Empowering communities, and addressing the root causes key to achieving lasting peace in Manipur
Manipur, situated in India, is home to a diverse population comprising various ethnic communities, including the Meitei, Nagas, Kukis, and others.
The region has a recorded history dating back at least a millennium, functioning as an independent kingdom and a buffer state. As early as 1110 CE, the ruler Loiyumba adopted a formal written “constitution” known as Loyumba Shinyen. The ethnic conflicts and separatist movements in Manipur can be traced back to the colonial era, and potentially even earlier.
These conflicts are deeply rooted in the complex dynamics between the former Manipur kingdom and its interactions with neighboring regions such as China, Assam, Myanmar, and the expanding British colonial state in India. They are also influenced by internal factors, including ethnic and religious divisions within Manipur itself.
In fact, Bhutan, renowned for introducing the concept of Gross National Happiness (GNH), stands as a prime example of a region that prioritizes good governance, resulting in safety, effective administration, and overall happiness. This suggests that any region, irrespective of its topography or ethnic composition, has the potential to achieve governance that fosters peace and prosperity for all its inhabitants.
The Modi government has embraced this principle and is committed to delivering equity and development to the northeastern states of India, most of which currently have a BJP or partner government in power. The entire region holds significant importance as it forms the cornerstone of the government’s “look East” policy.
With the opening of overland trade routes reaching as far as Thailand and beyond, the Northeast region is at the center of India’s own version of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Given its strategic location, it is crucial for the government to address obstacles hindering its development and ensure economic integration with the rest of the country.
The challenges faced by Manipur necessitate a multifaceted approach. Overcoming these challenges and restoring peace to Manipur would require a combination of strategic insight, political determination, local knowledge, and support from all groups involved.