The Meitei neighborhood of Manipur is predominantly Vaishnavite Hindus. They comply with the caste system of the Hindu faith, and therefore the decrease caste among the many Meiteis is included underneath the reserved class as Scheduled Caste. With the introduction of one other type of reservation referred to as Different Backward Courses (OBC), a lot of Meiteis are coated underneath this classification since 1995 they usually have been profitable within the All India civil companies.
The Meiteis represent greater than 57% of the inhabitants of Manipur. Their share of seats within the Manipur Legislative Meeting is 40 seats out of 60 seats within the meeting. The hard-working Meiteis are additionally educationally and economically ahead neighborhood. They’ve been grabbing the lion share of assets for growth for the valley the place they’re settled in 10% of the land, leaving a paltry quantity of funds for the event of 90% of land within the hill areas. Given their predominant place within the social, financial and political spheres, they’re a dominant drive within the state.
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The demand of the Meiteis for inclusion within the ST record is doubtlessly harmful as it will upset the socio-economic and political equation within the state. It will allow them to nook all advantages of reservations for ST in Manipur and within the nation too, just like the Meena ST neighborhood has cornered the vast majority of authorities jobs in Rajasthan and the All India civil and allied companies. A fast evaluation of the All India civil companies examination of 2020 outcomes reveals that 52 Meena candidates (counting solely the names that finish with Meena) have made it to the chosen record, representing greater than 50 per cent of the ST quota within the civil companies. In the identical civil companies examination results of 2020, 5 Meiteis candidates have made it. Assuming they’re all from the OBC class, this quantity represents about 0.50 per cent of the OBC quota within the civil companies seats, which is a significant achievement for a small neighborhood within the context of India.
The Meiteis are already very aggressive and have scores of docs, engineers, academicians other than high bureaucrats within the state in addition to throughout the nation. The STs of Manipur and different northeastern states wouldn’t stand an opportunity in the event that they should compete for ST quotas alongside the Meiteis. They’re very superior that their inclusion within the ST record, other than depriving the STs of Manipur, might additionally displace the Meenas.
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The present place of the predominance of Meiteis within the state i.e. in enterprise, administrative and political areas juxtaposed with the demand for ST standing would make it a curious case of the ‘Haves’ attempting to remove the small share of the ‘Have Nots’. They’re already on the high of the social, financial and political areas in comparison with all different tribal communities in Manipur and subsequently their demand raises a query about the actual motive.
Contemplating the above details, the demand made by a number of Meitei organisations for together with their neighborhood as “Scheduled Tribes” can solely be considered with suspicion. Questions are being raised as as to if the target could possibly be an try to deny reservation in authorities jobs to the present Scheduled Tribes of Manipur. The Meiteis are superior each educationally and economically. They may seize all reserved authorities jobs in Manipur, apart from being a drive to reckon with in All India civil companies examination just like the Meena Scheduled Tribe have carried out in Rajasthan and the UPSC examinations.
A extra critical affect of the inclusion of Meiteis within the ST record for Manipur tribes could be on the lands within the hill areas of Manipur. If the Meiteis are included within the ST record, they are going to grow to be one of many tribes of Manipur, thereby giving them a proper to purchase tribal lands within the hill areas of Manipur. Land seize and land alienation of tribal lands will happen in Manipur hill areas. The sanctity of the hill areas protected by Article 371C learn with the Manipur Legislative Meeting (Hill Areas Committee) Order, 1972 (Presidential Order notified on twentieth June 1972) shall be diluted and violated. All residents dwelling within the state will grow to be Scheduled Tribes apart from a couple of Muslims. The Meiteis are already rich, and they’re going to provide exorbitant charges to the poor tribal individuals attractive them to promote their lands within the hills.
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The tribes of Manipur ought to be cautious of the demand for ST standing by the Meiteis as there seems to be a hidden agenda of land-grab behind the demand by Meiteis for ST standing. The inclusion of Meiteis within the ST record might have critical social, political and financial ramifications within the state and for different Scheduled Tribes throughout the nation. It will deprive the tribes of Manipur of presidency jobs. It will be tantamount to giving essentially the most superior neighborhood within the state a license to buy lands in hills and cut back the tribal individuals in Manipur to a lifetime of penury.
The writer is a New Delhi-based activist. Views expressed are private.