The United Naga Council’s blockade along Manipur’s lifelines will not end. Whatever the cause of the disagreement among those negotiating a truce, this is unfortunate. There are certain things simply not done even in war, but Manipur, it seems has no qualms resorting to them at the whims of our hate mongering street politicians. But this is a reality Manipur will have to live with. This being so, there is nothing more to say of the latest development than, so be it. This will be another notch raised in the abnormality of life that has become Manipur’s normal. Where corruption has become a rule of the game in the officialdom; where reading of violent deaths in the newspaper is a routine fare; where even children are now unfazed by sounds of terrifying explosions; it now seems, long queues outside petrol stations and paying four times or more the cost for cooking gas will also soon be the place’s normal. Thankfully, after the introduction of prepaid meters to prevent thefts, electric power is now much more regular, so that modern heating devices such as the induction heater and microwave oven have been a boon for those who can afford them. Since it is a necessity now, it is not difficult to imagine leikai marups springing up so as to ensure these devices are installed in every home sooner than later. Thanks also for the cheaper alternates of these devices flooding in from across the border, as well as the ingenuity of local mechanics who have already learned assembling, repairing and recycling them, they are also less than exorbitant these days.
But maybe this will be a lesson in frugal living for all, as much as an opportune time for all to reflect on the lofty ideas of autonomy and independence which have been the fuel for so many fiery rhetoric by politicians of all hues, underground as well as overground. Maybe this is a blessing in disguise too and now our kids can forgo all the packed and canned junk foods and get used to the good old healthy rice, sougri and iromba staple that must have been the reality once upon a time. Maybe our streets will now see less motor vehicles and the bicycles will be everybody’s preferred mode of transport again, lowering air pollution but also blood sugar and cholesterol levels, ensuring sounder sleeps, better appetites and therefore adding immense quality to life without anybody actually realising it. In time perhaps the state and its people will rediscover their ingenuity to fashion other essentials of daily living from available resources. Necessity, they say is the mother of all inventions. Of course, the most urgent needs, such as life-saving drugs, can always fly in, and those unfortunate to be diabetic for instance can stock up their insulin needs to meet emergencies.
Maybe this is also the time to think on a comprehensive autonomy model for the whole state. Perhaps the existing notions of autonomy, dominated by fixed visions of the provisions of the 6th Schedule of the Indian Constitution for tribal regions should no longer be the adequate aspiration. A symbiotic relationship between the hills and valley, where the tribal and non-tribal districts co-exist, but do not overwhelm or take advantage of each other is what should be aimed at. Since tribal and non-tribal are sociological (or anthropological) categories, they too must be seen as given to strata mobility. The UNC statement today for instance has made so much of tribal identity being inalienably tied to ancestral homelands that it is now necessary to weigh this contention against a little deconstructed vision in all fairness. If tribal identity and tribal land are so inalienable, it should also mean tribals who acquire properties in non-tribal revenue lands and have settled there, as well as left their traditional occupations to take up modern professions, must cease to be tribals in the administrative and constitutional sense, although linguistically they continue to be identified with their mother communities, as is the case in places like Canada. Nobody must be allowed to have the cake and eat it too, as the saying goes.
What must however be prevented is a collective descent into madness, as was tending to be during the early days of the blockade and counter-blockades began springing up. Resilience is about pushing sane agendas even if it means shedding the veneer of political correctness to expose the ugly and outright profane underbellies of different seemingly sacred contentions and postulates, just as we have suggested in matters of redefining the constitutional term tribal. Indeed, resisting the all-round neurosis to keep the sanity of the place intact will be the ultimate test of resilience of this state.
Source: Imphal Free Press