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Imagining A Don Quixote

The new decade saw some with hope and some with despair and some with no difference. Time goes on and good times and bad times come as the natural cycles of life. The largest economy in the world had had the bad times sometime last year and it did crash and the collateral damage was felt all over the world including India. But time heals. And the hope to rebuild the economy soon regained by the efforts of those who had the vision and the courage to meet the challenges.

The UN Copenhagen Climate Summit in the Danish Capital could not reach an agreement. The countries just could not forgo their interests which ultimately will prove disastrous to our own existence. However the last minute efforts of the leaders of China, India, Brazil, South Africa and of the US President Obama’s unconventional diplomacy—a trait of American pragmatism—had succeeded to make an “essential beginning” as Ban Ki-moon, the UN chief whose quiet diplomacy helped the leaders reached the “political accord”—not a treaty  —described it.

The beginning of the decade also saw, the rise of the economic power of India in the world, though more than half the population lives without safe drinking water. Development in the Northeast during the economic boom in India is not much visible, except, in the commercial Capital of Assam and Nagaland, and the Capitals of Meghalaya and Mizoram. And also, may be in the numbers of cars on the dilapidated Imphal road, the mini-track Imphal fly over and the unfinished Imphal sewage project.

But as it is always said, India embodies unity in diversity—the picture of India is quite a lively one. The Gangetic people of the north think themselves the ruling class of the country. The people to the south of the Vindhya think themselves the custodian of the Indian civilization. The corporate people think that without them India would have been a pauper. The giant of the east think themselves as the most intelligent tribe in India. And not with malice, a Marathi considers its language superior to Hindi. A Hindi speaker considers the Rastra bhasha as the supreme language of India. A Malayalee thinks a Tamil foolish for not learning Hindi. Bangalore and Hyderabad are vying for top spot in IT. The Mumbaikars consider Mumbai as the heart of India. The Delhiites consider Delhi as the head of the country and so on. But all said and done the Indians—north, south, east, west—agree to disagree and rightfully they are proud Indians, despite all the differences and rivalries—regional and sectional.

But the Northeast—the fringe India—is different. In Assam the Assamese feel that they are being marginalized in their own homeland. The Tripuris in Tripura are a threatened species and they are lost in their own land. The Meghalayees of Meghalaya consider that their new found patriotism would save them from further erosion. The Arunachalis lament that India is not taking them seriously despite their professed Indianess.

The Mizos in Mizoram consider themselves the westernized Indians but they hate to dilute Mizo identity in any case. The Nagas agree among themselves that they should be one before others. The Meiteis believe in no one including themselves, and everybody is a leader. And ultimately the Northeast communities cannot be proud Indians. This is a reality.

Incidentally, many of the Northeast communities have not been able to come out of the tribal instincts. The last few decades also saw violence of unprecedented scale in the Northeast between the different ethnic communities. Hundreds and hundreds of innocent life were lost and many villages were uprooted without any remorse.

The Northeast continues to be—though with less intensity—an important arena of acclimatization of blood sport for the security forces umpired by AFSPA. The line which divides the players—the security forces and the insurgents—gets blurred and the public are at the receiving end. And this is justified by the Government telling righteously that such collateral damages are bound to happen in a conflict situation.

Most of the Northeast States except may be, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya had experienced and suffered extreme violence from both the security forces and the armed militants. With Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura being more or less peaceful and Assam becoming more manageable, the only State left with the conflict situation is Manipur.

According to rights activists group the ratio of civilians and security forces in Manipur stands at 100: 35. Whether this figure is true or false, one can easily confirm the omnipresence of the security forces in Manipur by taking just a minute’s drive in any direction from any point, on any day. Imagine a situation when a real-life Don Quixote happens to be the most powerful man of Manipur! The Ibobi Singh Government finds the forces insufficient, and it is not taking any chance.

Now, with all the huge unemployment, which no longer is considered a problem; Manipur still has lots of potential which may find few parallel. But what is most despicable is the political trend driven solely by self-interest devoid of any moral obligation which is destroying our youths. And the only option is our public must come to their senses and our Maichous and pundits should start telling things incisively or else we will be lost irretrievably.

*The article is written by Heigrujam Nabashyam.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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