Sharmila’s Next Meal

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By David Khomdram

“Manipur, as a part of India with such topographical variance and ethnic disparity from the rest of India, has been maltreated, discriminated.” This statement no doubt has become more of a cliché for a long time. And I suppose, it will be better if we postulate fresh and more effective propaganda.

To initiate any sort of contemplation, with reference to Sharmila, I could hardly fix myself on a particular issue. This does not imply that there aren’t any. Is it the issue of suffering that we should ascribe throughout the course of our discussion? Is it the issue of women power that we are very proud of? Is it the extraordinary life with oppressed taste buds and palate? Is it the comparability of being of her with one’s daughter, sister? Is it the wrong conviction of suicidal tendency? What lies ahead is the idea of a straight fifteen years of deviated life denying the natural imperatives of existence as mode of survival, continuance etc. This idea has been surmounted over, seeking to be realised by us.

What is more at the stake, in my observation , is not simply those factors of political hegemony, oppression, repression etc. but a gargantuan flaw associated with any humanistic philosophy and political theory and practice that had been popularised since the beginning of any systematic contemplation or reasoning on nation, state, community, society which, in this context, had failed to resolve.

Now the problem lies both with theory and praxis because any form of political dialogue, intellectual debate, agitation and outcry has been drawn and sink deep in the polemical abyss. Four years ago, I was enlightened (partially) by a journal that the delegates favoring the repealing of AFSPA had been defeated by their opponent during a debate held at Geneva on the issue of human rights violation under the Act in northeast India. Those were the lamentable days for supporters and adherents albeit I cannot prove the surety of this particular event.

Hasn’t that surprise us to realise that such an unmitigated, untainted altruistic cause had been ignominiously trounced? The entailment points directly to the theoretical or ideological ground on which the issue has been erected. Here the intention is not of doubting or reprimanding the erector but the availability of ideology and its efficiency vis-à-vis the common presupposed ground and atmosphere of the debate and the applicability of it on a particular scenario. But the least that can be assume is the consideration of a particular political ideology on which both the party had given their assent.

Every political theory has its limitation with regard to its implementation on a certain conditional situation or context and not with the structural flaw inherent in it. The very idea of democracy entertain by the majority of the nations is deeply rooted in their originator and staunch preachers and practitioners. In either way, they had disseminated the concept until they reached the corners of the world. What can be more sublime than people’s sovereignty; primary powers to the peoples. It was the emerged (ing) alternatives from the dire and havoc created by different political systems and ideologies. Its sublimity is put into question in case of AFSPA, with or without knowing its feat throughout the global political history, when the case is in an impasse.

Throughout the discourse the problem of insurgency shouldn’t be discarded. The insurgency of northeast has long been a threat to the mainland democracy – though not in the interpretation of the insurgents – and the reaction to it has been manifested into assorted quandaries. The reason may be to institute a fair fight, a tit for a tat, a response to a call. This is in collaboration to human nature to create, preserve and destroy which is inextricably rooted in the polymerised evolution of the society partially or wholly Sanskritised. Now justice should be there and it has to be a reasonable, voluntary contribution from both parties. This may be the reason why battles (pre-gun) had been fought on an open field to ensure zero collateral damage, a fair fight, bravery, no element of suspicion towards non-war members and zero liability.

When we try to superimpose the idea of democracy on the issue or when we try to resolve the problem in a democratic way, it becomes a liability. The idea of majority is ingrained in the concept of democracy and I believe majority is the compatible notion that can be attributed here – majority of opinion, majority of peace, majority of possibilities etc. inclusive of every interpretative optimisation. This also implies the human rights of majority, securing the larger, to immunise the system for the betterment of the majority. We can assume a powerful justification of defending democracy by being undemocratic and this being the opponent’s argument is, in my opinion, is hard to repudiate on the same ground.

The issue has to be aggravated on the ground of human dignity, of being human and the right to live. The resulting judgment has to be made on the same ground under the same precept justifying any mode of interference to be irrational, injustice and sinister. Now the contention has become more conspicuous that the insolubility is the consequence of phenomenal shortage in theoretical, ideological content which should be eligible to legitimise the issue and to guide them to the anticipated objective. Throughout the human history it is evident that rights and dignity of the subaltern has been compromised and rebuffed acknowledging the larger perspective, larger good. Abraham Lincoln, being a staunch exponent of democracy, in his Second Inaugural session says “Both party deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than the nation survive; and the other would accept war rather than let it perish. And the war came….”. America sacrificed more than six hundred thousand soldiers during the civil war and the death toll was justified on the ground of preserving democracy.

Now it is time to question the wise ‘why’ there is the hesitation to intervene the ideological perspective, to make a humanistic emendation on the theories and its justification. The question goes further that why there is a failure in establishing a rigorous theory on human values which can be enshrined in the world constitution. Has the rationality of man started exhibiting its limitation when the need of it is at the apex?

In an article published in Imphal Free Press, January 4, 2016, Sharmila says “I appeal sincerely to all the scholars, religious leaders of all communities, village chiefs of the hill districts, artists and writers to come forward. Have you ever seen in any corner of the world people isolating a young woman who takes a lone journey of hunger strike for fifteen years surviving miserably through forced nose feeding in prison against the Black Laws which suppress the people of a democratic country? Don’t you see your indifference will remain as black spot in history? Please move forward and join heads to bring a solution of this journey of struggle. Please understand I shed tears not in vain.”

Strange enough to know that her sincere appeal is directed to ‘those’ beyond common perception; not Krishna, not Jesus, not Allah, not God (perceived One). I believe their ear drums had been burst and shredded by the recent tremors of 6.8 magnitudes. But the truth is we could hardly find one who does not wait to see the next meal of Sharmila.

(The writer is a Research Scholar at Manipur University)

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