Curious case of Kuki Nationalism

Published on September 6, 2012

By Joel Mangboi Haokip

Prevention is better than cure. But for us, in modern times, cure is better than prevention. We cannot spend lots of time, energy and money in prevention but we can spend a lot more in cure. Therefore, the many problems that we the Kukis encounter today could be avoided had there been the will to solve them during its preliminary days. To form an organization and to run are two different propositions.

It is very difficult to combine these two elements together. Kukis have been very unfortunate in this regard. Most of our frontal organizations lack a sense of anticipation and clairvoyance.

The growing spate of factional groups, separatist tendencies and clannism are the natural corollary of the failures of our frontal organizations. Because these problems are aged-old ones and no organization so far has taken effective measures to solve the problems. Here, I would like to propose to examine the cause and effect of growing trends of clannism or factionalism on nationalism in the light of the ensuing consequences of present day globalization.

The future will witness more of economic dominance between any nation and ethnic groups than communal violence between them for the possession of any piece of land. This does not mean that in the struggle for economic dominance, our precious land should be sacrificed. The point that I would like you to contemplate is, how well prepared are we for the future in the age of globalization? I firmly believe that, our robust economic condition will decide our future and will play a big role in securing our territory.

The world is turning into a plaything in the hands of globalization which it has not even begun to comprehend. Under such circumstances, Kuki nationalism will have to face inherent consequences of growing factionalism. I strongly feel that it is the duty of the nation to make it feel its presence in the life of an individual. In fact, loyalty is the greatest practical concept of life. It is to be purchased. It is not generated in vacuum. The sense of insecurity and a feeling of deprivation are the greatest factors behind the shifting of loyalty.

Unlike an animal, a man wants to be both physically and emotionally secure. For this, he could surrender his will to a collectivity; it may be a state, region, a community and beyond this, he sees nothing. Take the case of our chieftainship system. Does every villager (khochaga in Thadou) especially in the remote areas feel a sense of security and belongingness to the village they live in? Do you not think it needs re-modification of the concept of chieftainship system so that every villager could feel a sense of security before it is too late? I do not suggest for the total abolition of our chieftainship system but I feel that some mechanism should be brought about to contain the system of a one-man rule.

We often hear villagers complaining the incompetence and callousness of their chiefs. If we are to argue on this chieftainship system, I guess majority of the people would voice for its demerits. We should remember that, during the British rule in India, they made the zamindars (landowners) as the buffers in the permanent settlement. As a result of this, all the peasant revolts were directed against the zamindars and not the Britishers. This was because they could not see beyond the zamindars. To them, zamindars were the states.

Considering the growing spate of disunity in the Kuki society, it reminds me of the Indian history that I studied during my high school days. It could be a big lesson for us that, due to their disunity, only a few hundred traders who came to India with their mere security guards could conquer such a big country like India.

Even among us, the past incidents could as well tell us that the feeling of regionalism or factionalism is more palpable on us than the feeling of nationalism. For this, I think the perception of a leader and his or her leadership skill is crucial. In the case of our bureaucrats and politicians, they deliberately distance themselves from common people to the extent of anonymity. They do not know the problems of people and people do not know them. Their relationship with the commoners is that of strangers. As a result, the general public does not feel like approaching them on any of their individual problems.

Finally, with no options left, people approach the most powerful man of the area. He may be a communalist, a clannish, or a criminal but he solves the individual’s immediate problems. To the individual, he is God and the nation. From here, the individual stops seeing beyond. This is a nemesis to nationalism. A common man is common because he cannot think uncommonly. He is a follower of examples. It is the duty of the uncommon man to set different examples. If we cannot, then common man will follow the same. This is the reason why our society is divided on many parochial lines; some on clan, some on religion, some on professional and so on. This automatically boosts the clannish politics.

It is sad to learn that in our society, even 10 percent or fewer mandates enables a party or a group of parties to form any organization. Therefore, a party cares only those it matters to them. It is obvious that the clannish politics fails to protect and promote all sections of society and the basic duty of the nation remains unfulfilled. The people solve their problems by creating their own leaders for their own cause; a cause, which is very different from the cause of others. There is no uniform interest. These feelings are detrimental to the cause of nationalism.

Thus, in order to survive in this competitive era and to instill a sense of nationalism amongst the common people, the uncommon people have a big role to play. The common people are not a saint either. Most of us run after our rights and forget about our duties and responsibilities in our social and political set-up. We should remember that, public cooperation is needed to make our socio-political set-up succeed. For proper progress, peace and prosperity, people’s participation from the grassroots level is the basic need. We usually indulge in blame-game or tarnishing the image of our leaders unnecessarily, and this is one of the reasons why impede our progress to the next level.

For every public ailment, it is not just the leaders, politicians or bureaucrats to be blamed, but the people are equally to be blamed because we are usually selfish, have little respect for social obligations that can harm the nation and fellow people for our own petty gains. We are not prepared to learn from our past mistakes. Our politicians have no moral values; there is hardly a leader who thinks above his vested interest and people who hardly think beyond their selfish gains. I am sorry to have shown you a very dark future, but anticipation of the worst could give a good future. Knowledge gives us a sense of anticipation, which prevents bad things from happening and promotes good things.

Therefore, if we initiate a number of pragmatic measures, things could improve in future. The main problems of Kukis are our inability to read the constant changing circumstances and the failure to adapt accordingly. Problems are always there but every problem has a solution somewhere. It is up to us to find it. In our society, people are generally skeptical. We are reluctant to think positive, but we should remember that escapism is not a solution. To understand our problems properly, we should learn to convert difficulty into opportunity.

We have made our own hell; we should come out of it. We should try to be practical and accurate and speak less, and then I do hope that things will turn in favor of the Kuki nation.

God Bless the Kuki Nation!

The writer is executive engineer at Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (PGCIL), Delhi, India.

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