous people, Manipuri people who have a proud legacy of being a sovereign kingdom for over 2000 years would lose their distinct identity as well as whatever political space they have.

It is this sense of insecurity which fuelled the popular movement for enacting a constitutional safeguard for the indigenous people of Manipur just as many other minority groups have been enjoying across the country.

Manipuri people like any other people are quite sensitive about their identity and the Government of India should take into consideration this fact if the three Bills passed by Manipur Legislative Assembly after days of turmoil ever reach its desk for due approval.

New Delhi must acknowledge that the peoples of Manipur and for that matter the entire Northeastern region have unique identities, quite different from other parts of India.

Speaking in terms of race, culture and tradition, they are quite removed from other peoples of India.

Numerically, they represent a small fraction of the 121 crore people of India.

Racially they belong to the Mongoloid stock whereas the bulk of the Indian populations are of Aryan and Dravidian origin.

Divergent historicity of the two geographical regions––the Indian sub-continent and the Indo-Burma region must also be taken into account.

Yes, the Bills have been passed and this is a sweet victory for the struggling masses but one should not commit the blunder of overlooking the voices of dissent and objection raised by some prominent student organisations of the State.

This is a fact that there was total bandh in the hill areas of Manipur when the Manipur Legislative Assembly passed the three Bills at Imphal.

If the hill people really oppose the Bills, then something is amiss. Hill-valley dichotomy cannot always run parallel. There should be a meeting point.

Basically, the three Bills were drafted to address the growing sense of insecurity felt by all the indigenous people of the land.

If the Bills drafted to allay the sense of insecurity are breeding more insecurity among a sizeable group of the population, then there are some serious misunderstanding, misgivings and/or misinterpretation.

If it is because of communication gap, it should be plugged in immediately.

If it is because of certain differences in reading the three Bills, then the only viable option left is negotiation and reconciliation.

The majority community should never try to browbeat its way and the minority communities should shed the concept “whatever is yours is for all of us and whatever is mine is exclusively mine”.

The context of reading the Bills is crucial. It would be a gross error if the Bills are contextualized within the State of Manipur and its different communities.

Whatever threats perceived by the indigenous people of Manipur are of external origin.

So the Bills must be read and analysed in a much larger context encompassing the whole country of India as well as the neighbouring countries.

Internal differences should not supersede the external threats which are much more lethal.

Nonetheless, each and every community should be taken into confidence before enacting any legislation which has direct or indirect bearings on the life, rights and collective interests of any community.



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