CENTRIFUGAL FORCES AT PLAY: IDEA OF MANIPUR
August 27 2011
The Sangai Express
There are reasons why the pressure of pulls and pushes exerted by the growing centrifugal forces have come to define today's Manipur and one of these could be the tenuous ground on which the idea of Manipur as a political and social entity rests. The pace at which these forces of pulls and pushes have grown as well as the trail of deep divide that these forces have spawned along ethnic and community lines is amazing and surely there are factors and reasons for making the ground so fertile for these forces to grow and prosper. Apart from the dirty hands of politics contributing its share in preparing the ground work for such forces to bloom, what is disturbing to see is the failure of Manipur as a whole to take everyone along with the idea of its existence as a political and social entity. The many disturbing issues which continue to haunt the people on a regular basis can be traced to the exclusivist identity that the term Manipuri has come to mean down the last many years and it is here that questions, however uncomfortable they may be, should be raised for the time of tinkering around has seen its expiry date come and go. Manipuri is a term derived from Manipur and intrinsic in this derivation is the belief and conviction in the existence of Manipur as a distinct political and social entity. That not all community or ethnic group living in Manipur exactly identify themselves with this term is clear and this is perhaps the first point that needs to be tackled objectively and sincerely. The Greater Lim issue is integral in any attempt to understand what the term Manipuri connotes and it says something very significant that an idea, which was given birth to by an armed outfit, the NSCN (IM), has today become the slogan of quite a number of Naga people in Manipur. This is in direct contrast to the idea of a Manipuri people, which predates Greater Lim by decades. However it stands that the question of being in usage earlier has been turned on its head and hence the question of why the idea of a Manipur or being a part of an identity known as Manipuri finds no buyers among a great number of Naga people in Manipur ? The same sentiment is palpable among the Kukis, the Paites, the Hmars and other ethnic group which come under the bigger family of the Nagas and the Kukis. Greater Lim is the anti-thesis to the understanding of the term Manipuri and so is Kukiland or for that matter Meiteiland. Kangleipak and Meitrabak are some of the terms which have been toyed around as the substitute for Manipur, but by and large there has been no sustained campaign or drive towards this end. And so it stands that today the term Manipuri is generally associated only with the Meiteis and this has had a profound impact on the political and social existence of a place known as Manipur.