TODAY -

Globalisation and socio-economic transformation of tribals in Manipur (reference to a few glimpses of Liangmai)

Wangdibou *

Chagah Festival : Annual festival of Liangmai community celebrated at Taphou Liangmai village, Senapati ::  Oct 30, 2012
Chagah Festival : Annual festival of Liangmai community celebrated at Taphou Liangmai village, Senapati in Oct 2012 :: Pix - Popcha Yambem



The intense globalisation had brought a massive changes resulting, change of tribal profession from their original profession as cultivator. It is known that the Tribal loves forest than do commercial works or business in the former days. People were offered free government jobs at the spot. They were even chased after and requested by the officials, even if they would gladly turn down the offered. Those days, to get a government job was so cheap or easy that if one could write his or her name correctly was quite sufficient to determine their formal appointment. The Tribal of Manipur love and preferred manual labour which doesn't involved ones skills or mental efforts. The reason was simple as, which the Tribal's were closely associated with "forest" and their former work culture clearly manifest this.

It is observed that at the later stage of Tribal society, their economic life inclined more towards commercial or business life oriented activities, rather than to still hold on their former life profession. If you go to my village, you will be surprised to know that now, there less people who go the fields than people who travel either for commercial purpose or doing business. It is hard even at the village now, to beg anything for free without price. The soil becomes not fertile as it favour only for the industrious person.

Recently, during my vacation at home I was surprise to see some people come to our house and asked to sale them a papaya. Not with a slightest intention to take any money for my papaya, I asked them, if, there would be of any profit for them. They just hurriedly counted the numbers of papaya and said, "If you would not charge the money". I simply looked at them and smile. I never have known in the last ten years before that those papaya sales in our village.

Interestingly, if you have a full grown petai tree or what we also called yongchak in your garden, you will probably make a great profit out of it. It is also Meitei favourite food items in terms of preference and for income generation for the business minded people of the Tribal's of Manipur. They are sold in bunches, still in the pod, or the seeds are sold in plastic bags. They can be exported in jars or cans, pickled in brine, or frozen.

The price of petai could go up to as high as a hundred rupees for four or five pieces which will not even weigh a one kilogram to that of a potato. A full grown one petai tree could bear its fruits for as much as rupees thirty thousand to forty thousand a year. The villagers were so crazy over the price of petai that the owners were being paid much in advance. It seems like that the first thought that comes to one's mind seeing a petai tree was 'money' to them. Psychologically the people were influenced by the motive of running a business rather, than go to the field for a day wages. People started selling their agricultural lands for want of money and thus abandoning their former agricultural profession or as cultivator.

Most of the Tribal farmers were unskilled and illiterate and the negligence of the government to provide them skilled profession had made the situation worse. Most of the government programmes to provide skill profession or training doesn't rich the poor farmers. The poor farmers could not reach the training venue because it involved cost factor.

Instead, the locals who reside at the venue place joint the training with no real intention to pursue them latter for skilled or income generating profession. The illiterate farmer doesn't know various welfare programmes implemented by the centre or the state government and thus a good numbers of welfare schemes were not enjoyed by them. The local leaders who instead, of assisting the poor farmers to get their due share become crazy monster after money.

It was learned that one has to beg the local MLA like anything just to get his due share, which was given freely by the government. I was even surprised that the local agents whose political party won the election favour only their party men or voters. There are a numbers of practical instances when only the party men or voters get all the benefits of the government schemes.

At one point of time one of its leaders or party men even remarked that those benefits were inclusively mean for the party workers or voters. I had visited an MLA quarter, that same evening, when one of their party men call up to me and asked how many times I have been to the quarter. It amazed me think the very attitude of the people towards another. At the present situation, the poor illiterate people lost confidence to these mechanism or political arrangements become resistant to the very idea of "people's welfare" of the government. However, a sincere commitment of our leaders today is immense for they have the much bigger responsibility.

The Look East Policy of the central government is much a worry to the Tribal community. In course of time, it is most likely that the tribal land could be exploited by the immigrants as the basic needs of the people cannot be simply ignored by the government. The Tribal's who themselves are closely associated with "forest" could one day abandoned their indigenous land and forest. Globalisation also results increase movement of the people. Just imagined how much a train is cable of transporting people than the bus. In that case, one trip of train could be equal to twenty to thirty buses. The defects of this globalisation could also greatly hamper the tribal's work culture to a large extent, exploiting land and natural resources.

Now a day, people even at the villages started looking for easy money instead of taking up manual works at home. I was told that there are some party men, just to get a contract work from the local MLA, hold up at the quarter for the entire year, not really concern about families back at home. I would have thought that it would have been much better for them to stay at home and do domestic works which would have serve much better for village development instead. Some of the Tribal villages started opening a wine shop openly which were not known in the past. Every Tribal Christian village is not expected or encouraged of such.

Moreover, the coming of NREGS of the Central government on the other hand makes people lazy that they become even too lazy to walk to work that they cut-short the actual total numbers of working days to only ten or twenty days out of hundred working days of a year. One of the very objectives of the Scheme was to carry out a productive work in the village which was never to be realised under the present circumstances.

Change is a reality, whether to a better or worse that no forces on earth could have a complete controlled over it. Under the present circumstances, to which direction does our tribal society is heading is knowledgeable by any sensible person. However, the tribal society had become materialistic that, mere sustenance is not sufficed to content them.


* Wangdibou wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is a Project Fellow, UGC Major Project. He can be reach at wangdipamai(aT)gmail(dot)com
This article was posted on March 28, 2015.


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