TODAY -

The idea of Manipur and its indigenous people
- The Sangai Express Editorial :: September 07 2015 -



It is indeed tragic that the State Government has unwittingly opened a Pandoraís Box by passing the three Bills for protection of the indigenous people of the land.

It was not exactly the State Government but the Manipur Legislative Assembly which unanimously passed the three Bills, of course, under immense pressure of the general public.

Perhaps, there were procedural lapses when the three Bills were passed as disclosed only today by the four Naga Peopleís Front (NPF) MLAs but such violent and vehement objection was something the Government never expected.

Primarily the three Bills are meant to provide a constitutional safeguard to all the indigenous people of the land.

Now, since the three Bills have been rejected by two major indigenous communities of the land, the very idea of Manipur and its indigenous people need a serious introspection.

Introspecting into the very idea of Manipur would demand critical analysis of the Kuki worldview, Naga worldview and the Meitei worldview.

All the contradictions and differences between these different worldviews must be addressed through negotiations, reconciliation and accommodation if there should be lasting peace within the geo-political entity called Manipur.

When any individual or group of people could not identify themselves as the indigenous people of Manipur, the very idea of protection of indigenous people becomes an anathema to the particular group.

Of all the factors fuelling inter-community rivalry and distrust, the absence of a comprehensive Manipuri identity is the biggest challenge.

When one cannot identify himself or herself as a Manipuri, anything that is beneficial to Manipur can be seen as a disadvantage.

After one group of people struggled for months to enact legislation for protection of indigenous people, other groups are now demanding withdrawal or rejection of the same Bills.

This is the paradox embedded within the varied concepts and understandings of Manipur and anything that is indigenous to the land.

Whereas Manipur was/is a plural society where different communities have been living together since ages, ethnic nationalism which is of very recent origin, more precisely after the merger of Manipur into the Indian Union, has already taken a heavy toll on the pluralistic character of the society.

Ethnic nationalism has virtually reached its epitome in Manipur with one ethnic group demanding a separate state of their own and another shouting with full vigour for alternative arrangement outside the Government of Manipur pending settlement to the Indo-Naga (sic NSCN-IM) political dialogue.

Leaving aside the questions of rationale and feasibility of these demands, it is clear that there are some deep entrenched grievances, and distrust and fear of each other.

The Manipur situation is all the more intriguing if one takes into account the steadfast stance of the third party which holds the territorial integrity of Manipur as the most sacrosanct, something untouchable under any circumstances.

Any political agenda put up or pursued by one group is always suspected and often opposed by the other groups and vice-versa. We are afraid, if this is exactly the case with the three Bills which have now become a bone of contention.

This is no longer a secret that all these groups have territorial aspirations and all of them want to have the lionís share of the pie called Manipur.

This is the larger picture and the root cause of the internal political conflicts which have been challenging the very idea of a pluralistic Manipur.

Until and unless, these conflicts are resolved to the satisfaction of all parties, consensus, we fear, will always elude any political agenda raised by any group.



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