Us and Them

The demand from some Meiteis to include the ethnic group of Manipur has several takers but the strength of opposition is much higher, in the most farcical manners

I eavesdropped into a conversation in which I heard that the Meitei’s demand for inclusion in the category of scheduled tribes is tinged with tragicomedy. For starters, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, shortly known as SC and ST, exist officially under constitutional protection and privilege in India. In the 2011 Census the SC and ST make up 16.6% and 8.6% respectively of the Indian population.

The government’s initiative for these groups lay on the foundation of protective arrangements, as in enactment and implementation of laws and regulations in the latter’s interest; affirmative action, as in providing reservations; and development, through which the SCs and STs are privileged with certain resources and benefits as in quotas and reduced form submission fees in various institutes.     

If we go by the Census again, the Meitei has been counted in the general category despite its indigenous traditions and cultures. This categorisation was in accordance with the 1931 report, under which the states of Assam and Manipur were grouped as general on account of their population of a Hindu majority.

The Manipuris as a whole are known for their freeloading nature. Their motto is to do the least work and get the highest return. For the sake of simplification, the Meiteis who live in the valley are mostly ‘general’ while the hill-dwellers are all scheduled tribes. Then there is already a conflict over the issues of Nagalim, Zale’n-gam and Kangleipak nations. Now, the hills people are concerned that the Meiteis’ demand for the ST category is nothing but a ploy for this majority group to further exploit and suppress other smaller groups. This is farcical because the Meiteis are themselves a minority, an indigenous group of hardly a million heads and who are facing threats in the wake of the gross imbalance in the native–outsiders ratio.

However, let’s make it clear. This is no support for the Meitei’s inclusion or exclusion but just putting down the realities of a deeply fragmented society in black and white. It can be reiterated that the demand for the ST category is a bridge to implement a sort of Inner Line Permit System to check the demographic imbalance, a concern that ought to be a concern for all the natives. These so-called outsiders have already outnumbered many of the ethnic people of the state but apparently the vitriol is singly directed towards the Meiteis. If this is not a sign of early-men politics, then I’m not sure what is.

While the freeloading nature is one side of our nature, the other is servility. We have a habit of begging from the state and its agencies. Just see how we would stoop to these entities to scrap the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act. This draconian act is already a mockery in itself but all we can do is to beg the authority to repeal it. If not for the sporadic reactive action we are only as servile as we can be. The same thing applies to the demands for these Inner Line Permit Systems and ST category. Still it is a fact that many of the indigenous societies in the entire Northeast are facing threats. For a case study, remember the Tripuris who have become a minority facing extinction in its own native place—yes, extinction as in the total extermination of Himalayan quails and Bali tigers from the surface of the earth.

Many of these groups against the Meiteis are also on the same boat, but they are entirely in a different universe. And we can easily observe the comedy too. For instance, the most vocal against the implementation of the ILP System comes from Churachandpur, which is inhabited by the Kukis. I’d not want to admit it but their monkey business shows that many of them are illegal Chin people from Burma! In the first place, the ILP System has nothing to do with Nagas and Kukis; in fact, they will be the one who will benefit the most because it has many sub-tribes that are at the receiving end.

In the 2001 Census, to take an example, the Aimol numbered merely 2,529; the Monsang 2,130; and the Koireng 1,410 while the outsiders, especially from the western part of the Northeast and who are mostly of Aryan stock, are inching towards one million. The development over the last one year clearly shows that we are suppressed because we are so stupid. I rest my case here.

PS: We do not need any bloody concession or consideration. All we need is a revolution.

Related piece: 

The Scheduled Caste Plan of the Meitei: Rewatching the Theatre of the Absurd

Meaningless Meanings

The Politics of Special Category

Breaking news:

In the ongoing JNU crisis in which right-wing nationalists are calling the left-wing anti-national, for me, the real anti-national are those army men sent by the Indian government and who are killing people in and around my hometown for some hopeless gallantry awards and selfish growth in their careers. 



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