By Aribam Bishwajit
Imphal, Sept 10:
Renowned scholar Rami Niranjan Desai drew attention to India’s burgeoning understanding of the land inequality in Manipur, in a stirring presentation on the topic “The Way Forward.”Delivered against the backdrop of an ongoing conflict in the region, which has marked its presence for over four months, Desai’s insights resonated deeply, revealing the more intricate layers of the problem.
Beyond her vocal stance on these pressing issues, Desai is also recognized as the founder of the Northeast Policy Institute, further cementing her authority on the subject.
During her address, she touched on another crucial issue plaguing the nation. “Today, the awareness surrounding infiltration issues has reached an unprecedented level. The common perception that it’s confined to Bangladesh has been challenged. Regions like Myanmar and other areas riddled with conflict are also significant contributors,” she pointed out.
Building on this theme, Desai expressed, “The ramifications of this infiltration, especially the ensuing demographic shifts, are being recognized on a broader scale now. My vantage point, living outside Manipur, gives me the confidence to state that the dialogue around this issue has expanded beyond local conversations. It’s a matter that’s capturing national attention through discussions and writings.”
She added, “It’s surprising how many in India weren’t aware of Manipur’s strategic significance. We’ve always talked about the Northeast as integral to India, yet its importance often went overlooked. The specifics were never delved into, nor was the profound value of Manipur truly grasped. Today, people recognize Manipur’s strategic importance, not only within the Northeast but for the country’s future as a whole.”
She went on to express a pervasive concern she’s observed. “A prevailing anxiety I’ve discerned in every message and call I’ve received revolves around the preservation of territorial integrity. It’s become abundantly clear that the territorial integrity of Manipur holds profound significance, not just for the nation or outsiders, but for the deep-seated emotional connection its people have with the land. This sentiment has not been overlooked. In my assessment, any alterations to Manipur’s territorial status quo are improbable. Why? Because the country realizes that it’s not merely addressing Manipur’s territorial concerns, but the larger issue of India’s territorial integrity.”
Touching on the matter of disarmament and dialogue, she posed a question: “Who will willingly lay down arms in this climate of mistrust? One side is reluctant to relinquish their weapons, and so is the other. We recently discussed the state’s obligations. While I concur that the state should shoulder responsibility and be accountable, it’s crucial to also emphasize individual accountability. Disarmament, disengagement, and dialogue represent the second phase. The primary challenge today is facilitating a dialogue, even just bringing the conflicting parties to a negotiating table.”
Emphasing the state’s contribution to India’s development, she expressed that Manipur isn’t merely a gateway to Southeast Asia, but it symbolizes India’s golden passage to future aspirations—positioning itself as a harmonizing force between the East and the West.