TODAY -

Giving a big solid push to ST demand : ST for Meiteis banner
- The Sangai Express Editorial :: May 24, 2024 -



Giving a push to the ‘ST for Meiteis’ demand and it is encouraging to see at least 8 different organisations coming together and contributing their mite in coming out with the book christened ‘Meitei Tribe’s Quest for Scheduled Tribe Status.’

Coming together under the ‘ST for Meiteis’ banner and one wonders how long the BJP led Government at Imphal will continue to sleep over the demand which has captured the imagination of majority of the Meitei folks.

Other than the mass miss call campaign that was organised from November 21 to December 31 last year, different organisations have been carrying on the ST campaign in their own way, with the World Meetei Council taking the slogan to every nook and corner of the State and in the process taking the people along.

Much have been said on whether the Meiteis fit the bill to be included in the ST list or not and while debates are always welcome, it should not be forgotten that Meiteis do need Constitutional protection and the ST tag is the best protection that may be given to the said community.

It is not so much a question of whether the Meiteis fit the bill to be tagged a Scheduled Tribe or not but more about how to go about convincing the State Government that this is the opportune moment to send the report, a report sought by the Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs as far back as 2013.

For over 10 long years successive Governments at Imphal have slept over the report sought by the Centre and the job of Imphal is to just send the report.

If Meiteis do not fit the bill to be tagged a Scheduled Tribe then why should anyone object to the report being sent ?

Or is it a case of apprehension being felt as the Meiteis fit the bill to be included in the Scheduled Tribe list of the Constitution of India ?

The Sangai Express does not expect a clear cut answer to this, for this is not the first time that this poser is being raised, but yes counter claims may be expected, ultimately pointing to the fact that the Meiteis had missed the bus and so should not clamour for the ST tag.

Much have been said on how the Meiteis fulfil the criteria laid down to be included in the ST list and only missed it due to the failure to look beyond the obvious and it was with a reason why the State Government under the late Rishang Keishing had proposed that a report be sent to the Centre to include the Meiteis in the ST list.

This was back in 1981.

As if this was not enough, the same proposal was also rejected during the time of the late W Nipamacha, which reasoned that being included in the OBC category is more or less enough !

The same indifference from the suited, booted Meitei gentlemen can also be seen in the proposal put forth by the late former Governor of Manipur Ved Marwah, a point which has been spelt out in his book ‘India in turmoil.’

The former late Governor wrote, ‘Though they don’t admit it, it would not be wrong to say that the Meiteis generally have a feeling of superiority vis-a-vis the tribal people. This is one of the reasons why they are unwilling to be accorded tribal status even though by not being notified as Scheduled Tribes like the others, they are losing out on many concessions...’

As a young Meitei man put it, interpreting the ST for Meiteis demand only through the prism of job reservation would be missing the trees for the woods.

Moreover the apprehension felt by some sections of the Meiteis that getting the ST tag will result in erosion of competitive spirit is misplaced for remember no correlation can be or has been established between job reservation and the competitive spirit.

The young man cited the case of Tamil Nadu where caste based reservation in the Southern State is as high as 69 percent but this reservation norms has not blunted the competitive edge of the Tamils in any way.

This is but one example and closer home the pro-talk group of ULFA has made it more than clear that granting ST status to five communities, namely Moran, Matak, Chutia, Koch-Rajbongshi and the Tai-Ahom will go a long way in helping to save Assam.

One wonders whether the Meiteis are more advanced than any of the five communities named here.



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