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Bastardising the Belief of Brotherhood


Is there any practical expression of the concept of fraternity and brotherhood in contemporary times? 

Growing up in a regressive society with multiple ethnic insurgencies, we have seen this ideal notion of man — one of the guiding principles of the illustrious French Revolution — is seemingly full of holes. Its fallaciousness becomes more accentuated when goals of homelands and protests for political emancipation overlap each other, overriding each other's interests and breeding communal hostility. The absurdity has reached its damnedest; and the idea of brotherliness has gone behind the times, except finding its favour in some theological seminars and secretly, in a literal manner, in skull sessions and the agitprop of 'clandestine' organisations.

We are never so rational, often guided by animal instincts and are wrapped up in ourselves that the world is ostensibly what we think it is. In this regard, the concept of brotherhood is quite alive and functioning for we believe we have common origins. We find its reference in literature, sermons and ideologies throughout but its self-evident nature arising out from our shared lineage is no sufficient to assert that we should be acting consciously. Funny it is but we don't, either. Once there was a joke going the rounds, which passed like in school days, everybody used to sing the national anthem but went tight-lipped when the school song was played because it avowed that we were brothers and sisters. Besides our diurnal rhythms find neither tune nor tempo in this imbecilic concept, barring the aforementioned cases and in times of tribulation when we delve into the origin of our existence. For example, in the folk tales describing the origin of Manipur — a land of fallen human nature and diverse groups — it is narrated that two brothers had went separate ways, with one of them staying in the hill and the other setting out for the valley. The rest is history. Now there has been a growing apprehension and a violent clash of interests amongst the two groups of people in the hills and the valley. The reasons are diverse and equally ludicrous, and simultaneously it is quite contradictory. We say we are brothers, belong together, have the same bloodline but love to hate and kill each other. In a nutshell, it is not regrettable in the axiom that the notion of brotherhood is merely inflamed by our mental capacity apropos our ethnicity, community and caste.

Or are these views too cynical and deprived of any tender inclination towards humanity? But precisely, what we need between real brothers or friends or just strangers are mutual respect and a consciousness of our association as human beings for common political, economical and social pursuits. We don't need to call ourselves brothers to make peace; and, making provision for history to deliberate on the term 'fraternity' itself, there has been a wrangle on its consistency with the other two — liberty and equality — from the French Revolution days, and unsurprisingly some rightist Germans had even recast the tripartite motto into 'work, family, fatherland' during the World War II.

In these days of multinational corporations and free trade, the concept has been made further uninspiring whilst giving rooms for the classes of people to emerge rather than an insignificant comradeship. It is best typified in modern nations, where disproportionate access to resources and opportunities drives wedge between the people, though they have the same loyalty towards the country despite the fact that they are unequal. However, it needs no elaborate explanation in a big republic like India; simply because people have different theories about state formation and the brotherhood of men. And the best the biggest democracy, by virtue of its record-breaking population, can do is to direct its army generals, who in turn dictate their subordinates to murder and wipe out the subversive individuals and groups. Examples, you can see galore in Kashmir, the Naxal-affected areas and the Northeast. Would you ever say that the mainland Indians, with pointed noses and who eat dry chapattis, are your brothers? If you are in doubt, ask the people who have been disillusioned after putting Bharat Mata on a pedestal and the doldrums that befell subsequently, hearing the comments on their epicanthic and other Mongoloid features.

This piece does not mean to spew venom on India nor mark a line between ethnic and civic nationalism, but comparatively throw some light on bastardising the belief of brotherhood. Today it is predominantly economic motivation that binds a nation and drives the engines of societies. For common people like us, shared likes and dislikes are enough to bring us together or in extreme cases, we are able to put up with contrasting thoughts and characters by being understanding and adhering to liberality. So there's no allusion to any kind of genealogy or that special feeling called fraternalism. However, these things apart and the reluctance to accept the universal brotherhood, it will be a faux pas to admit that we are absolutely different in a small region like Imphal valley. Certainly it is no parochial attitude to accept the fact; nevertheless, we can have other principles of growth and development and do away with trivial recognition of ourselves on the line of blood relationships. This might be objectionable in a land where identity crisis generates social unrest, yet we can establish ourselves as a nation-state that is characterised by strong economic foundations as noted earlier. There are several homogenous nations and to the same extent, a number of multicultural countries, by way of illustration, which are the most developed in the world — and hence, nobody will refute the fact that the fighting for the state takes place mostly in the underdeveloped regions around the globe. Eventually, there are better things in life that can guide us towards enlightenment. 

From where I stand, it's no issue even if two persons from different corners of the planet, even if they look chalk and cheese, consider themselves as brothers but that should not be the cause of others' affliction. As long as we are together as human beings we can achieve many things. We live and die. What we do for common advancement is far more important than anything else, whilst we are alive.


Footnote 


From today, August 4, the United Naga Council resume the economic blockade on NH-39. Recently, they had imposed a 68-day siege of the highway, with some help from a couple of delinquent student organisations, in protest against the Autonomous District Council elections and the Manipur government's directive to bar the NSCN IM's general secretary Thungaleng Muivah's entry into the state. They are more lenient now, reducing the number of days to just 20. Incidentally, the United Committee Manipur is observing the 13th Manipur Integrity Day today.

Now we are about to experience another bout of acute pain and suffering. Last time when the blockade was underway, the Manipuris had to shell out 150 bucks for a litre of petrol and 1,500 for a gas cylinder. Reason: we are a hindrance to their goal of self-determination.

Reply to one of the comments

First, I'm sorry I deleted your comment by mistake. I didn't say that the tripartite motto of liberty, equality and fraternity originated from the French Revolution but merely the motto was one of the guiding principles.

And China in here . . . ? Mainland Indians view we are torn apart between them and China. One of the most fucked-up considerations, so it has become some sort of a duty for them to send in thousand of dimwitted armies. Should we be glad that we have been protected?

For your kind information, the thought behind the essay can be partly based on ethnicity and its problems that have been a hindrance to achieving common goals. And partly to my disillusionment with humanity.

October 2011: Another Year, Another Blockade 

Not again. The above article was written in August 2010. That’s exactly one year, two months ago. The reason why I have added this addendum is simple: we are again in the economic blockade of the year. It has crossed a record 70-days’s mark this time, which means further rooms for bastardisation and more hardships for the folks. (KA. October 13 2011)

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