Who is racist? So called mainland fellow Indians or Else ?

Who is racist? So called mainland fellow Indians or Else ?

Many Manipuris living outside the state, especially in Delhi and other metros, often face implicit and explicit forms of discriminations at various levels. Manipur is not a utopian society either.

Apart from tangible social-political issues, discriminations based on ethnic, cultural form, language, place of residing are so rampant in Manipur to the extend that some abusive words are based on ethnic and the place ofresidence.

‘ Haothu'( a derogatory abusive word based on ethnic is widely used for expression the highest form of emotion and disgust)

‘Lawaimacha’ and ‘ Lawai’ ( common abusive words used to refer people outside city or Imphal, and are widely used to mean undeveloped , savage fellow Manipuris who are not up-to-date)

Hmmm… Who is racist? So called mainland fellow Indians or Else?

So, a very good friend of mine from Manipur once said to me, ” I feel more comfortable staying in Delhi because being from an ethnic group who is not from Imphal, i find it very humiliating to hear people calling names every now and then: ‘ HAOTHU’ and ‘ LAWAIMACHA’ .”

YARDSTICK of beauty in Manipur

Like the way manifestation of white supremacy is the use of whiteness as the standard of beauty, the beauty of the Meitei ethnic is used as a yardstick of beauty in Manipur.

This “collective unconscious” of considering the Meitei’s beauty as a touchstone has a kind of universal psyche among the Meities in the state. Those ethnics, specially the tribal communities, who deviate from that standard are considered ugly, and those who conform to the standard are viewed as beautiful and attractive people.

Bet! Many Meities who grew up in Manipur come across several statements either used as jeers or mocks:

‘ Masigi meitei nupi se Hao Malle’ (Look that meitei-woman! She looks like a tribal or hill woman. Of course , the connotative meaning is that the woman is ugly.)

Masigi chingmee nupi se meitei Malle ( This hill woman looks like a meitei. The connotative meaning is that the hill-woman or the tribal-woman is very beautiful.)

Ethnocentrism is at its pinnacle in Manipur; the Meites, specially in Imphal,are considered as the yardstick of beauty.

A scene in one of the  popular Manipuri films made in 2008 is a nice illustration of the way in which a very beautiful hill woman is assumed to be a Meitie woman.

( A man/ the shop-keeper, a meitei: “You are very beautiful like a Meitei girl”)
(The girl, from an ethnic group of the Nagas : ” Is it the rule of the Meitei to consider a beautiful tribal girl as Meitei, and ugly Meitei as tribal? “)

Many film academics suggest that ‘ what the public wants’ means ‘ what the dominant ideology wants’ .The box- office hits of the films show that nothing in the films are against the prevailing ideology.

As this film was one of the box-office hits films, it can be assumed the film shows the prevailing ideology of dominant the Meities.

On the other hand, many people are crying out for ‘ Chingmee-tammee unity’ ( plain-hill unity). How can it be happened when there is so much prejudices and preconceptions from both ethnic groups?

May the Sana Leibak Manipur get a new life!

Problematic in Manipuri Cinema: Representation

Cinematic representation of inter-ethnic marriage in Manipur films is really problematic though many people gratify it; they believe that such portrayal of inter-ethnic marriage on screen will set a trend in the state which has a history of ever increasing ethnic tensions and conflicts.

However, I find such representation the most insensitive to gender and other non-meitei ethnic groups of the state. It is always the case of male protagonist, the Meitie, marrying a non-Meitie female protagonist, specially the tribals.

Assimilation through marriage, the female’s ethnic identity disappears and evaporates only to be accepted and redeemed from prejudice and discrimination in the Meitei society.

In one of the films, Yaishul gi Makhang, which has a very strong female protagonist as Kabui, a tribal ethnic, the male protagonist is shown running after the tribal beautiful girl. However, he imagines the tribal girl assimilating and acculturating to a Meitie woman. The picture shown below is the tribal girl in Meitie ‘s traditional attires. Bala wall 2

They say a picture worth a thousand words, so does the visual representation show the Meitei centric representation and discourse of romance.

No wonder! The film was very popular among the Meities.