Manipur is a state in northeastern India making its capital in the city of Imphal. Manipur is bounded by the Indian states of Nagaland in the north, Mizoram in the south and Assam in the west; it also borders the country of Myanmar to the east.
The Meiteis from the valley region form the major ethnic group. Their language is Meithei (also known Meiteilon or Manipuri) which is also the lingua franca in the state. It was recognized as a national Indian language in 1992.
Manipur is considered a sensitive border state. Foreigners entering Manipur (including foreign citizens born in Manipur) must possess a Restricted Area Permit which can be obtained from the Foreigners’ Regional Registration Office in the "metros" (Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata) or certain other state government offices. Permits are valid for only 10 days, and visitors must travel only on tours arranged by authorised travel agents, in groups of four. Furthermore, they may come to Imphal only by air and will not be permitted to travel outside the capital.
2 Problems Facing Manipur
4 External links
Other Interesting but Little Known Facts
Polo originated in Manipur. British soldiers and planters took it back to England, modified the rules and made it popular around the world.
- The Siroi Lily (Lilium Macklinae Sealy) is a beautiful lily found only in the upper reaches of the Siroi Hills in Manipur's Ukhrul District.
- Manipur has 3 representatives in the Indian Union: 2 in the Lok Sabha (Lower House) and 1 in the Rajya Sabha (Upper House).
Manipur and Assam became involved in the disputes between Thailand and Burma, and Manipur took advantage of a Burmese invasion of Thailand to raid deep into its western frontier. This triggered the Burmese invasion of Manipur and Assam, which sucked in the British, ruling neighbouring Bengal. The British, to safeguard their position against the Burmese, intervened, defeated Burma and took over Assam, and brought Manipur under British paramountcy in 1891.
During the Second World War, Manipur was the scene of many fierce battles between the Japanese and Allied forces. The Japanese swept over East Asia and came up to Manipur. They were beaten back before they could enter Imphal and this proved to be one of the turning points of the War.
There are two cemeteries maintained by the British War Graves Commission in Manipur, which are the final resting places of several Indian and allied soldiers who died here.
In 1947, with British Parliament's repeal of British Paramountcy, in preparation for Indian independence, Manipur became an independent kingdom once again.
The King, Maharaja Prabodhchandra, began a process of democratisation of the state, enacting the Manipur Constitution Act, 1947, which established a democratic form of government with the Maharaja as the Executive Head and an elected legislature.
In 1949, the King Prabodhchandra was summoned to Shillong, capital of the Indian province of Assam to sign a Treaty of Accession merging the kingdom into India.
Once Manipur became part of the Indian Union, India dissolved the State's Constitution Assembly in October, 1949, and made it into a union territory from 1956 onwards.
In 1972, Manipur was elevated to the status of an autonomous state (or province).
Problems Facing Manipur
One of the biggest problems facing Manipuri society today is drug addiction. The effects of being geographically close to the Golden Triangle are being felt now. Hundreds of youth in their prime have been laid unproductive because of the drug scourge. They have become a burden to the society. Related to this evil is the spread of AIDS. Sharing of syringes among addicts is the most common reason for the spread of this disease. Now Manipur has one of the highest per capita HIV positive patients in India.
Though many deny it, racial tension threatens the very fabric of Manipuri society. The Meiteis had lived peacefully with the other minorities for ages. But times have changed; people from different ethnic groups interact in all walks of life, competing for land, food and other resources, which are becoming scarce. The population has increased drastically in the state with no comparable increase in the number of jobs. The state, which even had a Muslim Chief minister, faced racial riots for the first time a few years back. The hills have not been spared either. The blood of Kukis and Nagas, (the two main tribal groups of Manipur) have coloured the green hills red and the wounds will take years to heal. In fact, most of the families who can afford to do so, send away their sons and daughters to other states.
However the biggest problem, which Manipur faces today is the armed insurgency. The place where the Indian National Army (INA), led by Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, planted the Tricolour for the first time on Indian soil, is now wracked by separatist violence. Rarely a day goes by without someone falling to bullets. The separatist movement or insurgency in Manipur started years ago just after independence from the British. These separatists are known by various names- terrorists, freedom fighters, militants, insurgents and so on, depending on whose side you are.
Years of neglect by the Government of India have not helped either. Due to the Mongoloid features of the natives, their unique culture, language and customs, Indians in other states find it quite difficult to believe that Manipuris are also Indians. Many Manipuris who studied outside the state had a hard time explaining that Manipur was inside India and not somewhere near Thailand. Some people looked down on the Meiteis because they thought that they had got their University seats and jobs due to the reservation policy for scheduled tribes and scheduled castes (similar to the Affirmative Action policy in the US). In fact, the majority of Meiteis belong to the 'General' category and have to compete equally with other Indians in the same category. These incidents led to a feeling of alienation.
For the hundreds of unemployed youth, joining a separatist group is sometimes the only option open to them. Today there are more than 10 separatist groups in Manipur.
List of Separatist groups in Manipur (from GlobalSecurity.org)
- HPC Hmar People's Convention (Also known as HRF - Hmar Revolutionary Front)
- KNF Kuki National Front
- NSCN (I-M) National Socialist Council of Nagaland (I-M)
- PLA Peoples' Liberation Army
- PREPAK People's Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak
- UNLF United National Liberation Front
- CKRF Chin Kuki Revolutionary Front
- HPC(D) Hmar People's Convention (Democratic)
- IKL Iripak Kanba Lup
- INF Islamic National Front
- IPRA Indigenous People's Revolutionary Alliance
- IRF Islamic Revolutionary Front
- KCP Kangleipak Communist Party
- KDF Kuki Defence Force
- KIA Kuki Independent Army
- KIF Kuki International Force
- KKK Kangleipak Kanba Kanglup
- KLF Kuki Liberation Front
- KLO Kangleipak Liberation Organisation
- KNA Kuki National Army
- KNF(P) Kuki National Front (?)
- KNV Kuki National Volunteers
- KRF Kuki Revolutionary Front
- KRPC Kom Rem People's Convention
- KSF Kuki Security Force
- KYKL(O) Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (Oken)
- KYKL(T) Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (Toijamba)
- MLTA Manipur Liberation Tiger Army
- MPA Manipur People's Army
- MPLF Manipur People's Liberation Front (Unified platform of UNLF, PLA and PREPAK)
- PRA People's Republican Army
- PULF People's United Liberation Front
- RPF Revolutionary People's Front
- UKLF United Kuki Liberation Front
- ZRA Zomi Revolutionary Army
- ZRV Zomi Revolutionary Volunteers
Payments of monthly dues to these groups have become routine, that it is taken as normal today. They say that the money collected is being used to fight for freedom.
One issue which is likely to become a headache in the future is that of border disputes. There have been some minor border disputes with Mayanmar (formerly Burma). Manipur is also involved in a border dispute with Nagaland.
Some steps have been taken by the Central government to appease the Manipuris. The long-standing demand to include the Manipuri language in the 8th schedule was finally granted (by the 71st amendment of the constitution in 1992). Today Manipur has its own TV station.
November 20 2004 was a landmark date in the history of Manipur when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh fulfilled a long-standing demand of the Manipuri people. He officially handed over the historic Kangla Fort to Manipur state government, which soon issued an ordinance taking over the administration and control. It had been headquarters of the paramilitary force, the Assam Rifles since 1915. It was finally opened to the general public after 113 years 7 months and 24 days.
The PM also upgraded the Manipur University into a Central University and laid the foundation stone for a 97.9 km long Jiribam - Imphal new broad gauge rail line project. The line ends at Tupul, 25 km away from Imphal.
However, it is very hard to quench a fire once it has started. The Indian Government has to regain the confidence of the population, which is no easy task. These are small steps but in the right direction. Creating employment would be a more effective way. Sending in troops would not solve the problems.
List of political parties in the state
Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04