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Gender Balance: Manipur’s Emerging Unique Scenario

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Gender Balance: Manipur’s Emerging Unique Scenario

By: Amar Yumnam
Imphal, April 8:

For this week, I had already decided that I would write on the Gender Issue in the contextual variant of Manipur. While I was pondering on this, the latest issue of the Imphal Review of Arts and Politics has put up a strong and detailed report on what the Chief Minister of Manipur spoke on 3 April at the BJP office celebrating the Mahila Sammelan.
In his speech, the Chief Minister mentioned many things but I would take up one which I feel Nationally and Constitutionally significant. In the gathering, he stated inter alia about the inter-ethnic killings thus:”agitators who opt for the other parties would be considered as cheaters or fake patriots.” By this statement he meant to imply that (i) BJP was the only party thinking in a patriotic way about the year-old politico-socio crisis of killing each other among ethnicities; (iii) any State in India ruled by a non-BJP party is converting the province into a fake-patriotic one and (ii) any party, group or individual speaking against the present governmental approach of doing (perceived as nothing being done by the people and other parties) are “cheaters or fake patriots.” I would like to react immediately on the second charge as for the first one debates can continue. This is so because Patriotism is something which can never be talked of in a loose way – I am speaking of Two Points where I am neither Cheating nor Faking:
A. Patriotism is so significant that every citizen mentions the country of origin emphatically whenever he/she is outside the country; and
B. Patriotism is a term which involves Accountability and Immunity under the Constitution, which implies that a Head of a political institution like the Chief Minister should never speak loosely about it.
Before coming to the main issue on which I wanted to write, I have reacted to the statement of the CM; I do not mean to indulge in “cheating or faking” when I say I felt very strongly on this.
Now let us come to the issue of Gender Balance (Balance between Male and Woman in a household) which has been under serious analyses and discussions at academic, social and administrative sectors everywhere in the world. While talking of Gender Equality say by 2001, Economists used to talk like this: “It is, for instance, now clear that how much say a woman has in the household can vary across households in the same region and with the same total income. A woman’s say could depend, for instance, on how much income she contributes to the household’s total income.” (Kaushik Basu 2001). However today, the talk has undergone much deeper and wider: “The lack of gender equality is a major issue in all parts of the world, but the nature of the gender gap varies significantly across countries. It ranges from women not having the same basic rights and freedom as men …, to women being underrepresented in leadership positions in both private and public sectors…
Actual and perceived gender norms represent major obstacles to progress towards gender equality …, and thus it is of great importance to understand how they vary across societies and policies. Simple informational interventions may be able to correct mis-calibrated perceptions of gender norms and lead to fast changes in the societal equilibrium …, while actual gender norms are often slow-moving … and may require deeper interventions to be changed…” (Leonardo Bursztyn, et al, 2023)
While more or less similar issues have been there at the level of households in Manipur, the social and collective engagement of Manipuri women have been historically very different. The collective engagement against intolerable private exploitation, socially insufferable prevalence of any socio-economic scenario, excessive militaristic intervention, and any unacceptable socio-economic scenario have been already a cultural fact and a strong social strength. This is already a globally known fact.
But what impresses me most is the very robust transformation taking place at the individual and household levels. Globally the world is endeavouring hard, both at national and international institutional levels for altering the traditional gender imbalances of superiority of male over female in all areas of socio-economic significance for livelihood. But the charm of Manipur lies in the fact that at both household and social levels, the people accept and encourage the girls and the boys emphatically equally in their endeavours for individual advancement in efficiency and competency. It is in this atmosphere that, for reasons of administrative and governance, during the last three decades the boys have become increasingly non-dependable as heads of future households. The social atmosphere today is that the proportionate share of competent and efficient youths has become richer among girls than among boys. Manipur is now facing an issue of Gender Imbalance very opposite to anywhere else in the world – Girls outperforming the boys in both General and Professional Education.

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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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