Laishram Subhash ,Convenor, ST (Scheduled Tribe) Demand Committee of Manipur.
“Freedom without opportunity is a devil’s gift, and the refusal to provide such opportunities is criminal.” – Noam Chomsky.
Without assured opportunities Meitei (Mee Tai’s future will be doomed. Successful constitutional listing of MeeTais as ST (Scheduled Tribe) will guarantee its sustainable development and economic growth through the umpteen opportunities that wait to deliver soon after its conversion as tribe and following the inclusion in the Scheduled list, and all the more , conservation and preservation of their land that they love so much and hold as close to the heart as unequally precious and consider so important in view of national and international geo political environment and geostrategic situation. Mee Tais should not remain happy sleeping with false pride. Real dignity of Meetais can be attained through economic and cultural growth and by not allowing, through appropriate constitutional provision, their ancestral land to be snatched away by using capital by those who are/were not the original settlers of Manipur. Ceaseless effort should be made to achieve our claim to recognize us (the Mee Tais) as tribe by Government of India. The claim to become tribe and demand to recognize us as tribe under the constitution is a very pragmatic and the only possible approach that could lead the Meetais to a bright future in this age of globalization.
Manipur is already rich in resources – natural and human talents. Meetai’s attainment of tribal status and becoming tribal, will surely catapult its talents in the forefront of national and international arenas of various fields by allowing full expression the hidden talents which have been jept unrecognized due to lack of opportunity or deliberate suppression that the youth of Manipur experience hands on these days. As the lotus that blooms fully blown charms all with magic spell, so will be Meetai’s talents that, being allowed to express to full extent, will dazzle all across the globe with their daring acts and irresistible success in all fields. Dignity inheres in the excellence that one could develop. The lotus does not mind that mud from which it emerged – it remains unattached to it, blooming beautiful, emitting fragrance impartially to all. For its purity and beauty, the lotus is loved and held in high esteem by all and so is offered to God. Under the constitutional safeguard, the hidden talents in Meetais will sprout and grow fully blossomed actualizing their hope and aspiration. Dignity will automatically follow.
Meitais have all attributes of tribe :
1. Geography and settlement : Meetais are originally and dominantly Mongoloids settled in hills and hill slopes, hilly terrains – racially different from the mainstream Indians who are Aryans.
2. Meetais are ancestral brethren of other tribes of Manipur. Example : Itao-sanaba
3. Meetais’ socioeconomic and cultural development is almost the same as that of other tribes in Manipur
4. Primitive type of means of economic production : Use of spade for digging fields for plantation, using animals for plowing, modern irrigation system non-existent, completely dependent on natural rainfall – monsoon only. No dam/canal for irrigation, mechanized tractors for tilling and harvesting no used. Skilled laborers non-existent. Rearing of cattle, pigs, chickens in traditional way for family’s economy.
5. Food habits : Eating boiled food,snail s, eels,toads ,dogs ,tortoise, fermented fish and soyabeans, bamboo shoots, locust, small fishes, Noashek , and collection of wild plants and leaves from hills for food, eating of raw vegetables e.g., Shingju- plantain tree, heibi mana , khoi machak , not knowing use of spices. Eating only one item of curry in main meals. Depending on two meals – morning and evening only and not yet accustomed to breakfast habits.
6. Clothes and dress : Clothes from cotton and silkworm – made through handloom or hand sewn. Dress type and pattern similar with that of other tribes of Manipur but different from that of mainstream Indians. Dress is simple only to slightly cover gender indicating parts of the body.
7. Housing : Houses are mostly thatched which have only a common hall where kitchen is, sleeping beds for family members and visitors are all accommodated in the same single hall without any standard partitions. House are situated in hills and slopes of hills and some on the plain. Pucca House are very scanty in number. Ventilation : Modern day ventilation non existent.
8. Source of water and its collection : River, lake, pond, rainwater , to walk through long distance more than 2 kilometers to fetch water with pitcher. Disinfection of water not known and not done.
9. Personal Hygiene and sanitation and toilet : One bath for many days, tooth brushing with tree branch stalks, with ashes etc. Open field defecation with no latrine system ( kutcha/pucca). Taking bath without soap/sodas. Using of mud for cleaning after defecation.
10. Transport and carriage system : Use of bullock carts, buffalo drawn sledges for long distance transport – that may be even in social festival.
11. Dependant on local traditional quacks for treatment of minor or major illnesses.
12. Belief : Traditional animistic belief and faith , festivities.
13. Influence of traditional fortune tellers : Maibis. In event of personal and common tragedies, misfortune people go for help to those maibis who are common laymen but believed to be divinely possessed and to have divine power to cure and remedy the ills.
14. Language : Tibeto-Burman language with unique accent, modulation of sound and intonation in speaking which is different from other Indian languages spoken in mainland India which mostly have roots to Sanskrit, Urdu and Hindi, Parsi etc.
15. Folk songs and music : mostly monosyllables only.
16. Dance : gross body movement, less gyration and not so frequent.
17. Marriage : simple with no dowry system which is widely prevalent in mainstream India, short and easy process in separation.
18. Death ceremony : ngatangba – From the death of a person, the family members and close relatives observe abstention from taking fish. On the 13th or 14th day after the day of death, the break of the abstention starts with a fish by the family members and relatives in an evening.
19. Habit of saving and conservation/ reservation of wealth/food for future use : no planning , planned stock for future use or in time of misfortunes. Less storage.
20. Crude tools for making house and furnitures, even for husking paddy, mortar and pestles are used.
21. Seasoning of fish and meat : dry fish and dry meat etc.
22. Common possession of land : grazing ground, common hillock for growing trees for fire wood or timber.
23. Use of firewood for cooking.
24. Use of pine tree chips for giving light in night for household works and readings etc.
25. Unavailability of electricity.
26. No habit for breakfast : only two main meals – morning 8:30 am and evening 8 pm.
27. Hunting and fishing.
28. Cheiraoba Kumtaba : Crude observation and use of natural phenomena such as the direction of the first thunder after Cheiraoba as signal based on which prediction is made if fair/bad weather/climate will ensue through the whole year that is yet to come by.
29. Sacrificing animals in village festivities – sarenchanba in Lai Haraoba.
30. Manufacture and drinking of country liquor/crude liquor.
31. Barter system of exchange of goods : not using money.
32. Primitive judicial system : village head/local hear, meira paibis will preside to award the verdict.
33. Primitive village security : meira paibis as night watch dog to prevent disturbance of peace in the village checking all possible threats from within and without.
34. Women folks in market : Majority of Meet Tai women are professionally engaged in trade and commerce activities. Manipur market places which are run by Manipuri women folks only. Involvement of women in trade and commerce to the degree and level of owning, manning and running amrkerts named after and dedicated to women of Manipur which is very unique in India and rare occurrence – scarcely seen in mainland India.
35. Economy is primitive agriculture based.
36. No industrialization.
Positive future impact :
1. Sustained development and growth for Manipur.
2. Paradigm shift in ethnic relations among various tribes in Manipur paving way for harmonious development with mutual trust, equality, friendship and increased co-operation among them, and instilling the sense of oneness without hatred and ensuring peace and tranquility in Manipur. “Harmony makes small things grow, lack of it makes great things decay” says Sallust.
3. Conservation and preservation of ancestral land by not allowing others to encroach upon.
4. Nakumei or Nakumee ( acronym for Naga, Kuki , Meetei , Mayang , Muslim, etc. ). An inclusive socio-economic cultural forum to be constituted to advance the common interest of all who inhabit Manipur.
It should be a front for socio-economic and cultural intercourse to dissolve all differences and finally achieve homogeneity in Manipur and to advance a common culture. In future to come, let an inclusive and all encompassing name “NAKUMEELAND” or “NAKUMEELAM” replace our motherland’s present name, “MANIPUR”. This will rekindle governance and development in Manipur.
5. A new chapter in modern history of Manipur : Realizing the greatest renewal of Manipur society is the greatest dream of the people of Manipur and this will be a new chapter, written in red letter, in modern history of Manipur. Now, the moment has come to write the new modern history of Manipur we dream of. The opportunity of writing such a modern history of a new bright Manipur has already knocked at the door and let us not deaf, blind and insensitive to the call.
6. Paradigm shift in governance in Manipur : When we could attain homogeneity in socio-cultural , ethnic and political relations and fulfilling condition in Manipur, and when people of Manipur have unity of purpose in managing social affairs in the state and common program for socio-economic and political advancement, we can contemplate running of the state with the Chief Minister who would be selected alternatively from the ( major ) ethnic communities for each term of five years endorsable for second term.
Thus, the old system of ruling with Chief Minister from dominant or non-dominant community for undefined period will vanish. A new vibrant Manipur will to emerge and all will have smile on their faces – the smile which is rarely seen presently among the people of the state.
7. Manipur’s place in national and international domains in the globalization process : With the constitutional safeguard under the Article 342, the people of Manipur will have enhanced international interactions leading to enlightened and advanced economic, scientific and technological progress carving Manipur’s fair share in the pie in the national and international affairs/matters, and Manipur’s increasing integration with national and world economies will be ensured and the people will be able to have ever deepening participation in the globalization process.
O! Mother Manipur
So good to all, you are
So unique on earth you are
Gem in the jewel
Heaven on earth
Fame on us all
Wealth on us all
Are because of you
Are by the grace of you
So important geopolitically, you are
So significant geo-strategically, you are
Who knows your worth?
Who knows your value?
Who appreciates your virtues?
Your all children are yet to be awakened
To know the truth
To see the realities
Bestow your blessings on your daughters and sons
Grant wisdom on your children
Awaken them from slumber
They are still in deep sleep
Still unable to prove worthy for you.
We are still weak,
We are part of the weaker section,
Please protect us from formal social injustices,
Please protect us from all forms of exploitations.
“My ideal would be the society based on liberty, equality and fraternity. An ideal society should be mobile and full of channels of conveying a change taking place in one part to other parts.”
Read more / Original news source: http://manipur-mail.com/realization-of-meiteis-dream/