If Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay Were a Manipuri?


By : Bimol Akoijam

In a seminar held at Manipur University recently, a gentleman who happens to be a ‘mayang’ (outsider) dares to say that Manipur is the ‘most corrupt state’ that he has come across in his life. He even dares to take examples of people having to pay lakhs of rupees for jobs such as 20 plus lakhs for the post of police sub-inspector in the state. Amidst laughter, many local participants questioned his observation with retorts like ‘what about Assam or Bihar’ and ‘what about 2 G scam’ etcetera!

What was that those local participants were defending by questioning his observation? Indeed, for a people who pay thousands and lakhs of rupees for (government) jobs, and talk amongst themselves, sometimes self-righteously and often with an envious tone, about the politicians and their hanger-ons who became rich by swindling public exchequer, it was a revealing moment…

Incidentally, during the same seminar, while ostensibly commenting on two presentations which went into the historical pedigree of the political issue that mark the violent confrontation between rebel groups and Indian State in Manipur, citing the Ashok Chakra won by a Manipuri officer and culture and sporting achievements of the state, a well known public figure from the state asserted, Manipur is “doing well” and it is “at the top of India’!!

What was the issue under discussion? Never mind…

But just think of this…Manipur is a state which essentially ‘thrives’ on a “grant-in-aid” from New Delhi, which constitutes more than ninety percent of its economy, a state wherein even its capital city, leave alone the remote parts, does with 4/5 hrs of electricity in a day and a namesake, if not non-existent, supply of safe drinking water for years on, a collapsed education system (while many schools and colleges have shut down, some surviving ones have more teachers than students), deplorable or non-existent roads, a staggering unemployment, a less than adequate health care system with a world famous HIV and drug-abuse related problems, death and destruction amidst all round normative and institutional decadence…

And the state is AT THE TOP OF INDIA!!!!??

Manipuris are indeed a proud people!

They are a proud people who don’t like to be “emotional”. It is another matter that they are crazy about melodrama and its access emotions…as one of them says…cinemado yeng-ngucho…yam kappani…yam fajabani” (go and see that picture, it’s good for it makes you cry)!!

Their rationality? Their rationality says without electricity development can take place and road connectivity or health and education don’t matter to development…Amartya Sen and his likes can go to hell with their economic “theories”, Manipuris are “practical” and know so much about their “ground reality” which seem to make them understand, happy and very proud of their Flyover and the Market Shed at B.T Road and the Capitol Project in the midst of residential area as the “signs of development”!!!!

Commotion after the PIL seeking supply of a modicum of adequate electricity in Manipur…some try to file another PIL against the drive to recover unpaid dues and cutting off of the power lines of the defaulters by the Electricity Department saying that students’ Right to Education is affected by the Department drive of cutting off of the power lines of the defaulters!!!! Forget that the same Right to Education was affected by the dismal supply of power for years on and that one could have filed a PIl on the same basis and demand electricity long before the drive initiated by the Department!!!!

Their morality? They hate the extortions by naharols but envy the richness that politicians and their hanger-ons have accumulated by swindling public exchequer!!!! Many might even like to give their daughter or sons to those “rich” and “powerful” families…

Their sense of history? Oh many f them talk about their “2000 years old history” and they love their Kangla Fort…demand “World Heritage” status for “Kangla” under UNESCO…forget that experts like Khelchandra says “Kangla” is larger than the present “Kangla Fort” or that such status under UNESCO entails that no additional new structure (such as the BT Road flyover) be included in and around such “World Heritage”!!!!

Their (political) consciousness? One burnt himself to death while their mother stripped in public and one on hunger strike for a decade now…people in traditional attires (such as pungou faneks, feijoms and colourful ethnic dresses) and children in school uniforms formed human chains in protest against AFSPA…and soon after that they voted to power a party led by a man they hate and envy at the same time to power overwhelmingly for not mentioning AFSPA in his party’s election manifestos!!!!

To think of it, in another seminar on “military-civil relation” held at Manipur University, a two star general, a field commander admits that thier involvement in the affairs in Manipur is not their job and that it is bound to affect their military professional ethos!!! Un-thinkable admission one would say…but next day, newspapers carry the news of one underground organization condemning the seminar as a major headline while a leading newspaper went ahead with another major headline “without AFSPA, the army cannot function says the General”!!!! …That’s how media sense and prioritize the issues after all the hall bulla on AFSPA in Manipur over the years!!!!!

Some so-called ‘revolutionaries” killed people in front of their family members for reasons that is not difficult to understand to themselves and the people…and the people (JAC) demand those killers should come out with the reasons!!!! They won’t demand that police be accountable by demanding that they should find out the culprits and the motive behind such killings to make institutions accountable!!!! It seems they also love and worried about the “revolution” as they ask “is this for what the revolution all about?” and yet swear names and curse saying all these naharosl (as insurgents are called) should be killed…forget that the second largest army in the world have not been able to eliminate them all these years!!!!

They hate the police commandos and suspicious of the army…but many are ready to pay lakhs of rupees for the post of a sub-inspector in Manipur Police and glad and proud that they have their children in the army, that too without paying money!!!!

Insurgency is a political issue, some of them say while insisting that “insurgents” are criminals and extortionists!!!!! And they say there are armed organizations rebelling against the Indian State and that the national security of India is under threat from such rebellions and hence the army is required…it doesn’t matter that Supreme Court while upholding the constitutionality of AFSPA says the “disturbed condition” is not due to “armed rebellion” and that the situation does not constitute a threat to the security of the nation!!!!

They love their Manipur…oh yes…they have a lots of “patriotic songs”…and say that historically evolved Manipur’s territorial integrity must be defended and that people in the hills and valley are one… and yet they celebrate Manipur’s victory in sports event like football with a victory lap with the seven colour flag that represents the seven clans of Meiteis (which doesn’t even include Meiteis like Kshetrimayums and Lairikyengbams etc, besides Bamons, Pangals, leave alone the people in the hills)!!!!

While many amongst the people in the hills say that people in the valley and hills of Manipur are “two different races”!!!! It doesn’t matter that people called both as “chinkies”!!!! Or that anthropologists have questioned the very category of “race”. They also insist that the valley people are “Hindus” and the Hill people are “Christians” and therefore the two have different ‘destinies”!!!! It doesn’t matter what Jinnah’s two-nation theory had done, the uprooting and colossal violence and the legacy of mistrust and communal violence that it left behind!!!!

Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay, a leading figure of Bengali renaissance, once wrote…

“By the grace of the Almighty, an extraordinary species of animal has been found on earth in the nineteenth century: it is known as the modern Bengali. After careful investigation, zoologists have concluded that this species displays all the external features of homo sapiens. It has five fingers on its hands and feet; it has no tail, and its bones and cranial structure are identical with those of bimanous mammals. As yet, there is no comparable certainty about its inner nature. Some believe that in its inner nature too it resembles humans; others hold that it is only externally human, in its inner nature it is closer to beasts…Which side do we support in this controversy? We believe in the theory which asserts the bestiality of Bengalis…just as the creator took grains from all of the world’s beautiful women to create Tilottama, in exactly the same way, by taking grains of bestiality from all animals, he has created the extraordinary character of modern Bengali. Slyness from the fox, sycophancy and supplication from the dog, cowardliness from sheep, imitativeness from the ape and volubility from the ass—by a combination of all these qualities he has caused the modern Bengali to shine in the firmament of society…”

I wonder, if Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay were a Manipuri, what he would have said about the contemporary people of Manipur?

And I also can’t help…what do those educated, well-dressed, some pretty dandy in their modern outfits, and who have seen the world outside and speak English and other languages very well think about themselves and their native place and do for themselves?

Whatever…God Helps Those Who Help Themselves!!!!

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  1. Yeah! Yeah! Its really a hard to understand or to make a decision or a comment!! Tough, I really like what you have  published. Keep up the good work.



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