Log in
Imphal Times

Imphal Times

Understanding peoples in need

Technological advancements are an all-pervading phenomena, one which is impossible to miss. And so, our small and relatively remote state has been engulfed with such changes that are hard to ignore. Though physically and geographically hard to access, technology has made its mark on the public. The virtual world has shrunk and information is now just a click or a swipe away. The state Government is also doing its bit to promote and propagate the integration of technology in every department and systems, albeit in a rather frustrating and for-the-sake-of-it manner. Despite such advancements and progress; or attempts at progress, the plight of a section of the public with disabilities and difficult physical deformities remains almost impossible when it comes to accessing these public facilities and services. The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 was an Act to give effect to the Proclamation on the Full Participation and Equality of the People with Disabilities in the Asian and Pacific Region. However, almost two decades on, we still have yet to see even the most basic groundwork to implement the recommendations and directions of the laws which is aimed at making all and every public facility accessible to the differently able and physically challenged persons. More surprising is the fact that these recommendations are not something which would put a financial constraint on the Government as it entails very basic changes and alterations or additions to the present infrastructures to make them more accessible. The total absence of such facilities at the public places in the state indicates a total lack of regard and consideration for this section of the society more than anything.  Discounting the weak and infirm will only add to the woes of the Government. It should instead focus on making the most of its citizens by empowering them to contribute to the society. The contributions of outstanding persons like Prof. Stephen Hawkins, a multiple paraplegic in the field of science, or that of Marla Runyard, the first legally blind paralympian to compete in the Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, or Ludwig Van Beethoven who composed some of the most famous musical compositions after he became completely deaf cannot be ignored. One would surely admire the achievements of Helen Adams Keller, the deaf and blind American author, political activist and lecturer. All these extraordinary people managed to overcome their physical and mental constraints and outshine everyone in their respective fields because of the support, guidance and understanding provided to them. A government which cannot render even the most basic assistance for its disadvantaged citizens, for all its achievements and advancements, cannot claim itself ideal. Understanding the everyday ordeal of these people can shape the holistic development of a state or a country. It is for all of us to try and make the world that little bit easier for the physically less fortunate citizens, and the Government has a very urgent and important task of living up to its own claims of a fair and considerate setup.    

Phases of Manipur Culture: A Historical Perspective

By Hareshwar Goshwami, MCS(Retd)
Writer & Politician
Who we are and how we live is in one way or the other the outcome of our geopolitical situation, but to point at particular individuals or events would not help us understand how “we” as a people, a community, or a society came to be. Rather, we must go back to the past, dissect it, and seek the answer within. Our history, just like any other, has undergone its own metamorphosis. At different phases, it has been composite or multicultural. For a more careful analysis, I have classified three phases of cultural sequences with regards to the state of Manipur before reaching the so-called post-modern : 1) Early Period of Exclusive Composite Culture, 2) Medieval Period of Inclusive Multi-culture (12thcenturyto 19thcentury), and 3) Modern Period of Inclusive Composite Culture (19th century to  2nd half of the 20th century).
Early Period: Exclusive Composite Culture
The beginning of the Early Period, i.e. the Period of Exclusive Composite Culture, may be located in 33 AD, when NongdaLairenPakhangba ascended the throne. It was the dawn of a new historical period: the seven Meitei yeks or clans were amalgamated or acknowledged the suzerainty of Lai-ningthouPakhangba, and peoples of different ethnic origins, like the Mon-Khmer speaking Austronesians, the Tibeto-Burman and the Siamese-Chinese speaking Mongoloids were assimilated into one cultural and political unit. The influences left by these new cultural groups are reflected today.
For example, the use of betel nuts and leaves, coconut and rice in worship, holding the wedding ceremony at the bride’s residence, cremation of the dead and burial of pieces of bones and ashes by fixing megaliths over the spot, offering of food to the spirit of dead, use of cowries and conches, the game of ‘Kang Saannaba’ which has similarities with the indoor game called ‘Saba’, the design of Meitei Yumjao houses that looks like an inverted boat, are said to have come from the Austronesians. The names of places like Jiri, Oinamlong, Kambilong, Dikhu, and Nongpo, are said to be of Austronesian origin. Even the name used by the Burmese for Meitei—Kase/Kate—is a derivation from the Mon Khmer language Khasi or Khasiya3.
As for extant Tibeto-Burman Cultural traits, examples that can be cited are the worship of Boroi (Lainingthou), BathouBuroi (LangiLairembi), and Mainao (Phou-oibi), the Goddess of Paddy of the Tibeto-Burman Cacharis. The use of clothing such as khudei, pheijomandphanek is also exhibited by Tibetan-BurmanBodos and Cacharis. The belief of considering it an omen if a cat or snake crosses the road in front of a personis still prevalent among Meiteis are believed to be of Tibeto-Burman origin.
The Chinese-Siamese linguistic group of people too left their mark. Even today, many of us do not cut our nails and hair on the day of our birth. We throw broken teeth over the rooftop, we do not take the seats and utensils meant for our elders, we avoid using loud colours and heavy ornaments at old age, we do not sleep with our heads pointing north, and we do not sweep after dark. The importance Meiteis give to clan/lineage (sagei-salai) bears similarity to how the Yi/Wu-man ethnic group of Yunan held theirs in high esteem. When meeting someone new, they would frequently ask about their clan name and family name. These similarities are believed to be of Chinese-Siamese orign.
This period of exclusive composite culture lasted till the period of MeidinguLoiyumba (1074-1112 AD), a period of about twelve hundred years. It cannot be said that cultural incursions did not occur during this long phase—Naothingkhong (663-763 AD) married Chingurembi, a Mayang princess and a number of her followers were absorbed in the Meitei fold; while MeidinguKhongtekcha (763-773 AD) worshipped Shiva and Devi, as per Phayeng copper plate. Nevertheless, they did not disturb the cultural traditions and religious practices of the society. Pakhangba and his descendants continued to identify Sanamahi as the State God and a household deity, propagating the principle religious philosophy that truth means knowledge, realization, and Sanamahi.
Medieval Period:  Inclusive Plural Culture
Beginning of Plural Culture: Once MeidinguLoiyumba (1074-1122 AD) ascended to the throne, a new era of administrative reforms began. Most important of all was the LoiyumbaSilyen, also known as YumnakMashil (Surname wise assignment of Duties), issued in 1110 AD. It gave invocation and assignment of duties for worship, economic activities, rules on royal decorum, costumes, rewards, administration of justice, etc. Thirty yumnaks were assigned to design and weave cloths, and forty-five families to look after the forty-five abodes of the gods.
Prof. Gangumei wrote that this Loiyuma’s royal decree “laid the foundation of the emerging feudal form which existed till the end of the nineteenth century.” It strengthened the socio-economic and political order in the kingdom, and encouraged subsequent kings to work on territorial expansion, particularly in the fertile plains of Trans-Irrawaddy basin of northern Burma. Mention may be made of MeidinguKhumomba’s (1263-1278) defeat of the Shans, MeidinguNingthouKhomba’s (1432-1467) conquest of Tamu, and MeidinguKiyamba’s joint venture with Pong king ChaophaKhekhomba for conquest of Kabaw valley followed by  distribution of boundary between Manipur and the kingdom Pong on the east, repulsion of the invading MayangThongnangs on the west. The expansion of the kingdom on the east was continued by MeidinguMungyamba (1562-1597) who invaded and conquered MungkhongMungyang in the year 1565. The trend of annexation lasted till the time of MeidinguKhagemba, whose military campaign in the Trans-Irawaddy basin extended up to the border of present Yunan in China.
Emergence of Plural Culture:  One may theorise that the military campaigns compelled the kingdom to increase its manpower for war and economic activities. It so happened that this era of annexation coincided with the Muslim conquest rule in the mainland India. As a result of the attack on non-Muslims, a number of Brahmins migrated to Manipur during the time of MeidinguKiyamba (1467-1508 AD). They were employed as astrologers and engaged in religious works. The Brahmin ancestors of Adhikarimayum, ShijaGurumayum, Leihaothabam, and Phurailatpam immigrated to Manipur and settled here during this period. Non-Brahman migrants such as Lairikyengbam were given the job of royal scribes. Their knowledge of foreign language and culture were useful while dealing with foreigners from the west. RK Jhaljit observes, “The arrival of Brahmins enriched the cultural life of the kingdom.”  Kiyamba also constructed a temple of Vishnu at present Bishnupur (Lammangdong) to place the statue of Vishnu (Pha) gifted to him by Pong king Khekhomba in 1474 AD. The Brahmans were allowed to worship the idol of Vishnu and to practice their own religion and belief.
MeidinguKhagemba (1597-1652 AD) permitted Muslim and Cachari invaders captured in 1606 and Shan captives of war to settle in Manipur. It is said that Muslims lived in Manipur as peaceful citizens with Meitei wives. They were provided land and allowed to practice their own religion. They couldgovern as per their own customs and conventions with Qazis who were well-versed in Islamic laws. In due course of time departments related to Panggals, such as PanggalShanglen, PanggalIngkhol, PanggalPhundrei were established. They were given new surnames, such as Aribam, Ayekpam, Khullakpam, Korimayum,andMakakmayum.

As mentioned earlier, a need for increase in manpower was felt for boosting the socio-economy and for military purposes. The ready assimilation of theIndiam migrants including Brahmins and the Panggals could be attributed to this necessity. During Khagemba’s reign, there was tremendous progress in the field of agriculture and the manufacturing industry. Rivers and streams were dredged; canals like Kyangkhong and Takhelkhong were dug. Ten new markets and numerous villages were established.
Though Khagemba was a staunch follower of the Meitei religion, he allowed religious syncretism or dual worship of traditional Meitei Gods and Hindu Gods (Gangmumei). The present form of the NataSankitrtan was developed from the VisnuArati, which was performed during the time of Khagemba.  In fact,he paved the way for the occurrence of the Golden Period in Manipur history in the first half of the eighteenth century, when MeidinguGaribniwaz took over as king.
Cultural Assimilation and Dissemination: Garibniwaz’s reign marked the beginning of a new synthesized culture: he fully adopted Hinduism and converted his subjects. This is where the big question arises: how did a wise and brave king, who had invaded Burma more than ten times successfully, subdued all his enemies and introduced a strong administrative system, get so easily brainwashed by a mere preacher into conversion? It has prompte scholars to revisit the geopolitical situation of the region at that point of time.
At that point of time, Manipur was a nation surrounded by three powerful kingdoms, namely Tripura, Ahom and Burma. Out of these three, the Tripuris’ hostility to Manipur consisted of occasional raids and skirmishes as their kingdom was vast and had its capital at Kholongma near present Dhaka. Furthermore, they were mostly preoccupied with checking the Muslim invaders from the west. The Ahoms and the Manipuris, on the other hand, maintained a close relationship most of the time. The Ahoms were friendly and cooperative, and the Manipuri ruling family was related to them. They concentrated their expansion on the fertile valley of Lower Assam, confronting the mighty Mughals. This was how Burma grew to be the sole adversary of Manipur and Garibniwaz became the Burmese’s most ferocious enemy with his domination of Upper Burma.
Thus the Burmese emerged as a power to be reckoned from the 15th century onwards with the rise of two powerful kingdoms—the Toungou (Tongoo) Dynasty (1510-1752 AD) andKonbuwang (1752-1885). Having restricted themselves to Lower and Middle Burma for a long time, their presence in Upper Burma was felt mostly after the thirteenth century. Their presence was strongly challenged by the Manipuris and the Shans. Though the Burmese could cope with the Shans and subdue them, they remained at constant warfare with the Manipuris, whose country was well fortified by nature.
Manipuris continued their fierce attacks against the Burmese from its stronghold at present day Imphal Valley. The Burmese too devastated the kingdom of Manipur more than once. The first KhuntakLanshiAhanba occurred during the reign of Jai Singh (1763-1798) and the Burmese king Shinbyushin (1763-1776), and the second onebetween 1819-1826 during the time of MeidinguMarjit (1813-1819), a descendant Garibniwaz.  Unlike the other two neighboring kingdoms of Ahom and Tripura, the Burmese kings were Buddhist.
At this pivotal moment, some 39 Brahmins from the court of Ahom king visited Manipur on a goodwill mission in 1715 AD, led by Gopal Das Beiragyaand SantidasMahanta (later on given the title Gosai). After Gopal Das Beiragya left Manipur in 1720, Garibniwaz was initiated into Ramandi Sect of Hinduism by Shantidas the Goshai.
A few theories on why Garibniwaz converted to Hinduism have been postulated. The first considers the possibility of his considering Buddhism as the religion of his traditional enemy, the Burmese kings, and the absence of alternative religions like Islam and Christianity.
The second theory claims Garibniwaz might have seen Hinduism as a good or friendly religion or as a necessity, as his friendly Mongoloid neighbors, the Ahoms and the Tripuris had already adopted it. Here, it is important to mention that most of the powerful kingdoms of the world at that time had chosen one of the four major religions: Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism or its branches.
The third theory suggests that Garibniwaz might have assumed that foreign preachers like ShantidasGoshai, much like Christian missionaries from abroad, would do no harm politically to the land and his people as he knew little about them. His country was after all surrounded by Mongoloid nations.
The fourth theory focuses on religion as a political strategy. It was an age during which the most vital role of the king was to protect his kingdom and defend his people. Clashes of religions was frequently carried out in the guise of expansion and colonisation. As such he might have considered it safe from his two powerful western neighbours if he adopted Hinduism in the face of the Burmese challenge.
Lastly, Garibniwaz might have been impressed by one of the sermons of Hinduism that ‘those who killed in the battlefield depart direct to the Heaven’. It could have been a very useful discourse in an era of war and turmoil, especially against the (Buddhist) Burmese.
Cultural Dissemination: Whatever reasons Garibniwaz may have had, the impact of the conversion on the socio-cultural life of his people was tremendous. It polarized the Manipuri society. The introduction of ‘Varna’ system, as precursor of ‘Mangba’ and ‘Sengba’ added the sufferings of the common people. The cultural gap between the hill and valley inhabitants widened. New shift of allegiance from traditional beliefs like worship of hills and mountains, rivers and streams to alien topographical features like Ganga, Jamuna, Himalaya etc. occurred, endangering the native ecological and environmental systems and resulting in serious threat to the existence of the population. The burning of Puyas and destruction of the temples of Umang-Lais are condemned to this day, even if most of the Puyas listed to be burnt are still available. It created a psychological atmosphere of cultural humiliation and dependency.  Imposition of numerous taxes related to the new religion put a heavy burden on the common man and affected the economy of the kingdom. Prohibition of the rearing of pigs and poultry, eating of meat, also reshaped the socio-cultural visage of the Manipuris. (To be contd.....)

Can the Govt. accept that its intelligence network has totally fail? - MLA Ranjit to CM

Imphal, Feb. 21: Govt. Authority’s is action or Govt. inability to take up action in time today prompted MLA K. Ranjit to question the Chief Minister of Manipur whether he will accept when said that the Govt. intelligence Network has totally failed.
MLA K. Ranjit a senior Congress leader, during question hour in the ongoing state Assembly session today ask about an incident at which the Aimol Community are threatened at Southern Manipur and asked any action regarding the incident.
In his written reply the Chief  Minister said that  following the incident 2 IRB posts have been opened at Aimol Ngairong and Molnom Kuki Villlage. Beside Police Commando along with the security force have been conducting bombing operation and are conducting frequent frisking. The reply however stated that no arrest has been made so far. In his supplementary question MLA K. Ranjit said that even human lives have been lost and most people have knowledge on how  and why it happen? He added that if the state can’t find those involved in the threatening of the Aimol tribe for their refusal to convert to another community and declared  wanted, than will the state government accept that Intelligence Network of the Govt. is totally fail?
Replying the question, Chief Minister N. Biren Singh, who is also in charge of Home, said the police are doing their duty and the situation is put under control. He added that an organisation cannot be declared wanted but the person involved can be declared wanted. He however keep reservation on disclosing the name of the organisation in the house, but assured to hand over the details in person.

  • Published in News
  • 0

Opposition MLAs echoes for a proper Education Policy; Lack of teachers, school infrastructures, improper transfer of teachers main concerns for the Opposition MLAs

Imphal, Feb 21: Opposition MLAs today echoes for a proper education policy either on cadre base system for Hill and valley or on district wise basis.
Moving cut motion to the passing of the demand for grant of the Education department, MLA Alfred Kanngam Arthur said that due to lack of proper education policy on the transfer policy of the teachers, schools run by the government have been declining day after another.
Representing from Ukhrul assembly constituency, MLA Alfred Kanngam Arthur highlighted the pathetic state of government schools at his assembly constituency particularly schools at interior border area. The MLA further said that people now consider education as the backbone of the society . And as every parents felt that education is a much for their wards , parents however poor sent their wards to Ukhrul district headquarter, Imphal or outside the state.
Transfer of teacher crossing district is stated to be a major problem in the present problem of education, Alfred said and suggested the government for introduction of a education policy where transfer policy is left to the district administration authority
MLA RK Imo also stated that problem with the state education sector is the transfer policy. As the state is not having proper transfer policy both the MLAs as well as those in the department are having serious problem.
The failure to provide proper infrastructure to government schools was also brought to the notice of the education Minister.
MLA Nashir, while terming the education policy as failed one, said that even LDC are performing the job of principal at one college of his constituency. Nashir represent Lilong Assembly constituency. MLA Khumukcham Joykishan also brought up issues on the irregularities in the appointment of principal at Pravabati College Mayang Imphal. The MLA pointed the wrong as per information sought from the RTI by an activist. The report was published in (Imphal Times) some days back.
Joykishan said that budget for the education is not enough in view of the lack of infrastructures for the schools.
MLA Fajur Rahman also drew the attention of the Education Minister over the negligence of the government teachers who are more qualified than the private school teachers.
“None of the government teachers sent their children to any of the government school, instead they sent their wards to private school. Sending children to private schools instead of sending o the schools that they taught showed that they are careless on their and have lost faith in the government school.
MLA K Meghachandra while moving cut motion suggested at least one model school at each assembly constituency. He said many government schemes like SSA, RMSA, RUSA , mid day meal are there and students are provided books and uniform at free of cost but most parents sent their wards to private school where they have to spend money. The scheme when reached to Manipur is not properly implemented that is why government school are dying day after another.
MLA Th. Lokeshore in his cut motion urged the education to clarify on whether the ZEO are kept for name sakes . The ZEO at present are not allowed to performed their duty like checking of schools , however , they have now stopped inspecting schools as the Directorate these days gave no permission.

  • Published in News
  • 0
Subscribe to this RSS feed