The Soul Of Manipur And Yangmasho Shaiza

Dr Homen Thangjam *

Yangmaso Shaiza  : Chief Ministers of Manipur
Yangmaso Shaiza : Chief Ministers of Manipur

Yangmasho Shaiza was a product of a time, a time in which the troubled generation of Manipur- Indian educated or Indianised since Manipur was annexed to India in 1949 - earnestly started on a quest to find the soul of Manipur. It was a quest characterized by shedding the Indian cocoon, an illusion-like-cover, promising an eternity of prosperity and freedom, blinding the sons and daughters of the soil.

The quest in all its sheds and endeavors was ultimately a one to unearth the cultural core of the ancient civilization, of its sense of aesthetics, truth, beauty and justice, which is inescapably in total contradiction with the Brahminicai Aryan civilization that one calls India.

Unlike the days of the kings, the new form of political system injected to each and every kindred individual or tribe a political aspiration and future, unknown before, in the name of democracy and freedom, thereby shattering the old ties of the yore and the ethnic brotherhood one shared since time immemorial.

Ostensibly, although such “injections” were administered, clothed in the language of democracy, the real agenda was to divide the people of Manipur or similar ancient civilizations, so as to complete the absolute control of the people and most notably as a part of the project of nation building of India. Thus, divisive voices started to emerge on ethnic lines such as a separate Nagaland for the Nagas of Manipur, or Mizoland or Kukiland.

These desparate voices and movements unquestionably acted as a challenge to Manipur’s quest for its soul but contrary to popular imagination, such a trend also solidified the belief of many prophetic individuals who asserted that the quest should be one and that the organic relationship between the hills and valley can never be compromised.

Yangmasho Shaiza was one such son of soil of Manipur who stood for a united Manipur and contributed towards understanding the irreversible relationship between the two geographical entities, which together make a whole, and that one calls Manipur. When Manipur Nationalist Party demanded the revocation of Manipur Merger Agreement, a Christian Tangkhul, Yangmasho Shaiza also took part. As early as the 1960s, Shaiza rejected the call for a separate administrative unit for the Hills of Manipur, and was in a way responsible for bringing the Manipur Hills Union within the fold of electoral politics in Manipur. It is known today that such a movement imperiled his life and ultimately met his death at the hands of NSCN-IM in 1984.

Looked from a different perspective, these were the formative years of Manipur as a full-fledged state of India (Manipur attained statehood on Jan 21,1972) and numerous problems affected the tiny state. On the electoral political front, politics of defection marked the day, as a result of which there was political instability, corruption in the affairs of the state was a regular feature, winning party at the Centre decided the fate of the State.

Overall, there was a sense of gap between the promise thrown up by India and what people really got. Poverty and economic backwardness were obviously issues that pricked the existential moorings of the people of Manipur. In short, Manipur was caught in the cauldron of instability, indecisiveness, political turmoil and underdevelopment. What added flavor to the existential crisis was the every growing division between the hills and finally, the armed opposition movement which was earnestly in search of the soul of Manipur.

It is one’s personal choice to plunge in any mode of creative outlet to fulfill one’s destiny if you agree that electoral politics can be counted as one in the sense that one’s aggrieved sense of injustice can be uplifted using this medium or even change the system from within just as many social democrats throughout the world believes and endorses. Perhaps, Shaiza placed his faith in the resolving capacity of the State without giving up his sense of truth and justice to find a solution for many of the problems of the day. From a very humble beginning, he was the Chief Minister of Manipur (10 July 1974 - 5 December 1974) winning from the Manipur Hills Union. Then again, he became the Chief Minister in 1977 (29 June 1977 -13 November 1979) having won from a Congress ticket but defected to Janata Party. Overall he ruled for 1166 days.

Yangmasho Shaiza remains accused on many fronts. For example in 1978 R.K. Dorendro Singh accused that as a Chief Minister, Shaiza did not introduce Manipuri as the state language, that the Chief Minister (Shaiza) played one community against another and had increased corruption in the Council of Ministers. In the same year, the Communist Party of India had demanded the resignation of Shaiza from the ministry for declaring Manipur valley as disturbed area. Then, Rishang Keishing accused that law and order was deteriorating in the state, an authoritarian trend in the administration was set in motion by Shaiza, there was concentration of portfolios in the hands of the Chief Minister and there were numerous irregular appointments on adhoc basis were made, etc.

These were short-term political accusations which do not stand the test of time, Yangmasho Shaiza is popularly remembered today as the Tangkhul Chief Minister who resurrected the Meitei Mayek from obscurity. Then from the personal account given by his family members, it is learnt that Shaiza always welcomed with open arms anyone, Meitei Pangal, Meitei or anyone else, who came to him for help. This is a trend we do not find in the traits of the politicians of these days.

If Shaiza had played one community against another just like the NSCN (IM) supremo Th. Muivah does, then it is completely wrong. The very reason for Shaiza to join electoral politics or distance himself away from narrow ethnic aspirations of the Naga is evident from his actions, as a result of which he was assassinated. As mentioned above he stood for a united Manipur. This is also equally related with his stand on Meitei Mayek.

Declaring Manipur as a disturbed area is different from the invitation to impose the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, which ultimately R.K. Dorendra Singh did during his stint as Chief Ministership, and the consequent brunt we are going through today. Never before, Manipur had witnessed such a draconian act playing with the lives of the denizens. And it is everybody’s knowledge today that the deterioration of law and order situation is a creation by the Indian State approved by its cronies in Manipur. If Shaiza stands accused for being responsible of the deterioration of not only law and order but also for every crisis in the state, then all the former Ministers and politicians of Manipur are equally responsible.

Not much has changed since India annexed Manipur. Reproduction of compradors who support the ruling regime or the Indian State continues to be in motion. Manipur is still caught in the cauldron of mistrust, uncertainty and turmoil. In all these midsts, unfortunately Manipur has not been able to throw up a politician with a vision. All we have encountered are the parasites, the leeches and shopkeepers who can sell Manipur at the snap of fingers.

This brings us to the conclusion that the politicians of today do not have the moral fiber as Shaiza did. He was someone who was a product of a time that earnestly set themselves with the task of uncovering the soul of Manipur. It is still an incomplete task; the onus of finding it is equally on the shoulders of the present generation. Read it subjectively, too, it is akin to finding the goal of life itself.

As Alejandro Jodorowsky states in “Jodorowsky’s Dune”, “What is the goal of the life” It’s to create yourself a soul.” Yangmasho Shaiza was one such visionary who believed in soul of Manipur which is marked by beauty, truth and justice and that Manipur is unique in this sense.

( ** Book release, 'Yangmaso Shaiza And His Manipur' on October 12 2014 by the United All Communities Social Uplifters Kangleipak (UNACSU), in its Third Foundation Day at Amity Hall, Adimjati Siksha Ashram, Imphal )

* This is taken from a Book - 'Yangmaso Shaiza and his Manipur' published by United all communities social uplifters (UNACSU), Kangleipak
Dr Homen Thangjam wrote this article ; The write is Assistant Professor, Deptt. of Political Sc., M B. College, Imphal
This article was posted on December 18, 2014.

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