TODAY -

Is there a golden once-for-all solution to the contemporary problems prevailing in Manipur?

Paikhomba Khuman *

Manipur District Map



Prelude

Manipur had been on fire for several times in the past and each time the fire has never been put off but forced to bury deep inside underground. The physical nature of the Earthís surface is that it is porous in many areas. Unless the fire is put off, it will emerge like a volcano many times thereby causing havoc.

During my school days, I was forced to participate in rally for inclusion of Manipuri in the 7th Schedule of the Indian Constitution. Although it was a forceful participation, I feel contented today that I was also part of the movement. The best part of that movement was that the success was not attained in one year, but after struggle for a decade spearheaded by the students of Manipur.

Prior to the 1990s, it was not that Manipur was at peace as violent incidents of great historical importance took place. The indiscriminate firing at Heirangeithong, the hunger march, etc. are some of the incidents which can be cited. I still remember those days of the 1980s, when we came back at 10 p.m. after watching movies at Mata Hall at Singjamei. Other problems include drug abuse and alcoholism.

During the 1990s, ethnic conflicts and communal violence marked the arrival of violence in a new shape. Ideology, humanity and compassion all went away and what emerged was totally a shapeless and headless monster. Houses were brunt, brothers killed brothers, extortions became the rules, and fences eating gardens. Although many were killed, Manipur remained unscathed geographically.

Since 1949, we were so engulfed with problems that we failed to catch the Trojan horse in time. So massive is the army inside the Trojan horse that Manipur will not remain as Manipur, if appropriate preventive initiatives are not taken in time. It is high for all of us to analyse the prevailing situation and give our best in any form for a golden once-for-all solution.

Anatomy of the prevailing situation

(A) Oligarchy

Is Manipur really at crossroads? Yes, but the crossroads we are facing at present are so complicated and multifaceted that any ordinary person getting an opportunity to work or study outside Manipur will be repelled to do so. I did worked at Manipur, but what if the work that I deserved was snatched away from me by others having money and network. Whom should I blame for taking away the cheese that I deserved? Should I blame the rat or the powerful ones behind the rat? Unwillingly, many of us have been working outside our lovely native land. It is not that the system we are working for outside is conducive, but the merit is we have the element of certainty and whatever surplus we could generate we have been sending home so that our near and love ones could make their ends meet in Manipur.

(B) Migration

Push and Pull factors play a crucial role in a normal migration- in and out from Manipur. The push factors from Manipur are many, but the greatest factor is the emergence of oligarchy in Manipur. Every nook and corner of Manipur has been gradually engulfed by some form of oligarchy. Unless a person has some network in Manipur, his property rights are at stake. So, we cannot expect an ordinary person to thrive in Manipur if his property rights are not secured in some form or other. I worked in property rights Department (to be precise Revenue and related Departments) of Manipur for a few years and was startled at its functioning at every levels. Rent-seeking and rent-giving have become the accepted rules in Manipur. Other push factors are those factors borne out of the factor mentioned just above. Hence, all the factors responsible for government failure can be reduced to just one factor of oligarchy or corruption in the simplest term.

The pull factors that attract migrants into Manipur could not be explained by market factors alone. Prior to 1949, the availability of free and virgin land along the eastern frontier might be the main reason for attracting migrants whereas in the western frontier the migrants were forced to enter on religious ground and as spoils of wars. Likewise, many people from Manipur were forced to leave Manipur by the 7 Years Devastation, and many people from Manipur might have captured free and virgin land in Bangladesh or other parts. So, it was a zero-sum game at last till 1949. However, post-1949 and upto 1980s, the arrival of modern technology of medicine led to huge population explosion in Manipur. This had also been accompanied by influx of migrants from outside to the NER including Manipur, and out-migration by the natives of the NER to the metros.

As compared to Manipur, some neighbouring States and countries were more backward with surplus population, and it was a part of this surplus which were migrated into Manipur for greener pastures. At the maximum, only 50,000 of the surplus population might have migrated into Manipur during 1950s to 1990s and decided to settle permanently in Manipur. Generally, a migrant of the lower-income group has a fertility rate of 5% at the maximum, and so the maximum number of migrant population in Manipur cannot be more than 2 lakh at present including the floating migrants. The maximum carrying capacity of Manipur is 5 million, but it is best to keep the population of Manipur at 3 million. Compared to the Chingme, fertility rate of the Meitei has declined substantially on account of various factors including low infant mortality rate, whereas in the hills fertility rate of the productive population is still high because of the momentum effect and will stabilise by 2030, and that of Meitei will stabilise by 2020. The break-up of 3 million is as below:-

Group Number in Lakh
Meitei 13
Chingmee 9
Pangal 5
Others (including migrants) 3
Total 30

(C) Law and Order and Other Issues

Is there a conspiracy behind the prevailing law and order situation in Manipur? Most the people in Manipur has been aspiring for peace for the last 30 years. Mizoram was once a very volatile State, and it is a very peaceful State these days. As compared to Manipur, even Nagaland is very peaceful. Who are these conspirators? In most of the sub-Saharan countries, Colombia, and Mexico, there exist a close nexus between the State actors and the non-State actors, and in the game only the pawns are replaced frequently. So, such a nexus cannot be ruled out in Manipur. Why is that competent and honest people cannot win democratic elections in Manipur? Is the over-dependence of the State Govt. on Grant-in-Aids keeping the State in vicious trap of volatile law and order? Why is that State in unable to generate resources even for its functioning? It is not that I am blaming the State machinery just for the sake of blaming. For a land-locked region like Manipur, the role of State is paramount for attaining peace in Manipur, else that day is not far when Manipur shall be the Afghanistan of the East.

Delhi is not going to come and solve the law and problem of Manipur. At the most, what they can do is send paras and armies which further complicate the situation, and play some mouse-and-cat game. Posting in Manipur is treated as punishment or hard posting among the paras, armies, bureaucrats, etc. It is an open secret that Delhi cannot develop Manipur or bring peace in Manipur. We are land of Momos and chow-chow although we hardly eat these stuffs. JNU, DU, and training institutes serve momos and chow-chow once a week if NE people stay there.

Tigers were not born but they were reared from cubs. Any affirmative action for attaining social equality should target the needy section of the society and should start at the level of cubs. A full-grown tiger needs no affirmative action. Education from nursery till senior secondary should be highly subsidised or free, and basic primary health amenities should be free of cost.

Need for a re-think in our approach: the only golden once-for-all solution

Asymmetric information and emotional outburst without properly analyzing the issue may bring more harm than resolving a burning issue. A rational and well-informed decision at the individual level is the need of the hour. We all know who are internal enemies are although we do not know the face of our outside enemies. Our internal enemies are playing in the hands of our external enemies, but why are we letting ourselves being played with by our internal enemies.

We all believe in Democracy, but why not decide the future of Manipur through a peaceful democratic process. It is the people who resides in a land that matters most and humanity cannot be above property rights. Misplaced fears is right for some preventive measures, but should not be stretched to such level without rational reasoning and proper facts.

Letís bring Peace in Manipur first. Only then, we can know the enemies of Peace. We were born free and no one can force us to be a part of an entity, and we cannot force others also! Humanity and Dialogue can only solve the misplaced mistrust so that we stay together willingly.


* Paikhomba Khuman wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer can be contacted at paikhomkhuman(aT)gmail(doT)com
This article was posted on August 10, 2015.


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