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Thursday, 31 January 2019 - Imphal Times

President Kovind back CAB amidst protest in NE

IT News

Imphal, Jan 31,

Mass protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 in North East states of India turned deaf to the Government of India, as President Ram Nath Kovind in his speech at Rajya Sabha today assured passage of the Bill in the Indian Parliament.

President Ram Nath Kovind addressed legislators from the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha in the Central Hall of Parliament today on the first day of the Budget Session.

He backed the Centre’s Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, which has met with stiff opposition from political parties and people in the Northeastern states. “The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill will make it easier to provide Indian citizenship to those who had to take refuge in India after facing oppression somewhere else,” he said.

The Bill seeks to amend the Citizenship Act of 1955 in order to grant citizenship to Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan if they have lived in India for six years, even if they do not possess necessary documents.

In his speech given at the Rajya Sabha today, the President said that the Bill will seek to address “injustice and deprivation” in society.

“Mindful of the injustice and deprivation in society, my government has been working towards reforming the legal system so as to ensure social and economic justice. The Citizenship Amendment Bill will help in securing of Indian citizenship by those victims who were persecuted and were compelled to seek refuge in India. These people cannot be blamed since they were victims of circumstances”, he said.

Despite the BJP’s insistence that the Bill will help “persecuted minorities” from neighboring Islamic countries, citizens of India, and especially Northeast are wary of the consequences that the Bill might have on the demographic composition in the region, where illegal Bangladeshi immigration is already a huge concern.

It may be mentioned that the indigenous people of Tripura have been reduced to a small minority now as Bangla people make up a majority of the population. Leaders such as Assam’s Akhil Gogoi have warned that a similar fate awaits the rest of the region if the Bill is passed. Student organization (AASU) leader Samujjal Bhattacharya has also slammed the Bill for its communal nature (as it deprives only Muslim migrants of citizenship status) and called it “unconstitutional.

The Week had also reported that the Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh has called for a review of the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB).

The news journal quoted Biren as saying - “Yes, I am going to Delhi. I have decided to ask the Union Home Minister to review the decision to pass the Citizenship Amendment Bill.” Singh added that there was lot of misconceptions regarding the bill among people. “We must address it,” he said.

Earlier, Rajnath Singh has asked all Chief Ministers from Northeast to discuss the Citizenship Amendment Bill. The other three Chief Ministers from the BJP in the region, including Assam’s Sarbananda Sonowal, Arunachal Pradesh’s Pema Khandu and Tripura’s Biplab Deb, have decided not to express their personal views on the contentious bill. Interestingly, N. Biren Singh is the only Chief Minister among the four BJP CMs of NE to question the Bill.

It is to be mentioned that the Bill has been pending passage in the Upper House after it was passed at the Lok Sabha on January 8, with the opposition’s raising of hue-and-cry over it and believed that the BJP will try to pass the Bill in the current budget session which is expected to last until February 13.

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Life in Manipur put to a grinding halt due to 24 hours general strike called in protest against CAB; effigies of PM, CM burnt

IT News

Imphal, Jan 31,

Life in Imphal was put to a grinding halt paralyzing all wake of life in the entire state in response to the 24 hour general strike called by the  Manipur People against Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016 (MANPAC) against the contentious Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016 which the BJP is putting all effort to pass at Rajya Sabha.

For the first time after the BJP led government under Chief Minister Biren Singh came to power in 2017, a total shut down was witnessed with no vehicles (except those of the police, press and Medicals) were seen moving on the road. The general strike called against Bill also unites both the Hill and the plain people with Hill people giving full response to the general strike called.

Effigies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Rajnath and Chief Minister N. Biren Singh were burnt at many places of the state. At Yairipok Bamon Leikai in Thoubal district, the protestor tried to hang the effigy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, however a strong team of police came and foiled the attempt.

Imphal Times reporters witness the whole area of Manipur stood still during the 24 hours general strike called by Manipur People against Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016 (MANPAC) against the contentious CAB. However there is no report of any untoward incidents till the filling of the report.

The 24 hours General strike was called by MANPAC, a body formed by 72 different organisations comprising of different communities of the state to fight against the contentious CAB.

The General Strike which started from the midnight of 30 Jan 2019 severely affects the normal lives of the state. In view of the bandh, the roads wore a deserted look; educational institution and other government institutions remained closed, shops and other business establishment shut down for the day.

Bandh supporters came out in street and blocked the roads; tyres were also burnt at the roads though essential services were allowed to move.

In many areas of Manipur people not only blocked the roads, they also staged sit-in-protest at various places.

Speaking to media persons while staging sit-in-protest at the gate of Manipur University, President of MUSU Keisham Lebanon said that they are staging the sit-in-protest as a mark to show their solidarity in the general strike called by MANPAC against the contentious CAB. He also condemned the atrocities done by Delhi police against the protestors of Manipur even manhandling of women protestors by male police. He added that if the said Bill is passed in Rajya Sabha and becomes an act the whole indigenous population of the North East region will be wiped out from the face of the earth. He finally appealed the authorities to stand firm against the bill and to withdraw it in the Rajya Sabha.

It can be mention that yesterday also Meira rallies was staged at various places of Manipur protesting against the Controversial Bill.

In a nut shell the general strike called against the CAB was a successful and a very effective one.

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Sumang Leela artist missing in Cachar

IT News

Thoubal, Jan.31,

Sumang Leela artist Ningthoujam Basanta Singh (Tabla player) of the “The Dedicated World Artist Union” who went along with his team at Cachar has been reported missing since January 29 after performing at various part of Cachar district of Assam.

Ningthoujam Basanta Singh (51) son of N.Kokin hail from Heirok Part-I, Heitupokpi Leikai in Thoubal district.

As per statement of the “The Dedicated World Artist Union” representatives, the troupe left Imphal on January 19 to perform at Jirbam and at some places of Cachar district.

After performing at various places of Cachar, Bashanta reportedly went from the place where they stayed at around 2.30 pm of January 29 and since then he has been found missing.

The following day a missing report at Joypur Police Station of Cachar district was filed.

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9 political parties stage rally against CAB at BT road

IT News

Imphal, Jan.31,

Leaders and supporters of nine political parties today staged rally at BT Road here in Imphal shouting slogan against the contentious Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016.

The protest rally of the nine political parties - CPI, CPI –M, RSP, FB, AAP, NCP, PRJA, BSP and JD(S) started from Irabot Bhavan at Rupmahal Tank and proceeded towards the Western gate of Historic Kangla along the BT road. From the traffic Island at western Kangla gate, the representatives of the political parties march towards Khwairamband Keithel carrying their party flags and concluded at the place where they start.

In the Middle of the Khwairamband keithel , those attending the protest rally shouted slogans denouncing the Citizenship Amendment bill . There were large number of police seen at Khwairambandh Keithel area but as the rally was rather peaceful no untoward incident occurred.

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“More Agricultural Cooperative Success Stories – Need of the Hour”

IT News
Imphal, Jan 31,

Deputy Chief Minister, Y. Joykumar Singh inaugurated the Mess and Dining Hall of Hostel Complex  and “Outreach Workshop on Strategies for Doubling  of Farmer’s Income in Manipur State by 2022" & 2nd, 4th & 6th Semesters of BBA Programme yesterday  at Institute of Cooperative Management, Imphal.  While inaugurating the Programme, the Deputy Chief Minister mentioned that there is huge potential in agriculture sector in Manipur. He further emphasized the  need for green revolution in North Eastern Region in general and  particularly in Manipur. He suggested that ICM, Imphal should take up the responsibilities of having similar programmes on  success story from  Agricultural Producers Organisations (APOs), Farmers Producers Companies (APCs) in particular so that the success stories are emulated in other part of the State.  
Prof. Amar Yumnam, Director Centre for Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy, Manipur University mentioned in his address that in neighbouring countries like Myanmar, China, Cambodia & Vietnam progressive farming techniques have already been adopted during the last decade by  giving sustainable growth and development to farmers communities. He further said that the State of Manipur has full potential for adoption of latest technique in farming technology & integrating with  professional marketing approach for the agricultural products.
Mohan Kumar Mishra, Secretary, NCCT, New Delhi urged upon to treat agriculture as enterprise so that the farmer communities are  not only treated as farm  producers but  farmers welfare is truly translated. He said that there is a huge scope of farm development i.e. post production activities in the State and  agriculture logistic and agriculture marketing with support of  cooperatives and FPCs. He also emphasized for cooperatives active role in Soil Health Card System and Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana to provide advisory service to the farmers. President, Manipur State Cooperative Union, L. Tompishak Singh that cooperative play a vital role in the Manipur and farmers.

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Come out and join the people, brothers and sisters of state BJP

It will not be wrong to guess that even many of the state BJP members would certainly like to oppose the contentious Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016. But it stands true that even though they want to oppose it, due to fear of losing their position in the party as well as their connection with their master at the center none of the member oppose it. Some who wanted to show their loyalty to their master supports the bill by interpreting it with frame up argument thinking that people will believe in what they say.
The perception of some members of the state BJP would definitely not like the CAB came as even the Chief Minister of Manipur N. Biren Singh even though wanted to talk against it seems to be not free enough to talk about it or to compliant against it to his master at the center. What he could talk to the public was “will give pressure to the central BJP leader to insert a clause to the Bill giving assurance that the NE states particularly Manipur will be exempted from the purview of the Bill”. Knowing the fact that the contentious CAB Bill had already passed in the lower house of the parliament, one wander on why the Chief Minister tried to fool the people, as it is known that addition of clauses to the Bill should  be done before it was passed in the lower house. Besides, it is everybody’s understandings that – it does not matter whether an illegal migrant is not granted citizenship in the state Manipur as per the clause (if suppose), he will be still the citizen of the country and there is no law (as of now) to stop any citizen of the country to enter in this part of the country call Manipur. Chief Minister N. Biren Singh, the one time champion of Manipur peoples’ right, would have certainly knew the impact , but it seem like the thrust for power compelled him to plan policy to divert the peoples’ movement by saying things which are illogical.
Most faces seen in the state BJP are one time activist who always voice and stand up for the cause of the people against any regime. What makes these people silence is a matter which surprises the people.
Almost all people (except some few) oppose the Bill, the entire North East state is burning and if the contentious Bill is passed using any means then the entire NE states will be on flame . Brothers and sisters of state BJP should now come out of the womb and joint the peoples’ movement against the bill as there is a possibility that the anger of the people may pour on you.


By :- Kulajit Maisnam

Research Scholar Tata Institute of Social sciences (TISS),Mumbai

Before the advent of the modern nation-state, it is known that the present geo-political entity Manipur was functionally based on material conditions centered around the fertile valley and the time to time covenants and treaties made with the Meitei Monarch and the various nationalities settled in the hills, and sometimes of dominance and subjugation making some of the nationalities to pay tribute to the Meitei monarch. And with the overpower of the entity by the British, the whole polity was restructured (the administrative division of Hills and Plains is attributed to the colonial intervention by many intellectuals) and became more exploitative to the population by introducing new ‘economics’. Subsequently, Manipur was overtaken by India with no radical and accommodative structural changes in the polity of the state.
Indeed, it is very saddening to witness a once sovereign Manipur, having been annexed by India begin to resemble the opening of a pandora box where myriads of issues and conflicts of all kinds has emerged both vertically and horizontally. The horizontal conflict need not be necessarily and solely be attributed to the act of annexation by India but the annexation has cut short the organic process of a democratic nation-state formation which is supposed to be inhabited by numerous nationalities. We have been besieged by a concrete political framework which only yield majoritarianism and nothing else, a quasi-federation (as some Indian intellectuals defines) which operates on population logic; thus establishing a power matrix where Meiteis became the ‘dominant’ politically with the maximum seats in the state assembly. Even though the highlands have been scheduled as tribal areas, the autonomy given to them has been minimal. Hence the expressions and aspirations of the highlanders became marginal. This very same matrix applies to the Meiteis in relation to the mainland Indians if we look at the larger polity of Indian Union, Meitei which is a ‘dominant’ community in Manipur is a microscopic nationality situated politically within the Indian Union. Thus this power matrix is systematically filtered down to the village level polity creating a string of hegemonic and heretical political expressions and practices. Apart from political dominance, the Meiteis has been the ‘mainstream’ and has the sense of ‘superiority’ socially. With the advent of Hinduism, and the practice of casteism, othering of the highlanders has been rampant and continues till today (the terminology ‘hao’ finds its place derogatorily in the lexicon of the Meitei society till today both openly and insidiously). So with these socio-political processes, Meiteis became the dominating group in Manipur socially, politically and thus has been one of the major factors of hill-valley conflict which ails Manipur. This power matrix has been operational in the day to day lived experiences of the citizens of Manipur, in polity, economy and social interactions which have yielded an unequal valley centric socio-economic development.
Today the fertile valley of Manipur, home to the Meiteis, has been under a tremendous demographic changes wherein Meiteis faces the ‘existential’ crisis. A fear-psychosis has been shared among the populace that Meiteis will become minority in their own land as there is no regulatory mechanism to regulate the unabated migration from other parts of India. Thus to defend the population, there has been popular movements to monitor and regulate the demographic changes and land tenures. The recent move to introduce Inner Line Permit System (ILPS) initiated in the valley spearheaded by Joint Committee on Inner Line Permit System (JCILPS) is one such assertions urging to protect the ‘indigenous’ people of Manipur, which ended up in an unprecedented opposition from the highlanders. It was perceived as another move by the majority Meiteis to ‘encroach’ upon territory of the highlands which the Meiteis does not traditionally own, and are owned in a different manner by the highlanders, and delegitimising the citizenship of the highlanders. Till today nine dead bodies remain unburied in Churachandpur signifying the opposition and resistance.
In midst of this turmoil, there has been another parallel move by few sections of Meiteis to schedule Meiteis as tribe under the Constitution of India spearheaded by Scheduled Tribe Demand Committee (STDC). The protagonists comprising of ex-servicemen, bureaucrats etc.
Claims that by scheduling Meiteis as tribes, the land, the people and its ‘unique’ ‘glorious’ culture will be constitutionally ‘protected’.  And there are ‘freebies’ attached: such as reservation policies, development funds etc. It is being argued that in the present ‘political scenario’ tribal status will be far ‘lucrative’ and ‘feasible’ to achieve and ‘protect’ the Meiteis as compared to the present Protection of Manipur Peoples Bill (PMP) 2015 and three other supplementary bills which is lying in President of India’s table. Even claims have been made to the extent that if Meiteis are scheduled as tribes and at the same time if 2015 bills turns into reality, these combination will complement each other and ‘strengthen’ the ‘protection’ provided to the Meiteis. No doubt the valley needs to be ‘protected’ and ‘regulated’ but the concern here is the possible negative dynamics within the Meitei society (yes within the Meitei society) and in relation to the highlanders if Meiteis are scheduled as tribes. I have a strong conviction that granting of tribal status will be perceived as more ‘deadly’ than the ILPS by the highlanders, as it has components of job and educational reservation and of course there is always the apprehension of structural territorial ‘encroachment’ which we have also seen in the case of ILPS bills (though the three bills are ‘debatable’, the politics surrounding the three bills has to be analysed in relation to the geo-politics of the state and is beyond the preview of this write-up)
No doubt the scheduling of Meiteis as tribe is ‘legit’ within the bounds of the Indian Constitution and there is no concrete definition of tribe, rather it is conceptualised as comprising of various parameters which has been changing from time to time within the contours of the socio-political context. So any community falling under those parameters can legitimately claim the status and enjoy the constitutional provisions. But why claim this ‘legit’ demand which will yield a possible catastrophe in the State and further strengthen the hill-valley dichotomy? For this very reason the present move needs a serious scrutiny by dissecting the movement itself and engaging with the possible ramifications. So herein the line of argument opposing the move will be not on the thesis of Meiteis crossing the stage of ‘tribe’ guided by the Social Darwinism which projects a linear development of society, as sometimes such arguments succumbs to labelling the contemporary tribes as non-contemporary stuck in a particular stage of societal evolution, static, or in other words ‘denial of coevalness’ in the words of Johannes Fabian; hence requiring ‘mainstreaming’. Rather my arguments will be more on dissecting the movement and the ‘promises’ espoused by the Demand Committee and the grounds for possible conflict among the various communities in Manipur and even among the Meiteis. The Movement is premised on three core ‘promises’: Peace, harmony and equality among the communities (undoing the constitutional division is the loose phrase the demand committee is using in achieving the said ‘promise’) especially the highlanders and Meiteis; freebies and job opportunities in state services; protection of land and culture of the ‘unprotected’ Meiteis. First we need to identify these group of Meiteis who are demanding tribal status. The movement has been spearheading from the beginning by the ‘creamy’ section of the Meitei society who are well established comparatively and largely Imphalites. They include Ex-Army Men, retired Bureaucrats etc. Interestingly they are the propertied middle class unlike the standard sociological understanding of ‘middle class’ possessing feudal characteristics and mannerisms. Their sudden interest in ST status is quite intriguing. It has also been said that claiming ST status is a ‘temporary’ ‘arrangement’ until Manipur determines its destiny by its own and develop a mutually respecting polity among the nationalities residing inside the state. Anyway the issue here is the proposed ‘temporary’ solution and its ‘temporary’ ramifications in the state. I have left with no other understanding than saying that these section of Meiteis ‘for the time being’ sees the ‘creamy layer’ concept in affirmative action policies of India a road block for their ‘progress’ as I very much convinced that their ‘promises’ are mere rethorics; cannot be operationalised within the larger political economy and the geo-politics of the state.
Creamy layer concept is applicable to the Other Backward Classes (OBC) identified by the government of India, which any Meitei can be listed and many do hold the certificate. The creamy layer refers to the relatively wealthier and better educated members of the OBCs who are ‘not eligible’ for government sponsored educational and professional benefit programs. And this concept is not there for the affirmative action related to Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) (at the state level there are segregations within ST and SC depending on depending on the socio-economic situations of the scheduled population). Thus the ‘creamy’ section of the Meitei society is not ‘eligible’ for certain aspects of affirmative action in India. Now if one has to escape this, the only option left is to move to scheduling as Tribal as Scheduled Caste categorisation adopts a different Episteme. Their issues with this concept of creamy layer already been expressed in public domains and is quite derogatory and beyond the idea of social justice.
Affirmative action or reservation system otherwise has long history in India tracing it to the colonial times where certain ‘depressed class’ were given quotas in Jobs and Education to increase the opportunities for enhanced social, educational and economic status of the underprivileged communities to make in par with the ‘mainstream’ (many intellects still claims that Britishers have liberated the depressed class from certain practices of caste). In Manipur Meiteis are the ‘mainstream’. Again on the other side Biharis, Bengalis, Malayalis etc are the mainstream in relation to Meiteis. And within these nationalities are class/caste and other form of disadvantages etc. so you have affirmative actions at the central level and state level; filtering it down to the grass root. If the state of Manipur is declared as a tribal state, we can have a contextualised affirmative actions (‘quota within a quota’ as expressed by the Demand Committee). Now the fact of the matter is that, and which I am trying to make is that the state level affirmative actions will not be that ‘lucrative’ considering the number and frequency of the state government job opportunities (this the Demand Committee knows). Currently Even the few jobs the state has, is being ‘sold’ to the ‘creamy’ section of the society which have enough ‘capacity’ to ‘buy’. Whether one is scheduled as tribe of not it hardly matters in Manipur the creamy sections become creamier. So majority of the people who cannot afford to ‘buy’ jobs in Manipur moves to central services. Here in the opportunities of central services lies the issue of distributive justice when you do not have the concept of creamy layer or ‘quota within quota’ in reservations for ST. wherein meritocracy within the ST population will hijack social justice. It will also disturb the existing status quo among the Meiteis who are already clubbed as OBCs and SCs, which has somehow maintaining an equilibrium in quota distribution. The ‘creamy’ Meiteis which has the capacity to send their wards to fancy elitist private schools, tuition/coaching centers etc. will swallow the available opportunities at the maximum in central services and central sponsored educational institutes as they possess the ‘eligibility’ and ‘merit’. One may justify meritocracy being the best method to exercise one’s ability to its full potential leading to the best outcomes. But who are these meritorious people? Who decides merit? Is there any standard method to access one’s ability and merit? These are pertinent questions that need serious attention and examination. The so called ‘meritorious’ people has been the creamy Meiteis in Manipur. See the data of the last ten years who has been in the top ten list of the State’s secondary and higher secondary exams. How many are highlanders? And if one delves further, these ‘meritorious’ students will always be from the well to do Meitei families. In the history of Manipur among the Meiteis in the last ten years how many ‘meritorious’ students have come up who are the child of daily waged labourers? If this is the situation within the Meiteis, does the Demand Committee has any idea what will be the situation in relation to highlanders who are the ‘periphery’, when all the facilities and resources (health, education etc.) are centered around Imphal? Those who have the ‘access’ will be of course become the ‘meritorious’. Meiteis will be ‘meritorious’ when you make Meitei language the ‘official’ and the medium of instruction in educational institutes starting from primary education. How many schools are there in the highland villages which uses their own mother tongue as medium of instruction? If it exists, how many teachers are there who are from that village speaking the local dialect? Imagine a child has to learn a foreign language and at the same time learn ‘modern knowledge’ to be ‘eligible’ for jobs. Is it not another road block to become ‘meritorious’? When you have so much of socio-economic disparities between hills and plains and discriminatory policies from top till the grassroot itself how can one justify meritocracy? Meritocracy will breed elitism, class antagonism. The move by the demand committee is a tight slap to the idea of social justice considering the current political economy of the State. When there is no equity how can you talk of equality?
The Demand Committee asserts that Meiteis will ‘control’ India if scheduled as Tribe. The Committee needs a serious understanding of what is bureaucracy and where it figures out in the polity of a nation-state. The move is not going to ‘control’ India by the ‘Meiteis’ (ironically the Demand Committee whose aim is to establish ‘equality’ among the citizens of Manipur does not celebrate presence of highlanders in Indian bureaucracy or even at the state level) by penetrating into bureaucracy, rather it is going to reinforce and strengthen hegemonic ‘control’ over highlanders by Meiteis (the inequitable share in state assembly and bureaucracy will be self-evident). By which the Demand committee is solely responsible, not the larger Meitei society. For the very greed of these few Meitei who wants to pave a ‘smooth’ ‘career’ path for their already ‘meritorious’ child, these Meitei elites are putting the state into another turmoil rather than mending hill-valley differences and antagonism by whitewashing the mass with unrealistic ‘promises’, hence the ‘promises’ needs a serious observation.
Hill-Valley divide will go away if Manipur is declared as tribal state has been the most ‘catchy’ promise made by the Demand Committee. The claim has no objectivity in itself. It seems that the Committee has no serious clue of what divides the hill and valley and which divide they are going to bridge and how. Does it mean in the social sense or the political sense?  Or in a geographical sense? If it is in the geographical sense, are you going to elevate the valley to make it into mountains? Or flatten the mountains to turn it into a valley? Which will be more cost effective I leave it to the Committee. Let’s pick up the social ‘differences’ and ‘divisions’, affirmative actions are meant for socio-economic upliftment of the ‘disadvantaged’ not to push them further into fringes. Meiteis who take pride in their 2000 old ‘civilisation’, might be the ‘disadvantaged’ in relation to mainland Indians but the Demand Committee must remember the highlanders are more ‘disadvantaged’ in relation to the mainland Indians and in relation to Meiteis. These highlanders are historically socially ‘outcasted’, ‘orchestrated’ for being non hindu by the Meiteis. Even some of them were brought into the valley as slaves to the Monarch. The genesis of heretical discriminatory outlooks and practices might be because of the evilest religion on earth: Hinduism, but has become more of a day to day social practice where one has ingrained those discriminatory outlooks in the psyche of the larger Meitei populace. The hierarchy has been acquired from the long socio-historical process, constitutionally tagging Meiteis as ‘tribe’ will never wipe the identity of being a ‘Meitei’ and its social relations with the highlanders. You are still a Meitei to the highlanders, they will not look at you as one of them: a tribe, which is just a mere categorisation for political and administrative purposes in India. Even in the central India the ‘Scheduled as Tribe’ calls themselves and by others collectively as ‘adivasis’ and the perceived identities of the ‘self’ in relations to the ‘others’ does not fade away till today. What I am trying to say is that the acquired identity form a long socio-political process is not going to go away and at the same time, how the highlanders perceive Meiteis and how they attribute identitie(s) to the Meiteis is also from the same or parallely different long socio-political processes that Manipur has gone through till now, is not going to fade right away. This status quo cannot be easily challenged. And importantly cannot be challenged by Meitei merely scheduling as tribe. A social ‘mingling’ probably would.
By swallowing up the professional opportunities of the highlanders the Committee is engineering a situation where the highlanders do not even get the ‘outward’ respect they enjoy.
What about the political division? The demand committee has not rolled out any such operational plans till now. Probably they do not have, or maybe they also know that by ST status there cannot be any democratic radical political restructuring apart form a coercive ‘unison’. Political division need not be removed by ‘unification’ but it can be addressed by distribution of power. The highlanders have been governing themselves within their own organic polity parallely with the ‘glorious’ two thousand years old Meitei ‘civilisation’. (Mind you having a 2000 written history does not mean that these highlanders are people without history. It is just a matter of how knowledge of the past is stored). And the then pre-colonial relation between them and the Meiteis is of truce and alliances and sometimes of subjugation. Now the anarchic arrangement of the geo-political region Manipur was dismantled by modern nation-state leading to a situation where even arrangement of a just federation is doubtful. I am more doubtful about the arrangement which can be made under a scheduled state looking into the demographic context of Manipur and the larger political framework of India.  If Administration is ‘unified’ the division will go away is the thesis the Demand Committee subscribes to of which the highlanders will fight tooth and nail. As mentioned in the beginning the political framework India has given to us breeds majoitainism (they regret Manipur having two members of parliaments but is blind to the same representation system in Manipur) without addressing these core issues there cannot be a cohesive Manipur ‘state’. The issues in Manipur are of unequal power sharing among the nationalities. When the hills are demanding more autonomy is committee is talking of ‘unified administration’?
Land has been central to hill valley conflict, particularly with the Chin-Kuki groups and Meiteis mainly because of the demographic arrangements between these two communities (what adjoins to the Meitei areas are the Chin-Kuki groups, which has its history of such demographic arrangements). The most contentious of all is the MLR and LR 1960 which has gone through many amendments, the latest being the seventh amendment bill in 2015 as part of ILPS which is pending and which has become the bone of contention among the highlanders especially the Chin-Kuki groups. The intentions of the state to bring a uniformity in distribution of land throughout the State has been vehemently opposed by the highlanders from the beginning owing to the differences in in the traditional land ownership pattern. What will be the arrangement of land relations under the proposed Tribal State? The arguments of geographically small but having the maximum population ratio valley, is accommodating the highlanders and is the opposite in highlands has been central to the ongoing debate. And Meiteis will be able to settle in highlands has been another ‘catchy’ promise if they are scheduled as tribe. A slight coercive move to have a ‘uniform’ land law will have a serious catastrophe. Uniformity in an heterogeneous society will be hegemonic and undemocratic. It is not the uniformity which is required but accepting and appreciating differences to build a harmonious and cohesive society. Remember Rome was not build on a day. Nation building is a process. It takes time, and has to build democratically not by coercion. One of the best ways to bring harmony and cohesiveness is establishing a kinship relationship of which I have a doubt that among the feudal chauvinist members of the Demand Committee there will be no one who will agree to inter community marriages, especially allowing their meritorious ‘daughters’ to marry a highlander (in a patrilineal setup incoming of women of different caste/tribe/race is comparatively accepted, which is also very minimal among the Meiteis). As in the case of Indian caste system as inter caste marriage has been suggested to end caste system in India, and no affirmative actions has till now radically challenged the caste practice also. Inter community marriage is one good way as compared to ‘ST status’ to bring the so called ‘emotional integrity’.
Coming to the point of ‘protecting’ Meitei Land, from whom the Meitei land is going to be protected? From the highlanders? Or from the ‘encroachment’ by the Maynags? Protection of land by the constitution of India is a deceit. There is enough constitutional ‘leeway’ to grab land and resources. Unfortunately, the most plundered areas have been the scheduled tribe areas of India. Both in scheduled tribe status and Protection of Manipur People’s Bill 2015 the land and resources cannot be protected from plundering in the name of ‘larger national interest’ (at least in PMP 2015 you have the provision of regulating migrants). Land and resource plundering is guided by the current political economy of India and rules/laws are set accordingly. Even looking into Manipur, the state is ‘borrowing’ to develop ‘infrastructure’ by displacing population (even in the hills). You borrow money to displace people is the new ‘development’. Who and how one will pay the debt? From whom again the fund is going to be collected to repay? Of course by downsizing of government sectors, and again who will suffer?  The only thing left one can seek is equitable share from exploitation of resources (never think this is going to happen in current political economy of India). You might get rid of the ‘shabby’ mayangs from Manipur but you cannot get rid of the suited and booted mayangs controlling the economy for whose the Union of India operates by becoming Scheduled Tribe or by just having a mere regulation like PMP 2015.
It is being said that The ILPS is rejected by the highlanders, yes it is true, but the prime question is when and where has the Highlanders endorsed the Meitei demand for ST? Let me forcefully reiterate again that the ‘promises’ made by the Demand Committee has no possibilities of institutionalising it in Manipur by Meiteis becoming ST or announcing Manipur as tribal state apart from the educational and professional opportunities to the few Meitei elite sections. The Demand Committee has not dealt properly with certain nuances and intricacies of their ‘promises’ nor rolled out a proper operational schemas and viability of their ‘promises’ which is mutually acceptable and agreeable to ‘everyone’ (which I am sure the committee does not have). Let us not fool our self by the rhetoric of these chauvinist. Our state, our society is being put into a colosseum by a few elite section of Meiteis for their greed, where Delhi will enjoy the scene, a spectre no one wants. The Pan-Manipur movement for democracy is beyond the ‘piecemeal solutions’.

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