TODAY -

Editorial of the week

The spirit of Manipur
Courtesy: The Sangai Express 15th August, 2007



Yet another Patriots' Day has come and gone and while the State paid fitting tributes to the martyrs, it is also perhaps the opportune moment to introspect and study how the spirit of Manipur or the idea of being a Manipuri stands in today's political, social and economical reality.

Manipur was not founded in a single day and the idea of a Manipur as the home to numerous communities each professing its own religious beliefs, languages, customs and traditions has withstood the test of time and the pressures of pulls and pushes of history down the years.

Once again Manipur is going through one of its most critical phases with different ethnic groups asserting their identities and along with it their sense of belongingness to the land where they have settled.

Nagalim is not only about bringing the different Naga tribes under one administrative unit but also encompasses the idea of linking their existence to their ancestral land. The same thesis also applies to the cry for homeland of other communities.

On the other hand is the majority Meitei community, which have been championing the cause of a Manipur which is home to different communities and who are all tied together by the term Manipuri.

It is this contrasting stand and beliefs that today pose the biggest challenge to the spirit that makes Manipur the home to different communities. Unlike the neighbouring States of Nagaland or Mizoram, Manipur is not identified with only one community.

This is the line that the Meiteis believe in but on the other hand some communities, especially the Nagas and the Kukis see this generalisation as an attempt to compromise with their distinct identities.

This is precisely the reason why we find no Manipuris once we cross the border of the State, but only Nagas, qualified by their sub-tribes, Kukis, etc etc.

To understand the spirit of the entity called Manipur we have to take cognizance of the diametrically opposing view points with regard to the political and social entity called Manipur.

It is this spirit known as Manipur which has helped the people and the State to withstand the many tumultuous periods that we have witnessed in the recent past.

By all accounts, the people and the State was able to emerge erect after the June 18, 2001 uprising because of the spirit called Manipur.

It is this spirit that helped the people to articulate their thoughts and ideas during the summer of 2004 after the bullet riddled body of Manorama was discovered following her arrest by Assam Rifles personnel.

It is this spirit that helped the people to take the 52 days economic blockade in their stride without veering off the course.

Manipur as a political and social entity has survived all these ordeals and pressures because of the spirit that drives the people and it is this spirit that has managed to somehow temper the Lim divide with reasoning.

It is this spirit that has managed to avert many potential show downs between different communities and it is this spirit that keeps the pulse of every Manipuri beating, whether one subscribes to the idea of being called a Manipuri or not.

It is this spirit that we should link to the Patriots' Day celebration.



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