DESAM throws weight behind ST status demand
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, May 04 2016: Throwing its weight behind the demand to include the Meiteis/Meeteis in the list of Scheduled Tribe, the Democratic Students' Alliance of Manipur (DESAM) has announced that it would support and take part in the mass rally being planned by the Scheduled Tribe Demand Committee, Manipur on May 22 .

Dubbing the voice of opposition to the demand that the Meiteis/Meeteis be included in the ST list as nothing more than emotional outbursts, DESAM in a statement said that the opposition is illogical and without foundation.

Some have opposed the demand to be included in the ST list due to the misconception that it is akin to becoming 'Haos', said DESAM and elucidated that the Scheduled Tribe is not akin to 'Haos.' It is wrong to think that becoming an ST is akin to becoming 'Haos' .

Listing examples to support their stand, DESAM said that the Debbarma of Tripura, which had matrimonial ties with the then King of Manipur is today in the ST list.

The Tai Ahom of Assam, which ruled the then kingdom for about 600 years is today about to be included in ST list.

The Koch Rajbongshi of Bengal is today in the ST list in Assam.

DESAM said that it does see the demand to be included in the ST list as a retrograde step.

The term Hao became a derogatory term after the Meiteis became Hindus, said DESAM.

It was not a derogatory term before the Meiteis became Hindus, said DESAM and added that there are examples to prove this.

Even in the Indian Constitution there is nothing derogatory about the term ST.

Dismissing the threats issued by certain organisations against the demand to include the Meiteis in the ST list, DESAM said that the interest of the hill people will not be compromised if the Meiteis are included in the ST list.

To drive home its point, DESAM recalled how former Deputy Registrar of MU and former Minister Dr Khashim Ruivah had informed a meeting of hill people that the hill people have nothing to be apprehensive about Meiteis being included in the ST list.

The student body agreed that there are differences in income but dismissed all apprehension that there are differences in civilisations and added that it is the civilisation which has grouped the people into three categories in Manipur.

This has to be set right.

The Manipuri Nationality is the sum total of all the different tribes, said the statement and added that the different tribes are Meiteis/Meeteis, Nagas (Tangkhul, Rongmei, Paomei, Maram, Maring, Anal, Lamkang etc) and Kuki-Chin (Thadou, Vaiphei, Gangte, Paite, Hmar etc).

All these tribes coming together form the Nationality (Nation) .

DESAM also dismissed the belief that if Meiteis are included in the ST list, they would lose their competitive edge.

Explaining, DESAM said that India with a population of 126 crore has 10 pc (1260 lakh) in the creamy layer.

Like some countries in Europe the creamy layers are rich, educated and there are only about 15 lakh Meiteis to compete with them.

And out of this, only 1 or 2 men can compete.

It would be wrong to say that Meiteis can compete with them because O Nabakishore made the cut for the IAS, said the statement.

Even today the number of Meiteis who have made it to the All India services like IFS, IAS, IPS, IRS, IES can be counted on one's finger tips.

It would also be wrong to assume that Meiteis can today join the race in the field of education, science and engineering.

Even in sports, a number of outstanding sportspersons are being trained outside Manipur and this can be exemplified by looking at the medal list of the National Games.

The appropriate arena for the Meiteis is to compete in the ST arena, said DESAM.

Even today there are many communities in the ST list which are better off than the Meiteis, said the student body and recalled how opposition was raised when the demand to include the Meiteis in the OBC list was put up.

The argument that MC Mary Kom has made a mark for herself not as an ST is true, said DESAM but added this does not mean that if Meiteis are included in the ST list the outstanding Meitei sportspersons will decline in their performance.

To the contention of some that the ST demand is a reflection of the dependent nature of the people, DESAM said that opposition to the ST demand is not going to cure this malaise.

The dependency culture can be corrected after taking up a different movement and urged all to co-operate for such a movement.

On the contention of one armed outfit that demanding the ST status would rob the people of their National spirit and National character, DESAM said opposing the ST demand is not the panacea.

DESAM also recalled that a learned scholar had once expressed suspicion in 2011 that the ST demand will throw a spanner in the demand for ILP and added this reflects a mindset which has not delved into the dialectics of the two demands.

It would be wrong to view the ST demand as being contradictory or antithetical to the ILP demand, said DESAM and added that the ST demand did not start in 2011.In 1980 the late I Tompok had raised the same issue and in 2007, a committee to demand ST status was formed with the late Laishram Bablu as convenor.

Columnist of The Sangai Express Samarjit Kambam had also elucidated how the two demands are complementary to each other.

Even if the Meiteis are granted status, ILP will always be needed, said DESAM and added that it supports and will continue to support the demand for ILP.

It is also absurd to suggest that the ST demand has been raised at the behest of Indian agents/messengers.

Questioning how such a suggestion came about, DESAM questioned whether it is because these people are agents of India.

Or is it because there are 1/2 retired army officers in the demand committee ? Or is it because an internal security advisor of the Union Home Ministry had stated that he supports the ST demand at a press conference ? Everyone knows how a retired Army Colonel fully supported the ST demand, said the statement.

It was not wrong for the Meiteis to prefer the general status in 1950, said DESAM and asked everyone to be aware of the Sanskritisation process enunciated by Prof MN Srinivas.

The demand today for ST status is 'reverse Sanskritisation' said DESAM and added that this is a phenomena seen all over the country.

Taking digs at the contention of an armed group that the ST demand will dampen the armed movement, DESAM said that this amounts to rejecting the UN norms.

Moreover if this is the case, then why has not the Government of India conferred the ST status freely, asked DESAM.

Why was the ST demand not fulfilled in 2013, asked DESAM.

The student body further said that the Meiteis need Constitutional protection to survive and recalled how Dr Irengbam Mohendro had dubbed the Meiteis as an endangered species .

Laying down all these points, DESAM appealed to the people to participate in the rally planned on May 22 .

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