Preserving Territorial Integrity of Manipur- part II
By: Farooque Ahmed
When we talk about state, society or civilization, we always delve into- (i) Social, (ii) Political, and (iii Economic aspects for comprehensive understanding of a given structure or a paradigm. Also that a state meaning a country has four essential attributes or requirements which are (i)territory, (ii) population, (iii) Government and (iv) Sovereignty. When we delve into the issues of Manipuri territorial integration issue which has become the most important issue of our time, probably that will be so for all times to come. We see that Manipur is a multicultural and multireligious united
entity in terms of territory and governance since a great past.
In the first part I noted about the threat to the territorial integrity of Manipur as a result of Naga aspiration for their united homeland in a sovereign structure that has come into clash with the reality as Manipur is and also clashes with Meitei aspiration in a similar fashion. Now it is to identify how the territorial unity of Manipur is to be preserved.
That ultimately calls for a united spirit and shared i.e. common political standing by all the constituent ethnic communities of Manipur. The most critical aspect is the Naga demand and to solve the problem is to address the Naga question directly. That is all and there is nothing to beat about the bush or to vainly go for detour explanation and solution which is really non existent.
The majority community of Manipur, i.e. the Meiteis need to lay out a clear political stand based on a feasible political outlook that could accommodate the Nagas in all the(three) aspects- as social, political and economic issues. But Nagas are mentally and emotionally alienated that is more critical than political alienation, because political alienation comes from the mind. So a fourth element should also be addressed that is psycho-emotional aspect. Nagas believe they are discriminated against by the Meiteis and their dignity is violated by Meitei societal outlook.
However it is also to be noted that Nagas don?t demand territory from Manipur simply because of perceived injustice to them by the Meiteis but they have a historical resolution visibly from 1919 when Naga association was made which demanded independence from the imperial British and later from union into India when the British left.
But as far as Manipur is concerned, the task of the Manipuris is save the united territory of Manipur and its no use or no time to get into protracted and fruitless argument. The onus should not be put not on the Meiteis only, it is the responsibility of all Manipuris to come to terms and ask the Naga brothers and sisters that we have a common future in the united territory
of Manipur. But it is also true that Manipur has been historically identified with the Meiteis for obvious reasons and by their majority status and they are in the plains- the power and administrative base of the land. It is no strange that Manipur is also known as Meitrabak and Kangleipak among
the Meiteis at least, other than Sanaleibak and so on.
The most critical headache of the Meiteis then should be coming into terms, i.e. reconciliation between Meitrabak and multicultural Manipur. So the onus on the Meiteis is to project and practice a political outlook that cohere majority and minority communities. That is the solution. The question is how! First directly address the Naga question and reconcile with them. So the Meiteis should make a first move to make the Nagas build for themselves a historical sense within Manipur. Give them history, give them responsibility as they deserve, give them dignity because everyone is a dignified community and give them security and safe future and prosperity because no one lives on the mercy or pity of the other community.
There is no reason, no logic and no justification in dubbing or rashly treating any minority community as an inferior community just because they are numerically small or politically insignificant. If the people are wise, democracy is the best government, if not democracy is a tyranny of the majority community, because democracy simply goes by the numerical majority, or to be precise (50+1) in percent.
Moving towards a reformative overhaul for a better society, the majority community as the ?benefactor? need to take some substantive program to assuage the feeling, sooth the psyche of the tribes so that a sense of alienation gripping the mind of the tribes in general and the Tangkhul Nagas in particular is removed, and need to project a sense of history for themselves and belongingness to the state. We need not wait for the government to initiate who are too busy in their politics and who are indeed ignorant of solutions other than winning elections. There can be something like All tribal cultural centre, History society of the tribes of Manipur, Annual cultural meet of the tribes, Inter-community cultural exchange, All Manipur beauty contest etc. to be held and performed at the heart of Imphal so that tribal people and elites are drawn to the mainstream Manipur who in turn can bring others so as to interact with the plainsmen.
There can be quiz competition on issues relating the tribal history, Manipur community history etc. that can be broadcast on state radio, relayed by the television centre and webcast on the websites etc. We should not wait for the tribes to come for proposal that is not going to happen; instead we need to initiate such moves to show a sense of solidarity and support for tribal brothers and sisters. We can show tribal movies in the cinemas of Imphal. If we can shut out Hindi movies and enforce Manipuri films, we can do something for tribes too.
Some people are flexible enough and creative. But calling for NSCN (IM leader Muivah to come to Manipur as to become Chief Minister is like calling
Parvej Musharraf to become Prime Minister of India. Such inconsiderate invitation may be seen as deliberate attempt of the Meiteis to divide the NSCN (IM) leadership from the rest of their ranks, and so it can perceived by NSCN leadership as deliberate provocative gesture from the Manipuris.
By any logic Muivah will never leave NSCN and hope to become CM of Manipur.
It is not that the tribes are poor or economically weak generally, but that
they are socio-culturally and sensitively alienated from the plainsmen, as they see Meitei attitude as historically unchanging and deliberately mockery of the tribes, their customs and ethos etc. It is not a question of putting all the blame on the Meiteis, but as the majority community who will be always in majority as to have a decisive say in the affairs and destiny of Manipur, they will be wise and are indeed naturally bound to come forward to put up some robust strategy to maintain the inter-ethnic and inter-community harmony of the state which only can sustain the territorial integrity of Manipur. Holding a threat like economic blockade or cutting off inter-tribal lifeline, or even adopting a strategy of confrontation will only aggravate the already precarious situation. (To be continued?.)