Kuki nationalism at a low ebb, but on the rise

Published on February 10, 2004

By Jalun Haokip

February 11, 2004: ‘Kuki Nationalism’ is at a low ebb”. It is at a low ebb indeed. It is critically in question. Kuki Nationalism needs to be analyzed not only from political perspective, but from socio- cultural and economic perspective as well. However I am no scholar to go deep into such sensitive issue, I am constrained to bring to light some facts and independent, yet empirical analysis in the larger interest of the society. However, here, for the sake of brevity and comprehensiveness, we may not go into detailed analysis.

Time has come for introspection of the Kuki society. Kuki interests had for long been undermined from outside and within to a great extent. On several occasions, I had to find a hard time explaining who the Kukis are- at least whatever I know. To many, we are non-existent even in our homeland. Unfortunately, or ironically, the generic term ‘Kuki’ our very basic identity has been considered like a commodity- some thing that can be owned and disowned to the whims and fancies of some ambitious leaders or fanatically clan- centric individuals. Equally responsible for this is the attitude of certain leaders who play petty politics in the name of the Kuki Nation.

Given the current socio-political trend, there appears to be a tug- of -war between pro-Meitei group and pro-Naga group within the polarized Kuki society. But ironically, no pro-Kuki. It would be worth giving a thought as to whether there can really be conflicting Kuki interests. Public seems to have lost faith in our so-called revolutionaries and vote obsessive elected representatives whose ideology and promises sounds very good, but action often prove just the contrary. The socio-political insecurity has further deteriorated the pathetic economic condition. So is the education system or the academic standard.

In-depth analysis would suggest that we have not been able to protect or preserve the legacy of our forefathers, who had laid a very firm foundation for our today and future. It is not they, but only we, who is to blame for the plight we face today. The imperial British or the India’s nefarious design undoubtedly is responsible for this. But that is no reason to be content or to remain submissive. We are even more responsible for its redress. It is our responsibility-our collective responsibility to contend with every threat to Kuki interests, which is what, we are to contend for, at all costs. Neither can we sacrifice our interests, nor remain indifferent to the threat.

The failure of our diplomacy (if at all it was intended to be) has been proven with the large- scale infiltration of what may well be termed as anti-Kuki elements into the land. The disastrous consequences might not well have been apprehended by those responsible for the infiltration of anti-Kuki elements . One of our strongholds, Moreh to be precise, due to its strategic location  increasingly is under intense threat. This infiltration into almost the whole of Kuki-inhabited area has wreaked much havoc on our land and caused fear psychosis and sense of insecurity, due to which many villagers had to flee from their homes for safer places. Virtues like justice, peace, human rights, freedom and security seems to have no meaning for the Kukis. The term ‘Refugee’ has become so synonymous with the Kuki people. What if we cannot live with sense of peace and security in our own land.

Another factor undermining Kuki nationalism is the long- standing tussle involving two factions of the ‘Kuki Inpi’. To begin with, ‘Kuki Inpi’ the traditional government/apex body of the Kukis has been rendered irrelevant when the legitimately constituted body  was denounced – sadly by the very strong advocates of Kuki Nationalism. What a paradox!! This attempt to legitimize the unheard of ‘Upa Inpi’ and replace the legitimate party, whatever the reason behind or justification, to me, makes no sense and thus, no logic in it. This unnecessary tussle will serve no purpose, but will only do much harm. I’m afraid if I’m mistaken. I’m neither for nor against any particular group/party, but definitely for anything that serves Kuki interests. My concern is not who? or which group? but the degeneration  of the institution.

Of late, another emerging threat, though may not sound very significant as yet, is the attempt of cultural imposition or, for that matter, cultural threat. This if we are not alert at, could create irreparable havoc on our culture and identity. Interestingly, a teacher at Litan government school who by identity, is undoubtedly a Kuki over- enthusiastically welcomed the introduction of the still controversial meitei mayek saying, “it is the script/identity of all people of Manipur”. Obviously, including the Kukis. Most disheartening is the fact that we can never take pride in our identity and culture. Another cause of serious concern is the long pending controversy over the link dialect of a Radio Station.

And yet another important factor that stands in the way of Kuki nationalism is the ‘denominational intolerance’ within the kuki churches. On ‘New Year’ day at KWS Delhi, out of my concern, I had a short time emphasizing about the need of our church leaders to adopt proactive approach vis-à-vis church unification, only to be snubbed the following Sunday.  Such is still the mentality of our leaders. I wonder if such leaders have the slightest concern for the ailing society. Though perhaps to the annoyance of some leaders, the trend befits it to say that the church has become more of socio-economic, or worse, commercial rather than spiritual. Having been victim of this needless to say denominational intolerance/evil policy of denominational expansion within the established Kuki churches  , I can outright say that it has far reaching negative implication on one’s spiritual life and the society on the whole. Any division, whatever may it be, does more harm than good. Not only is it detrimental to Kuki Nationalism but also in one’s spiritual life.

At one stage, my faith was severely in question. The contention or the argument of some of the church leaders being that denomination is for administrative reasons or doctrinal reasons or whatever, is very true. But the missing point being that the unified church in itself would be a much more systematic and holistic denomination/church   seems to have never been realized. As regards doctrines, with doctrines of all existing churches, save for some minor differences being common, it is a non-issue. Even to this, I still maintain my highest regards for church leaders. The Marxist theory that religion is an opium for it makes individual tolerant and submissive even to evil, which thrives at the cost of the good) seems to hold true to some extent. But the fact is that there is solution to every problem within the scripture/system itself. In fact, the scripture abhors evil (Christ’s cleansing the Jerusalem temple is an ample illustration). Nowhere in the Bible is division encouraged.

Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, of late, the clamour to establish churches on clan basis has gained considerable ground. Should this be the trend, further disintegration of the church and further marginalisation of Kuki nationalism is quite obvious. Much to my shame, I once encountered a message to a church leader from abroad which read, “Isn’t it ever enough?” which certainly was in reply to a request for more and more funds. befitting reply indeed! . I wonder if the church had entirely been commercialized or politicized. The16th century- like church reformation seems imminent or inevitable.

It is worth noting in this regard about the ‘Crusades’ the coming together of Christians during the mid- centuries throughout Europe to reclaim ‘Jerusalem’ the holy city from the occupation of Turk Muslims, which was also partly responsible for the emergence of nation-states. Absurd though as it may seem, in today’s world of liberalism and secularism,this should serve as an eye-opener for our church leaders. Just as it was the collective responsibility of European Christians to preserve the dignity of Christianity, so is also the collective responsibility of our church leaders to bring about unity and reformation in the society, if all other fronts has failed. Personal assurance of salvation is no reason to be contented. Church unification, I strongly believe will definitely serve as a ‘turning point’ for the overall unification of the society.

The credibility of our leaders, be it political, religious or social is in question. So is their feeling of nationalism. Kuki society is in the shambles. Kuki Nationalism is definitely at stake.


Despite all these and even to this extent, all is not lost. And if anyone thinks so he/she has to rethink. Ebbing though as it may seem, Kuki nationalism is slowly rising. It is slowly retaking its rightful place. Deliberate attempts to destroy the Kuki nation to the point it will never be able to rise again, had though with immense sacrifices, been thwarted. No doubt, great damage had been wreaked on us. But one thing that had not been and will never be destroyed is the spirit of Nationalism-the very basis for the survival of the Nation. All because it is built on a very firm foundation. The ‘Dingpi Conflict’ which has rekindled yet another wave of Kuki Nationalism after the long drawn conflict during the 90s, is yet another instance of the immortality of Kuki Nationalism. Even as the Dingpi Conflict,the Karbi Conflict, the overwhelming concentration of anti-Kuki elements in almost the whole of our land and the uncompromising attitude of certain group responsible for the ethnic cleansing of the Kukis continue to be a cause of serious concern, equally it contributes to the growth of Kuki nationalism.

Dingpi-like confrontation cannot be ruled out elsewhere with the overwhelming concentration of elements of anti-Kuki inetrests, which in fact, is a matter of ever growing concern. In fact, it is inevitable should the infiltration remain unchecked. This has been a cause of unprecedented concern. There is every need to safeguard the territories whatever is within our grip, if not to reclaim the lost territories, for now. The exigency for the Kukis to live under separate /single political entity within the Indian union or without- (the ultimate aspiration) has been felt more than ever. But this can be realized only through democratic means and participation of the masses.

Apparently, our long-standing controversial, but vital issues are in the process of being resolved. The much hyped ‘tribe issue’, which gains currency, is in the process of being resolved. With the introduction of the ever most composite “Any Kuki tribes”,a milestone for the reconstruction of the nation has been achieved. Much more or, for that matter, the apprehensions arising out of this issue needs to be cautiously dispelled. There is every need to bring amicable solution to the controversies with regard to the ‘KUKI INPI’ and the defunct ‘KSO’, immediate revival of which is a must(fortunately already revived now).And with the relentless efforts of some committed leaders, the unification of the church can be visualized, though nothing worthwhile except the occasional meetings of ‘KCLF’ has so far been achieved. There is also the need to establish diplomatic relations with like-minded or friendly neighbours. But this should never mean sacrifice of our interests. In fact, the essence of diplomacy lay in protecting the national interests of the nation concerned.

The current political trend has increasingly necessitated to bring all groups within and outside the national mainstream to come together in the larger interest of the Nation. True nationalism has to take precedence over everything else. More importantly because, the threat to Kuki interest is the threat to all, whatever the ideological differences. The current situation or, for that matter, the emerging threats demands collective efforts/resistance by all. It is time we’re more proactive and holistic in our approach towards Kuki Nationalism. We need to be realistic rather than idealistic, responsible rather than to be on the defensive, pluralistic rather than individualistic, accommodative rather than uncompromisingly self-centred, optimistic rather than pessimistic in our approach towards the cause. After all it is the responsibility of all to defend ‘Kuki national interests’. The future lies solely in us. Only we are to decide our destiny as much as it is the inherent right of every nation. With the ever growing sense of consciousness and nationalism amongst all sections of the people, surely the future is not bleak. There is no reason to despair for, in the end, good will prevail over evil, truth over untruth and justice over injustice.

To end with, Kuki Nationalism- the driving force of the Nation is definitely on the rise. Kuki society is on the threshold of transition/reformation, the process of which has to be accelerated at full tilt. Reaffirming our commitment to the cause, let us strive for the best.

“Blessed is the Nation whose God is the Lord”.


For any comment or positive criticism, the writer may be reached out at jalun_h@yahoo.co.in.