India's Look East Policy and Extinction of Manipuris

Lt Col Laishram Lokendra Singh (Retd) *

A team of Ambassadors/High Commissioners of ASEAN countries visiting Manipur on 19th and 20th of this month (September) as a part of the initiative of India's Look East Policy is indicative of the fact that the Look East Policy is definitely taking shape. As yet there is no concrete policy framework available of what the Look East Policy comprises but what is envisaged is that India is going to open up the North East corridor through Manipur, into Myanmar and on to the ASEAN countries to bring about greater economic ties with these nations.

In the next decade or so a positive development of how things would shape up in pursuance of this policy would be more clear.

Having said this let us endeavour to open up our proverbial third eye and carry out a thought experiment of how the Look East Policy would have concretised in the next couple of decades, what effect it would have had on Manipur and how it would have facilitated the economic growth of the State. Will it actually be a boon or bane for the people of Manipur?

Trans-Asian Highway passing through Silchar-Jiribam-Imphal-Moreh and on to Myanmar would be fully functional and trucking service would be in full swing. Likewise Trans-Asian Railway again passing through this route and extending up to the ASEAN countries would be in place and wholly functional. There would be at least two major rail heads—one on the outskirts of Imphal to cater to the needs of Imphal City and the other at Moreh.

This town would no more be a trade centre as it exists today, instead it would have graduated to an import and export economic zone, it would be the hub centre for all economic activities passing through this corridor to and from the ASEAN countries. The present list of 40 trade items would have been redundant and hopefully there would be no restriction on any item of trade but for the internationally banned/restricted items such as psychotropic drugs, weapons and munitions of war etc.

Businessmen and traders along with their staff and employees from all over India would have flooded Manipur. A number of ware houses would have come up along with business establishments mostly in Imphal and of course at Moreh. The place would be teeming with non-Manipuris of all hues and colour.

There are no industrialists in Manipur and of course no industries whatsoever. There are a few small time traders and a few dilapidated workshops which people wrongly name as industries. The only way of making money known to one and all in Manipur is either through siphoning off of the Government coffers or through the Money Minting Industry at Gun Point.

But they cannot be termed as industry in the real sense of the word. Obviously therefore it would be the big business houses of the likes of Tatas and Birlas from mainland India who would have zoomed down and occupied and controlled all the economic activities of the State. Manipur would in effect become only a transit State for these big business houses from mainland India.

The cascading effect this development will have to the people of Manipur would be limited to opening up of a few tea stalls along the Trans-Asian highway to cater to the needs of the truckers and a few more tea stalls in the railway stations. Some road side eateries locally called 'Rice Hotels' would also come up.

And of course a few 'Moreh Dukans' will definitely come up in the lanes and by-lanes of the State. Economic growth of the State will still be zero as it is today and it will continue to survive on the periodical doles that the Centre provides from time to time unless the State Government takes up the issue of opening up of economic avenues in the State in terms of creating "Special Economic Zones" and allied facilities to ensure that Imphal becomes the overall economic hub center of the entire economic activity of the region.

But it would be ludicrous to expect anything futuristic from the present SPF Government who cannot think or see beyond the issuance of next contract work or holding of the next recruitment DPC since as far as this SPF Government is concerned, governance begins and ends with these two very, very important functions and all others are sundry commitments.

Now what is more horrifying is not this dilemma of a futuristic situation of economic damnation but a more sinister development in the offing. With the massive influx of business people from mainland India who are bound to establish large business estates in Manipur, it is a foregone conclusion that they would be acquiring large tracts of land to establish their economic empires in the State.

Only those land which come under the purview of State's MLR and R Act will be sold since that is the only saleable land available. Translated into elementary English it means Meiteis by and large will be compelled by circumstances to sell off their land and find new dwelling areas outside of Manipur in Assam or wherever their destiny takes them.

The population of 16 odd lakh Meiteis is a very small minority when seen against the backdrop of the national population ratio. In fact it is much less than the voter list of Shri Ram Vilas Paswan, MP. This small group of indigenous people will slowly but surely become a minority in their own land.

Further, given the logic of survival of the (economically) fittest the Meiteis will become extinct in Manipur in a not so distant a future. This metamorphosis may not be evident today or tomorrow. But once the cycle of extinction is allowed to be initiated, then there is no stopping this juggernaut.

Meiteis will definitely be trapped on the conveyer belt of this extinction cycle and propelled helplessly till they are totally extinct from the face of Manipur. It may take ages or even decades, time is no consideration but the fact of extinction is certain—the writing on the wall is very clear. That perhaps is the consequence of the riddle behind the proverbial Nongpok Thong Haangba (opening of the Eastern Gate) as given in the old Meitei Scriptures.

In Manipur everyone today is so terribly tied up and concerned with their present that they neither have the sensibility nor the courage to look at the future. Therefore the million dollar question is, "Are the Meiteis destined to be doomed with India's Look East Policy? And are they to accept this fact of extinction from the face of Manipur as fait accompli?" No, certainly not! And by the way no where in this world economic migrants have been stopped through the barrel of the gun.

The solution lies with the so called 60 representatives of the people of this State. Without manifesting any animosity towards the non-Manipuris the instinct of self preservation must be awakened.

If only these 60 representatives could put their heads together, legislate and pass an act within the framework of the Indian Constitution to protect the endangered specie called Meiteis from extinction from their natural habitat of Manipur, by illegalizing (making it unlawful) sale of any part of this natural habitat to any non-indigenous person from outside of Manipur (the language of the Act is a matter of detail, the crux of the issue being to prevent the sale of land to non-Manipuris), then and only then will this "Nongpok Thong Haangba" have its true and positive meaning as envisioned by the ancient Meiteis.

But who is going to bell this inert cat?

Related Article/Gallery/Videos on this ASEAN visit:

* Lt Col Laishram Lokendra Singh (Retd) wrote this article for The Sangai Express. This article was webcasted on October 15, 2010.

* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.

  • NEROCA, 2nd Div League winner:: Gallery
  • Thounaojam Loiyangamba :: Gallery
  • Nachom Arts Residency #1 :: Gallery
  • Bombing of a bridge in 1944 during WWII
  • Road side hawker culture in Khwairamband
  • Maharaja Bodhachandra Samadhi :: 360 °
  • Jadhav case: Return to India will need more
  • Admission Counselling in NE, Delhi
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand :: Timeline
  • Letting professionals run DIPR
  • Articulating freedom of speech
  • HSE 2017 : Toppers in Science :: Gallery
  • CCpur victims laid to rest :: Gallery
  • Class XII result announced :: Gallery
  • 2nd Startup Weekend Imphal
  • Interdependence is key to #endTB
  • Urban flood effective mgmt strategies #2
  • Public Meet resolves No Oil Exploration
  • UG admission info for Delhi University 2017
  • College Principals' Conference at NEHU
  • Mortal remains of CCpur victims laid to rest
  • Redefining Manipuri Hindu
  • Last rites of CCpur bodies performed
  • Private tuition : Financial burden on parents
  • Nungbi Chaphu - Ukhrul Pottery :: Gallery
  • International Yoga Day #1 :: Gallery
  • New Government, New Hope #2
  • Auditorium of High Court of Manipur :: 360 °
  • Book publishing as a career option
  • Simplifying the pursuit of happiness
  • Shirui festival: Let us not go with words..
  • Count pigeons around you
  • The Killing Fields :: News Timeline
  • Hill dists : Lagging in Science stream
  • The lesser truth of National media
  • HSE 2017 Result :: Science Toppers
  • HSE 2017 Result :: Arts Toppers
  • HSE 2017 Result :: Commerce Toppers
  • HSE 2017 Result :: Science Stream
  • HSE 2017 Result :: Arts Stream
  • HSE 2017 Result :: Commerce Stream
  • Barak Spring Festival @Senapati :: Gallery
  • Phalneilhing, Sinchui :: eMing
  • Incarnations of Goddess Nongthang Leima
  • Ebudhou Thanjing Laishang #1 :: 360 °
  • Media & Contemporary Manipuri Society #2
  • Cleaning up the air we breathe
  • 'Maj Rati Keteki', an author's insight
  • SC notices in Biren son case
  • Army act extended by six months
  • Timely acted, but need to rethink...
  • Lamkang Cultural Day @Chandel :: Gallery
  • Ambassador Of Japan with CM :: Gallery
  • JNIMS Ortho scripts history
  • Indigenous people are ST, so are Meeteis
  • Grooming security experts in admin service
  • Parents are supposed to be cheer leaders ..
  • Applauds CM for Building Peace & Harmony
  • 2 trucks carrying logs seized
  • Japan to invite 25 people from Manipur
  • Bomb blasts rock border town in Manipur
  • Shirui Lily Festival, Ukhrul #2 :: Gallery
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • 73rd anniv of Battle of Imphal :: Gallery
  • Nachom Arts : Encouraging Artists
  • Manipur: In the waiting room of justice
  • Cheiraoba Ching Kaba :: 360 ° View
  • Of storms, flying saucers & lazy thoughts
  • Anti-Terrorism day observed
  • Ex-Servicemen Meet organised
  • Managing natural resources
  • Ksh Bhaktakumar- Mr India 2017:: Gallery
  • Tanglei Music Festival :: Gallery
  • Effort To Bridge The Hills And Valley
  • Colloquium: Japanese Culture & Nationalism
  • Meet rejects oil exploration at Khaidem
  • Training on Service Marketing in Healthcare
  • Illegal migrant detection with 1951 cut-off
  • Indo-Naga Talks 2017 :: News Timeline
  • Ghost of 2010 continues to haunt
  • Brahmacharimayum Roji - Actress :: eRang
  • Handloom @Temporary Market #1:: Gallery
  • New Government, New Hope #1
  • Nightmares of event management
  • Big data for big impact
  • Free Counselling & Awareness Program
  • One belt one road
  • Jobs: Counseller for Family Court, Ukhrul
  • Sadar Hills Demand 2011-2017 : Timeline
  • Total shutdown against blast in Moreh
  • Tribals reject MoU signed- govt, JACAATB
  • Naga Hoho appeals NIA over arrests
  • First visible step to check corruption
  • International Dance Day :: Gallery
  • Gudui Ngai @Majorkhul #2 :: Gallery
  • Manipur Children Club:: 360 ° View
  • Take smart choice before admissions
  • Love one another ... for living together
  • Shirui Lily Fest off to a grand start
  • On Shirui festival
  • Seminar on 'Life of Gangmumei Kamei' #2
  • Shirui Lily Fest @Shirui, Ukhrul #1 :: Gallery
  • Civil Service Tennis Tournament :: Gallery
  • Barak(Spring) Festival at Senapati
  • When will India cashless island go cashless
  • The winsomeness of human mind
  • Jobs at NIELIT centers
  • Aadhar Registration & Distribution Program
  • Work starts on Trilateral Highway in Myanmar
  • AI plans NE expansion, to inject more flights
  • People's Day Bridging the gap
  • Reality bite - something seems fishy
  • Meeyamgi Numit hosted by CM :: Gallery
  • Andro AMMA FC : Winner of Doon Cup 2017
  • How great is my mother's love for me
  • Boat House, Kangla :: 360 ° View
  • Pinch of love :: Poem
  • Fingerprint & Iris code for Aadhaar
  • Sharmila solidarity with Africans
  • Trust deficit in Framework Agreement
  • Equality in place of majoritarianism
  • A hope for better Manipur
  • Kangleipak Kang Trophy #3:: Gallery
  • Featured Photo for 2017 #2 :: Gallery
  • Gudui Ngai : Festival of Zeliangrong
  • Fishery as an agenda for Barak Festival
  • Supermom :: Poem
  • 2nd Startup Weekend Imphal
  • May Day #2 :: Essay
  • For inclusion of Meitei in ST category
  • Hands that rock the cradle rule the world
  • Film Personalities #1 :: eRang Classic
  • Handicrafts of the Zeliangrong #2
  • High Court of Manipur :: 360 ° View
  • From head-hunters into money-hunters
  • Importance of dialectic in Philosophy
  • Binalakshmi Nepram threatened by Police
  • Cleanliness drive conducted at CCpur
  • Gudui Ngai @Majorkhul #1 :: Gallery
  • Bringing TB out of the shadows
  • Women are the salt of the earth
  • Superstition and its side-effects
  • Temples of learning
  • Guidelines of play schools
  • Bucket of cold water after a hot shower
  • Breaking the barrier
  • Lai Lamthokpa @Yaiskul #2 :: Gallery
  • MIMS (MU) - ManFete #4 :: Gallery
  • Impact of October Revolution Manipur #2
  • Bir Tikendrajit Park :: 360 °
  • Nurses are heart beat of healthcare
  • Go to the hill districts too
  • Beginning of a new era; but ...
  • Seminar on 'Life of Gangmumei Kamei' #1
  • OORJA football Closing ceremony :: Gallery
  • May 10, 1942: first bomb hit Imphal in WW2
  • Manipur killings: Amicus Curiae on Army...
  • A white paper on good governance
  • Butterfly a living parable of resurrection
  • Global Manipuri Mega Photo Contest
  • Inquiry on "School Van accident"
  • Inking an MoU with CCpur JAC
  • Calls for human security
  • Laishram Lalitabi - Actress :: eRang
  • Manipur & Nagaland CMs :: Gallery
  • Cheirao Ching Kaba #1 :: 360 ° Photo
  • MLA - defection politics in Manipur
  • Japan interest to develop Education in NE
  • CM floral tribute to Martyred Jawans
  • More than a 'courtesy call'
  • Development & security matters
  • Thongjao potters adapt to modern reqt
  • Prize Distribution- MU Sports :: Gallery
  • Handicrafts of the Zeliangrong #1
  • Imphal Intl Airport : How International?
  • The mystery of nine :: Poem
  • RIST popular talk 29 - Molecular Electronics
  • 122nd rank in the list of cleanliness
  • Consumers' rights
  • Sagol Kangjei Exhibition :: Gallery
  • Musuem, Kangla :: 360 ° photo
  • Keeping workforce healthy-smart business
  • Brief story of Karl Marx (199th Birth Anniv)
  • Manipuri resurgence & Jewish lessons
  • Visit of Japanese Ambassador to MU
  • Poems released at Barapani, Meghalaya
  • CMD, NHPC Visit to Loktak Power Station
  • Right venue for seminar on bridging the gap
  • Landscape of Manipur #6: Wallpaper
  • Lai Lamthokpa @Yaiskul #1 :: Gallery
  • Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon #1 :: Gallery
  • Arbind Soibam - Emerging Singer :: eRang
  • MIMS (MU) - ManFete #3 :: Gallery
  • Traditional Thabal @Pourabi :: Gallery
  • Henjunaha - A folk play :: Gallery
  • The Mighty Mystic Manipuri Women
  • Arambai show #2:: Gallery
  • Shakuhachi meets Pena, Manipur & Japan
  • Laishram Birendrakumar recieve Padmashri
  • Kei Onba Kom Gi Eshing :: Funga Wari
  • 'Nura Pakhang'(Video) @Portugal:: Gallery
  • Mr India 2017- Ksh Bhaktakumar :: Gallery
  • Purul, Senapati :: 360 View Panorama
  • Ethoi Oinam #1 (Actress) :: eRang
  • CM N Biren visit to Ukhrul #2 :: Gallery
  • Manipur Sangai Festival 2016 #4 : Ooba
  • Nungshiba Khongel @Sylhet :: Gallery
  • Maphou Dam :: 360 View Panorama