Ripped consciousness: The poverty of fraternity
By Kh. Ibomcha
Hitting on the genuine causation that lies at the core of unpleasant episodes unfolded in Manipur in the last few weeks after the state government created seven revenue districts in Manipur allegedly not consulting with stake holders rather than assuming the state of affairs as a product of blocked and counter blocked without giving correct historical treatment of the issue, is highly called for if we as group of people want to see a new Manipur where every ethnic group lives peacefully fulfilling their aspirations with a collective consciousness constructed on the concept of inclusive politics— the only alternative to the status quo.
As has been seen several times in the past, in Manipur, almost every event involving hill and valley seems to be read along ethnic lines, making the already warped hill-valley dichotomy worsening much more than before.
A close observation will inform one that, at the core of Naga consciousness are its collective hatred of Meitei and the deliberate practice of nourishing a wrong perception that puts any individual Naga construing actions taken up by the state Government as Meitei supremacist project on the pedestal of Naga national hero. By the same token, the incorrect perception, borne out of hatred, can also be widely observed in public expression the Meitei, the valley dweller.
Accepting the reading of reality which is the opinion of the power that be, putting down of the dream of Naga for which many had to bite the dust takes center stage of Meitei consciousness portraying the collective mindset of Meitei, the valley dwellers, reducing the idea of fraternity to dust.
Thus, while Meitei reasons their inability to translate their dream of a more just society into reality, the hill people dub the valley settlers as a group exploiting them making their aspirations impassable on and on.
That in the past, Meitei did uncountable injustices to the hill people is what one cannot deny, and Meitei must accept this. This cannot be denied that meitei located hill people at the lower rung of the society in post-pamheiba likening them to the Sudras who were in the lowest stratum of Hindu society based on caste system.
Here, it is also worth seeing how several Kanglei scholars are critical of the period finger-pointing this period as the original source of the hill-valley divide around which the current politics of hills and valley revolves. But the hill dwellers do not want to see it, so they make it unseen and often dig out the ghost from the past leading to making the hills and the valley at each other’s throat. Thus, both the hill and the valley have fallen into the trap set by a bigger enemy which they pretend to be non-existent out of fear.
One can evidently see an erroneous perception in the mind of Nagas, which lead them to do reactive politics, identifying themselves with the one who they think are oppressing them like Paulo Freire wrote in his famous book ‘the pedagogy of the oppressed’.
Maybe, that is why they see nothing wrong when they impose a blockade on the national highway 2 and 37, the two lifelines for the valley, attacking goods-laden vehicles headed to Imphal completely stopping the supply of essential commodities
Thus, by putting Meitei at the center of Naga politics assuming the Meitei as their arch enemy, they stifle all other process and make the real oppressor really oppressing them unseen. In so doing, it only perpetuates the chains of dependency.
Close observation will inform one that the meitei are also disordered like Nagas with a ripped consciousness of reality. So disorganized are they that nothing positive can be expected from them even though on their lips, they claim they are playing the role of a big brother for a collective shared future of Manipur wherein every community could realize their imaginings.
Setting 22 vehicles ablaze at khuraiHeikrumakhong on 18 Dec, as a part of counter blockades, reflects the collective mindset of meitei that often leads them to reactive politics while realities call for critical consciousness that could empower them to overcome the dependency and transcend the wall building around them—the key cause of every issue confronting Manipur since long.
Our existence with the conflicts, defining our times communicate us the idea the horizontal conflict between the hills and the valley as deliberate design of Delhi to split the multiple ethnic groups co-existing tranquilly in the northeastern part of India, a region that can be imagined as the land of the oppressed, completely distinct from Indian mainlanders.
This perception of domination and Delhi’s conscious fabrication of horizontal conflict can be understood linking to how Indian forces slaughtered countless Nagas hushing up the Naga indigenous dream of independence and how they instilled fear into the psychic structure of Kanglei people imposing AFSPA in Manipur in the name of suppressing ‘Naharol’ or Kanglei nationalists who were dreaming of a more just society conceived on the idea of equality, justice, fraternity and freedom.
Observing Delhi’s passivity as respects the current issue of the blockade and counter blockade that burn Manipur putting the Naga and Meitei on the verge of an ethnic flare up, we cannot stop suspecting the whole the separating inconsistency as deliberate design of Delhi to maintain the hegemonic status quo.
Regrettably, the perception which assumes Meitei aspiration of achieving a more just society possible only through decimation of the Naga national dream exposes Meitei’s inability to disengage from reconstruction of the status quo whereby diverts their indigenous dream towards self-destruction.
Here, what is seen crystal clear is the colonial strategy that intensifies horizontal conflict to de-intensify the vertical conflict in order that ‘the power that be’ can transform the principal conflict into secondary conflict delegitimizing the indigenous dreams of the dominated, both the Naga and the Meitei, for that matter all the struggling people of the north-eastern part of India.
The Naga, by the same token, also endorses Delhi’s conscious design that attempts to dislocate and misplace their aspiration closely tied to a dignified existence erroneously projecting the Naga-Meitei antagonism, a byproduct of indo-Naga conflict, as principal conflict with an off beam perception assuming Delhi as their savior, while taking Meitei as their principal enemy. This naive yet incorrect approach makes our possible shared future of a better and more just society died before being born.
There is, therefore, a pressing need for both the Naga and Meitei to understand the antipathy between the two as a product of a larger design built by 'the power that be' to perpetuate the hegemonic status quo. This calls for a shift away of negative motivation to positive motivation which involves defining both the Naga and Meitei as members of a group an oppressed people under a single colonial regime.
Beyond the narrow fragmented politics seen at present, our struggle calls for a shift towards a unified struggle that can translate every ethnic group’s dream into reality. For it, we need dialogues, not monologues. We must not overlook the necessity of developing a new movement with a new vision having the capacity to accommodate the aspirations of every ethnic group residing the imagined space called WESEA, or else our doomsday is knocking at the door.