Indigenous Manipuri couples prefer large families

Imphal:  The more the merrier. That's what indigenous couples in Manipur believe. So they don't care much about family planning. It's not surprising then that Mutum Sobita, 44, is happy that she's the mother of 15 healthy children. So is Ningombam Sanahanbi, 54, who gave birth to 13 children. And in both the cases, the children were provided proper care and education. It's not at all a bleak story here at all despite the high count.  These two mothers --- Mutum Sobita of Keinou in Bishnupur district and Ningombam Sanahanbi of Okram Chuthek in Imphal East district --- were awarded on Sunday at an event held at the Press Club here.  There were other recipients too --- 13 in total --- who were awarded cash prize and citation for being wonderful mothers to their children.  The event was organised by Iramdam Kunba Apunba Lup (IKAL). But why do indigenous Manipuri families want large families? Observers here point out that the fear of being outnumbered by non-locals have been prompting these families to notch up the number of children.  According to the 2011 Census, the population in the state was 27,21,750 of which the non-locals accounted for over 1200,000, government officials told IANS.  Unlike other northeastern states, Manipur doesn't have the Inner Line Permit system yet. It's a contentious issue here and that sentiment got reflected in the words of MLA O. Lukhoi who was the chief guest at Sunday's event.  "People are agitating today and demanding their protection since they have a fear that they will become strangers in their own home state,” Lukhoi said. In 2015 Manipur Assembly had passed three bills following demands to implement the Inner Line Permit system. While the valley people, predominantly Meiteis, see it as the right step to protect them from the outsiders, the Nagas and Kukis in the hills are opposed to the bills.