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E-Pao! Opinions - Reply to RY Meities should seek SCST Status

Reply to Ranjan Yumnam "Meities should seek SC/ST Status"
By: Opendro Singh*



I have read the opinion of Ranjan Yumnam on whether Manipuris should seek SC/ST status. I thought somebody eligible is going to write just in the opposite. I'm not a skilled columnist, but I cannot stop myself posting this to this opinion forum. My first focus is on two things:
a) whether we are backward enough to be considered for the SC/ST packages and
b) whether we will gain from SC/ST status in the long run.

Are we really close to the SC/ST status?

Are we really so backward that we cannot succeed on our own? Let's not talk about the egos and prides, which other usually tend to bring in. In this section I just want to see if we are viable candidate for the SC/ST bracket if we want to be there. Our ways of living will tell it clearly. There are millions of lower caste people and tribes in other parts of India, who can't even afford a daily meal, forget clothes and shelters. They don't wear proper clothes; forget the education. Even under the OBC bracket, we are not even entitled to get scholarships if the family has an annual income of Rs.44,500 or above, i.e. Rs.121 per day or Rs.3708 per month.

I mean income from all sources, be it agriculture or business or salary, etc. My point is that most of the Manipuris have more than this income (arguable, wait) and even if we get the SC/ST or OBC status we are not eligible to grab many of the quotas. Let me tell you why I said that most of us have above 3708 per month. Almost all the families live on imported food, clothes, vehicles, hardware, fuel and almost everything. Most families have at the average of 3 to 4 children, who are all sent to schools with good dresses and to coaching classes almost every month throughout the year. If we are earning less than 3708 per month, forget these education and luxuries, food for 7 people (parent, four children and one/two grand parent) will itself cost almost the entire amount. This is not the end. We spend almost Rs.10,000 for shradh (death ceremonies), Rs.5000 for the phiroy (1st anniversary feast of the demised), Rs.2000 (to 5000) for the ipan-thaba (birth ritual, boozing included), Rs. 30,000 (to 100,000) for marriages (including the luxurious vans, cars and custumes on both the sides of the groom and bride;

I want to stress this point because even the poorest manage so many luxuries on cars, sweets and custumes and the expense may rise based on the heijingpot, mangani chakkouba, chengphu hangba), festivals, dates in dark restaurants, chak-umba, angang mana hutpa, and the list goes on. I'm not against these practices if practiced in a simpler and inexpensive fashion. But that is not the point. The point is we are affording it daily and we are seeing it in almost everyday life.

We are nowhere close to the SC/ST status. The only reason I think of for including us in the ST status is that we eat dogs, which is not seen in any developed societies. We cannot get a disability certificate when we are fit just because we are lazy to fight and want to grab the opportunities kept for the handful handicapped people.

Are we going to gain from SC/ST status in the long run?

This is even more a debatable issue. If we are going to gain from it, then it is fine, let's go ahead and try to get the status. But the truth is that the packages given for this special status are sufficient only for the basic upliftment, which is required for those who don't even have the basic needs. I can confidently say that most of the perks for ST in Manipur goes to the pockets of the rich tribes in and around Imphal rather than the real backward families. Let's assume we are given this status, we will gain only if we remain competitive in the mainstream too. That last line condition is the problem for the Manipuris, who want to stop going to the field if they have enough rice for 3 months in the stock.

We will become self-content with what is being offered and stop working even upto the level we are now. Because a dog daily fed by its master cannot earn its own living. Okay, what is the harm in being in this status as long as we are being fed? The problem is that quota's are not everywhere. We cannot get a quota in the Indian cricket team. We cannot score a quota goal in the football match. We cannot get a quota in the international market. We cannot get quota in 90 percent of the privately owned jobs. Major portion of the lucrative jobs available in the market are offered by only the private companies and businesses. Only a handful is left where quota system works. Even in this handful quota, we are not going to be productive even if we are skilled to do things. Because we believe these quotas and government jobs are secured jobs.

Once we believe strongly in this security, we become the slave of the job and less productive. Slave here means that we become more dependent on the job and lose confidence of finding another prospective job somewhere else. Last point is very important for the Manipuris who are very reluctant to move out of its cocoon and who don't welcome outsiders for any activities inside Manipur too (this is again a problem, because we learned from the UP, Bihar society).

Ask anybody who is on the job in Manipur whether they are ready to quit their current job and confident of finding another job. It will be 99% (1% percent left for some good teachers and professors who teach well), because they don't give results worth they are paid, because they are secured in their jobs. Ask the Manipuris working outside Manipur, at least 50% will confidently say that they are not willing to lose the job in hand but have the confidence to find another job if circumstances change. That should be the spirit. And I can strongly say that we have the skills and we are not that bad in education level also. So, are we really hungry of this small chunk of reserved quotas whereas we have the capacity to do much more than been reserved? The answer is for you and it is upto you to act.

Opendro Singh


* The writer can be reached at opendro(dot)singh(at)oracle(dot)com


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