Whither ka Jaidbynriew?

The perception of the jaidbynriew is deeply localized through the prism espoused by regional parties, NGOs and religious denomination of various kinds. All are resolved to protect the identity of the Jaidbynriew. The question is from who or where? The dynamics of globalization and liberalization and the forces that they have resulted is visible all around. These two processes are self-conflicting concepts since they were initiated and introduced at the same time as far as India is concern. The former is a process of integration and convergence- where the parts are attuned to become one whole, the latter to disintegrate barriers that impedes the process of integration. The objective of establishing a global order I.e which is more or less homogenous may not be realized even in the long run because of issues that are localized and deeply embedded in the psyche, structure and system of a tribal society.


On one hand we have ethnicity its values and norms which is recognized to be incompatible with a global order. In the other extreme a completely globalized world would meant the absence of patriotism or nationalism. These are theoretical observation of a utopian order and globalization/liberalization processes are supposed to assist in that accomplishment. The unleashing of the market system is assumed to mitigate the problems in the society. The more neo-liberalism became entrenched the more the profession on the market’s ability to mitigate if not removed barriers such as ethnicity particularly during a transitional phase from say a communitarian system to a market-led system. Globalization seeks and demands conformity of values, beliefs and practices without which the world would never become one. The tension resulting thereof exacerbates insecurity, xenophobicism, racism etc. Liberalization policies is purportedly viewed as a panacea to dislodge a society from such fears by ushering economic freedom, individualism, property rights and rule of law most of which are absent in a communitarian tribal system such as ours.

Tribal societies including the Khasi-Jaintia are undergoing rapid changes as a result of these market forces resulting in desecration of our customs, practices et al. However the desolation of tribal values have not been accompanied, if not replaced with the expected global values. In fact there only a small section of tribal society have benefited through a new order of materialism. This has created havoc on the meticulously and well-arranged institutions and customary practices on common resources based on negotiated wisdom of the old. To the khasis, traditional institutions such as the Dorbar were simply agencies to guide the community on several issues that are social, environment and political. There is a balance to every decision made which is mostly consensual and agreeable to all. This practice that interspersed the great hynniew trep hynniew skum is now non-existent since these institutions has rotted and are inflicted with parochialist and shallow agendas void of altruistic goals and objectives. The knowledge of the new have replaced the wisdom of the old and is causing untold destruction. Our institutions have been hijacked to serve the political-business class which is causing irrevocable damage to the environment and the society.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Loving the motherland is now like an auction. There are endless groups raising their pitch on who loves the jaidbynriew the most and going the whole hog to prove it by donning the superhero costumes.[/pullquote]

The market driven force have indented our emotional bond for the jaidbynriew as well. Loving the motherland is now like an auction. There are endless groups raising their pitch on who loves the jaidbynriew the most and going the whole hog to prove it by donning the superhero costumes. A new phenomenon is emerging amongst the khasis who are awaiting the arrival of a savior of the jaidbynriew. Many have come and go but no one seems to provide any headway on how to deal with real issues that afflicts the society. At the end of a day this becomes a charade where the community’s emotions were taken for a ride for a handful of few silver coins. Our tribal society have reached a stage where our (tribal) values such as respect, dignity to name a few are enjoined by worldly possession and the power one can wield. How else can we explain our continued fantasy to vote tainted people as representatives?

Much of the present fear stoking the jaidbynriew owe its origin to the ineptness and incompetence of our past leaders. Some of their actions which were considered humane are no longer deemed prudent today. For instance our leaders show exceptional magnanimity when the Bangladeshi refugees sought refuge in the state during the 1971 Indo-Pakistan war. They were not asked to return after the war ended. Organization groups that have rake the foreigner issue have more than once discredited the decision taken then. This and other issues such as the unmitigated flow of unaccounted people to the state from neighboring Bangladesh, Assam, Nepal etc have been conveniently blamed for the probably disintegration of the jaidbynriew.

[pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]A far greater threat to the jaidbynriew is within and not from outside. The external fear is an alibi so that the internal problems are not exposed. There is self denial and pretentiousness of the real problems. All problems are blamed on the mynder ri (outsider)[/pullquote]

The burden for dispelling the fear of the outsider now lies with the present incumbent government. This is no easy task since the magnitude of the problem is beyond the capacity of the present administrative set-up. Some of the mechanisms to check influx that the administration is proposing today were supposed to be executed decades back by our past leaders. The Tenancy Act initiated by the congress led government for instance is a redundant policy which has failed to check influx in many states of India such as Assam which implemented the act since 1971. In fact we do not need more laws if only the present laws such as labour laws, permits etc to check in illegal migration are meticulously implemented by all state agencies and departments. The operation of new laws have no guarantee that the problem mentioned would get contained. Moreover the various measures have come too little too late and they would not address the problems that are really confronting the society. In fact a far greater threat to the jaidbynriew is within and not from outside. The external fear is an alibi so that the internal problems are not exposed. There is self denial and pretentiousness of the real problems. All problems are blamed on the mynder ri (outsider)

lennonism by small axe
lennonism by small axe

The social malaise is self-contained and self-made which would gradually destroy the jaidbynriew because we fail to recognized them or show serious concern in addressing them. Failing institutions, depletion of communitarian values, ecological imbalance, religious bigotism, the precarious status of the women, increasing landlessness are some manifestation which would ultimately caused the extinction of the jaidbynriew. Yet none of our leaders or self-claimed sentinels have ever wage an onslaught against these problems. And no organization or group have dared throw a gauntlet challenge by being vocal on these issues and waging a war against them.

The government in the meanwhile is contend with addressing and delaying issues that have paralyzed the state in 2013. It is not concern about social issues that would sound the dead kneel of tribal community. There are no comprehensive study on single mothers, orphans and street children, child labor, etc. Statistics on all these counts would be alarming? For instance the Socio-Economic Caste Census 2011 indicated an astonishing 76% of the rural folks are landless. More such studies would reveal problems that were never part of a supposedly egalitarian tribal society. Why is the authority and those who profess love for tribal identity silent on these facts? These are real issues not imaginary and they have nothing to do with the mynder ri. Yet none of the representatives bothered in raising these issues at the policy level. The SECC data did not merit their concern during the recently concluded Meghalaya legislative assembly session. These internal forces which are self-contained are far more sinister than the forces attributed to the mynder ri. The problems that confronts the jaidbynriew will continue unless there is a systematic change which is important to address real issues. We can only proceed in doing so if we drop our sense of self-denial and stop blaming all our ailments on outside forces.



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Phrangsngi Pyrtuh Written by:

Phrangsngi Pyrtuh teaches in a college and is a fellow traveller

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