TODAY -

E-Pao! Education - Introducing the Manipuri script

Introducing the Manipuri script

By: Lt Col H Bhuban Singh (Retd) *



Manipur is in the process of introducing Meitei Mayek also known as Manipuri script. I have deliberately called it Manipuri script because of three reasons.

Firstly, it was this script which was used for writing in all Royal Chronicles of Kings of Manipur.

Secondly, on the Jeeree Agreement of 18 April 1833, Shree Joot Rajah Gumbheer Sing put his signature in Manipuri script, implying that all his courtiers - tribal including General Thangal of Senapati District who had served five generations of kings like Gambhir Singh, Nara Singh, Chandrakirti, Surachandra and Kulachandra as well as non-tribal courtiers-knew Manipuri script and all his Royal Orders were issued in Manipuri script only.

And thirdly and most importantly, the Manipur Legislative Assembly under the leadership of the late Yangmaso Shaiza, a full-blooded Tangkhul Chief Minister of Manipur, approved the introduction of the twenty-seven-alphabet Manipuri script way back in 1979, amidst contesting claims and counter-claims. The controversy is still on and successive State Governments had taken this controversy as umbrage for their lethargy in introducing the script. Thus, almost three decades had been wasted.

Now there is a spurt of activities under the leadership of Akaba to force the introduction of Manipuri script, though some of his actions like the burning of Imphal Central Library were not appreciated by the public. Also the process of blackening of sign boards is a childish prank which will benefit only the hardware merchants in achieving a boom in their sales.

After all, if a signboard of a pharmacy is obliterated, the sufferer will be the purchaser of medicine who may be the sick person himself. Blackening of sign boards will not hurry up the process of introduction of our script, which I also love as much as you do.

But, you or we have to be patient. Just as the waiting period of your son to come out is a minimum of ten months after marriage, not one week, you cannot quicken this pace of introduction of our script. We may have to wait for ten years or may be twenty years for the complete introduction of our script. Now, the State Government has responded with knee-jerk reaction of approving some teachers of Mayek only.

For the time being, let us leave aside the methodology of introduction of the approved Manipuri script, but try to resolve the issue of numbers of alphabets.

Subject to correction as far as I know, the main opposer to the twenty-seven alphabet Manipuri script is N. Khelchandra Singh, who is a very respected and renowned scholar of Manipuri history and culture. His objection seems to be that the approved Manipuri script cannot read all the old writings on stones, copper plates, brass utensils etc but his thirty four or thirty five alphabet script, can read all.

All of us and I must agree with his contention since he knows best. But just because one cannot read all the old writings, we should not conclude that the twenty-seven alphabet Manipuri script is non-workable. We can utilize the services of scholars like him to decipher those old engravings when needed. Similar arrangements are made everywhere.

I have seen the photocopy of the original Magna Carta signed by King John of England in Encyclopedia of Modern History and I just cannot make out anything though it was supposed to be English. But there are scholars who can decipher those old English writings.

Therefore, for the present, let us all agree to the introduction of twenty-seven alphabet script, which is workable and has been officially approved.

Looking from a modern, scientific and technological angle, what, after all, is a script meant to perform? This is just a vehicle to translate our thoughts in writing.

Therefore, the lesser is the number of alphabets the better will be, its performance in terms of ease of learning, lesser number of keys on a type-writer or on a computer key-board etc. The English script or Roman script has twenty six alphabets, with single inverted commas, double inverted commas, colon, colon-dash, three types of brackets, etc, in addition to many discardable alphabets.

The late George Bernard Shaw sometime in 1960 or 1961 announced a reward of one thousand pound sterling to anyone who could reduce the number of English alphabets to less than twenty. He gave examples and suggested that the alphabet 'f' can be removed as under:
(1) 'faculty' to be written as 'phakulty'
(2) 'father' to be written as 'phader'

Therefore, if our Manipuri script can further be reduced to twenty one alphabets, it will be better still, rather than increasing to thirty-five.

Coming to the methodology of gradual introduction of Manipuri script, the effort of Manipur Government seems to be direc-tionless, I think, the State Education Department has appointed Mayek teachers to teach alphabets only.

Learning alphabets is the first step but it is not the end-all of introducing the script. Along with it, primers like William Pettigrew's
"Ojah lak-ee phan thao; Tada lak-ee chak hap-oo"
etc are to be taught, just like 'A' for apple or 'B' for ball etc.

Then, text books on literature, geography, history, biology, chemistry, arithmetic etc are to be prepared before actual switching on to Manipuri script. There is no quick-fix solution.

If we are to force Manipuri news papers to print their daily papers in Manipuri script from to-morrow, there will be no buyers. Newspaper industry will close down and right to information will become meaningless. There should be a method to madness.

Twenty four years ago, I had published an article in the then weekly called Resistance dated 24 Aug 1982, wherein my views on emergence of multitudes of scripts in India and my plea for an all-India common script, was aired.

For whatever is the worth of this article, now that a common script is not in India's agenda. I am reproducing it in toto :

Page (4) RESISTANCE August 24, 1982
MEITEI SCRIPT IN THE NATIONAL CONTEXT
By H. Bhuban Singh
Member, Manipur Public Service Commission

As one travels from east to west of India one comes across Assamese script, Bengali script, Devanagri script and Gurumukhi script. When one encounters Urdu script, one then realises that he has strayed in to the domain of General Zia though Urdu should have had a place of pride in India too.

It is easy to know the State your train is passing just by reading the railway station sign boards, provided you know the scripts. Such is our India. That being so, it is no wonder that there should be agitation hunger strike even riots and bloodshed for introduction of Meitei script and throw the Bengali script but by the nearest window.

Cool down, cool down, why lose your cool just because 'other regional chauvinistic fellows are hotting up. Imagine an India where there will be only one script. How lovely!

If only one can read the sign boards, one does not have to enter a medico shop and ask for general stores, say in Madras whose Tamil is as foreign as Gurumukhi. How magnificent it will be if one can read the kilometre stones by the roadside while driving from one corner of India to another.

Why create pockets of foreign-country-like-image within the same country? Just because you are madly in love with your script, why forget realities? There are limits to which your emotions should be allowed to go and not beyond.

For the good health of all of us, the whole of India can have one script. After all, a script is simply a tool which enables us to write the spoken words of a language. It is of course, an index of cultural progress. It is precisely because of this cultural arrogance that we refuse to accept the common script. The movement for Meitei script seems to arise from aping the activities of other regional languages (and script) chauvinists.

Shed the arrogance, it is easy to accept a common script. The benefits are plenty. Learning other Indian languages will be easier, for the ability to read is a big advantage. The nightmare of IAS/IPS officers with regional scripts will be over. The literary richness of some Indian languages can be shared by all. National integration will be faster.

Looking dispassionately at the problem of script, if one can transcend the emotional barrier, a clearer picture will emerge. George Bernard Shaw was so irritated with the lack of correspondence between spelling of Roman script and pronunciation of English language that we gave away a sizeable amount of money for developing a new English script.

Mao Tzedong repeatedly expressed the desirability of innovating a simple Chinese script in place of the present script of some 2,500 symbols (actually the present day Chinese script is no script in the real sense, as they represent words and sometimes complete sentences).

Going back into history, Lokmanya Tilak advocated a common script for all. Indian languages Gandhiji also favoured this. A bit earlier, the Bengali reformer, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar wanted Devanagari to be learnt as an additional script.

At present, the idea of one script is somewhat nurtured by Acharya Vinova Bhave at his Paunar Ashram. The word 'some what' is used because the Acharya's idea is to have a link script while retaining the regional scripts. The half-hearted official support given to the idea of a common (national) script is now reduced to one-quarter hearted affair due to sluggish performance.

In 1956, the Official Langu-ages Commission declared the Devanagari to become the common script in due course. Five years later, the same thing was asserted in a Chief Ministers' Conference. But sweet nothing has happened so far. The private effort of the Gandhi Smarak Nidhi's Nagari Lipi Parishad to popularise Nagari is feeble. Incidentally, the head of the Parishad is not a Hindu fanatic but is Dr Mallick Mohammed.

It is therefore prayed that Devanagari script be accepted as a common, national script for India. Almost the whole of Europe even, has one common script which brings closer European unity. All India Museum, New Delhi is big enough to accommodate the discarded Bengali script, the Telegu script, the Gurumukhi script and all Meitei script not excluded.
(End of Resistance article dated August 24, 1982)

My own personal view is that India should have one common script to unite us emotionally. I fully support language commission's view to declare Devanagari to become the common script for India.

Look at what the currency, Euro, and how the existence of European Union, have bound so many European nations now, who had earlier fought many local and World wars.

Notwithstanding this private opinion of mine since an all-India common script is now not acceptable reality bites me and tells me that Manipur must introduce Manipuri script as fast as possible.


Lt Col H Bhuban Singh (Retd) wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on September 26th, 2006



* 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
  • Singda Dam, picnicking spot : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 07 Dec : Govt of Manipur
  • COVID-19 : Impact in Manipur :: News Timeline
  • NSU Manipur & Russian Univ signed MoU
  • Pesticides- Some of its harmful effects
  • Acid attack: A vicious assault
  • Condemnation on killing at Oting
  • Mon firing stokes demand for AFSPA scrap
  • From RIMS to Malom to now Mon
  • Book fair @ Manipur Univ #2: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 06 Dec : Govt of Manipur
  • Candlelight vigil at Delhi
  • Pony, polo & Om Shanti
  • Program on Gender Based Violence
  • Students interaction program with Scientists
  • Beauty in times of pollutions
  • Shocker from 'friends of northeast people'
  • Wanted: A strong Opposition
  • Drug Menace in Manipur #1
  • The first CM to visit the remotest village
  • Condemns Oting killings
  • Condemns killing of civilians in Nagaland
  • Choose wisely :: Poem
  • We must collectively defeat the new variant
  • Aim for quality service not AIIMS status
  • Beyond the flag & Constitution demand
  • Manipur independence & Merger Agreement
  • COVID-19 Status 04 Dec : Govt of Manipur
  • Farmers training at IBSD, Imphal
  • The enemy of the mighty :: Poem
  • Scientific nursery raising of vegetable crops
  • Votes and economic forces
  • Ningol Chakkouba @Thanga #1: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 03 Dec : Govt of Manipur
  • Intl Day of Persons with Disabilities
  • Seminar : Bioeconomy from Bioresources
  • COVID-19 and antibiotic resistance
  • A passion for teaching science
  • Ticket allotment toughest challenge for BJP
  • UAPA arrests, AFSPA & improved law & order
  • Strategies to improve piggery sector
  • COVID-19 Status 02 Dec : Govt of Manipur
  • Beauty lies within you :: Poem
  • Panti Neimei : Prayer for longevity
  • Manager @ KIIT TBI Bhubaneswar
  • Careers in IoT (Internet of Things)
  • Omicron the new avatar of coronavirus
  • Omicron variant scare amid aura of normalcy
  • Book fair @ Manipur Univ #1: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 01 Dec : Govt of Manipur
  • Why 680,000 AIDS deaths in 2020?
  • 'forward Ethnographic report on Meeitei'
  • Gust of wind :: Poem
  • Political leaders & their credibilities
  • World Heritage Sites in India
  • CM's barb on Imphal centric tribal MLAs
  • Inclusive Manipur: A cure for myriad maladies
  • Cosmos Festival @Maram #3: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 30 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • DM University: Place of Hopes or Nothing
  • Protest for ST list at Guwahati
  • Choosing the right candidates
  • Drone warfare
  • MU in limelight for wrong reason
  • Time to review development initiatives
  • Let's Make a Difference: Girl Up Khonjel
  • COVID-19 Status 29 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • December Calendar for Year 2021 : Tools
  • Demands extension of Ishan Uday deadline
  • 'Name of Bailey Bridge at Tipaimukh wrong'
  • My lovely mother :: Poem
  • Election in March first week ?
  • Lesson to learn from JCILPS' drive
  • ILP System needs dedicated staff
  • Traditional Fishing Equipment : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 28 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Protest for ST list at Delhi
  • Pendraba Khunnaigi Meiri :: Play review
  • The days of yore :: Poem
  • Farmers suitable technique of composting
  • Threat from new variant
  • Landlocked NE needs better connectivity
  • Meetei Leikai @ Silchar #2: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 27 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Antimicrobial resistance is threatening health
  • The Unified Nation :: Poem
  • Manipur Polls 2022: All roads lead to BJP
  • Economic governance; need for Manipur
  • Celebrate festival with Covid protocol
  • COVID-19 Status 26 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Featured Front Page Photo 2021 #5: Gallery
  • Constitution Day at Lilong
  • Constitution Day at Lamphel Court
  • Applicants : Manipur Entrepreneurs Society
  • Executive Committee posts for YMC
  • Transgenders : Struggling for identity
  • Anthelmintic resistance: Havoc to veterinary
  • Signing pacts hallmark policy to delay stir
  • Paddy land conservation
  • Jiribam Keithel [Sept 2021] #1 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 25 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Time heals
  • Manipur women : Champions Sepak Takraw
  • TEDxYouth@RonaldsayRoad at Agartala
  • Tips to make nail paint last longer
  • Health Min data exposes Govt inefficiency
  • Leaving out Manipur from the loop?
  • RIMS, Lamphel, Imphal #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 24 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • COVID-19 Status 23 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Activism Against Gender based Violence
  • National Lok Adalat at Lamphel
  • MPSC cleaning by LAC
  • Hope - the essence of life
  • Students Induction Programme at Lilong
  • Ending cash-for-vote trend a pipedream
  • Pluralistic Manipur & divergent forces
  • Remembering Guru Gourkishwor Sharma
  • Training on mushroom cultivation : Gallery
  • What if TB, HIV medicines stop working?
  • NPF Women Wing Co-ordination meeting
  • World Children's Day
  • Pure passion :: Poem
  • Emergence of NPP in region's politics
  • Taking NE on board
  • Trekking @ Mount Koubru #2 : Gallery
  • Healthcare not handcuffs
  • Asymmetrical Federalism in North-East
  • Dr Konica Khuraijam- Best Educator-2021
  • Webinar : Relations betn India &SE Asia
  • Career as a Product Manager
  • Starting & ending with economic blockade!
  • ST : Renewed campaign & Govt's silence
  • Exposure visit to Kwatha by MTU
  • COVID-19 Status 21 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Sustainable Development at Noney
  • Nine Hills One Valley : World premier
  • Rs 3,30,000/- as assistance to journalists
  • Taj by night!
  • Boost for local handloom & handicraft
  • Drug smuggling from/through Manipur
  • Ningol Chakouba Shopping #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 20 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • 'AirOThon' for Manipur & Sikkim
  • Environment & antimicrobial resistance
  • A lone night traveller :: Poem
  • Central Govt finally bows to kisans
  • Mera Houchongba @ Kangla #3 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 19 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Improving public transport will reduce pollution
  • Nutrition- Tool for resilience in COVID
  • Take a relook at NEET
  • Glorifying toothless ILP system in state
  • Lapses in ILPS: Complete let-down
  • Cultural Fest @Changangei #2: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 18 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Child Development Manager @ MaolKeki
  • Irujdn hEbi tEbi lMdM :: Seireng
  • The Killing Fields (2013-21) :: News Timeline
  • Is "to be like a girl" an insult?
  • Aloe vera for acne
  • Elections: Plentiful issues, solution minimal
  • Flawed education system & private tuition
  • National Press Day @DIPR : Gallery
  • Book review of Ikigai
  • Free Filmmaking Workshop at Guwahati
  • World Piles Day Colorectal Cancer
  • Diwali with a void
  • Heartache for loyal BJP ticket seekers
  • MPSC: Time for complete overhaul
  • Ningol Chakouba @ Delhi : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 16 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Erol Meerol Eigi Choirol
  • Ningol Chakouba organized at Delhi
  • The bare truth-the only truth :: Poem
  • Scientific freshwater prawn culture in NE
  • Equal footing for tribal population
  • Violence and conflict situation
  • Did Tribes Fight for Freedom of our Nation
  • COVID-19 Status 15 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Consultation: Protection of Rivers, Leimatak
  • Dr Naorem Bidyasagar- Bal Sahitya Puraskar
  • World Diabetes Day 2021
  • Padma awards now are more peoples' award
  • Bloodshed amid peace in state narrative
  • NE & Delhi: Bridging policy disconnect
  • Ningol Chakouba @ Thanga : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 14 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Nupana Khutlingba Samajda 'Nupa'
  • Through Her Eyes : Peace Festival of NE
  • Webinar on US Medical Licensing Exam
  • GMOs, is it a Yes or No?
  • Sobbing in solitude
  • Lesson learnt from ABP News-Cvoter survey
  • Glasgow Climate Pact, a step forward?
  • Ningol Chakkouba: origin & significance
  • COVID-19 Status 13 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Exhibition on Judicial Establishments
  • My namesake
  • Kidney patient must take fistula seriously
  • What to see & what to do at Kangla Fort
  • COVID-19 Status 12 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Meetei tribe bears more tribal characters..
  • Scholarship payment for OBC & SC students
  • Do you know ? :: Poem
  • COVAXIN data published in The Lancet
  • Disturbing vaccine hesitancy trend
  • Chinese village in Arunachal Pradesh
  • Online Teaching in a Pandemic World
  • COVID-19 Status 11 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • State Level Moot-Court Competition
  • Ecological task force in Manipur #2
  • Makeup Competition - Lumiere 2021
  • Essential winter skin care tips
  • Inadequacy of women in decision making
  • Election under the shadow of Covid
  • Ningol Chakouba Shopping #1 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 10 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Legal Services / Commendation Ceremony
  • Handloom & Handicraft of NE in Kolkata
  • Upcoming election: View on social auditing
  • Organic Farming
  • Task cut out for school, college
  • Rise of drug mafias: An impending challenge
  • Ningol Chakouba @ Itanagar : Gallery
  • Ningol Chakouba @ Pune : Gallery
  • Ching-Tam Ningol Chakouba : Gallery
  • Ningol Chakouba Fish Fair : Gallery
  • Kang Tournament @Pishum #2 : Gallery
  • Kwak Tanba @Sana Konung #3 : Gallery
  • Loktak & Imphal Valley Landscape: Gallery
  • Mera Houchongba @ Kangla #2 : Gallery
  • ZMlgdr AEKoIn :: Seireng
  • Bor khoiramnaba @Hiyangthang #3 : Gallery
  • Naga Peace Process :: News Timeline
  • Mera Houchongba @ Kangla #1 : Gallery
  • Abonmai: Shutdown- 4 Oct #3: Gallery
  • Bishwamitra Chongtham - Boxing: Gallery
  • Saikhom Mirabai: Olympics #2: Gallery
  • Manipur Olympians reception : Gallery
  • Mary Kom reception- Aug 20: Gallery
  • Hijam Gourashyam : Manipur Sahitya
  • Sushila Likmabam reception- Aug 18: Gallery
  • S Nilakanta / P Sushila [Aug 11] #2 : Gallery
  • S Nilakanta / P Sushila [Aug 11] #1 : Gallery
  • Mirabai felicitated truck drivers: Gallery
  • Saikhom Mirabai @Imphal #3: Gallery
  • Saikhom Mirabai @Imphal #2: Gallery
  • Saikhom Mirabai @ Kakching: Gallery
  • Shanglakpam Nilakanta: Olympics #2: Gallery
  • Sushila Pukhrambam :: Olympics : Gallery
  • Saikhom Mirabai : Tokyo Olympics 2020
  • Pukhrambam Sushila : Tokyo Olympics Dream
  • Sushila Likmabam: Olympics Dream: Gallery
  • SPONSORED ADS