Manipur State integrity : The importance of Tribal languages to strengthen it
- Part 1 -

Ragongning Gangmei *

"Emotional integrity of the people cannot be achieved by force, battle of ego, intimidation or by suppression of people's will and aspirations. Native languages are heart touching emotional issue. To heal the State's ailment, language-touch shall be one of the most eff healing touches. When languages are touched, every community is touched. When every community is touched the whole people of Manipur is being touched. You think you cannot satisfy each and everyone. I believe you can satisfy each and everyone by one touch - language touch. You can touch everyone by their languages."

- State Apathy of Tribal Languages in Manipur
(A book published in 2012)

The Beauty of Manipur

Manipur is a land of unity in diversity. It belongs to 38 multi-lingual ethnic comi ties. They are (1)Aimol, (2)Anal, (3)Angami, (4)Chiru,(5) Chothe, (6) Gangte, (7)Hmar, (8)lnpui, (9)Koireng, (10)Kom, (11)Kharam, (12)Lamkang, (13)Liangmai, (14)Mao, (15)Maram, (16)Maring, (17)Mate, (18)Meitei, (19)Meitei Pangal, (20)Mizo, (21)Monsang, (22)Moyon (23)Nepali, (24)Paite, (25)Paumai, (26)Purum, (27)Ralte, (28)Ruangmei (Kabui), (29)Sahte (30) Sema, (31)Simte, (32)Tangkhul, (33)Tarao, (34)Thadou-Kuki, (35)Thangal, (36)Vaiphei (37)Zeme and (38)Zou.

As we all are well aware of, Manipur is a miniature India. It is a small State of variety and multiplicity concerning languages, cultures and religions. The beauty of Manipur lies unity of ethno-diversity and multilingual co-existence. Unity in diversity is our strong which would help the State to survive and to go on from strength to strength. The variety of languages and culture should be made a device of unity for winning the hearts of the people and a chain of love for binding the intellect rather than through the force of arms or rigid campaign. The State should have its own devices to let these languages grow and have a place of pride and honour in the State. The diversity has to have an underlaying thread of unity like that of a garland so that the State as one solid community may go on.

And these diverse ethno-linguistic communities are the mosaic of Manipur State integrity. This is a beautiful challenge to both the people and the State Government to uphold the unity of the ethno-linguistic diversity with a view to strengthening the State integrity of Manipur.

It is with this idea of unity and integrity, the express needs of conserving and promoting the languages, scripts and cultures of indigenous people of Manipur are stressed upon with the paramount necessity to bring about harmony among the communities in Manipur.

The Ugliness of Manipur

However, unfortunately, the beauty of Manipur had been spoilt now and then since decades together past. It is neither Metei nor Muslim, neither Naga nor Kuki, neither the valley people nor the hill people who had spoilt Manipur in the decades past. Then who else are they? What else are these?

These are the people who are on the top of State administration. These are the people who took the reign of State administration. They are the ministers and buraucrates who were/are responsible for education in the State. They had established a culture of alienation of tribal languages and made it State's tradition in Manipur.

Under their administration, the tribal languages of Manipur do not find a place of pride and honour in the State and they do not get 'phidaa or maannaba chaakthung' in the State Budget. The attitude and dealing of the State administration made the tribal people emotionally shocked, frustrated and helpless and hopeless. Belongingness to Manipur and love of Manipur are made meaningless and these feelings have terribly gone down to the deep of their minds. Their future seems blur. They feel marginalised and alienated in their own State. Who else are doing all these? The State administration! The State apathy of tribal languages in the State! These are some of the serious phenomenons or elements that threaten the emotional integrity of the State.

The State administration of Manipur is not having right vision for Manipur integrity. To uphold the State integrity, the State administration is required to be more pro-active in the matter of promotion of indigenous languages of Manipur as done in the other neighbouring States of the northeast. However, while dping so, it should be kept in mind that nowhere the importance of the principal language (Manipuri) should be compromised.

The attention of the readers are drawn to what the Commissioner of Linguistic Minorities (GoI) said in his official Reports about the State apathy of tribal language in Manipur.

"23.5 ... despite the apathy of the State Government (Manipur) to these languages, the people have not forgotten them and are keen on main taining them.

23.8 In brief the performance of Manipur Government is dismal. They are either not aware of the safeguards for the linguistic minorities or are totally unconcerned about them. ...

... State Government(s) are urged to change their attitude towards the linguistic minorities so as to give them their dues."

- The 44th Report of the Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities, Government of India

State Sponsored Linguistic Racism in Manipur - an anti-itegrity element:

Unfortunately, the State Government is adopting a policy of Manipur-divide.

There is a firmly rooted linguistic racism in Manipur with an unseen agenda of anti-tribal languages in the State and they are largely written in the State Budgetary documents since the inception of the State of Manipur. The decades-old State-sponsored linguistic racism has suppressed and ruined the cherished hope and vision of tribal language groups in Manipur and has weaken their spirit of belongingness to the State. The crisis of tribal languages is not remaining dormant today, it is burning underneath and one day it may come to live and erupt any time if the State Government is not attending to it in time.

Following are some of State-sponsored anti-tribal and anti-State integrity racism elements which are in practice in Manipur and they largely exhibit linguistic racism in the State.

That -
1) Tribal Languages are denied fund in the State Budgets of Education Department, BoSEM, CoSEM:

Language approval for introduction in the education system is supposed to entail allocation of fund for textbook development and publication and also for administrative grant to the respective literature socieites concerned. Fund should be earmarked by the Government in Plan, Non-Plan with recurring and non-recurring expenditures for continuity of the languages. But these are not done at all by the State Government. After approval, tribal languages are left uncared for and left only in the hands of tribal literature societies without allocating necessary fund. What a bad State's tradition?

Whereas, the 34 tribal languages need fund to the tune of Rs. 289.70 lakhs per annum, they are denied of fund allocation in the State Budgets of Education Department, Board of Secondary Education, Manipur (BoSEM) and Council of Higher Secondary Education, Manipur (CoSEM). The Council of Tribal Languages and Literature Council, Manipur had submitted several representations in the matter since 2009. But the State Government Manipur is totally unconcerned about it.

To be continued ...

* Ragongning Gangmei wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on September 18, 2015.

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