Preserving Territorial Integrity Of Manipur – III

Preserving Territorial Integrity Of Manipur – III
By: Farooque Ahmed

The problem or ailment of Manipur should not be entirely seen from the political and territorial aspects only. The social aspect of approach in understanding the malaise of the land is necessary. There is something gravely wrong in the societal dispensation. Individuals make up a family, families lead to clans, a combination of clans or tribes make an ethnic group. A refined ethnic group is considered a community. Communities or communities make up a nation.

This progression from individuals to a nation is a co-related (not only related) and evolving process which is still going on. Where does Manipur fit into this?

Manipur is a nation irrespective of whether Manipur is within India or outside of India as inferred from history. In this evolution or walks of civilization, Manipur is in the evolution of a nation in the making or nation building.

And Manipur is also a state in Political Science terminology. Finally Manipur is a multicultural state or multicultural nation. Multicultural is a general term which signifies that Manipur is a land where many constituent communities or ethnic groups practicing different faiths and belief systems, all intermingling and influencing one another, live in this continuous progression, i.e., evolution.

So we can deduce from the above that the malaise of Manipur has to do with four major aspects-

(i) multicultural
(ii) constituent communities
(iii) nation building and
(iv) evolution.

This is a political question and should be solved by political decisions and political framework in the aspect of governance, legislation and continuity. However this political problem as the territorial question and community relations are a direct product of social factors that is precisely what we see as social imbalance in walks of life. These social constraints give rise to economic predicament and economic imbalance among the communities. In real life comes the rich and the poor, the haves and the have-nots and when all these inter-related – (i) social, (ii) political (iii) economic structures of Manipur are fractured, the malaise of the stage is manifested in many forms, and the most serious manifestations are -(i) territorial question (ii) ethno-community relation pattern.

Here is a dialectic progression of the society of Manipur in the form of evolution. When this dialectic progression is misplaced or misdirected, the worst forms of malaise are erupted in the form of- (i) territorial dispute and (ii) ethnic conflicts and communal riots all of which have occurred in our own eyes and in our own generation; the worst of which happened in the last decade of the 20th century, that engulfed all the major communities in the valleys and the plains. It is needless to hide from admitting them without which proper solution will forever elude us. Majority Meiteis were locked into a communal riot against the Muslims in May 1993, which was preceded by Kuki-Naga riots or rather conflagration since 1992 to carry on right unto the end of the decade.

The sustaining and the most serious one is the Naga demand for greater Nagaland that plan to comprise the Naga inhabited hill regions. In other words the peace, stability, prosperity of all communities that should accompany that dialectic evolution usually has not followed the right path since a long time. That was no more Evolution that was sought to be a Revolution by the armed underground activists. Everything was turned upside down. The armed groups among the major communities – the Meiteis and the Nagas took up arms and went underground, that is militancy, calling themselves liberation fronts and revolutionaries. That became more complex as Kuki and Paite militants came into the scene, indeed in real action.

The legitimacy of the government has been eroded or taken by a parallel administration that is rather chaotic. So many militant groups got into town and hideouts which needed justifications for their existence so giving rise to ideologies, socialist slogans, anti-foreigners campaign or anti-immigration movement, nationalist movement, cultural revivalism, human rights issues, etc. from time to time. Ground situations changed, their goal also followed suit. These armed undergrounds in the beginning started in good intention and with lot of public support among their respective communities. The dialectic of social progression has been diverted beyond recognition, beyond logic and beyond any possibility.

But as mentioned above, the root of the cause that is the flawed social relationship has been there, unchanged as it is, though time passed by, priority got new direction and new politicians came. And in the parallel too, new underground movement priorities took shape. The flaw can?t be righted from the top; it must come from the base that is the society. The malaise remained as it is; the symptom got shaped into many manifestations. The worst disease is the territorial integrity question. Is it treatable? Yes, it is. Is it curable? Yes, it is curable.

But the actual reality on the ground is not the curing process. The disease has been treated as to be contained only, not fully cured. But two doctors came up to treat the same malaise that brought different medicines. The two doctors are hardly communicable or understanding between themselves while they in good earnest hope to treat the same problem of Manipur. These are the state governments and the underground ?dispensation? of armed militants. None is delivering the goods in reality. While the state coffer (budget) has been empty with the government hardly in control, funds are being extracted by the parallel ?government?.

I am raising these points to drive home two points- (i) the dialectic has been taking the wrong course already, (ii) the solution effort has been misplaced while trying to gain hold of the real power of Manipur. The dialectic has been so wrong that the original aim of the ?revolutionaries? who already discarded evolution, has been directed to another match of ethnic conflict probably if the solution is not found. That slow build-up of the societal progression has been retarded and crumbled. The community which ought to be refined is crumbling down to be an ethnic group. It is no more nation building. The state is in disarray burdened by problems and difficulties. In the terminology of political science, the ?state? meaning to be a nation-state or country has to have four requirements- as (i) territory (ii) population, (iii) government and (iv) sovereignty.

Instead of getting ?sovereignty?, that may mean self-sufficiency, prosperity, peace and prospect of safe future for Manipur (being in Indian Union) today, Manipur is struggling to save the ?territorial? integrity of Manipur, the ?peoples? are disunited, ?government? is fragmented and paralleled by a second entity. Political theorists should note that, another 5th ingredient of State can be included which is ?international recognition? and that is a far cry for the natives of Manipur. The case is equally a distant dream for the Nagas too.

Instead of walking into risk and an uncertain future by the Meitei and Naga communities that may invite blood bath only because of political short-sightedness, we may choose for better and secure future- peace, stability, community cooperation, egalitarian society, tolerant multicultural society, economic growth and better job prospects. All the peoples of Manipur- Meiteis, Muslims, Nagas, Chin-Kukis and all others should live unitedly and hopefully in a united territory of Manipur as it is in the Indian Union.

The cause of the malaise of Manipur including territorial question has been identified in the ?incoherent society? of Manipur in this column. That will be discussed as we can institute a vibrant and progressive society in multicultural mould in the next series- An Idea of Manipur.
(Concluded)

Dated: 31st August 2002.

(The author is a former Senior Researcher at the Center for Political Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi and hails from Manipur.)

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