TODAY -

Upholding one’s identity
- The Sangai Express Editorial :: August 24 2015 -



This is sheer extremism if the report was true 100 per cent.

Yes, we are referring to the killing of a 45 year old man belonging to Aimol tribe for resisting attempts to bring Aimol tribe within the fold of Naga tribes.

It is a very serious matter. Aimol tribe like many other smaller tribes scattered in different parts of Manipur has their unique identity.

For these smaller tribes, joining either Naga family or Kuki family or any other ethnic bloc means forsaking their own unique identities and adopting a new identity which is not at all their own.

The way the man was killed and how his village was attacked had all the characteristics of a full-fledged onslaught upon a small tribe by a much larger force.

It appears as if the assailants were on a mission to assimilate many smaller tribes like Aimol to expand the heterogeneous Naga family.

Or was it carried out by the outfit’s regional authority without any knowledge or consent of the party’s top leadership?

Whatever is the case, Aimols and for that matter all smaller tribes which are not included within the fold of either Naga or Kuki ethnic groups need protection. v Ethnic polarisation is anathema to the very idea of Manipur.

Since ages, Manipur has been a plural society and its pluralistic character should be upheld against all challenges.

The process of forging unity within each set of identity, as witnessed today in Manipur leave no scope to an individual native to have an idea which differs from the political idea espoused by a much stronger neighbouring community.

This is the problem unsettling our existence and weakness of the vision of unity itself which is based on exclusivity.

Ethno-nationalism is taken to be the strongest and only imaginable alternative of mobilizing the people as far as experiences in the North East indicate.

Mobilizing the people based on ethno-nationalism often involves brute force and violence.

Though small in number, many tribes settled in North East India have their unique identities and separate worldviews.

Many were/are/will oppose formation of pan-Naga nationality through coercion and force as is the case with Aimols today.

Given the renewed campaign for amalgamation of smaller tribes into a larger heterogeneous group, the relevance of the distinction between civic nationalism and ethno-nationalism to Manipur is assuming astronomical proportion.

No doubt, ethno-nationalism is neither desirable nor could it serve as any effective tool for nation building in any part of the North East region, particularly in a pluralistic society like Manipur.

At the same time, there should be no room for chauvinism or dominance by any majority community over others, should civic nationalism be promoted to consolidate composite Manipuri nationality.

The question, however, is how to forge civic nationalism in the future while recognizing ethnic identities and their separate interests which are not detrimental to national unity.

There is no possibility of de-ethnicizing people whether they belong to the majority community or the minority communities.

There is no meaning in arguing who started ethno-nationalism first or who should be blamed most.

There is no possibility to say one type of ethno-nationalism is better than the other. All types of ethno-nationalism are detrimental to national or human progress.

So our suggestion is, let all the smaller tribes retain their own identities.

If the Aimols do not want to merge with any other ethnic group, let them live as Aimols.

Pluralism was and should remain the core of the socio-political entity called Manipur.



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