Minority Report: Regionalism Is a Lie
Fortunate are those areas where there are lesser problems. Even more fortunate are those people who live in relatively more developed pockets of India—though we know, none is better if we state it generally. Financially the metros and bigger cities are benefitting from contemporary world economy but the number is highly skewed, because an agrarian country like India lives in the villages.
On the other hand, living in one of the several fucked-up areas of the country is no less than living a life of disgrace with no sense of dignity or whatsoever. For instance, in Manipur, the government teaches the people that we are in the largest democracy in the world, while the same authority sees no harm in calling in the record-breaking numbers of paramilitary forces and state police personnel by choice or by subordination. This is just the tip of the iceberg.
Regionalism paints all the problems with a single brush. But that’s the main trouble and that’s always been the case. This kind of interpretation that region-specific issues are a part of the Indian polity is well-articulated by the bureaucracy; that the people in this class are known for bootlicking and red tapes is one thing—they should be blamed for making up a fancy word like regionalism. Yes, they are mainly behind policy formulation and implementation and they suck big time.
And when it comes to lies, none can beat the propaganda of the government. They got the All India Radio; they got the Doordarshan; they got what they need. In the words of Allen Ginsberg, “Whoever controls the media controls the mind.”
History Do Not Lie
It will be clearer—that regionalism is at its best a hokum—if we take into account of the merger of Manipur into the union of India. Simply put, it was on the foundation of coercion and it was in complete disregard for an erstwhile country known by the name of this province, which had its own constitution, elected representatives, in short its sovereignty. In 1949, when the government of India pressured the titular head to sign the controversial Merger Agreement, there was little resistance from the people. It is no wonder then why people are just nonchalant when our grievances and frustration are bracketed under the dotted lines of regionalism. Yet this view is questionable because in less than a decade after the merger, a few people did come out to reject the farcical nation-building process. There is a problem.
Now those issues are clubbed under insurgency. And this is a prominent phenomenon in another made-up word called the Indian Northeast region. But no one is above the nation. It is like a forbidden god. So briefly, the protest is nothing more than a cry of some unemployed fucktards; it is nothing more than a law-and-order issue; and it is nothing more than an issue of regionalism that is so peculiar to the big fat Indian political show. They say it and we believe it.
On the Street
Whenever we meet a seemingly informed person from outside the province, the most probable statement they would make is that Manipur is such a mess. If they know it, presumably, they are not telling for the sake of sympathy. It is not needed, though.
For others, it would be best if left unsaid. For us, uninterrupted negligence—on a firm foundation of deceptive politics of national-building, or read the merger into the Indian union— makes it too hard to put the issues under the umbrella of regionalism. It makes no sense, to be blunt. Alternatively, such term like regionalism offers a consolation no different from mere generalisation of the sorry state of affairs that we so accustomed to. It’s no regionalism; it’s a question about the existence of a people.
When we say we are in a minority, we are stating nothing but the fact. Ever there is a covert intention of playing the victim-victim farcical role. And we always complain about negligence and unheard grievances. This will be clearer if we are used to living in a forgotten land, which is at its best, remembered off and on, when there are crises and conflicts. It is also a land of indigenous people, not some buffer zone where the citizens are only as good as long as the national boundary is out of harm's way. Regionalism oversimplifies the undoable complexities that can never be solved by brushing aside as a trivial localised problem.
Footnote: There is a possibility that the rejection of the term is impossible, considering the size of the country. But then the authority can be honest; besides, they have the resources. If there can be such a term like regionalism, why don't we have a term that produces results? To cut it short, political will has been the missing link in the communication between the ruler and the ruled.