Monday, June 23, 2008

Manipuris settled in Tripura compromise is the mantra for survival

In the struggle for survival, it has not been an easy task for the Manipuris who had gone to settle and make Tripura their homeland under some compelling historical circumstances to keep alive their cultural heritage.

''In Tripura, all the Manipuris have to speak Bengali, put on their dresses and the women apply Sindoor on their foreheads and Bindi on their temple. Because this is one of their means of survival in Tripura'', 52-year old Ranjana Devi said.

However, within the confined of their homes, Manipuri women do put on Phanek and on special occasions they wear Phanek Mapan Naiba and Wangkhei Inaphi to show our traditional dresses in pride to others', she added.

The total population of Manipuri people in Tripura which has a geographical area of only 10,486 sq km and a total population of around 32 lakhs people is just around 25,000, and their settlements are scattered around in tiny villages.

Interacting with a team of mediapersons from Manipur who had gone there recently to cover the function held in connection with the unveiling of a statue of Jananeta Hijam Irabot at Rajbari in Dharma Nagar Sub-Division of North Tripura District, A Churamani, a spokesperson of the Jananeta Hijam Irabot Memorial Trust, informed that though some of the Manipuris have been able to join the Government service in Tripura, no gazetted officer, doctor or engineer have emerged from among the Manipuris so far.

However, atleast one Manipuri MLA has been able to get elected to the 60member Tripura Assembly.

Most of the Manipuris in Tripura are daily wage earner engaged in various odd jobs like digging earth, construction of houses, jungle clearing or in labour farms as manual labourers. None of the Manipuris can also open shops and run their business like the Bengalis are doing nor could they take up agricultural activities.

Inspite of the fact that the Govt of Tripura has brought the Manipuris under the category of OBCs, they have not been able to enjoy any benefit as there is no reservation for the OBC with exception to certain relaxation in admission of students in schools.

Otherwise, there is no reservation for OBC in admission to colleges and in recruitment to Government jobs. This is in spite of the fact that there is reservations of 30 percent of the seats for ST and 13 percent for SC in Tripura State. Even though all the Manipuris in Tripura are Hindus, there is no priest for them to conduct religious rites and rituals.

For performing such rites, those who can afford have been hiring priest from Silchar in Assam spending anywhere between Rs 5 to 10 lakhs.

However, it is different story for poor people who cannot afford.

Most of the Manipuri women in Tripura are housewives and those in Government service are only in teaching profession. The awareness of Self Help Groups among them is still low. Churamani further disclosed that many of the Manipuris in Tripura could not read Manipuri language properly. One of the main reason for this is that Manipuri language in Bengali script is taught in schools only from class I to V but there is no proper conduct of the examination in Manipuri language. Even if the examination is held, the marks scored is not allowed to be included in calculation of the aggregate marks. So, many of the students hesitated from taking up Manipuri language as well as in appearing in the exam.

In order to ensure a proper status for the Manipuri people living in Tripura against all odds, there is the need to put pressures on the Government, Churamani noted.

Source: The Sangai Express