A. Halim Chowdhury: An Extraordinary Life of a Civil Servant

Dr. Syed Ahmed *

Lifetime Achievement Award by AMPWA to  A. Halim Chowdhury on 8th May 2018
Lifetime Achievement Award by AMPWA to A. Halim Chowdhury on 8th May 2018

On 8th May 2018, All Manipur Muslims (Meitei Pangal) Welfare Association (AMPWA), a non-governmental organization working for the welfare of the Muslims (Meitei-Pangal) in Manipur, conferred the Lifetime Achievement Award to the 89 years old civil servant and outstanding sportsman A. Halim Chowdhury, IAS (Retd.) at a function organised at the Head Office of the Association at Babupara, Imphal.

The function was graced by A. Halim Chowdhury, IAS (Retd.), Prof. M.A. Janab Khan, Chairperson of Manipur State Minorities Commission Dr. Syed Burhanuddin, M.A. Sattar, IAS (Retd.), Md. Akhtar Hussain and President of AMPWA A.R. Khan as dias members. Secretary General, AMPWA, M.A. Salam, MCS (Retd.) recollected the life and works of Halim Chowdhury, before he was conferred the Lifetime Achievement Award, which consisted of a shawl, citation and memento.

Receiving the award, a soft-spoken A. Halim Chowdhury expressed his gratitude to the members of the AMPWA for organizing a function to felicitate him with the award. He said that the community service given by AMPWA, especially in creating educational awareness among the Muslims in the State is commendable. Education is the only means through which the Muslim community could be uplifted, he added.

Halim Chowdhury was one of the founder members of AMPWA, which was established in Oct. 2, 1993. He was the Vice-President of the Association till 2004, and also served as President for 2 terms.

The speakers at the function remembered the achievements of the retired IAS civil servant, besides wishing him good health. The members of the AMPWA, representatives of civil society organizations and well-wishers attended the function.

A. Halim Chowdhury: Life and works

A. Halim Chowdhury was a civil servant, a sportsman and an educationist. As a civil servant, he has the distinction of being the first local to serve as Deputy Commissioner of Manipur. He was also one of the first few prominent sportsmen of the State who played outside representing Manipur.

Halim Chowdhury was born to Alhaj Abdul Gani Chowdhury and Bibijan on Jan. 1, 1928 at Babupara, Imphal. He had his elementary education at Bengali High School at Babupara and Secondary education at C.C. High School. He cleared his Matriculation and IA Exams from Calcutta University in 1947 and 1949 respectively. He graduated from Dhanamanjuri College in 1952 under Guwahati University. Then he went to study Law at Delhi University and got his LLB degree in 1955.

Halim Chowdhury cleared the UPSC exam in 1955 and was appointed as SDC in Imphal West. He was promoted to MCS in 1961. He served the State Government in various capacities, as Under Secretary (Law & DP, 1968-1970), General Manager of Manipur State Transport Department (1964-1968), and Secretary, Manipur Legislative Assembly (1970-1974). He was nominated as IAS in the batch of 1970.

Halim Chowdhury was appointed as the Deputy Commissioner of Central District in 1974, the first Manipuri to hold the post. He took over the charge from Baidwan, IAS. Central District comprised of Imphal West, Imphal East, Thoubal, Bishnupur and Tengnoupal (Chandel) Sub-Division till 1981. As the Deputy Commissioner (Central), he was looking after: 1) Inspector general, Prisons, 2) Inspector general, Registration, 3) Commissioner, Excise Department, 4) Commissioner, Taxation Department.

He also served as the Ex-Officio Chairman of Manipur State Haj Committee, while he was working as DC (Central).

He was appointed as Secretary (Agriculture, PHE and Town Planning) in 1981 and promoted to Commissioner in 1983. He retired as Commissioner (Education, FCS, Social Welfare Department & Sports and Youth Affairs) on 31st Dec. 1985.

 A. Halim Chowdhury with Dr. Syed Ahmed (the writer)
A. Halim Chowdhury with Dr. Syed Ahmed (the writer)

After retirement, Halim Chowdhury was appointed by the State Government as Chairman of 3-Member Commission to enquire into the working of Manipur State Transport. He was again appointed as the Chairperson of Manipur State Minorities Commission, a one-man Commission, on Feb. 20, 2004. He retired in Mar. 2015. He held the post for more than 10 years.

During his tenure as Chairperson of the Commission, he organized educational awareness programmes in remote minority concentrated areas of the State, made the commission a statutory body in 2011, urged to set up separate Directorate for minorities and to introduce madrasa modernization, besides making numerous recommendations to the State Government for safeguarding the rights of minorities and their socio-economic and educational upliftment.

Halim Chowdhury has keen interest in games and sports, especially football and hockey, since his school days. He played hockey in school. He was adjusted the best hockey player of his time. He played in a friendly match between Maharaja Team and Town Club in 1943 at a playground at the royal palace, organized by Maharaja Churachand.

He played in Manipur 11 in Beighton Cup at Calcutta, which was then the most prestigious hockey tournament in India, in 1948 and 1949. Some of the gifted players he played with were Chongtham Benedhar Singh, Khomdram Dhanachandra, Ayekpam Biramangol, Sougaijam Birendra, Nongmaithem Rebati, Hodam Mohanbabu and Maisnam Manihar.

He represented the State as Captain in Inter-District Hockey Tournament held at Silchar in 1959 and won the trophy by defeating Mizoram. While he was studying Law at Delhi University, he represented the hockey team of the University.

Halim Chowdhury was immense contributions in the development of games and sports in the State. He was involved in the establishment of various sportsí bodies, including Manipur Olympic Association and All Manipur Sports Association. During his tenure as Deputy Commissioner he took initiatives to reserve the area of Khuman Lampak as Sports Complex.

He has also done lots of community service over the years, especially in the upliftment of down-trodden sections of the State. He promoted education among the Muslims and other backward minority communities. He supported many educational institutions, including madrasas. He established the Madrasa Halimia Madina at Sabal Leikai, Khetrigao, in 1987. He worked for the development of Jame Masjid at Sadar Bazar and Jame Masjid at Babupara. He served as the Chairman of Jame Masjid at Sadar Bazar from 1978 to 1992.

Over the years, Halim Chowdhury has been conferred numerous awards in recognition of his service to the State and the society by many organisations, including the prestigious Hijam Irawat Award 2013 by Jananeta Hijam Irawat Celebration Committee on the occasion of the 117th birth anniversary of Jananeta Hijam Irawat on Sept. 30, 2013.

* Dr. Syed Ahmed wrote this article for
The writer is an Assistant Professor at DM College of Arts, Imphal and can be contacted at syed_ahmed4(AT)yahoo(DOT)com
This article was posted on May 09, 2018.

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