Raging debate over ST status to Meiteis Reflecting deep divide


The divide is deep. This much is obvious. What is not at all clear is the stand of the Government. Yes one here is talking about the two diametrically opposing stand adopted over the question of whether the Meeteis/Meiteis should be included in the list of Scheduled Tribe or not. While one school of thought has been championing the cause, advocating that this is one way of bridging the divide amongst the indigenous people of the land, the other has been firm in its stand that the demand that the Meeteis/Meiteis be included in the ST list will further sow seeds of division. The debate still rages and interestingly, student organisations have also jumped into the fray, one batting for the demand and the other opposed to the demand. Lost in the verbal exchanges is the question of how Delhi will respond to the issue brought forth. More importantly what is the stand of the State Government over the issue ? As of now no one seems to know where the State Government stands, but surely their recommendations will be of paramount importance. So if and the when the State Government decides to respond to the situation, what will its stand be ? Important question, for whichever way the wind blows, there will be different strategies adopted by the two sides to pile the pressure on the State Government and this is where Manipur may come under intense pressure again.
As stings stand today, the media in Manipur is already beginning to feel the pressure. Editors, Sub-Editors, Reporters all have to walk the tight rope to ensure that equal footage is given to either side. Moreover it is also interesting to note that a number of social organisations, unheard of earlier, have started making an appearance. This may be an indication that the people as a whole are very much involved in the debate and hence are making their stands known, but on the other hand, it could also mean numerous people made to have an opinion. The coming days will certainly be interesting but in keeping it interesting care should be taken to ensure that the difference is not reduced to an exercise of punching below the belt. It may also do wise for all to question why numerous off springs of inter-community marriages (tribal women married to Meitei men) have identified themselves as Scheduled Tribes while some have not. Has any thought been given to this aspect ? Ultimately, whether the Meeteis/Meiteis are given ST status or not, what should not be lost is the fact that the ongoing debate should be for the people and not only for those who have taken up diametrically opposing sides. Why not hold some sort of a referendum to see where the common people actually stand ?


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