Economic package & political aspiration

Witoubou Newmai

The assurance of economic packages by the State Government of Manipur is evoking a sense of happiness among the Naga people in the south who are embroiled in critical issues such of land and identity.


But the larger question now is—can the Naga people in the south hold their usual chutzpah while defending their land and rights amid onslaught of alluring packages from the State Government of Manipur? Or, has the issue already desiccated the idea for the Nagas?


In a week’s time the seven new districts will turn one year, which were created by the Ibobi Singh Government on December 8, 2016. However, the Nagas will go back to the table of the ‘tripartite talks’ on the issue only after the three-month long festive season, on February 23, 2018.


The political importance of the district creation issue is too costly a matter to be ignored, undermined, exaggerated or exchanged for economic packages in the context of the Naga struggle for dignity. However, unless one realizes the political underpinnings attached to the issue the whole affair will appear drab, with its logic desiccated.


There is a real necessity to rethink and find out whether the Naga people at the grassroots understand the political importance of the district creation issue. Organisations like the United Naga Council (UNC), All Naga Students’ Association Manipur (ANSAM), Naga Women’s Union (NWU) and the constituent units of the UNC ought to understand that the degree of resistance against the “purposeful exploitation of divisiveness” (to borrow Amartya Sen’s language) depends on how well-versed the people at the grassroots are on engaging the issue. This explains the distinctive character of a successful movement.


On the other hand, the successive State Governments of Manipur’s failure to realize that adhocism and aversion to accept the reality are also the sources of Manipur’s conflict scenario, which has become a big issue.


Addressing the disparity of economic development between the hills and the valley should be considered by the successive State Governments of Manipur as their bounded duty, and stop treating welfare schemes as a commodity to exchange with ones’ political aspirations. In short, the successive governments in Manipur need to delink the welfare projects and their rhetorical posture if Manipur is to see genuine peace.


As stated earlier in this column, the so called peace which is brought about sans principles is ‘unmoored peace’.


Over and above, the Manipur situation also needs an assertive and purposeful Central Government. However, much to the chagrin of the Naga people, the manner in which the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) intervenes on the district creation issue is not up to the required level.


Unless each concerned authority does justice to their responsibility, Manipur situation will continue to exacerbate.