By Kh. Ibomcha
Last week, on my way back to home from work, over the loudspeaker I heard a familiar voice, the voice of a renowned Maniwood director, ardently publicizing the news of Baba Ramdeva’s five-day-visit to the state capital (from feb.13 to17, 2016) during which he will impart yoga to the people of Kangleipak at Hapta Kangjeibung.
He also said that the said yoga training camp would be organized under the joint aegis of Bharat Swabiman Trust and Yoga Samiti, Haridwar. Like any other general publicity it seemed entirely normal until I heard the man speaking into the microphone addressed Baba Ramdeva as “Malem gi tomthin nganliba yawolloi” knocking me for six.
I am still unprepared to make myself clear to the question ‘why did he used the word ‘yawolloi’ to address baba Ramdev?’ I exclaimed myself, what!! Baba Ramdev and ‘a yawolloi’!!!!????
To me, it seems like it was only yesterday, not far away, that a boy less than 18 years old was murdered by state police while playing his part in a rally demanding implementation of inner line permit system or an Act akin to it to protect indigenous people of Kangleipak from being swamped by unbridled influx of migrant from mainland India.
Shame on us! How can we forget everything so soon like an anterograde amnesiac—the soulless body that remained laying unclaimed for almost 60 days in the morgue, the tears, cries and pains, mock bombs, rubber bullets. ‘For whom the boy died’ and “how come we forget him so soon”, I asked myself over and over again, but no answer. Instead, the more I pondered on it the more clueless I became.
A yogi from mainland India is coming next month and he is going to inject alien values to the minds of our young boys and girls in the name of some sort of physical exercise called yoga loaded with Vedic ideals, yet we are calling him “a yawonlloi”.
This have sparked a lot of debate and deliberations among my circle of close friends. Many of our friends and even cultural vigilantes have expressed their deep concern for what they call the trend of “Meiteina Mayang Onba”.
Many of them have taken the trend as a grave threat on the conscious minds of Kangleichas who are deeply rooted in Kanglei socio-cultural live and trying untiringly to retain values constituting ‘who we are’.
Some arguments pushed forward by some of them seem to be quite convincing in their rationale where they have viewed the trend as a phenomenal offshoot of decade’s long importation of alien values through Indian cultural industries established in the state leading to a fast-track collapse of socio-cultural life in Kangleipak as have witnessed these days.
If the idea of calling Ramadev ‘a yawolloi’ is analyzed in our social or historical position, it can be taken as one of the many ways of displaying how deeply we have been rooted to Indic values. It also implicitly points to the changing locus of domination, that is, from economic realm to cultural realm.
We all know that, we have lived for years with a borrowed identity singing ‘JOYO JOYO RADHE GOVINDO RADHE’ or “JOY JAYA JAGANTHE” overshadowing who we actually were; and now we have reached the acme of an unsurpassable domination where it no longer needs deliberate actions on the parts of (Indian) ruling class that we are dominating ourselves in the name of ‘Bharat Mata’.
In the debate some of my friends who have often been dubbed as ‘Meitei-centric’ or ‘religious-fanatic’ shared a powerful idea reorienting the debate to a subjective direction recalling us the importance of the understanding the subjective elements of social life with special reference to Kanglei life at both individual and cultural levels, while they are still acknowledging the dialectical relationship between economic base and cultural superstructure.
In so doing, the debate seems to have integrated idealistic concerns of subjectivity with an objective structure of economic base outlining how cultural life relates to the political economy they are living with.
Though it would be a tall claim to say that they seek to restructure Marxian theory shifting the locus of domination from economic realm to cultural realm, they seem to have demystified the fact that, at a particular stage in the development of a capitalist society superstructures tend to become instrument of domination, more powerful than the economic base as put by critical theorists.
Now, it is more than clear that we have come to dominate ourselves in the name of larger Indian socio-cultural fold. And if the publicity heralding the coming of Ramdev is anything to go by, we can evidently say that there are some among us who are wittingly or unwittingly catalyzing the process of mutation already set in motion.
Besides, the idea of encouraging our sons and daughters to learn Vedic ideals via yoga says a lot more than just cooing or toadying to people like Baba Ramdeva who in every sense or definition is no less perilous than Santidas Goshai who once strangulated Kanglei way of living way back in 1709.
Here I would like to tip off those who still have the guts to live as ‘being ourselves’ rather than ‘being-others’ about the fact that we have reached to such a stage of cultural domination where some of us will no longer perceive the domination as damaging or alienating, instead they will rather think as if they are living the way it is supposed to be. In other words, they have coopted and internalized values which have taken as alien and foreign to our socio-cultural life by us.
Though we are thinking to shift our interest to a concern with cultural superstructure rather than with the economic base, nevertheless we can still claim that if taken economic activities of a group of people as a culture in itself, that economic determinist were never wrong in focusing on economic realm while studying the development or collapsing of a society, here Kanglei society.
So, we do not fail to see how feeding ourselves with imported grain and wearing clothes woven outsides twist our arm to cling to their cultural life when every set of our means of production has fallen off our hands in the post-merger period.
But the necessity of shifting our interest to a concern with cultural superstructure has been spawned by numerous assaults on the Meitei sensibility and traditional values in recent time by what can be described as external influence. And some of us has already started identifying themselves with imported values rejecting values constituting who we are.
Re-observing what has so far been observed, we, at least, come know that, the more we internalize ‘other’s way of life’, the more we are nearing to what we call ‘Khongul Mutpa’.
In addition, the series of distorted ideas conceived in our mind about almost everything beginning from our idea of sexuality, political immorality and even social mores seem to have pointed to the need of such a shift.
If you observe a little deeper you will evidently see how the process of Sanskrtization distorted cultural contour of Kangleipak in the post-merger period and how that distortion led to the disappearance of cultural contradiction between Kangleiyeits and Indian mainlanders.
Now the False consciousness about ourselves have pervaded in every mind of Kangleich that all social classes including layman besides political elites benefited from the system have been ardent supporters of mainland India’s cultural onslaught. So we have been compelled to look at cultural superstructure while searching for the major source domination.
To the previously discussed ideas can be added another set of concerns, the most notable of which is legitimation—the system of idea generated by Indian political system to support the existence of their system of domination, often false and obfuscating. They have designed idea systems to mystify the system to make us unclear exactly what is happening.
Here I would like to quote what Akhu Chingangbam, a Kanglei singer-songwriter, wrote in his Facebook post, the post wrote as under:
They killed the poorest of the poor
And passed the judgment
Inside the classy court room
In some foreign language
That the mother has no clue about.
The killer got a medal from Delhi
The post-mortem report was forgotten
The death certificate kept travelling
From desk to desk looking for justice.
When we cut into the sentence, “they killed the poorest of the poor and passed the judgment inside the classy court room in some foreign language that the mother has no clue about”, we see how they mystify their system and prevent us from knowing what exactly is happening to us.
Now our people get used to it, and they no longer identify themselves as a member of a culturally marginalized group of people. They think that everything goes well, and it is the way it ought to be. This can be called “the culture of silence’’ or “culture of hopelessness’ as Paoulo Freire puts. They have reached the point critical domination and the domination itself has been their life—the way they ought to live.
They prefer chanting Hare Rama Hare Krishna to struggling to regain their lost humanity, a struggle that would make them more fully human. True, if they remain singing and chanting ‘Hare Ram Hare Krishna, there will be no AK 47 pointing at their heads. May be, in doing so, they could probably earn money and peace, a kind of peace often clothed in false generosity.
And this view gives us the reason why some of us seem so happy while heralding the news of Baba Ramadeva’s ‘Five-day-Manipur-visit” without thinking anything about its possible negative impact on our culture which has already been trapped in Hindi heartland’s cultural onslaught launched in the name of ‘unity in diversity’.
I am really concerned about our young boys and girls how they have been impacted by this cultural domination. Not only they have been culturally divorced, they have also been made not to have allegiance to their culture which is made to be hated from the very inception thus delinking them from ‘who they are’.
It even distorts the idea of ‘Leibak ningba’ or to love his /her nation, and this gives me the reason to introspect why the threat to Kanglei national identity can be traced back to our inability to check the inflow of alien values from the mainland India.
That is why we the people of Kangleipak fail to develop a revolutionary consciousness, a consciousness that will enable us to rediscover ourselves from within our own being.
So, my appeal to Kanglei people is ‘please know the reality and be out of the cage. Let’s know the reality, or else ours will be a lost nation in the next few decades. So let’s think out of the box and help one another in uplifting our consciousness to a level of revolutionary consciousness allowing ourselves to understand the domination as the eventual cause of the failure while developing revolutionary consciousness among us.