THE Meiteis are the majority group in Manipur and are caught between multiple political demands (Cover Story, July 14). The dichotomy between tribal and non-tribal, majority and minority, different religions, and rural and urban is different in Manipur from the rest of India because of the way its population concentration, topography, religion, social structure, collective knowledge, and local sociopolitical understanding are intertwined.
Although the hill districts cover 90 per cent of Manipur, they are exclusively for the Scheduled Tribes—Naga tribes, Kuki tribes, and smaller tribe groups. Because of this imbalance, the Meiteis have to compete with other communities for the remaining 10 per cent of the land.
People conveniently blame the Meitei-dominated government for the problems in the State for two reasons: firstly it is easy to stereotype the majority, and secondly, it serves a political agenda.
Blockades, protests, violence, curfew, and Internet bans were routine when the Nagas were demanding a separate homeland. Today, it has come full circle with the Kukis’ demand for a separate administration. People from both communities are now living in a war-like situation.
Every small community is locked up in its own tiny box and blocks the growth of others. Is it not necessary to fix social relationships before fixing the political structure? Identity politics has crippled Manipur’s development, and all communities are responsible for this. Communities need to question their political representatives instead of blaming other communities and work together to solve grievances.
THE Manipur government is solely responsible for what is happening in the State today. It had a lackadaisical approach to nipping the violence in the bud. The divide between Meiteis and Kukis is now out in the open, and Manipur has become their battleground. The double-engine BJP government has to be blamed for the inferno. It is still within the power of the government to resolve the situation to the satisfaction of both communities, and this will be a litmus test for the government.
THE Cover Story was comprehensive, balanced, and gave a clear insight into the Manipur imbroglio. The present conflict between Kukis and Meiteis has its origin in the formation of the State in 1949. Like Kashmir, Manipur too was once a princely state under the British. Since its merger with the Indian Union, there have been recurrent instances of ethnic conflict between the two diverse groups. While the former are predominantly Hindus inhabiting the valley, the latter are tribal people living in the hills. It is a fact that Meiteis occupy most of the plum posts in government services and are socially and economically well off.
Only a committed and impartial government can bring lasting peace to Manipur. Kukis and other tribal groups must be protected and a concrete plan must be made to bring them into the mainstream of developmental initiatives. The Prime Minister’s studied silence on the issue is disturbing.
THE situation in Manipur is just some more evidence of the inefficiency of the ruling dispensation and the wrong steps made by the State government. This has pushed people into conflict and suffering. Chief Minister Biren Singh’s resignation drama was a political stunt. The Centre’s hesitancy and the prejudicial actions of Biren Singh poured fuel on the fire. That the Army is being used to tackle any strife in the country for a long time is undesirable. The immediate imperative is to assuage the feelings of warring residents and re-establish normalcy. Fissiparous tendencies must be quelled decisively.
Gandhi and cinema
IN the last paragraph of his interview, Ashish Rajadhyaksha (“The state’s dread of cinema is huge”, July 14) said: “Gandhi’s hatred for cinema can be linked to his hatred for modernity.” His disagreement with Eurocentric modern civilisation was real. More intellectuals across the globe are seeking a different model of development from the Eurocentric one, which through its exploitation of nature and other fellow human beings is threatening the survival of the planet. As a student of Mahatma Gandhi for the last 40 years, I feel that he was constantly evolving. So as a person given to relentless evolution and self-criticism and as a mass communicator, Gandhi would have absorbed the technology of cinema, especially if it could have been used to work for the unity of the Muslims, Hindus, and Christians of India.
THE counter-attack the Ukrainian armed forces launched against Russia in the first week of June has reignited the flames of hostility between the two countries and virtually extinguished all hope for peace (“No end in sight”, July 14). It is sad that global calls for the immediate cessation of the war have fallen on deaf ears.
While Russia continues to be adamant about pursuing its expansionist designs as depicted by the Western media, the root cause of the war appears to have been forgotten. This is the expansionist designs of the US-led Western alliance, which tried to poach the erstwhile states of the Soviet Union and induct them into NATO. The military aid extended to Ukraine by the West only added fuel to the fire. As the leader of the larger country, Vladimir Putin needs to be guided by the ideals of the late Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and defuse tensions.
B. Suresh Kumar
Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu
THE QR code is versatile, does not require a licence, is free, has multiple uses, and facilitates a paperless transaction that does not require anything to be printed (“A code for all reasons”, July 14). It lets advertisers measure response and return on investment effectively. However, not everyone is familiar with QR codes nor can everyone afford a phone with a camera, the correct QR-scanning software, and Internet connection. Also, it does not always work, so cash must be kept as an alternative. That is, do not put all your eggs in one basket.
THE word juggernaut was used for a long time as a pejorative term in colonial British literature and as an ambivalent term in the popular press (“The juggernaut rolls”, page 9, July 14). We “educated Indians” are still fond of using this word although its English meaning is so antithetical to the love, reverence, and affection with which the people of Puri and Odisha regard the Lord of the Universe. Why can’t Frontline be more sensitive and more original?
IT is unfortunate to note that frequent train accidents have marred the image of the Indian Railways in the eyes of the world (“Fast track to disaster”, June 30). The situation raises a lot of serious questions. Is it not possible to place a speed restriction at railway stations? Why does the Railways not pay attention to constructing even basic facilities such as foot overbridges and service roads? Does India not have the required technology and funds to improve passenger safety and strengthen rail infrastructure? Finally, whoever is found culpable for train accidents should be taken to task.
P. Senthil Saravana Durai
Vazhavallan, Tamil Nadu
WHEN it comes to public transport or, for that matter, anything associated with human endeavour, safety cannot play second fiddle to comfort or speed. The Balasore accident was a grim negation of this truism by the authorities concerned. The headline of the Cover Story pithily summarised their culpability. The present dispensation at the Centre cannot abdicate its accountability.