TODAY -

Manipur : As I grew up in
- Part 3 -

Shantikumar Moirangthem *



Again history repeated itself, and Manipur became a victim of its own pride and dignified self respect. When overreached by the British colonialism, the little monarchy reacted defiantly and in the ensuing battle of 1891, Manipur was ruthlessly defeated by the firearm power of the British colonials.

Whether we like it or not, the British paramountcy had consistently maintained that "Manipur is a subordinate Native State" from the very moment we signed a treaty of defensive alliance in 1933, but in hard reality 'Manipur was de jure independent' and 'de facto' dependent on British military resources for its own survival.

Manipur which was living in a cloistered old world of her own ignorance till the battle of Khongjom buried her 'feudalistic obscurantism' in the sacred mound of Khebaching. After 1891, the colonial administration reorganised the system to bring it in an uniform pattern in vogue throughout the British Indian Empire.

The Anglo-Manipuri War of 1891 was started as a retribution campaign against those who shed British blood in the sanctum sanctorum of Kangla, but ended as another addition of White Man's Burden at the Indo-Burma border.

The entire gamut of change, development and reconstruction within a period of two decades after 1891, was far-flung and covered- among others, construction of a new palace complex, opening of the Imphal Dimapur road, widening of Cachar road, introduction of motor vehicles in Imphal Dimapur road, establishment of a potable water filtration plant at Kangchup, modernisation of administrative system and census; and above all, out of the prevailing education system, a knowledge able pool of human resources sprang up which became handy tool during the change of guards in 1947 (Independence) and 1949 (Merger).

All these changes were not easy push overs and behind each development there were dedicated administrators and technicians; administrator like Sir James Johnstone who stood like colossus among the educationists in the State, engineers like Mr Mitchel and C.F. Jeffery who cleared the jungles and moved the hills to push Manipur from the medieval age to the 20th Century- all left their footprints on the sand of time.

At times they had to bend over backwards and bow down to their own beneficiaries to bring forth the changes- Sir Johnstone had to salute Thangal as General and the State Engineer Jeffery had to bear the brunt of the public who had been agitating against the water rate collection till the annual rate was reduced by Churachand Maharajah from "two and half rupees" to "one and half rupees."

The valley was scrupulously divided, into "Lawai and Imphal", the terms being officially used as synonymous to "rural and urban", and the classification was specifically applied to developmental works and revenue collection.

In the Uripok Kangchup road, foot of the Iroisenba Hill was the dividing line of "Lawai and Imphal"; the road from the western gate of Kangla to Iroisenba Hill was paved with bricks by Jeffery and beyond the hillock, it was all mud-road spread with bunches of straw to facilitate bullock-cart movement.

The British colonialism was a blessing in disguise for a long forgotten and isolated place like Manipur. "Manipur is most effectually cut off from the outside world, and 99 per cent of the people censused there in 1901 had been born within its boundaries"- B.C. Allen wrote in 1905.

But the state economy was self sufficient, though at a subsistence level, with the hill and plane living symbiotically- where the hill producing cotton and selling at the valley, at the same time buying salt and iron from the valley which were the sole producer.

Both hill and plain were producing sufficient food, especially rice for themselves. One can easily say that life, then, was at a primitive level: but left to themselves, it could have developed into a cohesive and homogenous society of autochthonous people- like the Seven Salais (clans) of the Meitei- with the same looks and likes which could live together in peace and harmony forever.

Even the religious harmony and homogeneity was in the making because of the all embracing eclecticism in the region. "Theoretically a man must be born a Hindoo and ...proselytism is not admitted. ..." Sir James Johnstone wrote, " however, this rule is ignored on the eastern frontier, and all along it from Sudya down to Chitagong, where conversions are daily taking place."

In Manipur, a tribal "could, if the Rajah choose, at any time receive the sacred thread...and be admitted as Hindoo..." As late as 1929, two ladies, one Sangnu and the other Tonu from Lembakhun were converted to Hinduism by Churachand Maharaj ( * Cheitharol Kumbaba, page 609).

On the other hand, Porom Singh, the first Meetei Christian convert of Reverend Pettigrew in 1896, along with Rajkumari Kaboklei, an aunt of Churachand Maharaj, who converted to Christian faith in early 1890s, became faithful actors of evangelisation in Manipur.

Pettigrew himself organised a Christian Church at Keisamthong for a mixed group of 14 Meiteis, a few Nagas and Kukis. In his book, an interesting scene is depicted by Hudson,- "two lads (tribal) from Mao who came to Manipur as scholars and there adopted the dhoti. It was nearly impossible to distinguish them from Manipuri lads...The rapidity with which Nagas, Kukis, and Gurkhas are absorbed by and disappear in the Meitei population may afford an explanation of the aetiological legends of (their) origin..These people are all of the Tibeto-Burman stock. (* The Naga Tribes of Manipur: Hudson-page 24)"

If the process were allowed to continue, Manipur could have enjoyed the status of an inclusive society with an added mixture of religious communities both in hills and plains without getting a razor sharp division of Hindus, Christians and Muslims.

The discriminatory profiling of the people of our state on different labels of religion, geography, language and constitutional status of tribal and non-tribal could have been avoided. "Ifs of history" are hypotheticals, difficult and belongs to the realms of dream- but for the troubled state like Manipur, to be united is a many splendored dream.

Paradoxically it is the British colonials, the self proclaimed benefactor to educate and civilise the so-called lesser enlightened communities including the tribals and non-tribals, who ultimately divided and Balkanised the North-East including Manipur into the different groups and communities.

In 1891, the British took over the state of Manipur and a year after, regranted back to a minor raja Churachand while the Political Agent continued to administer the state during the minority of the young king. In 1908, with the coming of age of the king, the administration was handed back to the Rajah- but not the whole kingdom. Divide et impera, the most reprobated axiom of colonial rule, began to play its heinous role.

Though the king of Manipur was the de jury ruler of the principality, he was only a de facto king of the valley. The President of the State Darbar, invariably an ICS officer, under the order of the Government of India, were given the entire administrative responsibility of the Hill Tribes dependent on the state of Manipur on behalf of the Rajah but under the direct supervision of the Political Agent.

Thus, the Maharajah became a half-king for only 10 per cent of the land of Manipur and the rest 90 per cent of the area were ruled by the Political Agent. Now, centuries after the event, R.N. Ravi, the interlocutor in the Naga peace talk described the deliberate British colonial policy in the north-east as the raison d'etre for the ultimate breakdown of the geo-cultural, geo-political and geo-economic unity of the region (* Sangai Express. Sept.11,2019)

After eons of existence as sovereign state with a chequered history of defeat and victory, the kingdom of Manipur finally settled on 15th October, 1949 as a part of the Sovereign Republic of India with the controversial merger-agreement signed between Maharajah Budhachandra and V.P. Menon, Advisor to the Government of India on 21st September, 1949.

Born after the merger, I grew up as a full-fledged citizen of India. I remember, during a playtime, we were marching in a procession and shouting "Inquilab Zindabad, Aai-in Sabha Pigadabani", imitating the sloganeering processionists demanding a full-fledged Legislative Assembly for Manipur.

Then, the political parties of Manipur were a disgruntled lot, being frustrated with the Part C status granted to Manipur without any legislative power in 1950. They felt cheated and disillusioned.

The political class in premerger Manipur moved for a tie-up with the democratic India with an expectation to scotch the obscurantist monarchy and enjoy the life of freedom and democracy. What they received was- a truncated democracy.

The kingdom of Manipur which sacrificed its own independence to embrace Indian democracy, in spite of a lot of inside wrangling between pro and anti merger groups, in 1949, attained statehood only after 23 years of long drawn struggle- in 1972.

Now still, a dark cloud looms large threatening its own territorial integrity- India can't play a butcher-machine, cranking in a whole and complete Manipur in 1949 and decades after, cranking out a bleeding and dismembered Manipur. There comes a point in life when one has to say "enough is enough."

Let us hope- sanity prevails.

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

Concluded .....


* Shantikumar Moirangthem wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on January 01, 2020 .



* 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 e-pao.net. 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.




LATEST IN E-PAO.NET
  • Violence in Manipur 2023-2024 : Timeline
  • Coup of 2021 not the only push factor
  • Ibudhou Cheng Hongba #1 : Gallery
  • Kind attention 'Your Lordship' CJ of India
  • 'Opposition-less Govt in Nagaland is rhetoric'
  • Xorai - Assam's cultural symbol
  • Natural ways to lighten dark underarms
  • Is Delhi doing the right thing ?
  • Set the priorities right
  • Ima Keithel flood- May 30 #3 : Gallery
  • Modi's arduous journey & fate of Naga peace
  • Indo-Naga Talks (From 2012) :: Timeline
  • Autism: Why fit in, when you can stand out?
  • Bloodstained Masquerade :: Poem
  • Dharamvir Singh: Forgotten hero of TV
  • What is keeping the clash going on ?
  • Warning of a coming politico-military storm
  • Birth Centenary of Jananeta Irabat, 1996 : #6
  • The Great June 18 Uprising : Timeline
  • The Great June 18 Uprising : Gallery
  • Are we on track to end AIDS by 2030 ?
  • 3 writers from Manipur for Sahitya Akademi
  • Manipur's traffic, parking: A big nuisance
  • Career in elderly care
  • Keeping the folks under a state of confusion
  • Nothing neat about NEET
  • Aid to relief camps @ Jiribam : Gallery
  • Id Festival- 'Id-Ul-Azha' :: Book
  • World Day to Combat Desertification 2024
  • NDPP did not lose LS due to local problem
  • RSS chief says, priority Manipur
  • What if not IIT ?
  • Waiting for a response from the PM
  • The test of leadership failed
  • Descent of Radha-Krishna #35: Download
  • 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
  • 'Ishanou' Selection @ Cannes #1: Gallery
  • Birth Centenary of Jananeta Irabat, 1996 : #2
  • 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
  • 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
  • Aftermath of ferocious hailstorm #1 : Gallery
  • Radio E-pao: Manipuri Film OST (130+ song)
  • Nupi Landa Thaunaphabishing : Full Book
  • A ferocious hailstorm @Imphal : Gallery
  • '365 Days of Chin-Kuki Aggression' : Gallery
  • National Science Teacher workshop
  • Sajibu Cheiraoba Chak Katpa #2 : Gallery
  • Scientists of Manipur : Ngangkham Nimai
  • GHOST of PEACE :: Download Booklet
  • List of Kings of Manipur: 33 - 1984 AD