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EDITORIAL: Of Character And Conviction

Launching a movement is one thing and sustaining it against all odds is an altogether proposition, though both demand their pound of flesh. History is perhaps the best teacher and how mankind respond to the records of the past will certainly have a bearing on the present as well as the future and only a people, who have had to undergo the test by fire will understand the point of disconnect between launching a movement and sustaining it. It takes guts, courage and conviction of thoughts and beliefs to launch any movement and to sustain the movement; it takes political maturity and shrewdness to identify the source of the strength on which the movement was launched in the first place.

A movement can come in different forms and may have different impact on the same people, but the general understanding of this term, is the inalienable attachment or involvement of the general public. As long as the public can be carried along with the ideas and ideals of the movement, it will go on and ultimately lead to its final victory. This is where the foundation stone of the ideas and ideals becomes important. Any movement launched on some petty grounds or on a negative response to a situation is bound to backfire and die a premature death while those founded on the firm rocks of truth, values and sincerity of thought and purposes will see the light of day, one day or the other. This is what makes sustaining a movement a far tougher proposition than launching a movement per se.

It was the inherent strength of the principle of Ahimsa or non-violence that Mahatma Gandhi was able to lead India to a free and sovereign nation after years of being under the British rule. It was a battle of nerve and commitment to a cause as well as the readiness to raise one’s voice against any form of discrimination that sums up the character of Nelson Mandela and it was the intrinsic belief in the equality of all citizens that led Martin Luther King Jr to lead the civil rights movement in the USA when Blacks were denied even the most basic of rights and were discriminated in almost every aspect of life. In Barack Obama today, we see the fruition of Luther’s civil rights movement. We have quoted some examples from the past to reinforce our argument that any movement to sustain itself, needs to be founded on a firm and principled foundation and not at the fancy and whims of anyone.

The requirements of a movement to sustain itself is a tall order and not all are equipped with the right mental and spiritual strength to steer the wheel of a movement and take the people along and the greatest test for the people leading the movement comes during the most adverse of conditions. Nelson Mandela had to spend decades in an isolated cell before Apartheid was done away with. Mahatma Gandhi had to undergo several jail terms before India could make her tryst with destiny and in Martin Luther King we have the example of a man fighting a system that discriminate a group of people on the basis of the color of one’s skin. It is human nature to revolt or show dissent to anything that seeks to silence their voices and take away their basic rights, but very often, we find such dissent or discontentment with a system dying a slow and gradual death due to want of an effective and sincere leadership.

It is not a question of whether one agrees with a point of view or not, but it is a question of learning how to respect the stand and commitment of a man to a cause he has committed himself to for decades. New Delhi, no doubt has netted a big fish, probably the biggest of them all in Manipur, in arresting RK Meghen, the chairman of the UNLF and the point that stands out prominently is the fact that Delhi or the agents of the National Investigating Agency have not been able to break the spirit of the rebel leader. Far from breaking him down, mentally as well as physically, the rebel leader continues to roar from the custody of the NIA and this is something noteworthy. As we have said, this is not a question of whether RK Meghen is right or wrong in taking up the guns and demanding the sovereignty of Manipur, but it is more about the character of the person, against whom all odds are stacked up.

To any keen observer, the irony of the situation will not be lost. Here is a leader of the oldest rebel group in Manipur, who is being tried in a Court of a country, who has disowned everything that has got to do with the institutions of New Delhi. How the twain will meet is a matter of conjecture, but one common language that runs through the thoughts and ideas of the entities on either side of the Constitution of India is the admission of both that a political solution is the only way to settle the issues confronting Manipur, but with a different approach. While the other major groups such as the RPF/PLA have not come out with any proposal to bring a negotiated settlement, the UNLF has on the other hand, floated the idea of a plebiscite, which should be monitored by a UN force.

So far Delhi has not taken any notice of the proposal floated by the UNLF, but the commitment of Meghen to this approach has become clearer by the day as seen in his steadfast resolution to stick to this stand, despite all the interrogations and grueling sessions that he must have faced or undergone at the hands of the NIA agents. One cannot help but acknowledge the conviction of his stand and this is something even the men in the NIA must have noted. This brings to mind an article submitted by the upright, outspoken and staunch Nationalist H Bhuban and published in this paper some years back, where he had bluntly stated that Delhi should come forward and hold the plebiscite. The icing on the cake was his confident prediction that the people of Manipur would vote for India and not the other way! Will Delhi listen to this man, who once served as an officer in the Indian Army? Or will it go by the inputs from its men? This is a question to which an answer cannot be expected any time in the near future.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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