Leader Writer: Paojel Chaoba
An interesting thought keeps nagging on the back of the mind without any clear conclusive as of yet. The news which media carries is indeed information for the public and plays a vital role in shaping public opinion. But, is the news which is carried in the media in the interest of the public or sometimes detrimental? One feels that much has to be filtered through the sieve before being printed in black and white or being broadcast through the different electronic mediums of mass communication.
Lately, there has been news of particular organizations imposing their stance on the way that books should be written, that there should be no ‘lonyan’ in it. What the word actually means and what constitutes lonyan is also vague. Does it mean that Meiteis have our own script and dialect and whatever we write or speak should be limited to that which we have? That we should only use the words which were spoken by our ancestors and in the way the Puyas, the ancient text of the Meiteis were written. The stance that the books having lonyan should not be eligible for literary awards takes the cake. In the furtherance of ethnic revivalism, imposition on creativity borders dictating Pablo Picasso which colors to use, a William Wordsworth to use only specific words, or Pavarotti not to raise his vocal pitch then a certain octave. Such stance may implode within the own community and alienate ourselves among ourselves only.
A film maker had mentioned in a premiere show some time back that his film could not be released for further public viewing in the state. This was due to the fact that a film society did not approve of some words used in his film. However, the film was already certified by the Central Board of Film Certification. It should be introspected by the concerned that clamping a ban on artistic expression borders more on Talibanization rather than in furtherance of ethnic revivalism. This simply cannot be in the interest of the artists or for the public.
Our state being a multi-ethnic one, it should always be kept in mind that the interest of one community cannot be imposed on the others. When the ‘social scientists’ don their decision making gowns, it should be done so with an interest for holistic benefit and not for a singularized community. A decision made from the spine and not with sound rationale in the past has proved more to polarize the communities rather than bringing ethnic resurgence.
They say, there is nothing permanent like change and change will come in all hues. Some years down, trains will run through the state and opening up vast opportunities. On the flip side, the train may also bring unwanted elements and even put the dominant ethnic communities at risk of becoming minority groups. The Inner Line Permit issue can be a viable precaution in filtering and checking migrant population and certain steps may be taken up to safeguard the interest of the indigenous population. However, the steps to be taken up should be with a visionary approach and only as a conclusive of proper dialectics. Addressing issues by concerned stakeholders from time to time and not with a wholehearted spirit and treated as a ‘rechargeable issue’ will only stagnate participation from the masses.
It should be known that paddy is cultivated in both the hills and valley. If one is told to eat only a particular variety, say for the Meitei community to eat only Moirang paddy and not superfine rice in furtherance of ethnic revival. Here, the interesting thoughts keep nagging on the back of the head, but best felt that what one wants to eat and how should be left to the taste of the individuals.