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Manipur Crisis: Commission of Enquiry and Beyond

by Rinku Khumukcham
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By: Prof. Amar Yumnam

A Commission of Enquiry has been put in place to look into the recent and continuing violent tussle for supremacy among two ethnicities in Manipur. The scrimmage is of such a nature that Manipur has never experienced and never expected such a crisis to happen. Based on my existence in this planet for close to seven decades, I can utter for sure that there could be reasons warranted enough for such a social crisis to get unfolded; if this is so, there have been terrible social mistakes somewhere and some time.
For me, it has been a very painful social experience. Looking at the institutional characteristics of property ownership, social functioning, inter- and intra-household networking mechanisms, robustness of generalised social functioning, and relationships with governance mechanisms, the Meitei and the Nagas have had a deeper and wider framework in these. But I have been enjoying, during the last two decades or so, the visible evolution of the Kukis cultivating the spirit of individual and social competitiveness; this is very critical for any society to evolve into its robustness for long term sustainability. Further, the institutional characteristics were also slowly emerging among the Kukis and, I was confident, such that over the next half a century or so they were going to emerge as robust social groupings. Any society cannot emerge into a more or less cohesive social entity overnight, and it does take time. This is because any social functioning involves what Economists call Externalities. A functioning would have results and interactional implications without anybody being concerned about it, but these Externalities do affect the ultimate scenario which emerges in any society. But now the social evolution process of the Kukis and the positive Externalities of it have been derailed.
Now coming to the crisis being faced by Manipur today is not just a routine fight between two parties. While the social choice process – other than the democratic process – has been in place among the Meitei and the Nagas for centuries, it is yet to attend a viable form among the Kukis. It is the normal display of the functioning of this process and the Externalities of this that give a society a kind of inclusiveness and stability among the larger population.
It is in the context of these realities that the crisis has emerged. In other words, the tussle is not a plain physical confrontation, but has critical social, political and economic implications. This being so, the Commission of Enquiry has necessarily to look for reasons and context in a way very different from the usually taken for granted. There definitely would emerge situations the Commission would find herself in a confusion.
The point I am trying to drive home is that the Chairman and the Members as are given today are absolutely fine. But they would not be enough for a more complete digest of the Context, Background Mechanisms, Potential Externalities and application of mind towards a long term solution. It would be in the fitness of things to have two or three more Members with a background in History, Anthropology and Economics. The people of Manipur would definitely look forward to the Report of the Commission for solution of the problems and not for further arousal of controversies. The crisis has already generated new Externalities – political, social and demographic. There is need for larger capability enhancement of the Commission to rise to the occasion.
(The author is Fellow / Visiting Professor,Centre for Economic and Social Studies (CESS), Nizamiah Observatory Campus, Begumpet, Hyderabad, Telengana – 500016, India)

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