Inclusive Manipur: A cure for myriad maladies

Of late, the State Government has been vigorously advocating the idea of ‘Inclusive Manipur’. No doubt the idea is quite impressive and it would definitely turn out to be a magic wand if this idea can be transformed into a reality. Inclusive Manipur, in a nutshell, can be interpreted as a comprehensive Manipur where all sections of the society are equal partners of well being, development and growth. However, there are certain areas which demand thorough introspection and corrective measures on priority basis. Do all sections of the society enjoy all the rights and opportunities guaranteed by the constitution and other statutes of the land to equal or equitable measures? Is there any disconnect between the hill people and plain people of Manipur? If yes, how deep is the disconnect and how successful is the Government in bridging the gap? What are the main factors which are pulling apart the ethnic communities in diverse directions? These are some pertinent questions which we must ponder collectively if the beautiful idea of inclusive Manipur must be transformed into a reality. We need to identify not only the political and economic factors which are pulling apart the ethnic communities but also social chasms, if there is any. Divergent political aspirations and economic disparity are two principal issues which must be addressed as the first step towards inclusive Manipur. One and all need to work sincerely to address the root causes of whatever disconnects that existed/exist between the hills and valley of this beautiful State. Unlike its southern neighbour Mizoram and northern neighbour Nagaland, Manipur is not named after any particular ethnic group or community. As the name suggests, Nagaland is a land of Nagas and their cognate tribes. Same is the case with Mizoram even though a few minority communities settled in different corners of the two neighbouring States.  Manipur, on the other hand, is a common home of many ethnic communities including tribes and non-tribes.
With such multi-ethnic demographic profile, Manipur has over the years evolved into a pluralistic society. However, over the years, many sections of the society have been left out of the State’s growth trajectory and this is one area where the Government must pay special attention in order to realise the idea of inclusive Manipur. There is also economic factor or more precisely economic disparity which has been abetting ethno-centric politics. We need a holistic approach to address all these issues and we must also undo the wrongdoings of the past if there should be genuine harmony and synergy among all the communities of the State. There can be no room for ethno-centric politics in a pluralistic and inclusive Manipur and if any community living in a multi-ethnic society is preached to give up or abandon ethno-centric politics, the other ethnic groups must reciprocate, complement and supplement. The idea of a multi-ethnic, pluralistic and inclusive Manipur can never be complete as long as all the different ethnic groups or any of the ethnic group clings to ethno-centric politics. In addition to the multi-layered divisions of varying degrees seen in the contemporary Manipuri society in terms of ethnicity and topography, there are also divisions between Imphal and other parts of the State and between urban and rural areas. These divisions though subtle can sometimes become causes of conflict and confrontation. All these divisions must be mended satisfactorily if the idea of inclusive Manipur must flourish. There should be harmony, mutual respect and equality in order to free Manipur from the quagmire of communal distrust and conflicts. In an inclusive Manipur, all the people should be entitled to equal shares of political freedom and economic welfare. Opportunities for development should be distributed uniformly cutting across community lines and topography. An inclusive Manipur can be a cure for myriad maladies afflicting the State at present.