Can indigenous people of Manipur co-exist ?
Fr Paul Lelen Haokip
The broad classification of people into the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes, Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG) and General Category community are measures of the Government of India. The State/Union Territory-wise list of Scheduled Tribes in India has listed 34 recognized tribes in Manipur. In the long term, this classification has its positive and sectarian ramification as well. No law is sacrosanct or entirely unacceptable. There are grey sides in every endeavour. Many persons in Manipur still use the term “occupied territory” after the merger agreement effected on 15th October 1949 that has permanently led to the annexation of Manipur as an integral part of India and its subsequent Statehood on 21st January 1972. Now, the occupants of this “occupied territory” are on cold war. If the 22,327 square kilometre Manipur is divided into parts for Meiteis, Nagas, Kukis and Meitei Pangals, each will get just a slice. There is both a possibility to coexist or co-perish. We could unitedly progress or fall into shards.
Ecosystem Model Competition
In an ecosystem model of living, even a beetle is important, the moth has a role, the bees are considered great pollinators, etc. There is “inclusiveness” in an ecosystem model of living. Each species needs other (if not all) species for survival and multiplication. A State like Manipur is an ecosystem. It is not a piece of meat for one-time consumption. The biotic and abiotic forms of life are always in constant competition for survival but not primarily for obliteration. In a biodiversity set-up, biotic and abiotic forms of life thrive on interconnectedness and interdependence. For a State like Manipur, the competitive graph is rising rapidly in areas of Central services, State services and entrepreneurship. This graph will go up higher with the Act East Policy in full function.With liberalization, privatization and globalization, the world is shrinking and indigenous people are becoming more aware of their share of ecosystem for survival now and for the days to follow.
An Indigenous Trait
The Government of India has not officially declared “tribals” as “indigenous people”, it is a “considerable contention in India today” (Virginius Xaxa). But the term “indigenous” is popularly used at the international platform. On the 13th September 2007, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) was adopted to the good fortune of millions of indigenous people around the world. One of the clear traits of indigenous people is “coexistence” with nature, with animals, with humans. Indigenous people are bent towards ecosystem model of living than the Anthropocene model where humans rule (or everything centres around human power geopolitics). In Manipur, the towns of Senapati, Imphal, Churachandpur, Chandel, Moreh and Jiribam could pose as models of various communities living together, an indigenous showpiece in existence. Indigenous people thrive with interdependence and care for nature.
(T be contd)