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Daily Current Affairs 27.01.2022 (Unlock India’s food processing potential,Remembering the Holocaust,India probes China, Vietnam over ‘dumping’ of vinyl tiles,The ‘racial profiling’ of the Chakmas and Hajongs,Invention and reinvention of ethnicity)

Daily Current Affairs 27.01.2022 (Unlock India’s food processing potential,Remembering the Holocaust,India probes China, Vietnam over ‘dumping’ of vinyl tiles,The ‘racial profiling’ of the Chakmas and Hajongs,Invention and reinvention of ethnicity)

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1. Unlock India’s food processing potential

Growing populations and unrestricted use of natural resources must push nations to have an efficient food value chain

What’s for dinner? The answer concerns every living being. Food connects us all and is tied to our community, traditions, our past and our future. The challenge to feed the 10 billion population by mid-century is therefore being deliberated on several fronts. It demands efficient ways of production that are both economically viable and ecologically sustainable. Fortunately, technologies are emerging that revamp the traditional approach of farm to fork and with a lower environmental footprint. One of the largest producers of fruits and vegetables in the world to boost processed food in large quantities, India has formulated a unique Production-Linked Incentive Scheme (PLIS) which aims to incentivise incremental sales.

Progress so far

A sum of ₹10,900 crore has been earmarked for the scheme and to date, 60 applicants have already been selected under Category 1 (https://bit.ly/3rMdqTc) which incentivises firms for incremental sales and branding/marketing initiatives taken abroad. Beneficiaries have been obliged to commit a minimum investment while applying for the scheme. Assuming the committed investment as a fixed ratio of their sales and undertaking execution of at least 75% of the projects, the sector is likely to witness at least ₹6,500 crore worth of investment over the next two years.

A study in the United States concluded that a 1% increase in public infrastructure increased the food manufacturing output by 0.06% in the longer run (https://bit.ly/3rOeE0l). This correlation holds good for India too as a higher investment is being concentrated in States such as Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh. These States as reported by the Good Governance Index 2020-21, ranked among the highest in the ‘Public Infrastructure and Utilities’ parameter with ‘Connectivity to Rural Habitations’ showing the highest improvement (https://bit.ly/3nZ98Xz). For the exports market, it is now established that sales promotion is positively related to increased sales volume, but inversely related to profitability. To bridge this gap, of the 13 key sectors announced under the PLIS, the ‘Food Processing PLIS’ earmarks a dedicated Category 3 for supporting branding and marketing activities in foreign markets. This ensures that India’s share of value-added products in the exports basket is improved, and it may leverage on its unique geographical proximity to the untapped markets of Europe, the Middle East/West Asia, Africa, Oceania and Japan.

Easing access to credit

As a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the past two years have been witnessing a significant number of people working from home. This has accelerated the demand for products from the ready-to-eat market which saw a rise of approximately 170% in sales volume between March-June 2020, as stated by Netscribes (global data and insights firm). The pandemic has bolstered consumer awareness of functional foods, which is expected to provide a launchpad for health-orientated start-ups and micro-food processing units. However, the access of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to finance is a perennial problem in the country, predominating due to a lack of proper credit history mechanism for MSMEs.

Smart financing alternatives such as peer-to-peer (P2P) lending hold potential for micro-food processors as can be observed by the United Kingdom Government-owned British Business Bank (akin to India’s MUDRA Bank, or Micro Units Development and Refinance Agency Bank) which has helped more than 1,18,000 small businesses get access to more than U.S.$17.88 billion (https://bit.ly/3Aziz4T). Access to working capital has in theory been addressed by the Trade Receivables Discounting System (TReDS), a platform for facilitating the financing/discounting of trade receivables of MSMEs through multiple financiers.

However, the platform requires considerable scaling-up and simultaneous enforcement of stringent measures for corporates to comply with. Integrating the TReDS platform with the Goods and Service Tax Network’s e-invoicing portal will make TReDS more attractive and give relief to financiers.

A sustainable food ecosystem

With growing populations, changing food habits and unrestricted use of natural resources, nations must come together and lay out a road map for a common efficient food value chain. New alternatives are being explored which have immense potential in replacing the staples of rice and wheat in the form of Nutri-cereals, plant-based proteins, fermented foods, health bars and even fresh fortified foods for pets. By welcoming the new brands in the category, PLIS aims to create an enabling ecosystem for innovation in both food products and processes. Post the 1929 Great Depression, hemlines of a skirt were indexed to predict the financial state. Almost a century later, luminosity and night lights data obtained from satellites indicate the extent of economic progress. No wonder, 50 years hence, the progress of nations will be benchmarked to their ability to sustainably feed their populations.

2. Remembering the Holocaust

It is imperative that the Indian youth are empowered with knowledge to remember the painful history of the Holocaust

Marked by the United Nations each year on the 27th of January, International Holocaust Remembrance Day provides an opportunity to recount the atrocities of the Holocaust that resulted in the death of an estimated 6 million Jews. The day marks the anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi German concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in January 1945. The aphorism for Holocaust remembrance remains unchanged: Never Again. A turning point in history, the Holocaust is one of the most visible acts of violence and discrimination. Yet, lessons of the past seem to fade in the mists of time. Are those who do not remember the past condemned to repeat it?

Holocaust distortion and denial

As the Holocaust recedes in time, the forces of antisemitism, racial and religious intolerance, and discrimination and hate speech pose new challenges to global civilisational values, thereby running the risk of repetition of the crimes of the past. Holocaust ignorance, distortion and denial are growing at an alarming rate. The Anti-Defamation League Global 100, an index on antisemitism, found that antisemitic sentiments are disturbingly pervasive, with more than a quarter of the people surveyed, an estimated 1.09 billion people, harbouring antisemitic attitudes around the world. Across Asia, only 23% of persons surveyed had heard of the Holocaust and believe the historical account. Data from North America and Europe show that younger people are less likely to be aware of the historical accounts of the Holocaust, with less than half of those surveyed under the age of 35 having ever heard of the Holocaust. Considering India’s youthful demography, these statistics are important. The youth proved to be particularly vulnerable to the techniques employed by extremists to spread hateful and racist ideologies, which underscores the importance of empowering the youth with the knowledge, capacities, and agency to reject hate.

Engaging the youth with the painful history of the Holocaust and the ethical and moral issues it highlights has contemporary relevance as a tool to help fight hatred and prompt discussion of the societal contexts that enable exclusionary policies to divide communities. With an ever more globalised young generation, capitalising on the power of education, communication and connectivity is important as they are effective tools to galvanise people into action.

India’s growing global influence and efforts towards digitisation provide further impetus to expand youth networks so that young people across the world can connect, share experiences, and negate extremist mindsets, ultimately strengthening efforts to disavow violence and discrimination. However, this needs to be carefully monitored as the lack of critical skills to filter out or navigate misinformation or disinformation on social media can leave the youth vulnerable to hate speech online. According to a publication by the Center for Countering Digital Hatred, antisemitism can be found on all social media platforms. The situation is worse in languages other than English, as social media companies including Facebook and YouTube lack global content moderation teams. This is important to note especially in the Indian context, as the youth make up a greater portion of the Internet user base.

Malicious words have the power to spark a wildfire, for it is words that started the Holocaust. Therefore, to prevent Indian youth from disseminating various forms of hate speech, both online and offline, we must educate them about the Holocaust and antisemitism today to deepen reflection about contemporary issues that affect societies around the world, such as the power of extremist ideologies, propaganda, the abuse of official power, and group-targeted hate and violence.

Addressing antisemitism

India’s vision to create inclusive and equitable education that includes more detailed knowledge of various cultures, religions, languages, and gender identities to develop respect for diversity through the National Educational Policy 2020 already creates a fertile ground for working on Holocaust education programmes. To further this vision and strengthen the resilience of Indian society against antisemitic discourses, the Embassies of Israel and Germany, with the support of UNESCO, are organising a workshop on antisemitism for policymakers, school principals and educators this February. Using existing training resources, experts from UNESCO, Israel and Germany will equip educators with the knowledge and approaches needed to use the history of the Holocaust to make ‘Never Again’ an actionable promise emanating from our classrooms.

With the community of Holocaust survivors dwindling, we need the youth to take forward the lessons of the past. It is imperative that they are empowered with knowledge to combat myths and falsehoods, and to be able to withstand influence from violent extremism and hate speech.

3. India probes China, Vietnam over ‘dumping’ of vinyl tiles

DGTR opens investigation on plaint from Welspun group

India has initiated an anti-dumping probe against imports of a certain type of tiles, used for covering the floors in residential and commercial buildings, from China, Taiwan and Vietnam following a complaint by domestic players.

The Commerce Ministry’s investigation arm Directorate General of Trade Remedies (DGTR) is probing the alleged dumping of “vinyl tiles other than in roll or sheet form”.

Welspun India Ltd., Welspun Flooring Ltd. and Welspun Global Brands Ltd. had filed a petition to impose anti-dumping duty on the imports from China, Taiwan and Vietnam, according to a notification of the DGTR.

The applicants, it said, had alleged the dumping of the product was affecting domestic industry which started commercial production in September 2019.

“On the basis of the duly substantiated written application by or on behalf of the domestic industry, and having satisfied itself, on the basis of the prima facie evidence submitted by the industry about the dumping… the authority hereby initiates an investigation,” the directorate said.

If it is established that the dumping has caused material injury to the domestic players, the DGTR would recommend an anti-dumping duty on these imports.

Countries start anti-dumping probes to determine whether their domestic industries have been hurt because of a surge in cheap imports.

As a countermeasure, they impose these duties under the multilateral regime of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

What is Anti-dumping duty?

  • An anti-dumping duty is a protectionist tariff that a domestic government imposes on foreign imports that it believes are priced below fair market value. Dumping is a process wherein a company exports a product at a price that is significantly lower than the price it normally charges in its home (or it’s domestic) market.

Who imposes it?

  • Directorate General of Trade Remedies (DGTR) recommend Finance ministry for imposing the Anti-dumping duty on certain goods.
  • However, the Ministry of Finance takes the final call to impose these duties and issues notification for Anti-dumping duty.

Directorate General of Trade Remedies (DGTR)

  • The Directorate General of Trade Remedies (earlier known as Directorate General of Anti-dumping and Allied Duties) was named in May 2018 as an integrated single window agency for providing comprehensive and swift trade defence mechanism in India.
  • DGTR functions as an attached office of Department of CommerceMinistry of Commerce and Industry.
  • DGTR now deals with Anti-dumpingCVD and Safeguard measures.

What is its objective?

  • The purpose of anti-dumping duty is to rectify the trade distortive effect of dumping and re-establish fair trade.
  • In the long-term, anti-dumping duties can reduce the international competition of domestic companies producing similar goods.

Does WTO have any provision on Anti-dumping duty?

The WTO agreements uphold the principles of equality for the smooth flow of trade in goods, but they also allow exceptions — in some circumstances. Three of these issues are:

  1. Actions taken against dumping (selling at an unfairly low price)
  2. Subsidies and special “countervailing” duties to offset the subsidies
  3. Emergency measures to limit imports temporarily, designed to “safeguard” domestic industries.
  4. The legal definitions are more precise, but broadly speaking the WTO agreement allows governments to act against dumping where there is genuine (“material”) injury to the competing domestic industry. In order to do that the government has to be able to show that dumping is taking place, calculate the extent of dumping (how much lower the export price is compared to the exporter’s home market price), and show that the dumping is causing injury or threatening to do so.
  5. GATT (Article 6) allows countries to take action against dumping. They allow countries to act in a way that would normally break the GATT principles of binding a tariff and not discriminating between trading partners. Typically anti-dumping action means charging extra import duty on the particular product from the particular exporting country in order to bring its price closer to the “normal value” or to remove the injury to domestic industry in the importing country.
  6. Anti-dumping measures must expire five years after the date of imposition, unless an investigation shows that ending the measure would lead to injury.
Anti-dumping duty Anti-Dumping Duty is a trade levy imposed by any government on imported products which have prices less than their fair normal values in their domestic market.Imposed under World Trade Organization (WTO) rulesCountervailing duties Countervailing duties (CVDs), also known as anti-subsidy duties, are trade import duties imposed to neutralize the negative effects of subsidies.Imposed under World Trade Organization (WTO) rulesSafeguard measure A WTO member may restrict imports of a product temporarily (take “safeguard” actions) if its domestic industry is injured or threatened with injury caused by a surge in imports.Imposed under World Trade Organization (WTO) rules

General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)

  • GATT was an international trade agreement came into effect on January 1, 1948.
  • The purpose of GATT was to liberalise trade by reducing tariffs and reducing quotas among member countries.
  • GATT was replaced by WTO in 1995.

4. The ‘racial profiling’ of the Chakmas and Hajongs

When did these migrant communities arrive in Arunachal Pradesh? Where did they settle? Why does the State want to relocate them?

The Chakmas and Hajongs are migrants from the Chittagong Hill Tracts of erstwhile East Pakistan, now Bangladesh. They were settled in relief camps in the southern and south-eastern parts of Arunachal Pradesh as they were displaced by the Kaptai dam on the Karnaphuli River in the 1960s.

In November 2021, a letter was issued for a “special census” to be conducted in all the Chakma- and Hajong-inhabited areas from December 11-31. Chakma organisations said the census was nothing but racial profiling of the two communities and violated Article 14 of the Constitution of India and Article 1 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, ratified by India.

Chief Minister Pema Khandu said his Government was serious about rehabilitating the Chakma-Hajongs to other States. However, the Supreme Court had in January 1996 prohibited any move to evict or expel the Chakma-Hajongs and directed the Central and State governments to process their citizenship.

Rahul Karmakar

The story so far: The north-eastern States have had a history of being paranoid about outsiders outnumbering the indigenous communities and taking their land, resources and jobs. The threat from “non-locals” in a specific area has also been perceived to be from communities indigenous elsewhere in the region. This has often led to conflicts such as the recent attacks on non-tribal people in Meghalaya’s capital Shillong or an Assam-based group’s warning to a fuel station owner in Guwahati against employing Bihari workers. In Arunachal Pradesh, the Chakma and Hajong people are feeling the heat since the State government decided to conduct a special census in December 2021. 

Who are the Chakmas and Hajongs?

Mizoram and Tripura have a sizeable population of the Buddhist Chakmas while the Hindu Hajongs mostly inhabit the Garo Hills of Meghalaya and adjoining areas of Assam. The Chakmas and Hajongs of Arunachal Pradesh are migrants from the Chittagong Hill Tracts of erstwhile East Pakistan, now Bangladesh. Displaced by the Kaptai dam on the Karnaphuli River in the 1960s, they sought asylum in India and were settled in relief camps in the southern and south-eastern parts of Arunachal Pradesh from 1964 to 1969. A majority of them live in the Changlang district of the State today. 

Why was a special census of the two communities planned in Changlang? 

On November 26, 2021, a letter was issued to the officials in Miao, Bordumsa, Kharsang and Diyun circles of the Changlang district for a “special census” to be conducted in all the Chakma- and Hajong-inhabited areas from December 11 to 31. Chakma organisations said the census was nothing but racial profiling of the two communities because of their ethnic origin and violated Article 14 of the Indian Constitution and Article 1 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, ratified by India. The census plan was dropped after the Chakma Development Foundation of India petitioned the Prime Minister’s Office and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat. Changlang Deputy Commissioner Devansh Yadav reacted by saying an “unnecessary controversy” was being created when similar exercises happened in 2010 and 2015. Later, Chief Minister Pema Khandu said his Government was serious about resolving the protracted issue and will rehabilitate the Chakma-Hajongs in other States. The Union Minister for Law and Justice made a similar statement. 

Can the Chakma-Hajongs be relocated outside Arunachal Pradesh?

Organisations such as the All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union say the Centre did not consult the local communities before settling the Chakma-Hajongs and that the State has been carrying their “burden” for too long. Members of the two communities have allegedly been victims of hate crime, police atrocities and denial of rights and beneficiary programmes. Based on a complaint lodged with the National Human Rights Commission, the Supreme Court had in January 1996 prohibited any move to evict or expel the Chakma-Hajongs and directed the Central and State governments to process their citizenship. The Supreme Court pronounced a similar judgment in September 2015 after a Chakma organisation sought implementation of the 1996 order. It was also pointed out that Arunachal Pradesh cannot expect other States to share its burden of migrants. 

What is the citizenship status of the Chakma-Hajongs in Arunachal Pradesh? 

Members of the two communities had been settled in Arunachal Pradesh six decades ago with a rehabilitation plan, allotted land and provided with financial aid depending on the size of their families. Although local tribes claim the population of the migrants has increased alarmingly, the 2011 census says there are 47,471 Chakmas and Hajongs in the State. According to the New Delhi-based Chakma Development Foundation of India, the migrants are about 65,000 today and 60,500 of them are citizens by birth under Section 3 of the Citizenship Act, 1955, after having been born before July 1, 1987, or as descendants of those who were born before this date. The applications of the remaining 4,500 surviving migrants following the 1996 Supreme Court order have not been processed to date. Organisations of the migrants said the Citizenship (Amendment) Act of 2019, which amended two sections of the 1955 Act, has nothing to do with the Chakma-Hajongs since they were permanently settled by the Union of India in the 1960s. Since 95% of the migrants were born in the North-East Frontier Agency or Arunachal Pradesh, the Inner Line Permit mandatory under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation of 1873, for outsiders seeking to visit the State, also does not apply to them. They say the solution to the decades-old issue lies in the State respecting the rule of law and the judgments of the Supreme Court. There has to be an end to politicians and political aspirants deriving mileage from the Chakma-Hajong issue, they say.

5. Invention and reinvention of ethnicity

Many tribal communities in the Northeast have reinvented themselves by assuming new nomenclatures, though the reinvention has not meant any substantial change in their social status

Ethnicity and ethnic consciousness are a universal phenomenon. Every people possess specific identity markers, though in popular usage ethnicity is considered a unique feature of tribal societies. The defining elements which mark our identity in their more extreme forms of expression are exclusion and hatred of the ‘Other.’

Ethno-nationalistic mobilisations have taken place all over the world with a political agenda of separatism where the objective is to carve out an exclusive territorial and political space, excluding the ‘Other’ who has historically been part of the same territorial and political space, and has shared the same or similar ethnic identity.

A most curious feature of such ethnic mobilisations is the plasticity of identities in whose name such mobilisations are done, with such identities constantly invented and reinvented. When an element of fabrication enters this process of construction and invention, one has to question the very authenticity of such rigid identity assertions.

M. S. Prabhakara

Based on a complaint filed by the Chakma Development Foundation of India, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has ordered the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Arunachal Pradesh government to submit an ‘action taken’ report against the racial profiling and relocation of people belonging to the Chakma and Hajong communities. The complaint was filed by the foundation following the scheduling of an ‘illegal census’ of the Chakma and Hajong-dominated areas. These people have also been victims of alleged hate crimes and discrimination due to their ethnicity. In this article dated January 4, 2010, M. S. Prabhakara details how ethnicity reinvents itself against an ‘Other’.

The word “ethnic” (with its derivative, ethnicity), like “colonial,” has acquired a soft focus patina permeated with quaintness and romance, something beautiful to long for. The other side of this idealised image is its successful marketing. Thus, one finds that ethnic food, ethnic clothes and ethnic jewellery are among the most assiduously marketed, and hankered after by those with the wherewithal in metropolitan areas — for, these things do not come cheap. Similar is the love and nostalgia for things colonial, especially on the part of those who have no memories of colonial rule.

Just as colonialism in action was one of the cruellest and most rapacious commercial enterprises that profoundly damaged its victims, ethnicity in action, and the uses to which it has been put, have their ugly side. This is certainly so in Assam and its environs where ethnicity has gone beyond being merely an idea and a word used to describe things strange and exotic, once viewed as supposedly unique to the tribal people on the margins. One nowadays speaks routinely of “ethnic Assamese.” “Ethnic Assamese” restaurants are a thriving business. Traditional Assamese attire worn by women is sold at “ethnic Assamese boutiques” at very high prices which few “ethnic Assamese” can afford.

Questions about ethnicity and ethnic identity are now a constant in any discussion of the ferment as much among different sections of the tribal and non-tribal people in Assam and its neighbourhood as among the people of the Brahmaputra Valley, the “ethnic Assamese.” The idea as much as the word has become part of a new political vocabulary of power, whose defining elements in their more extreme forms of expression are exclusion and hatred of the ‘Other.’

This is perhaps natural since underlying the present exclusionary ideologies whose other side is hatred of the ‘Other’ is the historic reality that those presently driving such exclusionist agendas were themselves despised, excluded and marginalised by communities that have always viewed themselves as part of society’s mainstream.

Ethnicity and ethnic consciousness are, however, a universal phenomenon. Every people possess specific identity markers, though in popular usage ethnicity is considered a unique feature of tribal societies. The family, the home, the kinship group, gender, caste, religion, language, race, even the physical space that a people occupy — any and each one of these could be and indeed is a coordinate of a people’s identity. These identity markers of their nature criss cross, with the result that every people have multiple identities.

And yet, identity politics and ethnic, now ethno-nationalistic, assertions articulated in singular and exclusive terms have taken some of the most violent forms not merely in Assam and its neighbourhood but worldwide. There is hardly any country, from the economically most advanced to the most backward, where such ethno-nationalistic mobilisations have not taken place with a political agenda of separatism whose objective is to carve out an exclusive territorial and political space, excluding the ‘Other’ who has historically been part of the same territorial and political space, and has shared the same or similar ethnic identity. Often, the ‘Other’ is indistinguishable from the self, as in civil wars whose key component is ethnic cleansing, the other side of violent ethnic assertion.

There may be an element of subjectivity in such ethnic identity assertions. One is not merely what one is, one is also what one thinks and feels one is; and no one, certainly no know-all journalist or even better qualified scholars can dismiss even the most subjectively held perceptions of a people as merely reductionism. The problem arises when such assertions seek to deny, diminish and, if possible, destroy the ‘Other,’ who is very often of one’s kind but in this process of exclusionary mobilisation is cast beyond the pale.

A most curious feature of such ethnic mobilisations is the plasticity of identities in whose name such mobilisations are done, with such identities constantly invented and reinvented. When an element of fabrication enters this process of construction and invention, one has to question the very authenticity of such rigid identity assertions. One recalls that a key element in the destruction of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was the invention, in addition to the Serb, the Croat and Bosnian nationalities (the Montenegrins and the Slovenes were still in the making, in political and territorial terms, during those fraught years) of the Muslim as a ‘nationality,’ virtually replacing the Bosnian, though historically there were (and are) Serbian Muslims, Croatian Muslims and Bosnian Muslims.

This phenomenon of invention and reinvention of identities is widespread in Assam and the northeast. In Assam, the process where a tribal person by going through some simple and nominal ritualistic processes would become part of the caste Hindu Assamese society, albeit at its lower levels, has been well documented. Many tribal communities have reinvented themselves by assuming new nomenclatures, though the reinvention has not meant any substantial change in their social status, but only the restoration of a nomenclature replacing the old that had pejorative connotations. There has also been a singular case of a tribal identity being ‘fabricated,’ a creation out of airy nothing both a name and a local habitation (see Manufactured identities, Frontline, 7 October 2005).

Manipur presents some of the most striking examples of such invention and reinvention of identities. Thirty-two tribal communities (till recently 29), broadly classified under two heads, the Kuki and the Naga, are recognised in the State. However, the exact number of those classified under the two heads has never been clear because of an element of fluidity in this categorisation. What is clear is that while there are few instances of a Naga tribe switching its identity to Kuki, traffic in the reverse direction is not uncommon. A well documented case is that of the Anal, a tribal people inhabiting Chandel district, who were once classified as Kuki and are now classified as Naga.

One of the most interesting cases of such plasticity is the Monsang, once considered a Kuki tribe and now identified as a Naga tribe. In a conversation with this correspondent in Imphal recently, Professor Gangmumei Kamei, historian of Manipur, referred to Ng Mono, former MLA and leading person from the Monsang community who was at one time the general secretary of the Kuki National Assembly, and who later became a leading member of the Naga Integration Council, which wants the integration of contiguous Naga-inhabited areas under one political and administrative set-up — in short, the break-up of Manipur. Professor Kamei himself presents a most interesting transition. Once known as Gangmumei Kabui, he is now the leading ideologue of the Zeliangrong movement that seeks a homeland for the Zeliangrong community, which is literally a construct made up from the names of three Naga communities of Manipur (and Nagaland) — ZEme, LIANGmei and RONGmei. There have been similar constructs in the region.

During the Kuki-Naga clashes in parts of the State in 1993-94, the Chiru and Kom tribes who did not see themselves as part of either of the two broad categories, nevertheless chose to identify themselves as Kuki or Naga depending on the vicinity they lived in. When the clashes abated, they reverted to their original status. However such strategies of survival have not always worked. The clashes that broke out on July 24, 1997 in Churachandpur (Lamka), headquarters of the district of the same name in southwest Manipur, and persisted for nearly a year involved, both as perpetrators and victims, two of the major communities of the town and the district, the Thadou Kuki and the Paite, both part of the great Kuki-Chin family, and virtually indistinguishable from each other. These clashes were one of the most extreme examples of the ‘Other’ and the self becoming indistinguishable.

One may well ask, in the words of Shakespeare: Hark in thine ear. Change places and, handy-dandy, which is the justice, which is the thief?

Who is the self, who is the Other?

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