B. Angousana Sharma
A Scheduled Tribe is the Community for whom the existing government has extended a planned time for own development within. The 5th Schedule of Constitution of India has no more description so as to prove more details of a scheduled Tribe.
The Vth Schedule maintained seven paragraphs as :
(1) Interprets the expression “State” for the purposes of the schedule;
(2) Provides that subject to the provision of the schedule, executive power of a state;
(3) Provides to executive power of the Union shall extend to the giving of directions to the state as to the administration of the schedule area lying in such state and that the Governor of such state shall submit an annual or periodical report to the president in this regard;
(4) Provides that Tribes Advisory Council shall be constituted in the states having schedule areas and in other states if so directed by the president, to give advice on matters pertaining to the welfare and advancement of the Scheduled Tribes in the states as may be referred to them by the Governor concerned; and the Governor has been empowered to make Rules prescribing or regulating the composition of such Tribes Advisory Council, conduct of its meeting and procedure, etc. under
(5) the Governor has beem empowered to direct, by public notification, that any particular Act of parliament or of the Legislative of the state shall not apply to a scheduled area or shall apply subject to exceptions or modification, and also to make regulations to prohibit or restrict the transfer of land by or among members of the scheduled Tribes, regulate the allotment of land, and also money lending subject to the assent of the President,
(6) Defines the Scheduled areas as may be declared by the President by order, and provides that he may, by order, direct cesser of such area, increase or alter any such area, and rescind any order made under this paragraph, and
(7) Provides that only Parliament has the power to amend this paragraph.
It is further clarifies that the Vth Schedule is not a basic feature of the constitution. It is a temporary feature and will continue so long as the protection of the Tribe will be required, to be given, to the members of the scheduled areas. This is the real penetrating criterion in the valley of Manipur.
Scheduled Tribe is neither touchable nor untouchable, nor it is relevant to Dharma. Our concern is the heritage, the culture so maintained since time immemorial. In short, the Meiteis had adopted the different Dharmas as they wish, though they are still adopting their own heritage, like; Being Sanaton Meitei worshiped Sanamahi (the deity), the formalities of EPAN THABA (the Ceremony of a child after the 6th day of birth); THOU TOUEE, KHAYOM LAKEE, YELHING THAI (these are formalities which are performed when a person is either sick or in need for treatment); CHEIRAOEE (maintaining local New year); CHEITHAI (on New year, a local maiba or shaaman accepts to bear the ill fate of the King for the year); KWAK TAALLI (it is a scheduled day to evade crow); USIN SILLI (on the auspicious New year day every person offer a NGAMU, the local fish to the deity, so that the ill fate of the person of the year can be evaded) SAROI KHANGNGI (on the first Saturday of the last month of the year LAMDA, the women folk use to lay food on the road crossings; the same ceremony is performed on the last Saturday of the last month to face local spirit which presumes to harm individual lives); LAI HARAOEE (every Meitei village has a local deity for which a function for HAPPINESS (HARAOBA) is observed once in a year); when a Meitei dies, the person will only be declared dead by a Maiba/Shamaan. Thus, Meitei SANATANS (HINDUS) continue to adopt certain practices without discarding the old culture.
It is also true that other Manipuris who have converted Dharma other then SANATAN avoids the tribal culture.
When Bharatavarsha declared freedom from the midnight of 14th/15th August, 1947 the RASTRA –SWAYAM-SEVAK – SANGH (RSS) immediately established ADIM-JATI Schools during 1948 all over the country. RSS extended the facility of ADIM JATI in Manipur for the village dwellers who could not provide education for the children in the year 1953. For that, 9.5 acres of land was acquired adjacent to the Dhanamanjuri College, Imphal. In the institution 100 (50 boys +50 girls) children were provided hostel facility.
But, today the institution has declined. The High School has been merged to the Lila Singh Khongnangkhong High School. There is a lower school in the name of little School; for which Shri Hungyo the Secretary Adim Jati has written a letter to the Head Master for vacating the school. The area has been covered by MBC (Manipur Baptist Church).
If we discuss about the 5th Schedule, there must have connectivity between the Union Government, Governor, State Legislative Assembly with the parliament. Manipur is to be kept away from 6th Schedule; moreover implementation of 5th Schedule would sure to have been guided the power of the Governor by a Tribal Advisory Council. Otherwise, there must have directives of the constitution.
Articles 244(2) and 275(2) of 6th Schedule, of the Indian constitution are trying to handicap the Manipur Land and Revenue Act (MLR) and has compelled to weaken Manipur.
In Himachal Pradesh Rajputs and Brahmans are schedule Tribes; in Tripura, the descendents of the Kings are scheduled tribes; in Bodo land, Brahmas being Brahman are listed in scheduled tribe; in Sikkim, the Bhutias are scheduled Tribes . On the other hand, Christians are listed in general caste in Kerala. However, Meitei is such indegenous community who are still following the primitive culture and heritage of the fore father even after adopting Hindusim.
If we determined to conclude the problem of scheduled tribe, the Meiteis have to start a signature campaign; as for the general category also had conducted the signature campaign during 1952. On the basis of the same Manipur was listed to general caste.
Please don’t forget, let us have a step forward by listing Meitei in the scheduled tribe category; let Manipur turn to a hill state. Instead of demanding a new state in the small Manipur let us constitute a new society in the name of a Hill State. We are all Tribes, are all being Tribes, and shall be Tribes.
(The views expressed are the author`s own and do not reflect that of IFP)