Manipur : As I grew up in
- Part 2 -

Shantikumar Moirangthem *

Now, let us recap the preceding moments of history which made us what we are today.

The society in the 1950s, though still a shadow and a continuation of the antiquated feudal social order, heralded the beginning of a change from the old obscurantism to the new order of a democratic rationalism—it was the dream and aspiration of the post-Second World War generation in Manipur.

The British colonials, from the time of Major General G.F. Nathall's pioneering effort to establish a vernacular school in 1872 at Langthabal,unceasingly toiled and troubled to introduce the modern education in Manipur, though their efforts were frustrated at times due to the objection of the monarchy which Sir James Johnstone, hinting strong elements of obscurantism, said,- "wisely from their point of view, they knew as well as I did that the fact of their subjects learning English (education) would eventually mean a better administration of justice, and a gradual sweeping away of abuses".

Sir Johnstone, who is destined to be fondly remembered as the harbinger of modern education in Manipur, buckled down. Thangal Major and his elks, for long wanted to be addressed as "General" after the king promoted them to the tittle, but the wily Political Agent bargained for a worthy quid pro quo, and said- "Now the day that the Maharajah gives his consent to an English school being established, I shall address you General."

Came the faithful day when the veterans brought the consent, Sir Johnstone "stood up and shook hands saying, "I thank you cordially, Generals."

It was like an Open Sesame to the world of modernity and enlightenment for the Manipuris. The eponymous school founded in 1885, interrupted by the Anglo-Manipuri war, was re-established in 1892. William Pettigrew, who came to Manipur in1894 for Missionary work, were caught up in the post war haste for reconstruction and he was given the charge of Assistant Master in Johnstone School in 1895 and continued to work as Honorary Inspector of Schools from 1897 to 1903.

One Sunday morning in 1899, William Pettigrew called a group of students of Johnstone school and handed over a Firuk (a local-made wicker container with lid). When the group leader, Sorokhaibam Thambou received and opened the Firuk in the glare of everybody, the boys had the greatest thrill of a lifetime.

Inside the wicker container, they saw a Football for which they had been pestering their Assistant-Master cum well-wisher for months together. Getting the football from the distant Calcutta at personal level in those days of primitive transport was itself an exception: which Assistant-master will go to such an extra length to appease and encourage the students?

Extraordinary time produces extraordinary people. Reverend Pettigrew was such a man- a missionary, a reformer, an educationist, a scholar and above all a game-changer, all rolled into one.

The grateful students, after expressing gratitude to their teacher, rushed to Yaiskul Kalimai Lampak and kicked the ball to literally kick-start a new era of modern games and sport in Manipur. Sri Sorokhaibam Thambou later became the Captain of Johnstone School's football team which together with the Paltan Team of the cantonment and Churachand Maharajah's team became the first ever three football teams of Manipur (Courtesy- Sri SoramLokeshwar, Rtd. Principal, Manipur College).

In 1908, seven years after the death of Sir James Johnstone, his son, Captain Richard Johnstone, received a letter from Col. Shakespear, the Political Agent of Manipur, enclosing another letter signed by Tombi Singh, Angou Singh and ten others from Manipur which contained the most befitting tribute to the pioneer:
" Johnstone School, Manipur,
February 15, 1908.


We never knew that Sir James Johnstone, K.C.S.I., had a son living till the other day, when a beautiful bust of your father was unveiled by His Honour, the Lieutenant-Governor of Eastern Bengal and Assam, and when Colonel Shakespear, the Secretary of Johnstone School, mentioned the fact to us, which we were delighted to hear... We look upon your father as our benefactor, just as Bengalis do upon 'David Hare'...

The Manipuris now value education as much as Bengalis do; and it is to your father's great kindness that the means had been provided for the education of Manipuris. We shall ever be thankful to him, and hold your father's name in reverence."

Colonel Shakespear also wrote to Captain Johnstone: "… there are now about 150 boys... I am sure you will be glad to hear that a bust, which is said to be an excellent likeness of him, has been placed in front of the school, and was unveiled a few days ago by the Lieutenant-Governor...The bust was made from the picture of your father's book by a Punjabi workman employed in the construction of the Rajah's palace." ....

The above letters reflect the ambiance of the resurgent Manipur in the early part of the Twentieth Century right when the regency of colonial authority was ended with the coming of age of Rajah Churachand.

After the 1981 War, the state was declared forfeited, but it was regranted and the Rajah was formally installed in a coronation by Sir Lancelot Hare, Lieutenant Governor of Eastern Bengal and Assam on the 4th February, 1908- as an act of mercy as claimed by the colonials, or in reality, considering the penury of the state, the annexation of which could only lead to an added White Man's Burden.

On the flip side of the story, the Lt. Governor and his entourage motored from Dimapur to Imphal in an Albion car- a journey which signalled the introduction of a new mode of road transport for the landlocked state of Manipur.

Further, the unveiling of the bust of Sir James Johnstone by none other than the Governor of Bengal and Assam, during the itinerary for coronation, followed by a policy declaration for the continuity of modern education in the state, gave a fresh hope and inspiration to the younger generation of Manipur, born after the checkered history of devastation and defeat.

Out of the ashes of Seven Years Devastation (1819-26), the racially tenacious and resilient Manipuris rose like Phoenix and rebuilt a throbbing nation, strong enough to reconquer Burma, a country of forty times its own size.

Manipur regrouped its surviving population of "2,000 inhabitants, a miserable remnants of a thriving population of at least 400,000, possibly 600,000, that existed before the invasion ( * Manipur and Naga Hills: Johnstone,page 86)" by Burma, and strengthened its administration in hills and plains. T

he new government, revamped and restructured by Gambhir Singh and Nar Singh became so viable that the British considered it worthwhile to open a Political Agency in Manipur in 1934 and became a worthy " Asiatic power in alliance with Queen Empress (* History of Modern Manipur-1 : Gangmumei p.184) ".

This article was first published on 11 October, 2019 in the Souvenir , 94th Birth Anniversary of R.K.Maipaksana

To be continued .....

* Shantikumar Moirangthem wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on December 27, 2019 .

* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.

  • Descent of Radha-Krishna #35: Download
  • Violence in Manipur 2023-2024 : Timeline
  • Gastronomy tourism in Manipur : Gallery
  • Triathlon : Manipur bag 6 medals (3 gold)
  • Illegal immigrants/fugitives from Myanmar
  • Eid-ul-Adha: Embracing sacrifice
  • A solution to Meitei-Kuki-Zo conflict
  • The Power of Poppy - 35 :: Poem
  • Scientist of Manipur: R K Brojen Singh
  • Brief sketch on General Balaram Sougaijamba
  • Non-violent for peaceful, mutual co-existence
  • Homeless person ..alcoholism & defeated TB
  • Cancer on rise among young adults
  • Defending, fighting for Idea of Manipur
  • From partiality to complicity
  • Bike Rally - Sekmai to Kangla : Gallery
  • 'Modi must announce finality of Naga pacts'
  • Gliding over Brahmaputra
  • Question leaks cause stress among student
  • Home remedies for prickly heat
  • After IIT, AIIMS it is now IIM
  • Stealing spotlight from Manipur crisis
  • Tarpon chaklen katpa @ Andro #2 : Gallery
  • Strongly condemns violence in Jiribam
  • Lessons from outcome of LS election
  • Tumcho releases "Goodness of God"
  • Right diagnostic for antimicrobial resistance
  • 12th June is World Day against Child Labour
  • Hands of geo-politics ?
  • The row over NEET-2014
  • 2nd Annual Art Exhibition #1 : Gallery
  • Chilli Chicken: Film Spotlighting NE in B'lore
  • Committee of Narcotics Anonymous - Imphal
  • The Power of Meditation
  • Oceans as a career choice
  • Getting more and more audacious
  • A test of leadership
  • Education Fair @Imphal #2 : Gallery
  • Gifting two seats to Cong
  • Voters empowered democracy
  • Postcards from Meghalaya premieres
  • Milk : Essential nutrient for a healthy body
  • Failing in competitive exam not end of world
  • Delhi : A mere spectator
  • Abandoning Jiribam
  • Birth Centenary of Jananeta Irabat, 1996 : #5
  • Ima Keithel flood- May 30 #2 : Gallery
  • Mainstream in Shoes of Alternative
  • Protect the medicines that protect us
  • Lets take action for our land & our future
  • Democracy and independent media
  • Agenda at work to shut Western Gate
  • Keeping Manipur on the boil
  • Descent of Radha-Krishna #34: Download
  • The Enigmatic Journey of 'Laikhutshangbi'
  • Individual and the Social
  • An Ardent Appeal to All Concerns
  • Condemnation of Attack & Govt Inaction
  • The Power of Poppy - 34 :: Poem
  • Scientist of Manipur: Laishram Shanta
  • Alien fishes spotted in Manipur's rivers
  • Training on mushroom at Langthabal
  • Digital avatars or deepfakes ?
  • 7th June is the World Food Safety Day
  • How to prepare for UPSC after 10th ?
  • The Jiri violence
  • Beginning of a new vote culture ?
  • Bimol Akoijam (Cong) wins Inner PC : Gallery
  • BJP, NPF & other NDA pay heavy price
  • Nature is one of greatest blessings of God
  • Plantation drive in Tripura, Assam & Manipur
  • Summer beauty
  • Environment conservation & over-exploitation
  • Is Modi cut out for leading a coalition ?
  • 'Ishanou' Selection @ Cannes #2: Gallery
  • Scholarship for Johnstone Hr Sec students
  • 1st foundation day of Interfaith Forum
  • World Environment Day: Our land, our future
  • Indonesia stronger anti-tobacco measures
  • Navigating a fragile Myanmar: India's policy
  • New breed entering electoral politics
  • The road to formation of new govt
  • International Dance Day #1 : Gallery
  • Matchbox marketing mantra
  • Stop harming nature :: Poem
  • Saving for oneself & the Nation
  • Model United Nations (MUN) conducted
  • Tobacco: Threat to health & environment
  • Candidate from ruling party biting the dust
  • The verdict
  • Birth Centenary of Jananeta Irabat, 1996 : #4
  • Imphal valley districts flooded #3 : Gallery
  • Navigating Remal amidst Manipur conflict
  • We are #GenerationRestoration
  • Intl Day of Innocent Children Victims
  • Apparel Industry Skills & Innovation CoE
  • What's in a cyclone's name ?
  • Ongoing clash, the floods, the losses
  • Exit poll predictions
  • Descent of Radha-Krishna #33: Download
  • Evading flood & rethinking urbanization
  • Manipur Flood: Health Advisory
  • Onus on civil bodies to ensure NNPG unity
  • Rats also cause flood
  • Benefits of JEE Main mock tests
  • People have spoken, now the results
  • The fury of Remal
  • Ima Keithel flood- May 30 #1 : Gallery
  • The flood in our Stars
  • The Power of Poppy - 33 :: Poem
  • 'Group of people misrepresented themselves'
  • EV industry and career options
  • Scientist of Manipur: Chandrakant Aribam
  • Candy flavoured traps to hook next Gen
  • Commemorate Naga Plesbicite Day 1951 #2
  • Tobacco affects health & environment too
  • Jio extend validity for Customer in Manipur
  • Students must learn about AI irrespective
  • As vote count day approaches : Floods
  • Imphal valley districts flooded #2 : Gallery
  • Flooded : Sacrifice of Yairipok's Maiden
  • World No Tobacco Day 2024
  • Chandam Rishikanta wins NPC Nat'l C'ship
  • Flood: Helpline numbers for emergency
  • Battling body odour ?
  • Floods : Not entirely natural phenomena
  • PM Modi's purpose
  • Imphal valley districts flooded #1 : Gallery
  • June Calendar for Year 2024 : Tools
  • Flood: Control Rooms & Helpline numbers
  • Economic impact of ongoing conflict
  • Army Recruitment Rally for Manipur
  • Cut deficit, boom likely
  • Are Gods angry ? Wake up call for Manipur
  • Beating of the Retreat #2 : Gallery
  • We did Overcome: Mayhem of Month of May
  • Training on mushroom at Potshagbam
  • Famous female Mathematicians in India
  • Disinformation campaign thengnare
  • Human trafficking puts humanity to shame
  • Sky opens up in all its fury
  • Licypriya meets Italy PM & Pope Francis
  • HSLC (Class X) 2024 : Full Result
  • HSLC 2024 : Important Info & Grading System
  • HSLC 2024 : Pass % : Private Schools
  • HSLC 2024 : Pass % : Aided Schools
  • HSLC 2024 : Pass % : Govt Schools
  • HSLC 2024 : Statistical Abstract
  • HSLC 2024 : Comparative Statement
  • Combined Defence Services Exam 2024
  • Good show in Class X exams
  • Downplaying the crisis
  • Birth Centenary of Jananeta Irabat, 1996 : #3
  • Reviving Lamphelpat : Conservation : Gallery
  • Commemorate Naga Plesbicite Day 1951 #1
  • "ST status for Meetei" at Hojai
  • The Power of Poppy - 32 :: Poem
  • Insights from CUET-UG Counselling
  • International Day for Biological Diversity
  • Unseen force at work: Time to unravel it
  • Sheikh Hasina's revelation
  • The Vanishing Meitei Tribe
  • Building career in defence & strategic study
  • Why example of model code of conduct ?
  • Ownership of responsibility
  • Will pressure mount on key players in NE
  • How to save your foot after an accident
  • Children Camp @JNMDA Imphal #3 : Gallery
  • Education Fair @Imphal #1 : Gallery
  • Project Associate @ CSE, Assam Univ
  • Understanding schizophrenia
  • Advancement in Multi Objective Optimization
  • When will women in voter list increase ?
  • Making 2 plus 2 is equal to 5
  • Changing face of drug menace
  • Scientist of Manipur: Jayanta Manoharmayum
  • 25 yrs since Atal Vajpayee visit to RIMS
  • 4 Lakhs donated to support (L) Maipak Family
  • Clarification: Guwahati Meet on Humanitarian
  • Start UPSC prep after 12th for success
  • Tips to avoid melting makeup in summer
  • Giving a big solid push to ST demand
  • Time to come clean
  • Sajibu Cheiraoba: 1 occasion, 2 narratives #3
  • Khongjom Day @Khebaching #2 : Gallery
  • A year of hostilities
  • Licypriya Kangujam to travel to Italy
  • Declining moral standards in public life
  • Healthy democracy with independent media
  • Why endangered species matter to us
  • Significant Guwahati meeting : 1st visible step
  • The Pallel story
  • Aftermath of ferocious hailstorm #2 : Gallery
  • Ukhrul: Climate change grip on water supply
  • Commemoration of World Eld's Deer Day
  • Indo-Naga Talks (From 2012) :: Timeline
  • "ST status for Meetei" at Hiyanglam
  • Dance of democracy, a miracle in making !
  • Learn to look 10/20/30 years hence
  • The zero FIR, zero lesson
  • 'Ishanou' Selection @ Cannes #1: Gallery
  • MOU signed: MTI-HUB & KIIT-TBI & SAbF
  • Lament of the Mourning Choir :: Poem
  • "ST status for Meetei" at Wabagai
  • RSS-BJP fracas
  • Trials for Canoe Slalom World Cup
  • Poser from a villager says it all Kamjong
  • The cover-up effort
  • Birth Centenary of Jananeta Irabat, 1996 : #2
  • Manipuri women in the arena of politics
  • "ST status for Meetei" at Assam
  • Aimee Baruah at red carpet of Cannes
  • National Defence Academy Exam 2024
  • How digital media changed communications
  • Manipur stands scandalised
  • All eyes on UP battle
  • Descent of Radha-Krishna #32: Download
  • Riots to a shrine- Ram Mandir of Ayodhya
  • Handle with care. F.R.I.E.N.D.S inside!
  • The Power of Poppy - 31 :: Poem
  • Celebrate the journey !
  • Career counselling : A life guidance tool
  • Scientist of Manipur: Amom Ruhikanta
  • Preserving Thang-Ta :: Rare Photos
  • Regarding Human Rights Situation in Manipur
  • Malemnganbi Laishram : Science Topper
  • Featured Front Page Photo 2024 #2: Gallery
  • Thokchom Sheityajit : Arts Topper
  • Aiena Naorem : Commerce Topper
  • AISSE 2024 Exam Result- RKM Imphal
  • Gold, new world currency !
  • Milk for hair and skin
  • Of illegal immigrants & the larger picture
  • The missive from Kamjong
  • Hr Secondary Exam 2024 : Science Topper
  • HSE 2024 : Subject Pass Percentage
  • HSE 2024 : District Pass Percentage
  • HSE 2024 : Candidates with Highest Marks
  • Hr Secondary Exam 2024: Science Full Result
  • Hr Secondary Exam 2024: Arts Full Result
  • Hr Secondary Exam 2024: Commerce Result
  • Hr Secondary Exam 2024 : Arts Topper
  • Hr Secondary Exam 2024 : Commerce Topper
  • World Bamboo Congress @Taiwan : Gallery
  • Aftermath of ferocious hailstorm #1 : Gallery
  • Radio E-pao: Manipuri Film OST (130+ song)
  • Cheirao-chingkaba @ Chinga : Gallery
  • Nupi Landa Thaunaphabishing : Full Book
  • A ferocious hailstorm @Imphal : Gallery
  • '365 Days of Chin-Kuki Aggression' : Gallery
  • Athoubasingi Numit #2 : Gallery
  • National Science Teacher workshop
  • Sajibu Cheiraoba Chak Katpa #2 : Gallery
  • Scientists of Manipur : Ngangkham Nimai
  • Kenedy Khuman (Singer) : Gallery
  • GHOST of PEACE :: Download Booklet
  • List of Kings of Manipur: 33 - 1984 AD