The Vanishing Meitei Tribe .
ST Status is our only survival.
It is up to Manipur Government.

Dr Mohendra Irengbam *

District map of Manipur
District map of Manipur [Photo credit: Wikimedia: Commons]

Thank goodness for Kuki complainers, who whinge, so we Meiteis do not have to. Their proud boast comes from an extensive line of complainers. Their grandparents had complained about everything, their parents complained about everything, and now in their tender age, they have joined the family quest.

In the year 2023 alone, they had lodged a lethal complaint by killing a handful of Meiteis and burning their houses. At the heart of the issue is the wanton and furious complaint about Meitei prosperity and Meiteis’ fight for survival.

Complaining is unpleasant and vexatious. But they are also vital in getting certain wrongs righted. Just as Darwin’s natural selection ensures that every community contains a few complainers, and in certain ethnic communities, due to mutation error, have a greater percentage of complainers that spill out to other communities, like Covid.

They focused their terrorist campaign with an artificial model of Demographic transition and anti-Eco credentials. But the whole thing went belly-up as a prurient blob in the exiting Meitei-Kuki harmony. It was such a shame.

The aim of the terrorists is to terrorise opponents. They terrorise Meiteis who inhabit the foothills of Manipur, hoping they would run away, leaving the land for the Kukis to settle in. Once they succeed, they will repeat the maneuvers. Slow and steady wins the race.

Anyone looking at the district map graph of Manipur will find geographical areas of various districts of Manipur, as visual backdrops. Looking at the demography of Manipur valley [previously,10% of geographical area] where the Meiteis must live and nowhere else, surrounded by more than thirty-three recognised ethnic communities that live in the rest of the 90% area with a smaller population of 47% (App.).

And unlike Meiteis, they can come down, and do come down, to live in the valley where they please and whenever they wish. Meiteis had not been complaining. Now they do (spill over}.

The migration has begun to dilute per capita capital stock of Meiteis, and housing has grown faster due to concentrated demography, impinging on arable land. Home ownership is collapsing, and quality of life is deteriorating. The institutional underpinning of Meitei Ingkhol system [homestead] is perpetually undermined.

The Manipur valley is in such a chaotic state that life is not safe anywhere, the entire multicultural edifice looks like it would come tumbling down at any time. The Kuki-ZO community, backed by their armed militant organisations, unlike Meitei insurgents for Meiteis, is not going to stop its demand for separatism.

They would, however, be like the countless Spanish conquistadors who wasted their lives looking for a mythical city of El Dorado [The Golen One], full of gold in South America. Whilst the Government of India would simply play Cat & Mouse game, as it is doing with NSCN (Muivah), which is Tangkhul dominated.

As I am an evolutionist, I think about how the small Meitei tribe could become extinct from two of the causes of why certain species become extinct, viz., from habitat degradation with low genetic diversity, and more successful competitors.

If anybody is looking seriously or doing research, it will be evident that Meiteis are now in the category of ‘Endangered species’ list. So, Meiteis must prepare to defend ourselves for our survival, by ptotecting our habitat and connecting the habitat on which our survival depends. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

I believe as I belong to an ancient generation that Meiteis, though they look like goldfish in a glass bowl, can still behave like piranha fish. These goldfish keep their stamina and intelligence in the glass bowl, like recognizing their owner. They remain small as they will often not grow too large for their habitat. This is because they release a pheromone into the water, called somatostatin, which causes their growth to stop.

On the other hand, these small South American fish, about the size of Manipuri pengba fish [Osteobrama belangeri] and with a rapacious appetite, can skeletonise a horse in minutes.

I have always believed that ‘there will always be an intact Manipur at any cost. The recent ethnic Kuki violence that started on May 3 2023 against Meiteis was just a hotchpotch and an act of spiritual virtuosity – about ill-conceived movements for religious and ethnic expansion. It however, hit the Meiteis like a potentially violent thunderstorm that could wipe out Meiteis from the face of Manipur.

I have pleasure in reminding Meiteis that it is time to stop internecine fighting on flimsy ground, which is inherent in Meitei genes. It is time to face the Kuki onslaught. It is only a temporary setback. A defeat would be when Meiteis give up responding. That should make it permanent. Retributive justice should be the platitude for Meiteis to survive.

Now then, it is very well to write and talk about it. How do we Meiteis go about preventing the recent setback from turning it into a defeat? The Kukis still continue to attack Meiteis sporadically. And they would continue to make some positive gains as they have also suffered quite a bit for mothing until they realise that their demand for a Kukilam or Kukiland is an Eldorado.

Well, I do not have brilliant military science at my fingertips. I simply want the readers to take away the informed debate that deterring potential offenders would help ethnic Meiteis’ survival. In the first place, Meiteis should get rid of a nub of disappointment and pessimism from the stomach, carefully winding the bond of obligation to our homeland of Chingna koina punshaba Manipur sana leimayol.

Broadly speaking, this should entail a plan of an elective course of action - a common [non-sectarian] effort to get a satisfactory result for keeping Manipur unpartitioned for now and anytime in future. But survival does not come cheap. It needs challenging work and moderate sacrifice in the art of agreeable disagreement.

Currently, we Meiteis are cloistered by hostile ethnic communities in the way the Israelites are hemmed in by twenty-two members of the Arab League countries. Israelites fight with tooth and nail for their existence.

Meiteis have suffered quite a lot. We need poetic justice, i.e., deserved retributive justice. Sometimes offence is the best defense as Israel is now doing to the Palestinians in Gaza, though it calls its army IDF [Israel Defense Force], taking the war to the enemy.

Secondly, Time is of the essence. It is even more so, as the Government of India is sitting on the fence, with perceived inability to intercept. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who usually likes to hear his own voice is mute about the horrific pandemonium in Manipur. There must be reasons for him to be careful. Identity politics is very narcissistic.

His silence is deafeningly loud as he has been travelling to various states all over India and abroad. 150 times so far, except Manipur, which is still burning as the ethnic Kukis focused their anti-Meitei campaign on an artificial demographic transition and anti-eco credentials. They have not learnt from their terrible defeat during the Tangkhul-Kuki clash of 1992 because of their environmental dispute.

The clock is ticking on the Meiteis’ must-be-sorted-list. We should take the offensive by executing a defensive style. We should organize ourselves for the kicks, flicks and spins with mind and body to parade that. Quoting Machiavelli in “The Prince”: “If you do not declare yourself and make war strenuously, you will invariably be attacked by the conqueror, to the pleasure and satisfaction of the loser.”

However, it is especially important that Meiteis must not debauch into a violent backlash. It is not a war of attrition. It is a struggle for survival. We must aim at living amicably and peacefully together with all our ethnic communities including Kukis, now and forever in Manipur. We just want to make sure that they know we are on the same page.

Only that, for our survival we Meiteis must plough the unpleasant furrow of Meitei nationalism as we were motivated and inspired by the feeling of the adrenaline shock of the 3rd of May 2023 mayhem. Remember we are braver than we think. There is life ahead of us. As Marilyn Monroe once said, “Failure is a bend in the road, not the end of the road.”

There will always be dissenters within the Meiteis community as in a democratic country. They are not lacking in altruism but foresight as they are bereft of basic understanding of biological science. There will always be whiners without the Meitei community as they care a fig about the vanishing Meitei tribe.

There will be threats of all sorts, mostly conditioned threats of separation. They do certainly mean something. It is for Meiteis to take a risk if we do not want to fall. “The winner Takes it all; the loser has to fall.” (cf. ABBA. 1980).

The morale is, we must act now because a stitch in time saves nine. And according to Darwinian evolutionary theory, achieving ST status is the best way to start survival Minecraft. I do not have the correct statistics of the current dwindling Meitei population and habitat, but as per my observation it is quite obvious.

All the same, as Mark Twain once said: “Lies, damn lies and statistics” that can have persuasive power, even when used inappropriately.

To conclude: the incumbent Chief Minister of Manipur, Nongthombam Biren Singh, with his political narcissism, must approach the task, based on his skills and competence, and forward his government’s recommendation for the inclusion of Meiteis in the ST category, in order that Meiteis receive constitutional protection.

In this way, our posterity will have a chance to survive and be able to say, that “For their Tomorrow Biren gave his Today” [cf. WWII epitaph in Kohima].

* Dr Mohendra Singh Irengbam wrote this article for
The writer can be contacted at irengbammsingh(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on May 26 2024 .

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