Manipur after becoming part of India

The state is moving towards a growth path with new ideas, development at grassroots level and considerable improvement in law and order.


Imphal, Manipur (PHOTO: IFP)

Manipur, once an independent kingdom, is a state in Northeast India with the city of Imphal as its capital. It is the ancestral territory of the 'Manipuri' people. The peoples of Manipur are more or less known as Manipuris constituting about 36 ethnic groups. As per the Manipur State Archives, Manipur was ruled by 76 kings since 33 A.D. The name Manipur was first officially introduced in the early eighteenth century during the reign of King Pamheiba, also known as Garibniwaz (1709 – 48 A.D). The Anglo-Manipur War of 1891, also known as the Khongjom War, ended the independent status of the Kingdom of Manipur, the last kingdom to be incorporated into British India.

When the British left the Indian subcontinent in 1947, Manipur also regained its independence. Manipur became a constitutional monarchy when a State Assembly was democratically elected and a popular government was installed in 1948 with M.K. Priyobarta as the first Chief Minister of Manipur. The Legislative Assembly was short-lived as Maharaja Bodhchandra was allegedly coerced to sign the Merger Agreement on September 21, 1949 which came into effect on October 15 the same year. On adoption of the Constitution of India on January 26, 1950, Manipur became a Part-C State with Amar Singh as the first Chief Commissioner of Manipur. On November 1, 1956, Manipur became a Union Territory under the States’ Re-Organisation Act (1956). On July 1, 1963, Mairembam Koireng Singh became the first elected Chief Minister of Manipur, India. The status of the administrator was raised from Chief Commissioner to the status of the Lt Governor with effect from December 19, 1969. Manipur became a full-fledged state on January 21,1972 by the North-Eastern Areas (Reorganization) Act, 1971.

After becoming a part of India, a Central delegation visited Manipur to determine whether the Meitei would like to be included in the list of scheduled tribes of India. The scholars of that time asserted that the ‘Meiteis being Hindus by religion’ would not like to be classified as a scheduled tribe. The same was not true for Tripura or Meghalaya who had opted to be classified as scheduled tribes including their ruling class. In Manipur, the existing hill-valley divide which emanated from the introduction of Hinduism and Christianity has been fuelled and kept alive by this legislation gap - as the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir was to India, the hills are to Manipur. Another contentious legislation is the imposition of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (AFSPA). In August 2004, the AFSPA was lifted from seven assembly segments of Imphal Municipal areas during the then Congress regime under Okram Ibobi Singh. The decision came in the face of massive protests after the alleged rape and murder of Thangjam Manorama while in the custody of the Assam Rifles. As of today, the Manipur government has extended the ‘Disturbed Area’ status in the entire state, barring the Imphal municipal areas, for a period of one year from December 1, 2020.

Manipur has a unicameral legislature – the Legislative Assembly (Vidhan Sabha) consisting of 60 elected members out of which 40 are in the valley while 20 are reserved for the tribal in the hill districts. On 9th December 2016, the government of Manipur created seven new districts, bringing the total number of districts to sixteen. There are 66 sub-divisions (50 in the ten hills district, 16 in the valley districts), 51 towns and 2,515 villages in Manipur. As per details from Census 2011, the population of Manipur was 28.56 Lakhs, an increase from figure of 22.94 Lakh in 2001 census. The total population growth in the decade (2001-2011) was 24.50 per cent while in the previous decade it was 30.02 per cent. The population of Manipur formed 0.24 percent of India in 2011. The population density of Manipur was 128 per sq km which is lower than national average 382 per sq km as per census 2011. Sex Ratio in Manipur was 985, which is above national average of 940 as per census 2011. Literacy rate in Manipur has seen an upward trend and was 76.94 per cent as per 2011 population census. In actual numbers, total literates in Manipur stood at 1,908,476 of which males were 1,039,858 and females were 868,618 as per census 2011.

Manipur’s  Economy  is  based  on  agriculture,  forest  products, industries, mining, and tourism sectors. At current prices, Manipur’s GSDP is likely to reach Rs 376.82 billion (US$ 5.19 billion) in 2020-21. The state’s GSDP expanded at a CAGR of 14.05 per cent between 2015-16 and 2020-21. Total merchandise exports from Manipur stood at US$ 0.95 million in FY21. Manipur is also endowed with a rich hydropower potential. With the commissioning of the Loktak Hydro Electric Project in 1983, the power position in Manipur has improved. Hydropower majors such as Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited (SJVNL) and National Hydroelectric Power Corporation Limited (NHPC) are jointly setting up a mega hydroelectric power project at

Tipaimukh with an investment of US$ 2.0 billion. A number of mini hydel plans and diesel-generating sets have been installed to electrify the administrative headquarters in the hill areas. As per a report released by the state government in February 2020, Manipur has achieved 2.46 lakh LED distribution in 2018-19 which is 146 percent more than the targeted figure, including 75,000 solar-powered LED study lamps distributed to students. As of February 2021, Manipur had a total installed power generation capacity of 261.82 MW.

Due to its rich wealth of flora and fauna, Manipur is described as a ‘flower on lofty heights’, ‘a jewel of India’ and ‘Switzerland of the East’. Its breath-taking scenic beauty makes it a tourist’s paradise. Manipur as the place of origin of the game of polo has so far attracted several foreign tourists. Manipur has the advantage of acting as India's 'Gateway to the East' through Moreh town. Eleven national highways with a total length of 1,750 kms run through the state. Recently, the newly constructed Makru Bridge was inaugurated on July 12, 2021 and the Barak Bridge and Irang Bridge are expected to be completed by September and December respectively. Indian Railways is constructing the world's highest pier bridge across the river Ijai in Manipur and and is scheduled for completion in March 2022. Manipur is finally connected to the Indian railway network after a passenger train entered the state for a trial run from Silchar to Vaingaichunpao in Tamenglong on Friday, July 2, 2021. Imphal, Manipur’s capital city, has one airport and Air India provides air cargo services to this airport.

2021 marks the 50th anniversary of Manipur statehood day. The state is moving towards a growth path with new ideas, development at grassroots level and considerable improvement in law and order. Its own art-forms and cultural expressions and ramifications distinctly showcase Manipur as a unique state. Manipur’s numerous ethnic groups, rich culture, salubrious climate, exotic greenery, and rich flora and fauna continue to attract tourists not only from various parts of the country but also from foreign countries. In the field of sports, Manipur has yet again brought laurels for the entire nation - Mirabai Chanu (Silver in Weightlifting) and Nilakanta Sharma (Bronze in Men’s Hockey) in the recently concluded Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

 

First Published:Aug. 31, 2021, 9:29 p.m.

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