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Title: Democratization of Kuki Tribal Polity in Contemporary Manipur
Authors: Kipgen, N
Issue Date: Sep-2012
Citation: International Conference on Public Policy and Governance 2012, 4-6 September, 2012, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India.
Abstract: The indigenous Kukis living in Manipur in Northeast India have traditionally lived in village settlements under lineage chiefs and been politically governed by chiefs who belong to certain chiefly lineages. Chieftainship system is the principal component of village political structure in the Kuki society. The principle of legitimacy and authority are strongly embedded with the institution of chieftainship and the power relation systems are rooted in the chieftainship system. Some of these political changes occurred during colonial rule (Kuki rebellion of 1917-19), however implementation of universal suffrage, democratic representation and elections have profoundly altered political legitimacy and position of chiefs among the Kukis. Political legitimacy in traditional Kuki society was based on what Weber conceptualized as traditional authority that has undergone minimal social change consequent to Kukis becoming an integral part of democratic India in 1949. For instance, the state government of Manipur has not been successful in implementing the Manipur Land Reform and Land Revenue (MLR & LR) Act, 1960 in the hill areas of Manipur for the last few decades. Because of the strong resistance from the Kuki chiefs the MLR & LR Act is not yet implemented in the hill areas. Despite the absence of any government land law, it is interesting to see the customary laws under the traditional institutions functioning alongside the legal laws within the democratic framework. Based on fieldwork in Manipur during 2008-09 and review of relevant secondary literature, this paper examines the impact of liberal democratic values on the institution of chieftainship and the continuing role of traditional political institutions and power wielders in Kuki society. How are different forms of political authority co-existing, complementing or contradicting each other among the Kukis of Manipur? The chiefs have their council and they influence the voting behaviour and party politics in Manipur. The Kuki chiefs continue to profoundly influence democratic politics and public policy in the hills of Manipur. This is primarily because they continue to exercise authority in the allocation of village land for agriculture and persist as the fountainhead of identity and honour among the Kukis.
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Appears in Collections:Conference Papers

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