Plight of Pride in Making History

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By M C Arun

Plight of Pride in Making History

“National pride is related to feelings of patriotism and nationalism. Patriotism is love of one’s country or dedicated allegiance to same, while nationalism is a strong national devotion that places one’s own country above all others.”  Tom W. Smith and Lars Jarkko, 2001

Pride shared by all in a society is the driving force for preservation, protection and even adaptation to the changing world. Pride is the inner force of fighting all the odds in history. Enhancing the historical pride is the gateway to the future and it helps people adjust with history. Meaning, loss of pride is the beginning of people’s doomsday. The people of Manipur has a long cherished pride for having been formed their State in first century AD, for having a long literary history, for having a declared war in 1891, for having ability to synthesize all the exogenous cultural elements and many more. This pride was manifested when they stood against the strong Burmese Armies in 18th and 19th centuries; against the British imperialist. The pride was shown when the conqueror was labeled as ‘barbarians’ and polluted people even after the defeat of Last War of Independence, 1891.

The Manipuris are still proud of their historical acts of Kuki Rebellion, Jadonang’s Movement and Nupi Lans. This pride is manifested in their success in Indian sports where Manipuris rule.

To enhance the collective pride, the people of Manipur observe National Reconciliation Day on 9 January with homage to Meidingu Gambhir Singh. The Manipuris salute all the soldiers who took part in War of 1891 on 13 August every year. This pride was hurt when Manipur was kept as Part C State just after the State was merged in 1949 and replaced the sovereign King with a Chief Commissioner, the Assembly by an advisory council. They therefore demanded Statehood with an agitating mind. The driving force behind the agitation was its pride which runs in the veins of the Manipuris. The historical pride was much emphasized in all the political speeches in those days. The attitude of the people was reflected in their expressions like “we cannot compromise our history and historical pride”.

Kangla Sha Manipur - The Sacred Place
Kanglasha at Kangla Palace, Manipur : Photo by Amrit Koijam. More Photos at this link

Once again the pride is expressed in demanding the 8th Schedule status of Manipuri language. The language has a literary history for more than 2000 years. Manipuri language is not inferior to any other language listed in 8th Schedule. The demand of recognition of Manipuri alphabet (Meitei Mayek, to be précised) is in the tune of Manipuri pride. It is something, the Manipuris are proud of. It is among a few characters of Tibeto-Burman languages.  The feeling of joy when the Government of India recognized this language by enlisting in the Schedule is recurrently remembered every year.

When the Manipuri demanded the repeal of AFSPA, 1958, the people showed the courage to attract the world’s attention and to show that “we are not cowards who bow down or people who obey irrational law”. This is something to be proud of. For those who do not have anything to be proud of invent many objects so that they can feel a pride within. Unlike many peoples, the Manipuris have endless number of things, events and symbols with which they are still
proud of.

Is this historical pride becoming a burden? Is the pride a matter of historical sentiments with any pragmatic value? Keeping gainful employment in mind and some hundred posts in civil services and some posts in lower ranks as a goal, Manipuri middle class demanded to give the Meiteis (including the Brahmans, the royal lineage who ruled the State for 2000 years uninterrupted till 1949) the status of OBC. Should the Meiteis become ST just evade Income tax? Is it a shame or an opportunity to materialize ‘middle class dream’?

Are the Meiteis really that bad as the conditions laid down in Mandal Commission for inclusion in OBC list?

This demand was a black spot on the Manipuri’s pride.

Do they really need special protection for their survival in contemporary world with their ever increasing horizon in science and technology, sports, literature and many more?

Above all, they still have the courage to cope with all the problems. Pride as the creator of a civilization in the Indo-Burma Region will be the only inner driving force that can combat any threat to the existence of its people.

Any move having a negative impact (not enhancing) on the pride of the people will be a stem borer of Manipur history. Keeping the importance of the pride and historical contribution of the people of Manipur, the Government of Manipur and State Assembly should not take up any action that will defile the age-old pride of the people only for temporary popularity or due to political pressure of a section of population.

Does not the Government of Manipur need to access the objective condition of today’s Manipuri and to examine the role of Manipuri pride in tracking new horizon?

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