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Channeling the drive

by Rinku Khumukcham
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Today, the state is observing the 77th year to the day when the womenfolk of Manipur rose against the oppressive and unconcerned attitude of the state authority as ‘Nupi Lan Numit’- the Manipur Women’s Agitation of 1939. The historic event which started as an agitation by Manipuri women against the economic policies of the Maharaja and the Marwari monopolists especially in regard to the unrestricted export of rice from the valley in view of the impending scarcity due to prospects of a poor harvest, l ater on  changed its  character  to become a  movement for constitutional and administrative reform in Manipur. The original demands of the women were confined to the banning of rice exports, but later included changes in the administrative set-up.
Perhaps it would be pertinent to reflect on the points of similarity between the event of 1939 and the present society to attempt a probable prediction of how things might turn out in the near future given the uncertainties and increasing feelings of disregard by the state authorities to the protracted sufferings and feelings of unprovoked challenges to the very existence of the public by a bunch of incorrigible trouble-mongers who, in the garb of nationalists and upholders of a ‘unique’ breed of humanity, are indulging in vandalism and self-indulgence by stirring up emotions of the naïve and simple public.
In a dramatic turnaround, the people of the state is scrambling for essential commodities of daily consumption almost all of which are now being brought in from different places outside the state. If there ever is another ‘Nupi Lan’ it would be for the means to import or bring in these essential goods. Funnily enough, the unfortunate irony seem to be lost to many at present including those at the helm of affairs of the state- that what was once a state of surplus have been reduced to one which depends on the produce of other states for survival. The focus for most public figures is on extolling the spirit and valor of the Manipuri women, and of respecting and upholding their high social status while nothing could be further from the truth if anyone cares to take a reality check.
The focus should not just be to maintain the ‘status quo’ as some ‘experts and social commentators would so enthusiastically suggest. The focus now is to break away from the conventions and customs that have been holding the collective society back from reaching the potential the state has shown it possessed in abundance. Nupi Lan and other historic agitations have shown that there is no dearth of spirit and drive in the hearts of the people of the state. History has also borne witness to the high level of social and political consciousness of the people of the state. Perhaps the one prominent blot in the history of the state is the lack of true progressive leaders to lead the people and the state out of the social quagmire and political instabilities which has been reflecting on the overall dismal economy despite the tantalizing promises and possibilities. Or is it the case of too many ‘self-styled’ leaders confusing the public and confounding themselves?    

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Imphal Times is a daily English newspaper published in Imphal and is registered with Registrar of the Newspapers for India with Regd. No MANENG/2013/51092


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