By Jinine Laishramcha
The atmosphere is the freezing night of taught globalization, the rescuers from the international and UN concerns are thousands miles away, close by is the only the strong jaws of distrust, complex statecraft and greedy corporate powers.
The Meeteis and peoples of Manipur have been mere passengers on a socio-political Titanic. The ship has been moving with injustice and tension of the multifaceted-conflicts, human rights violations, unbridle corruption, shortcoming governance, violence against women, unproductive education, paralyzed economy, drug abuse and HIV/AIDS, etc. Peoples have been endeavoring with the responses ranging from sit in protest to economic blockade, from hunger strike to rally, from nude agitation to effigy burning, etc.
Load of deficiency:
No doubt, the historical examples of gender equality namely Nupi Lan (women agitation) Nupi Keithel (women market), Meira Paibis, (mother rights/social defenders); gift of Polo to the world, owning of script and talent in sports are some of the finest qualification of a community or people. And also there have the visible responses of the people against the events of injustices occurring in Manipur over the last few decades. The people’s protests in Manipur valley stand out from other Indian North East States.
Notwithstanding, there are very visible flaw and fragility in general behavior of the contemporary Meetei society (Meetei-Hindus and Meeteis). We should not take it for granted with an excuse that every society is not perfect. It is not of perfection but concern is of the degree and magnitude how far we are affected with. It is like a load of deficiency of indigent commonsense, lack of justice consciousness and non ethical response towards other fellows and surroundings. The indicators are “crowd thronging outside the examination rooms (earlier)”, “barbaric mobocracy”, “Meetei chauvinism”, “faulty festival of election activities” “socially accepted corruption”, “brute traffic habit”, “offensive garbage disposition”, “men’s ogling eyes on women”, “sluggish walk in streets”, “senseless food wastage”, etc.
People from all walks of life suffer from this deficiency; from dandy doctors to raunchy garage mechanics, from wealthy contractors to grouchy rickshaw drivers, from bossy bureaucrats to typical villagers, from powerful ministers to talkative activists and from lazy teachers to idle office goers.
At one level we are acutely conscious about our private home compound cleanliness particularly among the Imphal town dwellers however we hardly questioned ourselves to dump out garbage, dead pests to public/shared rivers and roads. We are hyper sensitive to defend our private property. Say, plot of land; we all are maniacs to scuffle for an inch of land we own. Many of general Hindu-Meeteis are so considerate towards the peoples from Mainland (Mayang) but a good few us are visibly chauvinistic towards to the hills communities. Majority of us are demonstrating our strength upon the weaker female sex workers; small thieves of chicken, ducks, bicycle; pity smugglers of alcohol and drugs; etc. But always we spare and ignore the big and strong criminal who deteriorate and corrupt our social system.
Some armed-political groups also gestured wanting to encourage an implication that the Indian colonization has brought so much corrupt minds and actions to Manipuri society. In order to justify this implication, the groups had remained uncheck the corruption and defective devises of governance or rather were cooperative to proliferate the colonial symptoms. However, over the years it has been evident mere a suicidal experiment to themselves and to the society.
We may note that the deficiency, incivility that being seen in Manipur valley is very much abundant in Indian’s mainland. But the surprising fact is that such deficiency are seen relatively less in the Christian societies of North East India. Thus one may pose a question, Is this because of the influence of Hindu and its culture?
Encouragement to Smugglers:
After any incidents of bomb hurlings or gun firings by the extortionists at the landmark buildings that turn out to be houses of the well to do families or bourgeoisie kind of, the local-women raise their voices displaying neighbors concerns; they stage sit in protests around the buildings.
It gives a wrong impression of social response towards the corruption and exploitation for it encourages public looters and social smugglers. We ignore the causality; the rich are receiving bombs and bullets today because they just earned this threat yesterday. We, the locals know so well that how the owners of the landmark buildings have made the movable and unmovable assets but what we ignore is the crimes the rich committed. This is we who show a good amount of undue respect to such critical population of thieves, looters and law breakers.
We never be sensitive even at slightest level relating ‘how far the unbridle corruption causes such violence of kidnappings, bomb hurlings or gun firings’. This behavior of public is damaging the overarching health and strength of a just society.
Here, some questions are compelled to be raised – how has the breed of extortionists been surfaced on the soil? Why have they adopted such condemned means of earning? The best answer is the corruption and favoritism although it is not of the lone factor.
The majority that receiving tensions of bombs and bullets are the privileged families. They work in the government offices and supposed to take important responsibilities towards the public service/welfare. They are whom ministers/MLAs and other high ranking officers have poured favors upon unfairly. This economically favored population has received so much misappropriate monetary and material benefits diverted from reaching the needy population. They have clogged every economic rights and opportunity that should have gone to the extortionists and their families.
The children of the government officers and other well to do families are ‘Not Becoming’ the condemned extortionists because their parents have robbed other people’s opportunity. So at the other end, the extortionists have missed the chances to become what they wanted to be. Once they also wanted to be doctors, engineers, scientists and professors. They hardly thought of becoming actors of such violent engagement. This risky journey that this deprived population is taking was destined.
It is also relevant that the health department, its personnel including doctors have brought additional burden to the lower class families. The personnel have not administered fairly the families. The later has been conditioned to spend more to attract the doctors’ attention unfairly.
Again, such violence is aggravated by the temptation of the global consumerism trend of possessing flashy vehicles, chic electronic gadgets and so on. The violent means of earning are something that have been trying to narrow the gap between the limited means of the lower class and their high desire.
Yes, the frequent violent activities of the extortionists have been annihilating the civil, political, economic and social facets of Manipur. Hence, the above articulation is not implied that the criminal acts should hold a niche in our society; in fact they even extort and torture small traders and entrepreneurs who eke out livelihood by running lawful business, though the towering houses of the policeman and officers are spared may be owing to the aura of their armed and ammunition. The kidnapping of innocents people, making them victims, tortured and killed by the extortionists in the ransom bargaining are much condemnable.
Burning down house, destroy property of the family of the alleged culprit by the locals and relatives of a victim who found murdered or found dead under suspicious condition has been turning out as a form public reaction. The mob takes the law in their hands without fare judgment and rationality of the incident and consequence. Each time the mobs make the innocent family members of the culprit eventual victims. The hyper reactive locals do not know what they are doing is not to the culprit but to the innocent children, parents, siblings and nearest of the culprit. The house and household property that mobs have destroyed do not belong to the culprits solely.
In the very shocking incidents, the mobs have lynched both the parents of children. They throw the young children into a sudden darkness of the trauma and calamity. The locals and neighbors also know so well that they are lynching the sole custody of the children. “For what reason was our mother murdered so brutally?” This is one question that is constantly haunting the young minds of the three children of Nursana and Mujibullah whom lynched by a mob in 2011, with no one to answer them.
In the cases of the mob acts against the substance abusers/drug users whom suspected of committing crimes including child homicide usually after robbing of precious ornaments, the most traumatized impact come to the family members of the culprits. The majority of such families have attempted and exhausted all the possible ways to cure the adiction of their fellow. The culprit already ruined and looted the family so badly, and at the end of day the mobs burn and destroy the property of poor families that left by the drug addicts.
The phenomenon was not heard in the earlier valley society of Manipur. There may be a good outcome if it is researched how the mobocracy has surfaced up on the soil in the recent decades. The corruption, sluggish move of the judicial delivery system, corrupt and clumsy police performance, and the absence of rule of law are some of the stimulant forces for Kangaroo court.
The Majority of we Meeteis (Meetei-Hindus and Meeteis) have not acknowledged fairly the mistake we committed towards the hills communities with the blanket excuse of – “such are the part of every history happen everywhere in the world, and we all were the victims received the discriminatory and degrading treatment from the kings of those days”.
Within the Meeteis, the village population is still undergoing discriminatory attitude of “Lawai macha” from the Imphal/town population. For over the last 20 years I have been living in rented houses of various areas of Imphal, I came across the humiliation to me and to my colleagues. The bitter experience is by my colleagues and sisters of hills community. Usually Hindu-Mayang tenants enjoy good attitude from house owners and elderly locals vis-a-vis tenants from the hills. Within the Meeteis ourselves, there are layers of discrimination on the basis of town and village, rich and poor, Meetei-Hindus and Meeteis, and more critical is towards the Meetei-Christians.
In the recent episode, many a Meeteis wrote articles in the local dailies considering ourselves neutral and rational but locating ourselves on bias ideas and thoughts. Some mentioned the Nagas and Kukis are the new nomenclature; did not exist in Manipur. And then what is the justification of existence of Manipur and Manipuri; how old this vocabulary?
In an attempt to display the harmonious coexistence of the hills and valley our film makers, writers often made the girls from hills married to the boys of valley only, not our girls to the boys from the hills. If the boy happens to be from the hills, it is interesting melodrama; the father of the boy comes out to be a Meetei.
During the election activities usually a candidate in the valley constituencies spends around two/three crore of rupees. The devil has landed even in Zila Parishad (local election), usually a candidate exhausts around half a crore. The democratic events have been bulging up in the fashion of a festive commotion and fun fare.
The political workers are absent of concerns and commitments towards the delivery of governance, rule of law, human rights, social and economic wellbeing, may be because of
• Their motivation is derived from the strong greediness of ‘more’ of possession of power, inflating of movable and non-movable assets
• They have attached to an attitude that when it comes down to the electoral practices the voters are good for nothing. They understand the voters are causing an extensive exhaustion of former’s resources.
• At the end of day, majority of them discover themselves they are none but a puppets of supremos or higher authorities.
Generally this talking point about the electoral malpractices associates the argument – “which first, egg or hen?; who are responsible for such derailment of democratic destination?.
The public put up a reciprocate attitude based on the past experience that the politicians are the breed of big lucrative profit and power hunters and they invest their resources for their families, nears and dears to harvest a good return out of electoral endeavor.
The chances for changes are also very scanty. There have been retention of old, same reign and repetition of same party and politicians over the several electoral terms. The one fundamental factor of this is the non-availability of new and alternative ones because of the fact that the choices are between bad and worse. Hence the bads are elected and are allowed to remain to rule the ruckus.
We should not take the things for granted that near to our hearts. These problems of our commons sense and rationality are very much linked to the contemporary challenges and crisis of Manipur and North East. If we are able to take the above facts as an issue and be mindful to address and minimize them, then there will be possibility of installing our desired destination. Otherwise, we are sinking with the broken Titanic. Definitely, some so called people representatives, social smugglers and some professionals who successfully looted public properties will get into the lifeboats.
(The views expressed are the personal opinion of the author.)