Naga, Kuki, Meitei and Pangal youths should overcome disturbing history and shun ethnic politics

LB Singh
Contd from prev issue
Kuki Movement 
The Thadou and the Hmar tribes belong to the New Kuki tribes and they constitute more than 60% of the total population of the Kukis in Manipur. The Kuki National Assembly (KNA) was formed mainly by the elite Thadou Kuki Chiefs in 1946 and demanded for the creation of a separate “Kuki State” within the Union of India. When it did not materialize, they supported the demand for the “Greater Mizoram” by the “Mizo Union” of Hmar tribe. However, the “Mizoram Peace Accord 1986” maintained the integrity of the adjoining States.
The Government of Manipur fulfilled one of the legitimate demands of the Kukis with the creation of new districts in 2016. However, some Kuki Chiefs/leaders are spreading hatred and creating fear of land alienation among the Kukis so that the youths continue to rally behind them; and they enjoy the monopoly of power and resources. They are also pursuing populist narrow ethnic politics by protesting against the development of Moreh town to a modern international trade centre and a smart city.
Though 70% of the Kuki tribes are migrants, many of the Kuki youths are well qualified and they have the potential and capabilities to contribute immensely in the development of the State. The former US President Ronald Reagan once acknowledged the immense contribution of the brilliant minds of the immigrants to make America the greatest nation in the world. Similarly, the Parsi community of India has contributed tremendously in the development of our Nation. It is time for the Kuki youths come out of the grip of the narrow ethnic politics and work for the overall development of Manipur.
Forcible Merger of Manipur with India.
    The people born during the time of the merger of the State with India grew up learning about the honesty of the Mahatma Gandhi and the bravery of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and Bir Tikendrajit. The people were also very proud of the bravery of their forefathers who conquered the Kabaw valley and fought against the might of the British in the Anglo- Manipur War 1891.
However, by the early 70s, there was widespread discussion about the forcible merger of Manipur with India. It was emotionally very disturbing for the youths to learn that the Maharaja Bodhachandra was kept under house arrest in Shillong by the Governor of Assam and threatened him by using various methods to sign the merger agreement. Finally the Maharaja signed the merger agreement on 21st September 1949 under the state of duress.
 I was emotionally disturbed and could not concentrate on studies. Further, in view of the rampant corruption which was prevailing at that time in the State, I had given up the hope for any Government job. As a result, I lost one year in B Sc 2nd year.
One old school teacher understood the state of my mind and explained how the Meiteis (Ningthoujas) took about fourteen centuries to subdue all the other six clan territories in the valley and another about 200 years to forcibly bring the tribal villages in the hill districts under the Kingdom. He also explained that most of the communities in India, including the Aryans were invaders of the country at one time and the British rule enabled merger of a very large number of the Princely states to form our country.
He advised me to think about my future and for the well being of the State. Today, the quality of education in the State is much better and the youths are much better than what I was in the 70s. The Meitei youths should try to overcome the above very sad history of forcible merger; and they can excel not only in sports and physical activities but also in various fields in India and aboard.
Every ethnic community has some disturbing history.  However, the youths should not succumb to it and divert their mind from pursuing excellence in various fields. Narrow ethnic politics lead to hatred and violence. The youths should shun selfish leader who depends on narrow ethnic politics for their survival. Reconciliation is the most viable option to ensure peace, prosperity and harmonious coexistence of all the ethnic groups in Manipur.
Today Naga, Kuki, Pangal and Meitei youths are highly qualified in various fields. If the youths can overcome the disturbing history and work together without diverting their efforts in narrow ethnic politics, it is possible to bring everyone in the State above the poverty line within a very short time and the state can progress much faster than the other states in the region.
    The ethnic politics also restricts the vision of an individual; and therefore, limits one’s potential. The potential of every Naga, Kuki, Pangal and Meitei youths would be enhanced to the maximum level, if every individual has the overall vision and thinks of the welfare of all the communities and the overall inclusive development of the entire State. It would promote not only peace and harmony among the various ethnic groups, but also ensures optimum progress and development of each and every community.

The writer is a Retired Captain, NM, Indian Navy. Email ID: [email protected]