By: Prof. Naorem Sanajaoba
(Translated by Aheibam Koireng Singh)First Issue
In between two world wars (Inter-war period, 1919-1945), the political status of the states was very dynamic and characterised by fluidity. Its stature and level changes and doesn’t have a definable static character. To categorise the political status would be next to impossible. The state system that existed before the First World War does not match with the present times as the former was colonial times. A long historical past of imperialism and colonialism has made the matter more complicated and obscured.
British paramountcy is neither colony, it infringes upon the independence of the states under monarchy, terminology which is not recognised by the international law. Because of it, the unfeasibility and impracticality of appropriately categorising the states’ status of sovereign and semi-sovereign occurred during the time of paramountcy.
Political status of states during the inter war period (1914-1945) and varied in the comity of nations. Categories altered
The political status of Manipur starting from pre-1947 to the year 1972 has been give above in the form of a chart. Firstly, the political status of Manipur in the pre-1947 was not included in the purview of colonialism. This has been treated as true by various colonial sources, Manipuri sources, and other independent sources. Philips Ziegler in his work, “Mountbatten: The Official Biography (1985)” writes, “As the boundaries of British India has gradually extended in the first half of the nineteenth century, an increasing number of princely states had entered into treaty arrangements with the new power, under which they accepted the presence of a British residents in their capitals and a degree of subordination to the Raj, but were not absorbed into the colonial bloc”.
James Crawford, while mentioning about the princely state stated that the native states in the Indian subcontinent are included in the purview of neither the protectorate state nor the colonial protectorate. Their status is same as international protectorate. I, myself, have earlier dwelt sufficiently enough on the issues of Manipur during those days of paramountcy. When the paramountcy came to an end, the state can exercise the option of joining either of the two dominions or remaining independent under particular political arrangement. Congress had persistently tried hard and made all possible efforts to substitute and replace the British paramountcy but the British have firmly taken the stance that it was beyond their jurisdiction.
The issue that needs to be clarified at the first instant is the interpretation of the native state by the British did not match and synchronise with interpretation of the British. From the viewpoint of the Congress leadership, states of Moghul, Maratha, and Sikh were very often found to be mentioned as native states. Manipur was never a part of it. Manipur in its historical past and contemporary times also was not mentioned in the “Blood relation” state of Sardar Patel. It is viewed from the perspective of the Congress’ native state. Manipur belongs to the same category of separate state like Burma, Ceylon (Sri Lanka). Congress has falsely deemed the Indian subcontinent as a continuous state.
Manipur had its own political constitution in the year 1947. By virtue of it, despite being under international protectorate, Manipur became an autonomous state. Since the said constitution was given neither by the British nor by the Congress, the Manipur constitution stands unique and independent outside their political authority. VP Menon himself writes that the status of the Manipur state was outside the purview of British India. And in August 1947 also, it was a part of neither India nor Pakistan.
On 11 August, 1947, Manipur after signing the Standstill and Accession Act which accordingly had agreed to hand over the three subjects to the (soon to be realised) Indian confederation remained as Associate State. Granville Austin, while describing the status of the states writes, “Somewhat later (Sic. after the Cabinet Mission) most of them (states) become loosely attached to the union government in a relationship more closely resembling confederation than federalism- although several threatened to remain independent”. In the case of independence of the associate state, there has been widespread agreement.
James Crawford writes, “even if foreign affairs, defence and other subjects are handed over to another state, associate state remained independent as it happened to Western Samoa. He further mentioned that associate state can cease to be so basing on the principle of self-determination exercised through the free and genuine expression of the will of the people. In the case of Manipur becoming a case of associate state, the free and genuine expression of the people were bypassed. And also Manipur cannot ceased to be associate state, as no visible initiative is forthcoming from the metropolitan state (India) which would pave way for solutions of issues as Metropolitan state is day by day becoming more and more imperialist.
eeping this aside, even after accession, the state doesn’t lose its independence. It has been very categorically mentioned in the Clause 7 & 8 of Accession Treaty.
Clause 7 of the Instrument of Accession states:
“Nothing in this instrument shall be deemed to commit me (Manipur King) in any way to acceptance of any future constitution of India or to fetter my discretion to enter into arrangements with government of India under any such future constitution”.
Clause 8 states:
“Nothing in this instrument affects the continuance of my sovereignty in and over this state, or save as provided by or under this instrument, the exercise of any powers, authority and rights now enjoyed by me as ruler of this state”.
On 15 August 1947, the political status of was elevated with Manipur becoming a sovereign status. Manipur in actuality became a sovereign peoples’ republic when its assembly with its members elected through adult franchise had its session on 18 October 1948. When an independent Manipur became a part of India, there was a harsh change in the political status of Manipur. India annexed Manipur. The said annexation had been denounced and opposed altogether by the duly elected government of that contemporary time, hills and valley brethren, different parties, leftist movement. Today, it is being continued by organisations spearheading the liberation movement through resistance. During that time, only a fragment of Congressman pleaded for merger of Manipur.
(to be continued)
(This article is being reproduced again in the interest of our readers who had missed it)
Problem of 1949 Annexation of Manipur- Part 2
By: Prof. Naorem Sanajaoba