By: Dinesh Sharma
As we stand at the crossroads of time and history, every Manipuri youth seems as confused and clueless as to what the future holds for us. Be it in Manipur, or big cities where we live and work, there is hardly any positive and encouraging news coming from our little state, tucked away in a corner, neglected and aloof from the mainstream narrative of Indian media.
But, I am happy about one things midst all these chaos and uncertainty. At least all our pent up anger and dissatisfaction are on the table now and all issues are being discussed. All bets are in – issues among communities, illegal influx, the peace accords, the ceasefires, and the mask of a pretentious government is off too. Perhaps this has been in the making for long and there won’t be any facade after this tumultuous storm. There is a hope somewhere that when all these issues are addressed, a Brave New World will resurrect in the land of Manipur. Finally, there seems to a realization that there is no running away from the truth, but a respect for each other and tolerance of each other’s limitations is our only hope.
While we must agree that our histories are different, we must also accept the truth that our destinies are intertwined. We cannot progress in exclusivity, because we are just too good at pulling each other down. But, an honest inclusive approach will guarantee that we get what we deserve and no one can stop us at that.
The roots of our problems is the fear of losing our identities amidst all the cultural inflow and economic progresses. But, that does not mean we close our doors and remain indoors while the rest of the world are expanding their horizons. In this global economy and a ‘flat world’ concept, we are bound to have cultural exchanges and we must open up our markets if it will do us good. The threat of losing ourselves and identity arises only when we are not confident or take pride in our own roots and legacy. A cultural Renaissance at the grass-root is the need of the hour. But a renaissance of what is the billion-dollar question.
Somewhere in the sequence of events, all our energy is being channelized to prove our differences and we seem to have totally forgotten what binds us together in the first place. The pride and essence of being a ‘Manipuri’ is what we have lost and there is an even more urgent need to resurrect that feeling of oneness. We don’t call ourselves Manipuri anymore, but are more keen to assert our ethnic identities. We have abandoned the idea of ‘Mother Manipur’ in our quest for betterment of our family, village, tribe, and community. What betterment are we going to achieve if we don’t have the land in the first place?
I am in my 30s now, and I don’t know of a time when there was peace in my state. We have been kept in these manufactured disturbances all this while. Finally, the façade of cordiality is off. This gives us a hope that when Manipur rises above this fire, it will be a brand new Manipur, which will be inclusive and based on the best practices of governance from across the globe.
For too long, we have been hijacking progress and the interest of one another through senseless blockades and Bandhs. It has done no good, but only suffocated us and almost annihilate us in this little pond. It is time that the students and youths realize that cutting of ration supply to our neighbours will not resolve our issues, but discussing the issues will.
The ASEAN trade route is our big ticket to prosperity, provided we resolve the issues at home. We cannot afford to leave out any section of the society if we really want to achieve the Singaporean dream for our beloved state. There must be collaborative efforts from all stakeholders to ensure that ‘sense’ prevails in all out reconciliation and peace building efforts.
In conclusion, I would like to remind you of the story I read in my moral science class, about The Monkey and the two fighting Cats. While the cats were fighting over who deserves bigger slice of the cake, the Monkey comes in as the facilitator and ends up eating the whole of the cake bit by bit. Needless to relate the story but it suffices to say that we definitely don’t want to lose the entire cake fighting over who gets the bigger chunk. With a more matured approach, all the moral stories of the world will fail us.
** The article was written by Dinesh Sharma for Kanglaonline.com. The writer can be reached at dineshcold(at)gmail(dot)com