Taking ST campaign to Ministers’ doors Need to look beyond

The Scheduled Tribe Demand Committee, Manipur, the World Meetei Council and others who are at the forefront raising the demand that the State Government send the needed recommendations to the Centre to include the Meeteis/Meiteis in the Scheduled Tribe list of the Constitution of India will need to think out of the box. This poser is being raised in the backdrop of the series of meetings that the STDCM has been having with different MLAs and submitting the needed memoranda. The present course of action is fine and perfectly acceptable and is one step above the series of sit-in protests held across the State, particularly in places that come under the valley districts, but it is prudent to ask ‘after calling on the different MLAs, what is the next step ?’ Or will the next step go along simultaneously with meeting the different MLAs ? The present campaign will both have to have long term and short term action plans. To come anywhere near this line, leaders of the STDCM, WMC and other protagonists of the ST campaign, will have to be far sighted and should be in a position to chart out what course of action can be and will be taken up after the present course of campaign has done its round, presumably after meeting the Chief Minister. It is also important to question whether leaders of STDCM, WMC and others have been able to keep in touch with any of the Central leaders, cultivate friends and sympathisers in the right places at New Delhi, for afterall it is New Delhi which will decide if the Meeteis/Meiteis fit the bill to be categorised as a Scheduled Tribe. Moreover it is extremely important that the pressure of pulls and pushes on the land and identity of the Meeteis/Meiteis in the absence of any Constitutional protection will need to be highlighted to the Centre effectively. It was ego and a false sense of looking down on people tagged as STs that deprived the Meeteis/Meiteis of the needed Constitutional protection that is so much needed now but don’t let this hamper the future anymore. This is where pragmatism and the willingness and ability to look 10/15/20/25 years down the line is highly needed. The Meeteis/Meiteis missed the bus earlier, and now is perhaps the right time to set things right by deflating the false sense of being a ‘developed’ society. What purpose does such a trend of thought serve if the future of the children and the coming generations cannot be guaranteed ?
This is the age of opening up and no group of people can afford to be an island unto themselves. A global village, this is the reality and Manipur cannot be an exception. It is taking into consideration the reality and the distinct reality that will hit the people and the land that quite a few audible voices have been raised against limiting the number of children that a Meetei/Meitei family should have. This goes against the call for family planning and the generally accepted line, ‘A small family is a happy family.’ Central to this call is the threat perception in the face of the rapid globalisation and the need to ensure the survival of the Meetei/Meitei group of people, though numbers can just be a small answer to the looming reality. It is against this reality that the call to provide some sort of a Constitutional protection for the Meeteis/Meiteis has been raised and being included in the Scheduled Tribe list answers this question to a very good extent. This is the reality and it is heart warming to see, hear and read that all the political leaders that the STDCM has met during its present campaign so far are with the idea of enlisting the Meeteis/Meiteis in the ST list of the Constitution. To keep the tempo going and take it a notch or two higher, the STDCM, WMC and the other ST champions will need to look beyond and work out the next course of campaign. Perhaps the STDCM and WMC may work on how to make the ST call a central poll issue when Manipur goes for Assembly elections in 2027.