Indigeneity: Who must arbitrate?

The government, rather than ignoring, should try to nip the evil in the bud and refuse to let it build a foundation that may prove detrimental to the future prospects of the state.


It is indeed reasonable and rational that long standing problems should be solved once and for all. The issue of Indigeneity, in that case, also needs a comprehensive discourse to arrive at a valid conclusion. There has to be learnt presenters and experts on both sides and then we need a third person who will act as an arbiter who would deliberately discern and justly decide and make a stop to all the claims and counter-claims on social media and newspapers.

In his article Indigeneity: Setting the record straight, published by the Sangai Express, Rk Rajendro Singh, the President of the International Meitei Forum has middlingly opined that there should be an arbiter for the issue of indigeneity. However, as we patiently read his article and close towards the end, we find a rather massive contradiction to the writer’s own statement. Ironically, while the writer stated that there should be an arbiter, the article imprudently states the Kukis as foreigners and refugees in its closing part. If he had thus stated so, why do we need an arbiter at all because he had already arbitrarily appointed himself as an arbiter and had already provoked the sentiments of a certain community?

Interestingly, the article also has opinions that one should not express personal opinions on sensitive issues that could call for communal tensions in the state. In contrast, it is notable that the article has certain statements that can be observed as biased with a single approach or understanding. It fails to present the larger picture of a comprehensive or either inclusive thought of the whole Manipur populace. It was rightly stated that there should be an acceptable academic answer to the problem, and having stated thus, there should be a call for an action to settle the same, not an arbitrary conclusion with fabricated facts. It is the government, people who are in charge of the administration, to actuate a problem-solving mechanism for the well-being of its people and to promote peace, harmony, and tranquility in the state.

Indigeneity has been an issue for quite some time now in Manipur and it needs to be addressed effectively at the earliest. It is therefore substantially tempting to give the more ostensible possibilities to this standing issue. This article, as it is, is an attempt to employ a different perspective towards the question of indigeneity.

The government, until so far, has regrettably been rather unresponsive or have largely failed to assuage the heightening tensions. Amid the pandemic, the government on its part could offer a justifiable forum that can agreeably settle the issue, at least temporarily. It must call for the concerned parties so that they can effectively put their claims. It is to be considered that it is very much natural that in a diverse state like ours, diverse opinions and different claims may  often take shape. The government, rather than ignoring, should try to nip the evil in the bud and refuse to let it build a foundation that may prove detrimental to the future prospects of the state. It should take due responsibility, as being servants of the country and the people, to strife for the well being of the people and foil any attempt to break the peace and harmony of the state.

Meanwhile, the people too have a pressing role to play. It is vital that the people realise that they are the backbone of the entire administration. Likewise, ideas and propagandas only come to play and are realised in them. It is them who have the power to allow or refuse to let anything happen. The force of public opinion is irresistible and the people or anyone who attempts to lead the people have to be conscious about this very nature of society. Unfortunately, our society has been largely haphazardous and therefore critically vulnerable. It subsequently often falls in the trap of leaders with vested interests. Moreover, it is okay when the people fight for their ends. However, it is detestable and despicable when the people fight in order that few pseudo-intellectuals can meet their ends.

Nevertheless, indigeneity in a broader perspective should be discussed in the light of the constitution in which the country takes its shape. Otherwise, the issue of indigeneity would mean an outright challenge to the constitution. Who does the constitution of India call a foreigner or a refugee? Likewise, any attempt to domineer anything beyond the purview of the constitution can be rightly asserted as an offence in a way that it thwarts the sanctity of the constitution while it also opens up a battleground for hate and enmity in the midst of diversity. Would that not mean that calling a bonafide Indian citizen a foreigner or refugee is an insult to the Country and the government must befittingly respond to it? In the same way that calling a north-easterner chinki can land you in jail? It is not the constitution of India that the government and the people must be guided with?

In a nutshell, the issue of indigeneity in Manipur has never been a question until some individuals and groups with narrow-divisive mindsets started bringing in indigeneity to alienate certain people for their petty interests. 

So, let the Constitution arbitrate.

(The views expressed are the writer's own)

First Published:May 21, 2021, 2:14 p.m.

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