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Manipur Cultural Integration Conference (MCIC): A Long March In Manipur

Manipur is a natural landscape inhabited by communities of same racial affinity migrated from different direction, since time immemorial. It is also believed that human migration touch on this part of the world as early as seventy-fives thousand years ago as indicated on the human flow mapping of the National Geography and IBM project on the origin of Human kind. The flow of human movement in the territorial ambit of Manipur has been classified into two, namely the Nongchup Haram (Human flow from Western side) and Nongpok Haram (Human flow from Eastern side). The route of human migration in this part was on the ridges of mountain ranges. It is also believed that during the flow of human migration, most of the landscape of the present state was under water. Evidences of early evolution of human settlements in the state are on the mountain along the river channels (Khamkhuiand Mova caves along the Thoubal River, Tharol Cave along the Barak, PhukoiNingthou Cave along the Chakpi River). As the submerged water area receded and the formation of Manipur valley begins with the evolution of human settlement in valley simultaneous with the creations of principalities (Khuman,Luwang, Angom, Mangang …). With the growth of human society and civilization the Meitei Nation was founded with the amalgamation of all clans and principalities in the state. For more than two centuries we have together been co-existing and also maintain socio-cultural practices for symbolizing the relations between the highlanders and valley dwellers. Most of the Valley dwellers are most probably originated from the highlanders as stated by the then British ethnology. However, in the process of civilizational advances, some missing links have occurred which is to a large extent instrumental for the hill-valley dichotomy.  Religious divides among the hills and valley following the adoption of Ramandi/Hinduism by the valley dwellers and conversion to Christianity by those in the hills can just be cited as an example. It was then followed by the British Divide and rule policy, the legacy of which is continued by the modern Indian system). Because of this missing link the state becomes an inter-communities conflicting arena. One of the major events of Hills and Valley Divides in the year 1947 was erupted at Mao (leaded by Daiho) killing 2/3 persons by Assam Rifles personnels deployed by the then Governor General Md. HyderiAlli (Interim Government of MKPB Singh). The Second movement of Mizo Union in the Southern Manipur, was subsided by Maharakumar Priyabrata Singh and Major Bob Khating, respectively, the then Chief Minister and the Ministry of Hill Affairs, Manipur. With the sense of social insecurity started looming large, some of the prominent personalities from both the hills and the plain convened public meeting and decided to establish an organization called MANIPUR CULTURAL INTEGRATION CONFERENCE on Sunday, 15th October 1967. Founder president was Late Nongmeikapam Nabakishor and Late Laimayum Raghumani Sharma as founder General Secretary. Following its establishment, Maharajkumar Priyabrata (MK PB Singh) afterwards chaired the organization for live-long during his lifetime. The legacy of MCIC is with A. Brajkumar Sharma as the Chairman. The main objectives of MCIC were to bring a harmonious society in the state of Manipur basing on the principle of secularism and compassionate humanitarianism.
The MCIC started its long march by holding several study circles, camps, on spot studies, meetings. Learned papers were generated for reiterating the cultural similarities and dispersal from Makhel to different directions, located at different places with different ethnic entity. Those who settle in the highland are hill tribes while those in the valley are plain people. But we are all from the same ethnic affinity. Till today Valley people performed MERAWAA-YUNGBA to mark the survival signals to their big brother in the highlanders. As the civilization progresses in the state Mera Hou Chongba have been celebrating science time immemorial, till date to mark the bond of tie in between the highlanders and the Valley dwellers. At different sequels there have been many evidences of the people of valley taking shelter at the hill villages and converted as highlander. Similarly many highlanders were merged with the valley people. Meiteilol, or better known as Manipuri language which belongs to the Tibeto-Burman family is the only lingua-franca in the region. There are similarities of higher degree in different forms of games and sports, dance performances, musical instruments, music’s nodes, etc.
Secondly, MCIC progresses its movement with the approach of visiting the remotest part of the hill village and tribes of small population for protecting their unique identities on culture and language/dialect, folklore, death and birth rituals and their similarities with other major communities. With this approach, MCIC started building bridges for creating understanding of peaceful co-existence in Manipur. This kind of movement was the main activities of MCIC during 1967 t0 1972. As an outcome of MCIC the ‘Kut’ Festival of Kuki-Chin family was initiated as early as December 1970 at Churachandpur. During the said period, many of the individual hill villages were visited, as for example i) Visit of Ukhrul during 28 to 30th June 1969, ii) Thangal (Bishnupur) RongmeiChiru 25 to 30 October 1970, iii) Komlathabi, Chandel during October 1971, Jiribam in December etc.
    Over and above these approaches, the MCIC has also been holding several camps in different parts of Manipur and studied the Socio-Economic conditions of the people living there. Based on the report of our own spot studies; it has come to realization that economic disparity among the people of the state is one of the main causes responsible for creating misunderstanding among our self. Without a suitable approach of removal of economic disparities between the different sections of the people inhabiting in Manipur, attempt to bring an understanding among our self for bringing social harmonies in the society may not bring any fruitful result.

    Then question arises how to remove this differential income in our infrastructure of population in relation to the present existing geographical landscape. Considering the potentialities of geographical landscape of the state and to scale down the level of economic disparities, MCIC initiated a new approach, attempting all round development programme with special emphasis on Agriculture, Horticulture and Agro-base Industries or Industries based on the available bio-resources. No doubt, our own local academicians and experts may generate hundreds of blueprints suitable to the existing geographical conditions. Even then another big question arises how to implement those schemes effectively to the benefit to the people of the state. To carry out or translate all the blueprint into action the state is required to empower its people in terms of skill development through existing higher educational facilities like post-graduate & research level, technology and medical and other professional courses to attend the degree of consciousness.
     How far are we conscious?  No doubt, there is sub-conscious mindset to us. In every nook and corner, we frequently encounter people talking about the rising price of essential commodities, unemployment problems, low production of food stuff, juvenile delinquency, defects in educational institutions, lack of industries and industrial activities, lack of entrepreneurship, communication bottle-neck and low percentage of road density in the state etc.  Simply we are capable for finding problems after problems but no one of us have ventured to solve these problems. However, MCIC assess the requirement of health services facilities and available medical manpower and essential supper specialties to the growing population and status of health in the state. Accordingly establishment of a Medical college has been initiated. Similarly for empowering our growing youths MCIC initiated to establish a University to facilitate advanced knowledge systems and research in the State. Considering the potentials of geographic landscape and major occupational structure MCIC initiate for the establishment of an Agricultural university in a federal structure in the state. We presumed that federal structure would be suitable like the mountain ranges for horticulture cum Forestry and Animal husbandries in the foot-hills; fisheries in the wetlands while rice research cum production will be in the valleys of Manipur. Now the state is having two universities, Agricultural University, two Medical institutes having full facilities for advance PG courses and research, IIIT and even for National Sport University etc. Several infrastructural developments schemes/protects has been reached out to the remotest part of the state as per the reports of the Government.
Till date, the economic disparity among the people is increasing further and further. Then, what is wrong with us? What needs to be done in this context? Shell we undertake social education programmed on war footing to make aware to all people to understand the issue and existing problems in realities. Encountering all these issues the MCIC is still proceeding a Long March to achieve the gold of Revolution in the state. The Goal will be attain only after people are fully conscious. No political Party can solve our problem without the peoples’ participation. To bring a status of systematic social security and peace full coexistence in the state each and every one of us should share the idea of MCIC and took participate in the process.

By: Dr.R.K.Ranjan Singh
Former CDC Director, MU

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