Otherising - the virus that affects Manipur

Zamminlien *

Different communities at 64th Republic Day parade, Imphal 2013
Different communities at 64th Republic Day parade, Imphal 2013 :: Pix - Deepak Oinam

"Otherising" as Elizabeth Lesser describes, 'is the dangerous act of turning someone into the enemy just because he or she looks different, prays different, speaks different, or thinks different. Some of history's most tragic eventsówars, genocides, terrorist actsóbegan with ordinary people demonizing other ordinary people'.

There was a time in Manipur when its occupants had nothing to do with territorial boundary. There was a time when they all lived together in peace. During those days, I guess, there was nothing such as 'otherising'.

But with the passing of each days, the thinking and behaviour of the Manipuris changed gradually. As we could see, the Meiteis are trying their best to maintain the integrity of Manipur using any means possible. The Nagas even dared to grasped the throat of the others in demand of Nagalim by imposing economic blockade. Of lately, the Kukis also started to roar in demand for a separate Kukiland. All these could be the result of otherising each others.

To the Meiteis, calling names to the Nagas or Kukis may mean showing their loyalty to Manipur. They might not be acquainted with anyone they cursed. They might not know their positive sides, but did their best to portray them in the negative version. The same goes for the Nagas and the Kukis as well.

How can we just think or speak ill of others that we don't know? Why do we think them as our enemy? Writing good-will message, speaking the 'ching-tam amatani' with enmity from the heart is only the sound of an empty vessel.

Being a Kuki, I have my love and respect for my society. So do I have the feelings about the others as well. I also think about the others in the way the others thinks about me. However, this otherising is just a false propaganda initiated by the people themselves.

I have lots of Meiteis and Naga friends. When I get to know them personally, I realized that I was only otherising them. There are many people who has a good heart, but without knowing them their heart cannot be seen.

Has Manipur gone too far because of otherising? Are we on the verge of dis-integrating because of otherising? Whom should we blame for this? Ibobi may be the best target, but he might not be the only one. Nor is Muivah or PS Haokip. We don't have anyone to blame. We ourselves are mesmerizing into otherising.

The people have fallen into this otherising pit. Seeing each other in the negative ways makes us hates the other more. We should have built a relationship like our fore-fathers did. We should have help each others in bad times. But alas, those days were gone.

Enforcing integrity by hook or by crook will only deter us from integrating. Calling bandhs and blockades will only brings us grief. To stop otherising would be the best solution for integrity. But the damage done has been too great.

Will not otherising be able to help us now? Who can say the Nagas will not succeed in their demand for Alternative Arrangement?

Can you say the Kukis will never be granted a separate Kukiland? Nobody can say Manipur will or will not break up.

However great is the damage inflicted by otherising, to stop it now might be able to save the future generations to love each others. As of now, otherising had already costs us a great deal.

* Zamminlien wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on March 11 , 2013

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