Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Manipur on the Brink

June 9th, 2010 · 1 Comment

A grim report from North-East India, where Manipur has been under seige for two months:

Manipur faces an acute shortage of food and medicines with supplies of essentials cut off for the 60th day Wednesday following an indefinite economic blockade by several tribal groups.

“The food crisis is simply acute and also there is a severe shortage of life saving medicines with the blockade entering the 60th day and still no chance of breaking the deadlock,” N. Biren Singh, Manipur government spokesperson and a senior minister of the Congress party ruled state, told IANS.

Several Naga groups called an indefinite blockade of National Highway 39, Manipur’s main lifeline, April 11 to protest against the decision of the state government not to allow separatist leader Thuingaleng Muivah to visit his birthplace.

At this point, we find it baffling that India’s central government refuses to intervene. True, Delhi has long taken a laissez-faire approach to managing the North-East, in order to appease the ethnically distinct tribes that dominate the region. But Manipur and Nagaland are not sovereign nations, and they should expect some measure of oversight—especially when avowed separatists are essentially allowed to starve out their neighbors over slights to honor.

For comparison’s sake, this situation is akin to America’s federal government shrugging its shoulders at a dispute between the Dakotas, in which North decided to lay siege to the South because a Bismarck bigwig wasn’t allowed to visit his Rapid City birthplace. Perhaps the vast majority of Americans would initially regard such a dispute with amusement, given the Dakotas’ limited population and relative remoteness. But opinions sure would change once rural kids started starving, wouldn’t they?

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  • A Proud Tradition Betrayed

    […] medicine to flow into the Indian state. (Microkhan’s backgrounder on the crisis can be found here.) Now, perhaps, the local government can focus on what strikes us a problem of only slightly lesser […]

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