Article details - Foreword by the Editor
New Insights into the Glorious Heritage of Manipur

Editor of the compendium: Dr. H. Dwijasekhar Sharma


Although primarily intended to help the agitated youth of Manipur and neighbouring North East (NE) region to revisit their own moorings and reinvent `superachievers' role' in the fiercely competitive world _ rather than add fuel to the dynamics of the ongoing identity-crusades _ this anthology may still help policy-researchers and `think tank' to `reimagine' the `Look East Policy' so that it may accord a higher `economic station' to at least those NE Indians and thereby effectively reduce regional disparity by attuning on the `catchup curve and converging the region to the envisioned East Asian Community _ in pursuance of the since reversed policy of `trade follows national flag'.

Because earlier as long as `the Union Jack used to follow trade', little tangible benefit in terms of infrastructural improvements could accrue to the historic Northeast region because of its vulnerability. Since then political boundaries have become defined _ almost as many microstates as polyethnic, but at best only its resources have been recognized as rich, and officially admitted as still remaining unexplored. Indeed, Manipur and NE India still got something the world wants: a place that hasn't been ruined yet, as more Western tourists are wont to observe much to relieved pride (DNA) of an autochthonous average local.

Handled correctly, the UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon is of the view that the fight against global warming could set the stage for an eco-friendly transformation of the global economy, one that spurs growth rather than crimps it, as many national leaders fear. Thus, beginning 2009, enviro-technologists boldly stress the need for wholesale reconfiguration of global industry to man the upcoming programme of $1.9 trillion seed money investment, expected by 2020 in zero-greenhouse energy, as per conclusions of the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which shared the latest Nobel Peace Prize. Hence a triple indemnity benefit need come to the hitherto growth-deprived regions. including Manipur and NE India from the age of green economics at whose threshold the world stands today. The only proviso is whether government leaders and all others concerned in Manipur can convert the challenge into an opportunity of sorts. So far, Manipur and NE region could not benefit from all three revolutions: industrial, technological and market (globalization).

Meanwhile, North-East Indians have awoken from their slumber (sheer lack of strategic choice) and have become overzealous identity-seekers, often resorting to violence by using their right of action, rather than reason of action, thus vitiating the national spectrum _ the other two being those of: the political Left from Vindhyachal to Himalaya foothills; and Islamic confined to Kashmir. Much more jobs under the age of green economics _ provided that they become technically qualified in green technologies/economics _ will certainly cool down the irate unemployed. If things improve and Manipur becomes the gateway to ASEAN 10+3 (China, Japan & Koreas) +3 (India, Australia and N Zealand), a lot of bad feelings will disappear.

One can still imagine circumstances when Manipur's feisty government leaders get into a disagreement with mainstream/UN-ESCAP on infrastructure and resource development and this spirals out of control. Most commonly overheard after rehearsal rounds among youth: We're not rational when it comes to fights and arguments.

But one at a time: let identity-friction be first rid of through economic traction. Yet, it's difficult to predict its psychological impact. Will Manipuris ever manage to settle their sense of grief and loss on the basis of Aristotelian logic? Stuck in the present, looking to the future, they are somehow trying to redefine their past and pull themselves together towards an enlightened pluralism that goes towards _ not an autochthonous average, but _ their brethren expatriates who have since become e-generation _ transnational couples thinking of settling somewhere else, flying easyjet, e-mailing each other all the time.

Yet, it should not give out an impression that emphasis of local post-modernist historians has shifted 360o or dissociated from macrohistory altogether. Besides being a global trend such introspective endeavour adds flavour to patriotism and Manipuriness. As Eric Hobsbawm observed more historians find the microscope useful at present, but this does not mean they reject the telescope. Meta narratives, mega narratives and post-national or futuristic (supranational entities as SAFTA & ASEAN) narratives need receive their due share of interest and adherence to scientific principles of historical writing for legitimacy and convergence to the global history.

Grateful acknowledgments are due to Prof. B.K.Roy Burman for all the inspiration and help rendered during the last two years or so of my second spell of academic partnership with him; and to Prof. N. Sanajaoba, Dean, Law Faculty, Gauhati University, Guwahati for his thought-provoking Preface, with which this anthology sees the light of the day.

- Editor

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