By Dr Irengbam Mohendra Singh
December 6 2010
This is an article of thinking about thinking. Everyone thinks. It is human nature to do so. But
much of our thinking, left to itself, is biased and distorted.
We all love our children to distraction. Then hope is not enough for their future. Children
consider themselves to be important people with rights and no responsibilities (80% in long
running American personality tests in the 1990s). Even unborn children have rights according
Going through the archives of internet articles of E-Pao it seems that certain insurgent group
or groups banned the screening of Hindi films in cinema halls in Manipur for the past few
I have good reason to believe that the revolutionaries in question, were then engaged in re-
moralising the Meitei society from the bottom up – from a mayangised society to a meiteied
socio-cultural group. They must have thought about it critically and decided to strike the right
The Spartan simplicity in the thinking does not need much explanation as the intention was
altruistic. It sounds like a condescending statement on my part but it is not. I honestly believe
the decision was prompted by a concern to preserve a Manipuri cultural identity.
But the driving force was on a collision course with the future of our grandchildren
who have a right to learn the Hindi language, as will be followed up later.
My essay is an attempt about putting a spoke in the revolutionary wheel against railroading
the children into doing things that would leave them hungry and inadequate.
It is a peace-offering debate on the reasons of discontinuing the ban on Hindi films, now that
so much has happened in the socio-political structure of Meiteis in particular, and Manipuris
at large. It is all about shifting sand in the winds of time from the cliché of hating Hindi to the
cliché of accommodating it for the benefit of our grandchildren.
We will have plenty of time for societal reforms once independence has been restored.
In the interlude, our children have rights, which the grown-ups should see that they are
To quote Dwight Eisenhower: “The older I get the more wisdom I find in the ancient rule of
taking first things first.”
The ban on Hindi films has been a culture shock to our children as if they have needed an
infusion of a much-needed paradigm shift to define their culture. There are other ways of
instilling such a culture.
Instead of being fixated on primordial dress, dance or language, the children would be better
taught to see their culture from a socio-historical perspective and in the light of the existing
Indo-Manipuri political conflict.
The revolt generated, partly by the coercion to hate Hindi films has forced many well-to-do
parents to send their children to schools outside of Manipur to learn Hindi among other
subjects and to see Hindi flicks. One cannot blame these parents. Darwin’s “survival of the
fittest” was not just hot air.
It is a vast amount of dough spent in “alien” India, which could be kept in Manipur by
sending some of the children to good private schools in Imphal. There are so many.
Our grandchildren should have liberty, meaning to be free to do something. Thomas Jefferson
declared: “Liberty is one of our inalienable rights.” They should be taught the meaning of
freedom, meaning free from something. The limitation of liberty should always be the guiding
principle for the children and not shoved down their throat.
As water always finds its way our children will find their way for themselves. No
revolutionary group has forced the new generation of Meiteis to change their Hindu names
back to the original Meitei names or to change Hinduism to Sanamahism, or Christianity.
We live in Manipur which is hell on earth. All the same, our children like everybody else in
India are entering an era of postmodernity ie living beyond the modern ways, ideas, beliefs,
and paradigms. They need to learn Hindi to enter the socio-economic continuum of India,
whether we like it or not.
We live in India and sleep in India. We breathe and eat a little bit of India everyday. Look
at what happened when All Naga students’ Association, Manipur (ANSAM) blocked the
National Highway 39 for 52 days in June 2005. We were without India and almost starved.
Our young people have to keep up with the Joneses. They have to adapt to the rapid changing
times of modern technology and be able to freely communicate with the mayang Indian
The Manipuri children should be provided with better facilities to improve their Hindi
language skills and confidence so that they have a better opportunity to compete in India.
Seeing Hindi films is a stepping stone.
The south Indians were once anti-Hindi from the time of C Rajagopacharia. They are now
producing Hindi films much more than Bollywood. We may perhaps take our cue from the
Keralite Christians. Delhi is full of Keralite businessmen and professionals because of their
fluency in Hindi.
One of my best friends from early college days at St Xavier’s in Bombay died on February
16 2007. He was bed-bound for about 11 months at his home, needing intensive nursing care.
I went to see him in Mumbai in November 2006. He was nursed day and night by 2 nurses
from Kerala, who would communicate with me in Hindi better than English.
In the fiercely competitive India where we are already disadvantaged by 50% because of
our Mongoloid looks, the future of our grandchildren without glibness in Hindi is very bleak
Keeping our children away from watching Hindi movies which is a good audio-visual
medium of learning Hindi is against the Universal declaration of Rights for Children. One
clause reads: ‘we the children of the world must live with justice, but above all, with the
dignity we deserve’.
While Hindi is spoken by 800 million people in the world, the Manipuri children are left
fumbling in the dark through the maze of Hindi speaking India.
Hindi has evolved by a natural process for communication in day-to-day India. Nothing can
stop this. We need to involve our children to take part in this evolution. Otherwise, they will
be left behind as “chimpanzees” as some of our ancestor apes that did not take part in the
Hindi language is a part of the political and ideological power of the rulers in New Delhi, who
mostly speak Hindi. Speaking Hindi is an advantage. It would be a greater advantage if our
children could speak Hindi in Received Pronunciation as spoken in Hindi movies.
The majority of Bollywood actors and actresses are Punjabis. They have to take courses in
speaking Hindi/Urdu with the posh pronunciation.
Modern Bollywood films have nothing in common with Indian culture. They are modelled on
musical Hollywood films except that the hero and heroine chase around a tree and roll down
the snowy mountain slopes of Kulu Manali.
Educations are the birth right of all Manipur children and why ban their right to watch Hindi
films? It is obligated to us to let them see Hindi films in as much as they have a birth right to
be tucked into bed every evening by their parents.
Every Indian whether a Punjabi, Gujarati, Marathi or Bengali does not speak English or
Hindi. Hindi however, is a common language with which we can communicate with each
Our children must be taught not to speak in foist Hindi. Speaking like ‘Ham khata hai;
tum kiya mangta hai’ – will no go very far in explaining one’s longings and fears in the
competitive world of Hindi speaking India. Watching Hindi films will improve their accent.
Talking logically and persuasively, the Manipuri youths across the tribal divides should have
the rite of passage to Hindi, to be able to compete with mayang Indian youths. Hindi should
not be made as rare as hen’s teeth for Manipuri youngsters.
My article is a proposition about lifting the ban in the light of the argument I have given, by
showing an astute sense of strategic innovations required to deliver a solid foundation for the
future of our children.
Whether the Manipuris, 2.5 million people in 1 billion India, watch Hindi films or not, it is of
no more importance than a flea or a louse to the government of India, or mayang Indians who
know nothing about Manipur. It is our loss, our children’s loss.
We are not a candle in Manipur to show light in New Delhi. It is in the interest of our
grandchildren to open up to India for our economic prosperity with a salubrious diet of Hindi.
The writer is based in the UK
Email: [email protected]