Defining Nationalism from a Humanist Perspective in Manipur


Nationalism is a set of beliefs taught to each generation in which the Motherland or the Fatherland is an object of veneration and becomes a burning cause for  which one becomes willing to kill the children of other Motherlands or Fatherlands. 
Howard Zinn

Image: Bridgette Glogster

According to Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy,
the term 'nationalism' is generally used to describe two phenomena: (1) the attitude that the members of a nation have when they care about their national identity and (2) the actions that the members of a nation take when seeking to achieve (or sustain) self-determination. How we define such a term in a conflict zone, like Manipur, would be hard as nails. This feature is a frank attempt to rebut the question of identity crisis that plagues us. The endeavour could be demanding, but perhaps it could somehow soothe my deep resentment towards our society.

There is a problem area – a slight disruption in realising the term itself. Nationalism, for the Manipuris, should be defined in the context of the Indian nation in its essence but there is a serious disagreement, as we have seen in the several decades that we have been proclaimed politically independent. It is one thing the discrepancies in interpreting the term in its philosophical substance, and quite another for a situation, where there is an abiding contention between the legally-formed government and the insurgents. Ironically, in our state, one of them is elected by the people whilst the other claims to exist for the people. Of the people, nobody knows. Their tussle has long been tearing us apart in this hopeless society, in which we don't know where we belong to.

Nationalism, said Albert Einstein, is an infantile sickness. He added it is the measles of the human race. But, in a pragmatic sense, there should be a notion of belonging somewhere. We only have sky above us, yet we still cannot imagine a world without countries or religions. Where do we belong to? Precisely, we don't want anarchy in as much as we don't want the government and insurgent organisations to cash in on the deplorable situation. We don't want to get into the monkey business that the power-players have been dealing in. We want to excel in life and follow the progress of human society.

It is comprehensible, in this states of affair, that nationalism is a pariah lingo. Some people love India, while some others not. And there is Nagalim. And Kukiland. Is there any process in the government system that provides for checks and balances in the state? Why is the government so gutless? But again, the insurgents who lay claim to be our Saviour, don't understand people from the neighbouring hills will still call the Valley-inhabitants as Meiteis. Manipur is heading towards doomsday, and it is high time we put up our guard. Nationalism is a commodity, which we find abundant in successful political people, and which they use to trade with our life. In his 'Notes on Nationalism', George Orwell wrote: "The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them".

But it could also mean a different thing to others. Others, in the sense the people of the world and it does not necessarily indicate the Northeast jungles only. Nationalism is a system of consciousness that inspire man to strive for autonomy or self-rule. It is also a belief that makes man to wait for central funds and rake in the moola. But it has no scope for the tradesmen – legal or illegal – who bet on the land for personal interests. There is no such thing as business revolution in political theory.

We can decide where we can be best together. The care for national identity is explicitly divided over mainstream affiliation and recapturing the lost powers of a former sovereignty. We have a language. We have a history. We have a philosophy. Then, we are human beings just like others. It is miserable to observe people through the narrow prism of ethnicity and race. We are responsible for ourselves. Just like other societies. We belong to humanity. We can keep nationalism back for the sake of posterity, at least.

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