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What is it to be Indian for a Manipuri? Before attempting an answer, a caveat: the Manipuri identity itself is hotly contested between the state’s many ethnic communities. This is particularly so in recent times with the advent of democracy, and the consequent contest for levers to state power. It is for this diversity of demography, and the perpetual need for renegotiating identity, that Manipur has often been referred to as a miniature India. This situation also brings to mind Earnest Renan’s famous line that the “nation is a daily plebiscite”, signifying that national identity is constructed and not intrinsic.

For most in the Northeast, the Hegelian existential question “Who am I?” has had to be renegotiated the day they stepped across the thin strip of land connecting the region to sub-continental India, often referred to as the Siliguri Corridor or the Chicken’s Neck.

Courtesy: Indian Express

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