What ails Manipur ?

RK Rajeebsana *

It is difficult to point out, what actually causes the chaos, confrontation and standoff in Manipur. The multiple of issues which are heap up and the hypothetical anticipation of future unrest precondition in the mind’s of people have put our society into a state of confusion. Every issue has its own roots. We cannot look into the emergent phenomena only at that point of time.

There is a need to track the root of its origin and at the same time a multidimensional approach. To answer, what afflict Manipur , it will be premature to analyze without taking into account the historical background of how the society had evolve. We need a historical retrospection to uncover the truth of the present disruption. Every social tension that we have today has directly or indirectly link with some of the historical episode occurred in the past.

Manipur per se, was a sovereign kingdom, a nation before it was merge into the subcontinent of India in October 1949. It has a long recorded history of more than 2000 years. Manipur was rich in its cultural and socio –economic aspect , characterized by non dependent economy with its distinctive political history since 33 AD.

The state had exercise her internal supremacy and external independence at fullest prior to the establishment of British paramountcy in 1891 and before the merger into the dominion of India in 1949. The British conquered Manipur in 1891 and they ruled the state till 1947. The British imposed their paramountcy on Manipur state.

Manipur was not annexed to British India and was restored to a young prince of a former ruling family. The jurisdiction of the young prince was made confine on the small valley of Manipur with the help of the Manipur state durbar while the administration of the hill tribes under the british political agent. This administrative division of the British that bifurcate the hills and valley into two administrative unit mark the greatest upheaval in the history of Manipur that consequently affect the question of integrity in future.

These two historical incidence that dissect the administrative unit , introduced by the british in 1891 and the merger of Manipur into the subcontinent of India in 1949 are worthy of attention in analyzing the present unrest in Manipur. The merger agreement was quite controversial.

Manipur was annexed to the subcontinent of India was a popular belief. When Manipur got her independence from the British in 1947, it had established a democratic constitutional monarch with a council of minister. At that point of time, India was just at its early birth which is yet to established herself. Manipur had left a historical landmark by establishing one of the earliest democratic regime in the south east Asia.

In October 1949, the one and half years old democratic regime was annexed to India without the consent of people and without the due cognizance of the constitution which was already established before India. This incidence is one of the deep rooted factor that directly ails Manipur.

Moreover, the government of India enforce the draconian arms law in 1958. Perhaps , acknowledging the outcome of their misdeed ,the government of India may have enforce the draconian law. This had provoked the people, more to bring a revolutionary change and gave birth to the issue of insurgency during the 1960s.

The government of India veiling the mask of democracy followed the same colonial policy; replacing of the British colonial rule by the central government rule of India.

The pre merger economic reality of the state was noteworthy in examining the socio-economic transition in Manipur from past to present. Manipur as said was rich in its culture and a self sufficient, non dependent economic structure. This non dependency economy was evident in the “nupi lan” outrage where women fought against the colonial and feudal regime in protest against the export of commodities that are state output.

If we look at the present Manipur , we are moving in such a phase where our stomach are sponsored by someone else. This sponsored economy is directly evident when the state experience economic blockade from time to time when some ethnic group used it as tool for their protest.

If we look at the entire historicity of Manipur, the philosophy of our administration was completely based on peaceful coexistence. It has a pluralistic society from the past and there was no unilineal approach on part of the ruler in the nation building process. If the rulers were to propagate the idea of one culture, one religion, one language in the nation building process, we may have not seen the various religion that exist today.

The so called hindunization in the 18th century was a process at a very superficial level . And that was only at one historical phase that ended at that particular period of time. Apart from hindunization, there exist other ethnic communities with different religion . The ruler of the period have given them autonomy and does not interfere in their socio religious affair.

This have able them to maintain their religion till date. Proselytization was not an unusual phenomena during the monarchial regime, if we look at every society of the past. The attitude of the ruler of Manipur society in the past shows their belief in peaceful coexistence.

The analogy of the past and present scenario gives us an insight of some unnaturalistic changes in our society. Whether it may be the question of peaceful coexistence or of economy, at present our society is, in a situation of turmoil at every facet.

Taking into account, what is worth concerning is, how the idea of peaceful co existence breaks in just 68 years after the merger, how the non dependent economy become dependent economy ? Why there is a issue of immigration at present ? Why, question of territorial integrity? Why issue of insurgency? These are the question which we need to analyze which are non issue before the merger.

After the merger of Manipur into the subcontinent of India, Manipur was denied of her democratic rights and institutions. Manipur was downgraded as a part C state and union territory. Downgrading the political status of Manipur from a sovereign nation to a part C state of India beyond the expectation of people, it extremely hurts the sentiments of people.

Manipur missed the five year plan policy of the government of India until its attainment of statehood in 1972. This disable Manipur in joining the race of development with other Indian states which ultimately delay the development growth in Manipur.

History is evident that there was no such crystal clear division as hills people and valley people as we have today. The divisive role played by the british and its veiled policy of colonialism continued by the India government have time and again played with the emotional integritry of Manipur.

If we look at the historicity of India, India as such was build on the basis of ‘kautiliyan’ thought of unified India intrinsic with the hindutva ideology. We can observed the nation building process of India was followed with the same pattern , build on with various union of other sovereign states after independence in 1947 leaving behind many controversy.

Extension and Indianization ,the prime motive behind. Their intension may go in line for mainstream states of India but when it comes to state like Manipur which does not have any historical connection with India and at every other aspect , there is always a question of survival in joining the nation of India. The psyche of the government of India since merger is that, it loves the land not the people.

The issue of Immigration will not affect the Indian state and territory rather it will help to their motive of Indianization . India’s concern regarding the issue of immigration in Manipur is questionable. Thus India’s democracy is De jure not De facto. It is a feudalism in the name of democracy.

Whether it may be the issue of integrity or immigration or of development , taking into account all the chronology of events in the past, the attitude of the government of India has led to the branching out of issue after issues from the very beginning of the merger .

This heaping up of issues after issue is again supplemented by the irresponsible government of the state. The lack of accountability , transparency and irresponsible on part of the state government again help in substantiating the issues that have deludge our society upto the neck.

To answer to the question , what ails Manipur , it is the controversial merger agreement sign between Manipur and India. It is the root to every branches of issues that we encounter today. All the issue that we have today are directly or indirectly link with the so called ‘ annexation’ of Manipur by the government of India in October 1949.

We have seen many issues which gave birth only when Manipur was merged into the subcontinent of India. The various issues that we have today are non issue before the merger. To look at the factual data of the past, the fact itself exhibit, the merger was the root to every issues.

* RK Rajeebsana wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on October 18, 2017.

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