Imphal Review of Arts and Politics

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Schedule Tribes and the idea of tribe are not always concordant today

Dissecting The Sociology Behind The Demand for Schedule Tribe by a Meiteis Organisation

The debate over the inclusion of the Meitei’s in the schedule list classified as a “tribe” under Indian constitution as raised by certain sections of the Meitei’s population seems to switch their motive every now and then. In the initial stage, they argue that the Meitei’s were once a tribe and met the criteria as recommended by the Lokur Committee (1965) to be in the schedule list and blame the cultural and religious diffusion/adoption of the historical Gaudiya Vaishnavism for the cause of non-membership into the schedule list in the past.

But at present the proponents seem to switch their initial claim and argue that it is just a political and administrative measure advances as a means to protect and safeguard the population of the Meitei’s from possible threat and extinction. Proponents who once argued that the Meitei were once a tribe and also meet the necessary standard reflected in the Lokur committee reports seems to have changed their argument and point out that we should not solely pass the academic and intellectual understanding of the definition but the needs must be seen as a political move.

According to them, the Meitei has become as if it were a stranger and non-entity in their own land and will require a constitutional safeguard without which the Meitei might become endangered. These series of claims as stated above are available in the public domain and those who follow the issue from the beginning will recognize it.

Therefore, it is difficult to put forward an argument for and against because the motivation of one set of argument or social action will lead to a completely different set of discourse while another set of motivation will require different discourse altogether.

Matters that involve serious public sentiment that comes along with significant compromise of the hard earned political status and history of this land must be accountable to all and a collective consensus must be reached before jumping into easy conclusion.

The demand involves absolute shift and transformation of one’s entire identity. It involves a serious demolition of the hard earned “nationalized identity” or the “umbrella term” which we now call as the “Meitei’s”.

It is an unusual and a deliberate attempt to impede the law of evolution that a certain groups or community of people had attained through long drawn process of historical conflict within a fraction of second that the ancestor of this land had sweat out spilling their blood out for millennia to reach such a stage in the evolutionary ladder which every race or ethnicity on the planet aspire and wish to attain.

It is the inability to empathize and immersed and live through it into those historical processes and circumstances that had occurred in the past and during those historically specific situations and sequential stages in evolution that led us to make some flat and blunt statements and jump into some easy conclusion.

For instance, if we ourselves had ever been physically involved in the French Revolution and the subsequent revolution that impacted all around the globe, we may have treated the democratic right and value so seriously. But we are just consumers who enjoy everything free of cost and that is one reason why we take everything for granted. We need to remind ourselves that all these democratic ideas or the formation of the identity in our case, have their own history. Take the case of adult franchise, it has been a slow process in making itself a universal law.

In the early part of the 20th century, not all the countries were practicing universal adult franchise. Many democratic systems had restricted to male franchise that too based on property, education and other qualifications. Even most of the developed Western countries, introduced adult franchise only in the wake of first world war. The defeated Germany incorporated the principle of universal adult franchise in 1919 and it took nine more years for Great Britain to extend franchise to women in 1928. In 1918, Britain had granted franchise to limited number of women. Even France, the birthplace of liberty, equality and fraternity introduced the universal franchise only after the end of the second world war. Switzerland too, the home of direct democracy, denied the right to vote to women till 1973. India adopted it when the constitution was enacted in 1949 which was implemented on January 26,1950. If these hard earn revolutionary consequences were able to sense and lived through it, we may never even think to sell our votes so comfortably for small amounts of money.

Similarly if we were one amongst our ancestor who physically participated in those long drawn process of historical war and conflict as cavalry or infantry soldiers and defended, sacrificed and fought for millennia to bring and unite different principalities together and to have a common nationalize identity that we know today , it would be an insult for us even to nurture such thoughts of rolling back the evolutionary process.

It is a gross mistake to assume that Manipur as we saw today was the result of an overnight creation. I don’t have an exhaustive knowledge about the history of Manipur but the little knowledge which I have make me feel extremely guilty with a sense of compromise and insult hurled at our ancestors when I see some emotive people throwing their temper tantrum in the name of people welfare.

The idea that Meitei were once a tribe and must switch over to that identity again is academically irrelevant. It is as if having abnormal obsessive attachment to old clothes, so much so that a person wants to throw away his new clothes away to be attired in old ones.

I had heard the proponents of the STDCM argue once that the Meitei now and then talk about unity and brotherhood and at the same time disregard the tribal status as derogatory which sound so unruly and childish argument used as a means to win their proposition by hook or crook without realizing the fact that the third party (tribals) who observe from outside may find so irritating to listen to these arguments. A responsible citizen and leaders in particular must have a fundamental understanding of human psychology if they want to connect people from heart to heart.

When we say that the Meitei is a “tribe” or no more a tribe or has surpass the stage, it is an anthropological and sociological fact or what sociologist Talcott Parsons would likely terms as a perquisite stage of “evolutionary universal” i.e., such a change in society is necessary to evolve further and such a change may not simply happen in one society, or that one particular society may evolve further. What is a necessary condition is for every society to evolve further. And different societies exist under different circumstances and in spite of those differences they are going to have that organizational development or change only then they are going to evolve to a higher stage. Otherwise they will not evolve.

To quote Parsons “Evolutionary universal refer to any organizational development sufficiently important to further evolution that rather than emerging only once (i.e., such a change may not happen only in just one society but necessary for every society to evolve), is likely to be hit upon by various system operating under different condition”. Therefore, the prevalence of such a change is what Parsons called “evolutionary universal”.

It has nothing to do with the personalized notion of inferiority and superiority. We cannot say that the Aryan must switch their identity to tribe over again because they were once a tribe and if not, it means they look down upon tribes. Such arguments sound very cheap and unacademic.

They seem to treat the concept of “tribe” as if it is  a “static” concept which is irrational. Anthropologists use the term tribe to denote a stage of development achieved by a certain group of people in the evolutionary ladder. And every known civilized society for that matter had all gone through these stages. For instance, anthropologists talk about human society evolving from a band to tribe to chiefdom and finally state.

“Security under reservation” and latent consequences: 

Even if the intended action as proposed by STDCM is motivation is based on collective decision – orientation in Parsonian terms or rather a vested hidden self-orientation, the fact is, it will surely have dysfunctional latent consequences both at the psychosocial and societal level.

The psychosocial effect may not necessarily come from within but from without as these demands come along with the sacrifice of hard earned “pride” and “identity” that involve intrinsic personal value, that too in a country like India where though caste as a social structure may have shown certain degree of breaking down but caste consciousness is still deeply rooted. We may remove inequality as a physical or concrete social structure that exists “out there” through legislative amendment but the fact is, we cannot remove inequality (intrinsic stigma) that exists within the psyche of the human mind and that is how, the human mind or perhaps the world for that matter work. And we are at the receiving end and we can do nothing about it than complain. Of course, I can say that I have a great respect for the ants that walk under my feet. And I see no difference between an ant and humans but that is purely a subjective opinion and cannot be generalized. Therefore, we need to be very pragmatic before jumping into some easy conclusion.

And also, we are no sage and others (non-native) too are no sage that have crushed their entire (negative) pride and ego and dark shadow within their psyche who will have a natural respect for us. There is always a difference between what  we think ( intended action) and what actually occurs (latent consequences).

At the societal level, it will surely but gradually give latent dysfunctional consequences.  For instance, the “security of tenure” of government employees is functional at the individual level as it protects and provides them professional security. It also helps the bureaucracy in promoting efficiency to achieve rational goals. But the latent dysfunctional consequences we see is, it kills creativity as Merton argue that the rule bound system doesn’t work in “new emergent” situations for which rule does not exist and rule cannot exist for a situation which has not so far happened. It also frustrates individuals through routine monotonous work rules and lacks competitive spirit and demotivates individuals from performing their work efficiently and responsibly as there is no fear for insecurity of removal from the job and the monthly salary are securely promised and corruption becomes a shortcut means to do any work efficiently or to move one file from one section to another. Consequently, it leads to policy paralysis and corruption naturally becomes a major issue.

On the other hand, we can see these latent dysfunctional consequences by the degree of difference manifesting amongst private school teachers and government school teachers where the former seem to sweat out their entire life with least income while the latter stay enjoying morning sunlight with disproportionate net-balance of work and salary.

Similarly the security that come along with reservation and the benefits associated with it in the long run will have a latent dysfunctional consequences that will demotivate younger generation where their consciousness will become numb and creative and innovative ideas will remain dormant as people will start celebrating mediocrity that comes everything without hard labour. The work culture will substantially decline. It will also kill the motivation for healthy competitive spirits and the power of resilience to face the world outside standing on their own foot. We need to encourage deserving people. Or in other words, if parents don’t allow their children to manifest the leonine personality within them then they will become passive foxes.

There is also a need to look at advances made by various ST communities in the socioeconomic and political arena. The ST communities within themselves have their own issue which is reflected in the Draft national tribal policy, 2006 – where the less developed ST communities often complain of their exclusion by the more advanced ST communities. Therefore, we cannot draw the conclusion that everything will be flatten out by the benefits granted to the STs and the society will become evenly distributed. Even the demi-god in mythological stories envy and compete amongst themselves to take advantage and prove superiority.

Spencer evolutionary model and the process of absorption of various ethnicity under the “umbrella” term called the “Meitei’s”

State formation among Meiteis evolve out of a long drawn process of ethnic conflict throughout the sequences of historical development where “parts” or different “principalities” came together and fused into each other. This is a process in which a number of small tribes engages in constant conflicts finally merged to form a large tribe through periodical process of cultural and political absorption of different ethnic group which evolutionary sociologist Herbert Spencer termed as a stage of “doubly” or “trebly” compounding of the evolutionary ladder. For instance, the Luwang appeared as a separate entity until at least 871 AD; the Angom principalities were still independent in 1326 AD and the Moirang chiefdom until as late as 1354 AD.

Historians also talk about various early migrants that had assimilated and merged into the nationalized “umbrella” term that we now call the Meitei’s which is also indicative of the early exposure to varied cultural diversity, diffusion and assimilation. For instance, migrants from the west or Nongchupharam and migrants from the east or Nongpokharam respectively. (Parratt, Saroj, The religion of Manipur).

I will try to give a brief picture of the evolutionary model developed by evolutionary sociologist Herbert Spencer through which I feel it will give an overview of how our society or present state may have evolved out of a long-drawn process of historical conflict and bloodshed amongst various principalities or communities.

Spencer developed various sequences of evolutionary stages which according to him every known human society had gone and passed through. He categorized the first evolutionary stage of human society as a “Simple” society. And he goes on to divide simple society into two categories: a) Without head and; b) With head.

According to Spencer, the earliest simple society is characterized by least differentiation or simply put, with least division of labour which sociologists and anthropologists term as an “acephalous” society where there is no head or chief or ruler. And in the later stage, political institutions start to develop with a headmen or chief with some lieutenant (assistance/helper).

In the next evolutionary stage, the society goes on to develop into what Spencer terms a “Compound” society where parts come together and fused into each other (either through violence or peaceful means). For instance, a number of small tribes finally merged together forming a large tribe. This he called “Compound” society. In such a society, differentiation of parts (division of labour) increases with specialized political institutions with internal differentiation, i.e., parts within the political system also become specialized. For instance, there is (a) paramount chief; (b) headman; (c) local chief and; (d) lieutenant helping both the paramount chief and local chief.

Brief sketch after 11th century AD:

In Manipur, the introduction of the “Pana” system is generally attributed to King Loiyumba, who reigned during the 11th century AD. The increased specialization of political institutions with internal differentiation can be observed by the existence of a regular hierarchy of officials who were in charge of various departments. For instance, specialization of political institution can be seen by the existence of the general administrative unit of the entire land which was divided into four parts known as “Pana”— the Khabam Pana, the Ahallup Pana , the Naharup Pana and Laipham Pana respectively. And these Pana were kept under the charge of a separate minister. There were also other ministers in charge  of the Angom, the Moirang, the Luwang and the Khuman who were in charge of respective small principalities.

It is also reported that the “Lallup system” or military system was introduced by Loiyumba where every able male aged 16 to 60 years were required to serve as a soldier during war time. (Below in Spencer theory, we will see this transition from militaristic society to industrial society where military activities become confined to some people of professional army as societies advance to industrial stage).

And the internal differentiation within the political system (again) where parts become more and more specialized are observed by the existence and assignment of various  administrative roles  such as the eldest son becomes the heir apparent to the throne; next to that was the commander-in-chief of the military; then comes the head of the police, the Sagol Hanjaba or master of the horses, Samu Hanjaba or master of elephants and master of doolies or Dolaroi Hanjaba.

The marker of increased differentiation or division of labour amongst the people can be traced by the existence of various “Yumnaks” or “Sageis” that represent occupational markers of diverse craftsmanship).

In the next stage when a number of paramount societies merged together, we have what Spencer called a “Doubly” compound society. This society is characterized by the formation of state or kingdom where internal differentiation within the political system in the form of civil administration and military administration and local self government and so on began to emerge.

(In one of the speeches I had heard some years back, professor N. Joykumar had said that “prior to the 18th century, Manipur was characterized by constant state of conflict and bloodshed amongst various ethnic communities and principalities. It was only in the 18th century, it evolved as a full-fledged state” (roughly translated).

Brief overview after mid-18th century:

“Civil administration”: During the reign of Gambhir Singh, it is reported that, besides the four Panas which was already in existence, the villages near and around the capital were divided into four more divisions – Khwai, Yaiskul, Wangkhei, and Khurai divisions – and each of the administrative unit was placed under the charges of a prince.

“Military administration”: The Anglo Burmese War brought about remarkable changes in the organizational structure of the Manipur army. The Manipur Levy trained and disciplined by British officials began to use modern arms. Even after the withdrawal of British support, the sepoys of the army served under the “Lallup” system. As early as 1836 colonel McColloch proposed to the Government of India for the necessary improvement in training and drills, and the proposal was accepted. And the drill master, bugler and other instructor were appointed under the pay of the British government. Modern muskets, ammunition and other requirements were provided and by the middle of the nineteenth century the Manipur army was well provided with arms and accoutrements.

The army was divided into eight “tulis” or regiments each consisting of several companies. Each regular regiment was commanded by a Major and Poila (corresponding to captain). One ‘havildar’ major and two ‘kuts’ were attached to it. Every company, had one subadar, one jamadar, one ‘agari’ holder, one havildar and one ‘amandar’ each. This regular regiment had a fighting force of 5000 strength. Besides these, there were irregularities of about 1,200 men (British relation with Manipiur, 1824-1891, Singh, Leishangthem Chandramani). I find some historical account conflicting, therefore some of these narrations may be subject to correction.

And finally we have a “Trebly” compound society. This is where we are at the present stage of development. The Great Britain or modern Indian State are examples and perhaps Manipur before joining the dominion of India. It is characterized by a specialized political system and within the political system there are subdivisions marking out specialized parts such as legislature, executive and judiciary. And within them there are further internal differentiations such as the different ministries, each one specializing in one area. Therefore, internal differentiation goes on to developed with further progression and advancement of human society.

These are the stages through which human society has passed through according to Spencer, all of which I feel fit very well in our society.

Further looking into the characteristics of social institutions in such society, Spencer had said that society moved from militant type to industrial type of society. By militant type, Spencer meant to say that, in a simple society, in defence of the tribe or the community, these societies had to fight with other neighbouring communities for this is the primary concern of social organization at that stage. So the entire society is organized militaristically. And there is also a very strict discipline where everybody has to live the same way – they eat the same kind of food, speak the same language and dress the same way and so on (see, Loiyumba period, just to get an idea).

And as we move forward in terms of degree of evolution, military activities become more and more specialized, confined to some people only who are professional members of the army, and therefore militaristic activities are no longer diffused throughout the society. And more and more of the population is diverted towards production – hence industrial production becomes the chief concern of society. And this is how as we move from simple to trebly compound society, we also move from militant to industrial society.

Concept of “Tribe” and the Lokur committee report:

Sociologists and anthropologists used the “ideal type” model of a tribe. Relatively speaking, tribals are small in size, geographically isolated, generally inhabiting in inaccessible regions of hills and forest. They are economically backward, generally having a pre-agrarian economy and they practice magico-animistic beliefs and are both culturally and racially distinctive because intermixing with other communities is prohibited. This model is reflected in the definition of sociologists like TB Naik, TN Madan and DN Majumdar etc.

Madan and Majumdar include other features such as the tribe has a definite traditional territory within which they identify themselves. Kinship idioms dominate intra tribal interaction. They have a distinctive language, often a dialect which lacks written script, also property is held in common and have their own political organization. Example tribal council.

Among the anthropologist and sociologist of western origin, the term means, according to the latest edition of the oxford dictionary:

“A race of people; now applied especially to a primary aggregate of people in a primitive or barbarous condition, under a headmen or chief”.

Roughly speaking, it is this meaning, most of the western scholars working in India have been using but with slight change of emphasis here and there. Even if we go exclusively by this above stated definition, for those who claim that Meitei’s are still a tribe can be instantly refuted.

The definition becomes difficult because tribes in India are in transition and subject to varying degrees of change with diverse situations and realities. Example: Isolation does not hold true anymore. Every youngster has a smartphone in their pockets. Modern internet is accessible to all. Economies are also changing as most of them have become agriculturalists. Some have even joined urban economies and are now taking modern education and have progressed.

If we take geographical and political autonomy, there are many tribes in Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh who do not have any political or geographical autonomy. They are part of mainstream society, therefore the definition of geographical isolation becomes problematic.

Even in Manipur there are a sizable number of tribes that have come down from the hills and forest and have begun to settling amidst mainstream urban Meitei society.

DN Majumdar identifies as a believer of “ancient religion” but most of the tribes have adopted the Hindu, Christian or Islamic ways of life. Sociologists like Verrier Elwin, Rishley, Ghurye, TB Naik and Bailey have maintained that “animism” as an indices for distinction of tribe is artificial and meaningless. They are of the view that Hinduism too, believes in ghosts and spirits or in magic and possession.

Some sociologists take the economic and occupational criteria like food gatherer, hunter, peasant and economy based on barter system. However, these are now irrelevant as a large proportion of tribes have become urbanized, industrialized and are very much part of the market economy.

In such a situation it becomes extremely difficult to define or identify a tribe with a fixed definition or situation as they are highly diverse. This being so, as of now only official recognition defines who are tribes because no definite criteria are being followed. Those tribes which have been included in the Schedule Tribes list are given special treatment envisaged under the constitution.

In article 342(1), the procedure to be followed for specification of a scheduled tribe is prescribed. Article 342(1) of the constitution states that:

“The President may with respect to any State or Union territory, and where it is a State, after consultation with the Governor thereof, by public notification, specify the tribes or tribal communities or parts of or groups within tribes or tribal communities which shall for the purposes of this Constitution be deemed to be Scheduled Tribes in relation to that State or Union territory, as the case may be”.

However, it does not contain the criterion for the specification of any community as Scheduled Tribes. But one of the often cited criteria is the standard marker reflected in the Lokur Committee report (1965). I will try to go through it. The criteria include:

  • Geographical isolation: It says that “they should be living in the cloistered, exclusive, remote and inhospitable areas such as hill and forest”. But I have heard some people even in the house of the Manipur Assembly that Manipur is already an isolated region taking into account the geo-political location in the Indian map. For them, I would like to clarify that it has nothing to do with geo-political situation in the map. It relates to the specific area under study. For instance, tribes in Manipur once mostly lived in remote hilly areas whereas Meitei live in the agrarian plains.

The largest percentage of the country’s Scheduled Tribes are in mainstream Indian societies such as in the State of Madhya Pradesh followed by Orissa, Bihar and Maharashtra, but this does not mean that they do not qualify to be tribes. In the States of Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and UTs of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Lakshadweep, more than 50% of the population belong to Scheduled Tribes and they are thus the tribal majority States.

  • Backwardness: It states “their livelihood should be based on primitive agriculture, a low value close economy with a low level of technology that leads to their poverty. They have low levels of literacy and health”.

Sociologist FG Bailey states that economic backwardness refers not to the standard of living but to a type of economic relationship. TB Naik pointed out four indices:

  1. the full import of monetary economics should not be understood by its members.
  2. primitive means of exploiting natural resources should be used
  3. the tribe economy should be at under-developed stage
  4. it should have multifarious economic pursuits.
  • Distinctive culture, language and religion: “ these communities should have developed their own distinctive culture, language and religion”. I have no idea what it means as every community has their own distinctive culture and the report itself lacks precision and is not clearly defined.

But the constitution of India provides a special protection for the classified schedule tribe  using what they called as “paternalistic and discriminatory” language taking into consideration the need to protect them from social injustice reflected in articles 15(4) and 46. But do we ever feel or find a paternalistic attitudes  or having a inferiority complex or discrimination because of our language or culture? What is the status of Manipuri language under Indian constitution? Is it a dialect with no written script? When did Meitei’s historiography begin? Where does Manipuri culture stand in the world? It seems that few months before the Lok Sabha MP RK Ranjan, gave a speech in parliament in the native Manipuri language. We need to enquire him whether he feel any sense of shame or inferiority-complex or discrimination because of his language.

The present generation must be proud of their culture and religion but not to downgrade or demean it or themselves just to win their interest. When we say that “the sanamahi faith” or traditional religion as primitive or inferior, we are consciously or subconsciously positioning the Vaishnavite faith as superior. The idea of superiority and inferiority is purely a subjective idea and no culture or religion is superior or inferior to others. Paradoxically, we will pull out the same Vaishnavite faith and demean as much as possible  to give an oversimplified version for the cause of hill-valley divide without any rigorous academic research. East-west-north or south- we are great people who argue everything just to win our interest even if the language that we use to argue is non-understandable even to non-human.

It reminds of the Indian zamindar who never protested against their British colonizer because they have similar economic interest . Similarly we find this attitude manifesting among politicians in Manipur who act like a lion  in this tiny state but paradoxically act as if what the “ahal laman” terms as “bhakti leiba mi” when they reach Delhi. We must personify our interest into some “object” and worship it instead of worshiping some faith.

  • Shyness of contact: “They should have a marginal degree of contact with other cultures and people ”. Does Meitei have a marginal degree of contact with other cultures ?  Like it or not mass cultural diffusion occurred in the 18th Even if we don’t want it, we cannot deny the fact and that’s part of historical processes which every known human society goes through. Even prior to the 18th century  many ethnic communities had migrated and merged into the fabric of Meitei’ population as I have stated earlier . Even the various Yumnak amongst the Meitei itself will easily give a trace from where we come from and merged and assimilated or form new sageis .

King Bhagyachandra had signed an international treaty with the East India Company also known as Treaty of Alliance in 1762 and also established diplomatic relations with Ahom king to liberate Manipur from the Burmese occupation, just to cite a few cases. I will not argue about the changes and situation in contemporary society though there are many I can put forward but no rational mind will agree that we are in a pristine state or lack exposure. If we are not so “much” exposed to the mainland Indian culture/community or people, then there may be many political reasons. What kind of cultural contact we want? Do we want the “daughters” of this land to mix/go to bars/have a drink or marry with some Mumbites/Delhiitte or Punjabi or Haryanbi?

  • They should be an ensemble of primitive traits: This definition is not precise and was not defined anywhere. And I have no idea what primitiveness exactly means. This issue had been raised in one of the EPW articles titled “Concept of Tribe in the Draft national tribal policy” by the author for lacking precision. But I think there is nothing to be mysterious about it as I have delineated earlier that anthropologists and sociologists themselves find it difficult to give fixed and precise definitions because of diverse situations and change.

The draft national policy of tribal released by ministry of tribal affairs in 2006 states that: “The Lokur Committee evolved certain criteria for the purpose of determining which communities could be classified as Scheduled Tribes: These are indications of primitive traits, distinctive culture, geographical isolation, shyness of contact with the community at large and backwardness. The number of communities classified as Scheduled Tribes as of today is nearly 700. The criteria laid down by the Lokur Committee are hardly relevant today. For instance, very few tribes can today be said to possess ‘primitive traits’. Other more accurate criteria need to be fixed”. (see, The national tribal policy,2006, page 21)

The draft policy also states that: “The uniqueness of the Indian system is that the process of inclusion of a community as ST and its exclusion from that list, if a community ceases to have the requisite characteristics, is an ongoing process. However, adding new communities to the list reduces the benefits that can go to the existing Scheduled Tribes, and is, therefore, to be resorted to, only if there is no room for doubt. There is an increasing clamour from many communities to get included as Scheduled Tribes. The proposals being received for inclusion would be scrutinized to select only the deserving cases that inadvertently got left out earlier”. Perhaps this is the reason why tribal communities in the hill protested the demand of the STDCM. (see, ‘The national tribal policy,2006’, page 21).

Another argument that raised is the question of indigeneity and a community’s fear of losing it as the Indian constitution classified Scheduled Tribes as if they were indigenous which is highly contested in the sociological and anthropological literature. Anthropological findings suggest that, in most of the cases tribals turn out to be migrants and are not the original inhabitants of the region where they reside now. And there is considerable evidence to suggest that several groups were pushed out of the areas where they were first settled and they had to seek shelter elsewhere and the tribal tradition itself mention of the migration of their ancestors. We can even see this in Manipur as well.

If we go by Indian constitution the Article 3, new states can be formed by separation of territory from any states, it can diminish, increase, alter the boundary or renamed the state. But the question is, are we going to accept this?

Suggestions: The demand for reservation is increasing because of the lack of credibility and vision amongst political leaders. It is the causal manifestation of the ill thought out development policies. And reservation is seen as a remedial measure for the adverse effects. Even among developed states like Haryana, Gujarat and Maharashtra which have relatively better economies than ours, acute agrarian distress, stagnation in employment growth and distortion of the development trajectory have led communities within them to demand for reservation. And for the political leader with questionable credibility, lacking in creative competency, it is easier to talk of reservation than to make course corrections. Increasing demand among the upper castes for reservation is also rising from the fear of losing privileges and inability to cope with the change as the policy itself has now become a tool that favour certain backward communities at the cost of the labour and hard work of the general category people. It has also become a mechanism for exclusion rather than inclusion as many upper caste poor are also suffering, facing discrimination and injustice leading to frustration in society. There are many who argue that the safeties and securities given to the tribal have created an ideological war between tribe and castes. On the other hand, reservation goes on to extend even after ten years from coming into effect of the constitution that goes against the rule proposed by the constitution makers. And even those groups who claimed continuity with the past, have lost so many of their traditional characteristics and must be viewed as a new entity.

In Manipur, if the Meitei’s are genuinely in a state of existential crisis, then the government of Manipur must consult their respective intelligentsia to sort out the issue. If the Manipur lacks creative intelligentsia then they can hire some of the best lawyer of the country even if it means giving away huge sum of money from the public fund as an existential crisis is the ultimate trauma of any individual or society. I believe some of the best and most experienced lawyer of the country will know the issue better and will be able to sort out the matter easily legally by suggesting creative mechanisms. For instance, land protection in this case. If the government of Manipur can take a collective decision and have a great compassion to give away huge amount of money to a non-native Olympian then I believe they will even have greater compassion for their own brother and sister in this land who are likely to experience existential crisis in the years to come as railway already start reaching Manipur.

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