Manipur’s population is not so large and it shouldn’t be such a difficult task to manage in any event, but also there are a lot of opposing views on the trend of varying increase or decrease in the population in different parts of the state as found under the delimitation exercise. This may be a matter coming up once more for scrutiny in the upcoming Census in the country. However, while we are worried only about the electoral gains and losses in the various areas under question for quite a considerable number of years now, we could have missed out on something that is more important than the election and politics issue. Could it be that we have an urgent cause for concern for Manipur’s inhabitants, viz. the matter of a quite noticeable pattern occurring over the past few decades in the matter of the quantity and the quality of reproduction of offspring. Could there be something more than meets the eye, and could genetic alterations be the reason behind this. Also do we need to put the whole matter under the scanner to know why 3.3% of Manipur’s population is mentally challenged or differently abled? That’s a count of effectively 99,000 children or adults in these conditions in a population of roughly 30 lakhs. Add to this another 4000 transgender and the figure rises to 1.03 lakhs. Unbelievable but true!
Health, or should we say population, needs an in-depth study, considering the figures provided in 2018 by the Statista Research Department on the number of persons with disabilities. Figures quoted from well informed on-field private researchers working on transgender welfare are equally confounding and appalling at the same time, and leaves those in the know asking why neither the government, nor the large number of other organisations, have not looked into these figures of multiple disabilities while population count in matters of electoral politics remains an expeditious concern for them.
For the records it might be relevant to indulge in the demographic details, but let’s do it from a separate point of view altogether. Something which allows us to use the population figures quoted in the past decades, but for another cause other than the delimitation works. The decadal percentage growth of the Meiteis community was on a decrease from 48% in 2001 to 44% in 2011, according to the Census report. For the corresponding time period Muslim population growth was 8% in both 2001 and 2011, while for the Tribals the numbers were 38% in 2001, which rose to 41% in 2011. We can only wait for the 2021 Census to confirm if these figures reflect correspondingly in the last decade also, although indications are already there. But till the reports are out let’s forget about delimitation exercises over uneven population growth and take up the matter of population content rather than political browbeating over the population figures.
The issue that needs to be put across the table is how to address the exigency of health and physical and mental disabilities, and also a thought on the alarming rise in the number of transgender, while we are at it. According to the 2001 Census there were 28,376 disabled persons in Manipur. In 2011 the Manipur Disability Census showed a total of 58,547 while at the same time, as we know, the decadal population of the Meitei community especially showed a decline during the period mentioned. The fertility rate, or number of children born for each woman, in Manipur, was 2.4 in 1999, 1.5 in 2009, and 1.4 in 2017. The birth rate per 1000 population given by the Registrar General of India shows a continuous decline from 29.1 in 1984, to 19.4 in 1990, and 18.6 in 1999, in Manipur.
Taken together with the fall in the growth of population, the phenomenal increase in the differently abled and mentally challenged population is certainly some cause for concern. Why is this happening? Boys, girls, differently abled or Trans – births take place due to virtue. And what does this mean factually. Does it mean it’s just a natural condition, or is it a man-made condition that children are born with physical conditions or mental challenges? Scientifically these conditions are attributed mainly to genetic disorders and social conditions also by experts; like for instance, the extended years of armed violence in Manipur which has caused a lot of lead poisoning from gun fumes and lead dust from using firearms. This affects beginning from mentally, more so in conditions where dissenting groups may be using firearms against a legally sanctioned majority group, like what happened in Manipur. Psychological violence resulting from illegal firearm usage on a large scale added with the heat in the mind created by the terrifying velocity of trigger impact or the mass of firearms, that causes a burn out, or depletion of the brain’s energy, are responsible for genetic disorders resulting in adverse changes to body and mind.
However, while the fact remains that there’s an abnormal rise in such physical and mental conditions, the immediate concern is the need for support for the affected section of people, whether it be handicapped children or adult illness, or the increasing number of transgender. Though there are schemes from the government aimed at helping the differently abled, mentally challenged or multiple disorder conditions, the amounts meant for the support of such people is ridiculously low and can hardly be counted as any tangible aid. In the same way there are no schemes for the transgender and the transgender community in Manipur is getting whatever support they get only from private institutions away from the state and some support organised by individuals from amongst the transgender.
Most of the government welfare measures for all these sections of people are only put elaborately on paper but hardly any actual work is done in this regard, either due to the government being insensitive to the miseries of these people, or because the government departments concerned are putting in no effort and time to look into these matters. A sad state of affairs considering the fact that socially challenged people exude so much positivity and courage for other members of the society. Life is so much better when everyone is treated equally in a society. It’s so much reason to deliberate and enquire why our society has not evolved taking everyone in consideration. Maybe that’s the clue to why this system is failing to work – which is also the commonest complaint, even among those who run the system. Certainly we should be retracing our steps to make the world around us equitable and free from avoidable sufferings.
They say “It is fatal to enter a war without the will to win it”. Having said that, one can only imagine, the vigour, the