Monday, 26 March 2012

Bishnupriya Manipuri literature: bloom or doom

By RK Rishikesh Sinha


Recently, BMWF was in news for celebrating grandiosely the Bishnupriya Manipuri literary meet at Guwahati. There is no doubt that the event was organized meticulously and due care was taken to make it a success, a grand success. But was it a “literary success”? Will it be remembered for infusing fresh air in the world of Bishnupriya Manipuri literature? Will it remain “venue-specific” where people forget as soon as they leave the venue or it would have lasting impression? Answers to many of these questions would be too naïve.

During the celebration period we also heard about Northeastern literature and Bishnupriya Manipuri literature. In a broad canvass of “contemporary” Indian literature, though there is nothing as such “Indian literature” exist, hitherto it is the conglomeration of many diverse literature that constitute the “Indian literature”, one could find most of the languages which have found its “contemporary” place prominently in Indian literature are very recent and could be dated back to 19th century (Hindi…) or post-Independence era.

In the politics of Indian literature which is intrinsically linked with the say in politics, Sindhi and Dalit literature catches everyone’s attention. Since all other literature with their language enjoy statehood. Sindhi language is one which doesn’t enjoy any official language status of any state. Still it holds a place of its own with its unique literary creation. Dalit literature, a very new entrant in the Indian literature field, which dates back to 1960, has steadfastly created a genre of its own with their stark depiction of realism through self-narrative style.

Here, to create a vibrant Bishnupriya Manipuri literature, it is certain it cannot be created under the shadow of other language literature since it has never occurred. It has to be created with the “Bishnupriya Manipuri soul” reflecting our lives, wishes and of being “Bishnupriya Manipuri”. But challenges are aplenty from inert readers to unsympathetic social and political environment. Aggravating the situation worse which stems the growth of Bishnupriya Manipuri literature is the changing time. At one end, is the script to be followed for the creation of Bishnupriya Manipuri literature since sooner or later (or perhaps we are experiencing) we would be living in a multiple “language” zones. And on the other is the changing ecosystem.

Even if medium of expression is sidelined for a moment, the changing economic and technological ecosystem comes as a jolt. And Bishnupriya Manipuri literature has to face at these two fronts. The economic value of any creation (be it is Bishnupriya Manipuri) is too low. A book that cost Rs 100 could be photocopied and made available at a dart price. The music industry, the publishing industry and other associated industries are grappling with this problem. Secondly, with the shift in technology, the mode of literary creation would determine its success or failure. Interest of a reader who is not interested to read a whole book but find few pages of interest, has to be kept in mind, and has to be pondered hard.

Presently, at this juncture, it could be said that the Bishnupriya Manipuri literature has to be produced in mass with great mixture of quality keeping only readers in mind and not to be created for the sake of literary appreciation. Above it, we should try to make an ecosystem where demand and supply could be met. A case in point, there are demands here to buy Maya album, but there is no supply. In conclusion, we can say that various stakeholders (writers, producers, publishers, media...) must imbibe the attitude of sink or swim, or do or die. Even if we fade, we can come back with a new avatar. After all, in any language literature, bloom and doom period do come. 
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