The Resurgence of Thadou Politics

Published on February 3, 2015

By Hejang Misao

Kuki society witnessed the resurgence of Thadou politics just recently with the reasons best known to the diehard progenitor of it. Thadou politics is in fact not a new phenomenon; its inception can be traced back to the Indian government recognition of Thadou as one tribe in Manipur. Kuki society since then is plagued with conflict of interest between two rival parties – Kuki fanatic on one side and Thadou fanatic on the other. Interestingly the two parties share one dialect and one culture, their only difference is in the name of the nomenclature or alphabet. Both have their own reasonable stand points even worth dying for.

After a short hiatus – understanding reached between both parties a few years back – Thadou politics comes to the surface again which is a cause of big concern to all and sundry and the fabric of Kuki society is once again under constant question.

Out of the many probable reasons for its revival, the recognition of Kuki as one tribe under any Kuki tribe is believed to be the main that also serves as a spark according to them. The Thadou hardcore opines that Kuki as a nation is now being reduced to the status of tribe for which other smaller tribes find it difficult to align themselves with the name Kuki. Mention may be made here that all non-Naga tribes are known as Kuki. They strongly advocate that reviving Thadou politics is reviving Kuki which from the logical perspective sound very true and convincing. However, looking deeper into it one cannot rule out the possibility of the student body as an instrument for achieving a sinister design by some vested interest. Thadou politics strives on ideal concept but unfortunately centers around miscalculated strategies and approaches that hurt the sentiment of many.

Analysing our past experiences, that is, division among people speaking the  same dialect and following one culture especially from the time they were recognized under the name Thadou, one can easily conclude that there is no cure to this malady unless both parties compromise.

I am afraid the efforts of the Thadou politics will end up only in treating the symptom without addressing the real or root cause of the problem. Symptom treatment brings only respite not an end to the problem. The maxim ‘means always justifies the end’ holds true at all time.

On the other hand, looking from the lens of a larger political picture, Any Kuki Tribe is essential again like Any Naga Tribe and Any Mizo Tribe. To corroborate it, I would speak from two angles:
1. Community Angle: Kuki as a community comprises of different sub-tribes is often regarded as a nation. Therefore, Kuki as a nation cannot be reduced to merely a tribe. Doing so would be big social aberration and blunder from our part.
2. National and International Angle: Speaking from the perspective of India as a nation and country, Kuki with its present movement needs to be known by the government officially which means it has to be a recognized tribe. For there cannot be two nations in one country. For instance, Naga, Mizo, etc. are all known as tribe by the Indian government under any Naga and any Mizo. Similarly, Kuki has to be officially known as one tribe without which government cannot have political talk. Before the recognition of Kuki as a tribe, nowhere in the government records you will find Kuki except in some recorded history books.

Let’s take one example: your noble cause has been taken up in the United Nations and the world body puts pressure on Indian government to address that cause – in case Kuki is not officially known by the Indian government as one tribe, how would the government initiate dialogue with a community or tribe not known to them. Will it then be Thadou or Vaiphei or Paite?

Striving for Durable Solution
There is no question of one wrong and the other right. Our problem is the friction of two conflicting interests. Therefore, respecting one another’s sentiment by genuine understanding of each other concern and working together for mutually agreeable solution is the main answer to our problem. For this, each party has to compromise on their standing ground – agreeing to disagree and disagree to agree. Kuki has no problem with anything but name. I would challenge each party by throwing them this question: if you really are concerned for the future of our community (Kuki), why can’t you come to a negotiating table for a durable solution by burying your hatchet?

Keeping aside the name Thadou and Kuki and looking for a commonly acceptable name could be one glaring example of the so-called compromise on your stance and work for mutually agreeable solution. Unless each party backs down from each own standpoint and chisel out for common solution, this imbroglio – disease that makes us weaker day by day – will perpetuate and still haunt us in our next generation.

We blame the previous generation for today’s confusion and shame. But sadly, this generation does not want to strike a chord of peace where the generation next could grow in the fullest extent without any room of prejudice and confusion unlike this generation. Interestingly while we are still warring, others took advantage of it and outdo us in all spheres. We are at the receiving end, unfortunately, which is nobody’s doing but us only.

I am afraid when we are woken it will be too late. But I would say better late than never. Therefore, let us make a wise decision by choosing the right path. Either we choose to live or perish, the ball lies in our court.

The writer is a social activist working with DKA-Austrian project (the development cooperation agency of Katholische Jungschar – the Catholic Children’s Movement of Austria), coordinating Northeast India. He is also the founder of an organization called InSIDE-northeast. He can be reached at hejangmisao@rediffmail.com.

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