Accepted paper:

Experimenting politics of tribes in Manipur (India)


Moirangthem Cha Arunkumar (Manipur University)

Paper short abstract:

The tribal politics in contemporary Manipur is result of colonial and postcolonial administration. The emergence of tribal middle class gives a new direction in the social and political changes among the tribal populations. We need to reassess the concept of tribe and its implications. We have to reevaluate the concept of tribal development and national/economic integration.

Paper long abstract:

Tribal life in Manipur changes dramatically in Postcolonial period. The conversion to Christianity, advent of modern education in the hilly region of Manipur brought a change not only in their social systems but also in their worldviews. When India attained Independence, Manipur also regained her sovereignty in 1947. Manipur became part of India in 1949. There are several provisions of safeguards of tribal peoples in Indian Constitution. Many tribal policies and programs have been taken up by India and States. The rates of change among the tribal peoples of Manipur are not similar. Some larger tribal communities are more capable of adapting to the changing socio-economic conditions in postcolonial periods. But, one thing is common to all these tribes; these societies become more and more stratified over last 50 years. The tribal middle class is becoming more prominent in entire State politics and pan-Manipuri society. The tribes are either grouped together into two major categories, the Naga and the Kuki, in colonial administration. On the colonial foundation, the emerging tribal middle class plays a new identity politics beyond the ethnic identity. The middle class tries to inculcate a new sense of 'super-tribalism' in order to fight the dominant ideology in the State. In the contemporary situation, the definition of tribe and its implications need to be addressed. Considering the politics of tribes (tribal middle class), the directions of tribal development and question of national integration or economic integration should be re-assessed.

panel SE03
Indigenous culture at the cross roads in the Indian subcontinent