Monday, 1 October 2007

Bishnupriya Manipuri community in early 1950's

RKHL Sinha, New Delhi

I remember, in the early 1950’s the social structure of Bishnupriya Manipuri community was full of agony and frustration. People were fighting tooth and nail for livelihood; and the so called education which works as the fulcrum to uplift the stairs of social reforms, was no where peeping into the doors of the community. As a result the means of survival was fully depended on the physical power given by every member of the family irrespective of gender in the paddy field. Agriculture was the only source of livelihood and earning.

It is worth to mention, in those times the impact of religion was quite visible in the way people used to conduct themselves “untouchability” (to say) to food, drink and shelter.

It is due to the so called “untouchability” that people of the community were not able to encash the fruit of education. The level of communication with other communities was limited and closely guarded. There was a lack of cross pollination of ideas that usually takes place when any community comes in contact with other communities.

You can say the Bishnupriya Manipuri community as a whole was much like a lonely island where there is no ferry facility to transport people and resources. We were living in such a island that was sinking in the sea of developments.

So, young people, deprived of the education added with unemployment and poverty, were compelled to break the untouchability, and they started enrolling in Army and in the para military forces. In this way they not only broke untouchability but saved themselves from the attack of the abject poverty that was lingering on them and in the whole community.

Now, I suppose all those people who were the ‘first’ to become fauzis/ jawans were instrumental in opening the closed door of our community, making a bridge between the luxury of the present generation and their ignoble past.

Had they not enrolled in the Army and other related services, their sons (the present generation) would not have the pomposity that they are enjoying now? Moreover, how the community as a whole would have taken the jolt of the extreme poverty? Just think about it.

What shape the community would have taken if they hadn’t enrolled in the Army and in the para military services? If I am not wrong the strong presence that we witness now in the villages, where from every house there is one or two fauzi would not have taken place? What do you think about it? Do comment.
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