Open invitation to Mission schools Playing the hill-valley divide


Come to the hills cause in the valley there are groups which are harassing you. This is the message from the All Tribal Students’ Union, Manipur to Catholic schools located in the valley, particularly in Imphal. Don’t know if this is the right approach to the issue at hand, but surely the open invitation from ATSUM should open some points for deep introspection. In the first place, it is a telling commentary on how schools which have produced some of the best brains in the State are being targeted by different groups, including armed groups. And according to ATSUM all these groups are ‘valley based’ organisations. This is where the open invitation to the Mission schools to open shop in the hills comes into play. To be sure the open invitation will not be entertained for reasons which are obvious to all, but herein lies the disturbing reality that indeed Mission schools have been at the receiving end of some groups which do not hesitate to flex their muscles. This is also not the first time that Mission schools have come under threat and the past more than says that such schools have indeed been targeted by such groups. What makes matter all that worse and unacceptable is the fact that such groups have come to the forefront on the slogan of doing something constructive for society. And definitely threatening schools which have produced the best brains in the State cannot come anywhere near the understanding of doing something good for society and the people. ATSUM fell short of naming the groups which have threatened Mission schools to close down but this is besides the point for the real issue has been touched on.
While the open invitation to Mission schools to come to the hills reflects the concern of the student body, it would also do good for all to come to the point that viewing everything through the prism of the hill-valley divide cannot yield anything positive. Best course would be for ATSUM to take the matter up with other student organisations including those based in the valley, with civil society organisations of the State and with the State Government. Take a collective stand against such elements which have nothing but high nuisance values and can disturb institutions which are there to educate the youngsters. Inviting such schools to the hills has the potential to muddy the water further and can pitch fork the valley against the hills. This is not how student organisations are expected to function. Move out from the hill-valley dichotomy for education should not be seen through the lens of the hill-valley divide. A point which is best underlined by the fact that numerous meritorious students from the hills are studying in private schools in Imphal after their Class X. This is a point which should not blow over the heads of a student organisation like ATSUM. Such a line of posture can only take the State backward. If some ‘valley based’ organisations are to raise the demand that resources meant for projects in the hills should be diverted to the valley for employees of companies carrying out the work for the projects are being harassed, abducted for ransom by hill based armed groups etc, would be against the idea of development. ATSUM has no doubt raised a valid point but it should take others along with it while registering a protest and not view everything through the prism of the hill-valley divide.

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