Saturday, September 11, 2010

Better not Arundhati

It is great news that Booker Prize winning writer Arundhati Roy will be visiting the state in November this year. However, we wish she had much rather come for some event like inaugurating a book fair or giving a inspiring lecture to our college students or writers here in Manipur. The timing and the purpose of her visit has left much to be desired and may be quite disappointing for some section of the people who admire her writings, or have at least heard of her as a well known writer. Very very few people in Manipur today are not swayed by the overwhelming tide of what we may call Manipur’s own brand of nationalism. We in fact have nothing against this nationalistic fervor if it is cordial, decent, and compassionate towards the aspirations of all the people of the state.

However, the popular nationalism as we see it here is dictatorial, threatening and overrides democratic or even human values. It is this backdrop, of a mass preoccupation with and support for a violent nationalism, in which we would like Arundhati Roy and other eminent personalities to view the now so famous ‘struggle’ by Irom Sharmila against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958. As outsiders who know very little about Manipur, people generally tend to look at the Manipuri woman’s hunger strike for the sake of the statistics involved, and not the deep rooted implications behind such a strike. Living in today’s consumerist age as long as the scales are tipping higher everyone tends to applaud, whatever the cause may be. And in Sharmila’s case too most people are just watching the scoreboard like in a game of cricket. But in doing so they are inadvertently harming the country’s interests, Manipur’s interests and also democratic values. This is because in appreciating Irom Sharmila we become party to the numberless Manipuris who have almost literally taken a vow to stand against the Indian polity. It has been accepted that the AFSPA has many loopholes, but like any other law it takes time to change or alter it, especially so when a near full scale war is on here and the country as a whole must be thinking of giving our men in the forces the best advantage in a territory which is hostile in every sense.

Full report here Kanglaonline

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