TODAY -

Anglo - Manipur Relation, 1833-1891
- Part 1 -

By Dr. Lal Dena *



British colonial authority normally employed two different systems of colonial rule for formal colonized states and protected states. It adopted the system of direct rule in the colonized states or countries. Under this system, the colonial power fully controlled the state or country and its government. Most important, the economy of such colony was structured to serve the needs of the imperial state.

In other words, the needs of colonized states or countries were subordinated to the needs of the imperial state. In the case of protected states, the colonial authority employed the system of indirect rule. Under this system the relationship was between colonial agents and individual local rulers. No policy, however well formulated, should go into effect except through the medium of these particular British officials.

This system stood as the conscious model for later imperial administrators and politicians who wished to extend the British influence without the economic and political costs of direct annexation. Under the system of indirect rule, no colonial official was allowed to undertake any major reforms or changes. If at all there were changes, these were carefully guided and directed changes. Despite British influence and control, whether potential or actual, the colonial officials never attempted to change the political system of the native states to any significant degree.

Thus due to a deliberate policy on the part of British, the native states were allowed to retain a distinct political character which was very different from that of British Indian provinces. It was the primary concern of the colonial authority to peserve the native political system if it existed in full vigor, to revive it if it was in a state of decay, to reconstitute it if it had become disintegrated and to entrust it gradually with such minor functions as it was able to discharge. In Malaysia and Indian native states, this colonial system of indirect rule was applied at different times in history.

In India alone, there were approximately about 680 native states. Of these about 127 were minor states. In major native states, British residents were deputed and in minor states, political agents. It should be noted that no Indian held such key-posts. In fact, British policy depended on the ruling princes as the 'natural leaders' who would hold the people of their states in loyalty to the British crown.

Let us now see what type of officials was recruited for these key posts. In the beginning, members belonging to the civil service were appointed to these posts. But by the beginning of the 19th century, more and more military officers were recruited for these posts. Against an average of 37 writers, an average of 258 cadets was sent to India annually.

Thus, the supply of civil servants was for less than the supply of military officers. It is therefore not surprising that majors, colonels or lieutenants were deputed to hold such posts particularly in minor native states. This is exactly what happened in Manipur. The same system of control was also applied to the hill areas of Manipur. A point of fundamental significance which marked British policy towards the hill tribes was the recognition of tribal chiefs who, no doubt, enjoyed considerable powers and privileges within their respective chiefdoms.

The main concern of the British was to collect hill house tax and exact forced labor through the tribal chiefs. Within the colonial set up, the chiefs assumed two important roles: first as interpreter of tribal customary laws and secondly as collector of hill-house tax within their chiefdom. In this way, the tribal chiefs became a very important link between the people and the colonial officials.

The British rulers wanted to maintain the existing friendly relationship with Manipur. So they decided to depute a political agent to Imphal, the capital of the. state. This officer was to act as a medium of communication between Manipur and Burma. As occasion might require, he was also to prevent border feuds and disturbances which might lead to hostilities between the two neighboring countries. Lieutenant George Gordon whose ability, intelligence and local knowledge of the situation was already known to the high officials at Calcutta, was first appointed to this post in 1 835 and continued till 1 844. Gordon was instructed to correspond directly with the secretary to government of Bengal in the political department.

Gordon wanted to ensure political stability in the country at any cost and his policy was guided by political expediency and opportunism. Nara Singh was a regent king as Chandrakirti Singh, an infant son of Gambhir Singh was hardly two years old. Nara Singh was very friendly with Gordon. On Gordon's proposal, the governor-general-in-council formally recognized Nara Singh king of Manipur in September, 1844. Gordon died in December 1 844. William McCulloch succeeded him as the next political agent of Manipur. Like Gordon, McCulloch soon established a very cordial relationship with the king. But there was no peace in Manipur because other princes planned to attack Manipur from different sides. Fully aware of these dangers, Nara Singh informed all the movements of the rebel parties to McCulloch who in fact stood behind Nara Singh in all critical times.

In the mean time, Nara Singh passed away on 11 April 1 850, and his brother Devendra Singh succeeded him to the throne. On the recommendation of McCulloch again, the British government recognized Devendra Singh. The establishment of good order and political stability in the country was the prime concern of the British. Therefore, McCulloch strongly advocated the stationing of British troops in Manipur permanently as the most effectual means for maintaining peace and order. The presence of such troops, McCulloch hoped, was sufficient to deter any frequent contest for the throne, so injurious to the country and British interest.

In the mean time, Chandrakirti made an elaborate preparation to regain the throne of Manipur and moved towards Manipur. Chandrakirti soon gained popularity and a large number of Manipuri soldiers began to join him. Unable to resist Chandrakirti's forces, Devendra Singh fled from Manipur at night. On 13 July 1 850 Chandrakirti became the king of Manipur. After two days, he made a courtesy call to the political agent informing him about the latest situation. Realizing the mass support and sympathy which Chandrakirti enjoyed, McCulloch asked the British Indian government to formally recognize Chandrakirti as king of Manipur.

Endorsing McCulloch's proposal, the government of British India in its letter on 3 October 1851, thus instructed McCulloch "to make a public avowal of the determination of the British government to uphold the present rajah, and resist and punish any parties attempting hereafter to dispossess him". At the same time the court of directors of the East India Company in a dispatch on 5 May 1852 also confirmed the order of the government of India by stressing that the political agent was both protector and guide to the rajah; he was also under obligation to protect his subjects against oppression on his (rajah's) part; "otherwise our guarantee of his rule may be cause of inflicting on them a continuance of reckless tyranny".

In this way, the British slowly consolidated their position in Manipur. All correspondences with other countries including neighboring states of North East India were routed through the political agent. Most of the time, the maharajah also acted on the advice and decision of the political agent.

Manipur always had turbulent relations with the neighboring tribes like Kukis, Kamhaus (Suktes), Mizos and Nagas. Perhaps most frequent raids during this period were committed by Vanhnuailala, Pawibawia, Vanpuilala and Suakpuilala, the first two were known as the eastern chiefs and the latter two as the western chiefs of Mizos. At the suggestion of General Lister, the Kuki levy was raised in 1 850 partly as a force to be used against the Mizos and partly to give employment to the youths of Kuki whose love for fighting would then be legitimately gratified in defending the frontiers. Major Stewart commanded the levy which was amalgamated with the state police in 1 869.

In March 1869, the maharajah deputed 110 Kukis into the Mizo hills. At this both the eastern and western chiefs of Mizos also sent three envoys to pave the way for reconciliation with Manipur by promising to restore all the prisoners and guns which they collected during their raid on Manipur in February, 1869. Dr R.Brown, the political agent, advised the maharajah not to make any promises whatever. Only on the delivery of captives and guns, Manipur was prepared to hear what the Mizo messengers had to say. The messengers were further informed that if they were genuinely desirous of making peace, their chiefs and headmen must come as it was with them that any negotiation was to be carried on. While the negotiation was going on, the Mizos committed another raid on one village near Moirang in December 1 869.

Again in 1871, the Mizos committed raids in Cachar, Sylhet, Manipur and Tripura. This led to an expedition being sent against them in which the levies of Manipur were invited to join. The expedition was quite successful. The followers of Vanpuilal, Pawibawi and Vanhnuailal were reduced to submission. Previous to the withdrawal of Manipur troops from Mizo hills, several of the chiefs entered into an engagement with the Manipuri authorities also to keep peace with Manipur for the future.

The policy to be followed by Manipur with regard to Mizos was the establishment of friendly relations with Mizos. The governor of Bengal also instructed that the political agent in Manipur had to see that no aggression on the part of Manipur could be permitted and that the maharajah was also to take effective steps to make his subject Kukis understand this, and to punish rigorously any disobedience of this instruction.

In order to further improve the relations between Manipur and Mizo hills, Dr Brown was of the view that a personal visit to the Mizo hills and an interview with the chiefs and inhabitants would be productive of much good. For this purpose he wanted to make use of one Mizo chief, Damvung who, with his followers had settled in the Manipur hills to the south of the valley. Though the government of Bengal approved of the proposal initially, it later on suggested that the political agent should only be allowed to enter that portion of the Mizo hills which bordered on Manipur if expressly invited by the chiefs to do so. The stand of the government was that the Mizo chiefs should rather be encouraged to come into Manipur to discuss any pending issues.

In 1877, again the subjects of Pawibawi, Lalbura and Lengkam committed repeated raids on the Kabuis living in the villages adjacent to the main road from Cachar to Manipur. For fear of retaliation, Pawibawi and Lengkam expressed their willingness to have negotiation. The maharajah even proposed to send a deputation to Tipaimukh for the purpose. But J.W.Edgar, deputy commissioner of Cachar, pointed out that Lalbura could not be ignored in such peace negotiation and if need be, a joint meeting of all the chiefs should be convened to consider the question of future relations between Mizo hills and Manipur.

To be continued.....


Dr Lal Dena


* Dr Lal Dena wrote this article for "Manipur Today" - a journal published by DIPR, Govt of Manipur
E-pao.net thanks both Dr. Lal Dena and DIPR, Govt of Manipur for giving permission to webcast this article in the web. This article was webcasted on April 26, 2010.



* 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
  • Mera Chaorel Houba @ Kangla #2 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 02 Oct : Govt of Manipur
  • Chingangbam Ranju: Gold in Skateboarding
  • Clean India Campaign 2022 at MU
  • Prof without a PhD
  • Bio-security to prevent diseases in livestock
  • COVID-19 : Impact in Manipur :: News Timeline
  • Befitting response from 'unwanted' parents
  • Stand of STDCM & WMC : ST demand
  • Lamyanba Irawat Birth Anniv #1 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 01 Oct : Govt of Manipur
  • North East cheers for now
  • Loving Her :: Poem
  • Revoke Show Cause Notice to Dr Sanatomba
  • This Gujarat Model is worth replicating
  • The age-old art of Chola bronze statues
  • Laklaroi Amuk Hanna Yeningtha #2 : Gallery
  • October Calendar for Year 2022 : Tools
  • Old Lambulane, was a trend setting locality
  • Agniveer recruitment rally at Mizoram
  • Prevention of parasitism in livestock #3
  • The ground zero of gratitude
  • Eye makeup products every girl should have
  • Another statewide observance of Irabot Day
  • Saluting the Lamyanba : Respecting dissent
  • How does the full moon make waves...
  • COVID-19 Status 29 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • Legalising production & sale of liquor
  • RKCS Children's Painting Competition
  • Online Essay Competition
  • Significance of World Heart Day 2022
  • A kind of feeling :: Poem
  • Free rice and plight of state's farmers
  • Lifting prohibition after 3 decades
  • Linthoi Chanambam : First Judo Gold Medalist
  • COVID-19 Status 28 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • Featured Front Page Photo 2022 #4: Gallery
  • Sore Admiration :: Poem
  • Accountant Assistant @ Amber & Arthur
  • World Heart Day 2022
  • Indo-Naga Talks (2012-) :: News Timeline
  • Plastic menace: Time over for warning
  • Promoting cycling in Imphal
  • Mera Chaorel Houba @ Kangla #1 :: Gallery
  • Tripura Fashion Week @ Agartala :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 27 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • ST status demands in India #2
  • Socio-cultural tourism in NE India
  • Investigation against CRPF Personal
  • Backache in diabetics: Never ignore it
  • 'Poison' liquor still favourite for commoners
  • What has happened to the ban on SUP ?
  • Maibi Jagoi @ Thangjing Haraoba :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 26 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • Lamyanba Irabot Ningsing Tha : Plantation
  • World Pharmacists Day 2022
  • Workshop of Wildlife Crime Prevention
  • Genius is knowing when to stop !
  • Naga final pact as Nagaland polls near
  • Lifting prohibition : Talk of the day
  • Tarpon Chaklen Katpa @ Andro #1 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 25 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • Lamyanba Irabot Ningsing Tha : Fingerlings
  • Tripura Fashion Week in Agartala
  • World River Day & our environment
  • Nubank : banking industry in Brazil
  • Opposition parties struggling to dent BJP
  • From High Court to Supreme Court ?
  • Lokchao Bridge @ NH 102 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 24 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • What were Phizo's last words to Khodao?
  • Priyadarshini, Priyanka: Everest Taekwondo
  • I swear :: Poem
  • Incomplete lifting of prohibition
  • Prevention of parasitism in livestock #2
  • Wakhal Eronba- Sumang Leela #1 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 23 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • Arbin Tonjam: best designer - Miss Manipur
  • Lamyanba Irabot Ningsing Tha at Ithing
  • Ferry to Ganges :: Poem
  • Making public health messaging entertaining
  • Student schooling order exposes fault...
  • Discipline : The common thread
  • Camping @ Shirui Lily Fest #1 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 22 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • Youth : An idea can change the world
  • Perceived class conflict triggers friction ...
  • The tale of a forgotten diary
  • Face Redness- How to get rid of it
  • CADA - Govt on collision course
  • Inching towards a final pact ?
  • Border Pillar Inspection @Kamjong :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 21 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • Strange bed fellows attempting to cohabit
  • Training for entrepreneur in Food Processing
  • Recalling Alzheimer once again !
  • New Education Policy : The CUET rigmarole
  • Liquor for better health! Indigestible
  • Now focus on ST demand
  • Byron Aihara - A True Lover of Manipur
  • International Day of Peace 2022
  • Human Capital Formation, need of the hour
  • Prevention is better than cure !!
  • Prevention of parasitism in livestock #1
  • Security Conference at Tamenglong
  • Concrete action must follow 'CM Da Haisi'
  • Tag of a dry State for the last 30 years
  • Pungyam Yeiba Fest @Singjamei :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 19 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • National Bamboo Innovation Challenge
  • International Day of Peace & environment
  • Lamyanba Irabot Ningsing Tha: Social Service
  • World Bamboo Day celebrated
  • Domestic capitalists unwilling to trust & invest
  • Street food vogue boon for youth
  • Sit-ins demanding inclusion in ST list
  • Down Memory Lane: My Years with MSAD #3
  • COVID-19 Status 18 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • Licypriya to attend UN General Assembly
  • Screenwriters invited to 6-month screenlab
  • An ideal civil servant
  • Tripura Fashion Week in Agartala
  • Opposition parties struggling to dent BJP
  • Taking the customer for granted
  • Miss Manipur 2022 #2 :: Gallery
  • Irabot Ningsing Tha : Jagoi Competition
  • Bringing drug users to mainstream society
  • Namo Birthday special: India matters globally
  • Criticizes village occupation in Ukhrul
  • Use of local agri wastes as substrate
  • Jiribam Keithel [15 June] #1 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 16 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • Boeing University Innovation Leadership
  • ST status demands in India #1
  • Literacy enhancement as a career choice
  • Agniveer recruitment rally at Assam
  • Ignoring the perfect solution to everything
  • Eyeing to end insurgency in next 5 years
  • Laklaroi Amuk Hanna Yeningtha #1 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 15 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • Manipuri Muslim (Pangal) Historical Society
  • 7th election: NE Student Org, Jalandhar
  • Macnivil releases new song: Price they'll pay
  • Youth advocating for sexual health & rights
  • Engineers : The backbone of any Nation
  • IBSD celebrated Hindi Diwas
  • Who is at fault for shrinking roads?
  • After 25 years of negotiations
  • Heikru Hidongba @Bijoy Govinda #2: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 14 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • Joint Accordant by NSCN/GPRN & NNPGs
  • In search of Khubak Ishei
  • Lamyanba Irabot Ningsing Tha at Bishnupur
  • Beauty benefits of Amla
  • STDCM sets sight on bandh to draw Govt
  • The unplanned city of Imphal Concrete jungle
  • Down Memory Lane: My Years with MSAD #2
  • COVID-19 Status 13 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • Constitution & flag still dogs settlement
  • Churachandpur - The chaos and mess !
  • Rice Afrika is using tech to increase rice
  • Voluntary Blood Donation: An act of solidarity
  • Nagaland desperate for solution to Naga issue
  • Final solution likely very soon: Note key word
  • Miss Manipur 2022 #1 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 12 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • Is there a need for another Nupi Lan ?
  • Consultation: Development at Lairouching
  • Bullying : Losing of children's dignity
  • Social Entrepreneur, social currency they earn
  • AMSU in dire need of support of CSOs
  • Mum on the points of JCILPS, STDCM
  • 57th Hunger Marchers' Day #3 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 11 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • 1st Anniv: The Keithel Store Pune :: Gallery
  • Beyond Teachers' Day
  • On farm production of Mycorrhizae
  • Onam and the legend behind it
  • COVID-19 Status 10 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • Fake voters testify official nepotism
  • From 1999 to 2022 : TSE is now 23
  • Yaoshang Thabal Competition #3 :: Gallery
  • Kholao Deben went with the Queen
  • Imaginary grudge severs human relations
  • A Phenomenally Him :: Poem
  • Bharat Jodo Yatra: Last ditch effort...
  • Special Lok Adalat for Imphal & Bishnupur
  • Pineapple Fest @Bunglon, CCpur :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 09 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • Tarpon: Annual offerings to the dead by living
  • Book review: Aeromycology over Kachai lemon
  • On saying Hello
  • Himalayan Day celebrated at IBSD, Imphal
  • Get rid of strawberry legs at home
  • Manipuri driver primary source of 'Loyalty tax'
  • The 'tax-extortion' argument
  • Down Memory Lane: My Years with MSAD #1
  • COVID-19 Status 08 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • [Jobs] Biotechnology ignition grant for NE
  • 1st Anniversary of The Keithel Store Pune
  • International Literacy Day & our Environment
  • 1 Lakh Hand Sanitizer Bottles handed over
  • Pinning hope on Sangai fest to draw tourists
  • Points to study from Mizoram
  • Heikru Hidongba @Bijoy Govinda #1: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 07 Sept : Govt of Manipur
  • Schedule Tribe Demand, Recent cries
  • Intricacies of core issue in Naga insurgency
  • On Poiroukhongjin High School issue
  • Celebrating International Literacy Day, 2022
  • Condemn physical assault on women vendor
  • Scoundrel official undermining essence of ILP
  • Is the ban on SUP effective ?
  • Ayekpam Shyamsunder's life & works
  • Book release: 'Osman Thambal' at Imphal
  • World Sexual Health Day celebrated in NE
  • Manipur Tech Univ: top at India Hackathon
  • Insomnia :: Poem
  • Change - Inside Out!
  • Biological control in agriculture #2
  • Nearest-to-home posting of teachers policy
  • Addressing shortage of teachers
  • Ibudhou Thangjing Haraoba #6 :: Gallery
  • Ancient Manipur kingdom and Brahmanism
  • Teachers' role in multicultural North East
  • Regarding closing 34 Assam govt schools
  • mPharma is revolutioning access to medicine
  • Asking to believe as we receive
  • 10 years of TPC: Success collectively shared
  • Significance of observing Teachers' Day
  • Krishna Janma @ ISKCON :: Gallery
  • Growing support globally to end HIV medicine
  • Teachers' Day & My Rumbling Thoughts
  • Soibam Bindeshori : Indian Prime Icon Award
  • Can't public figures drink & dance
  • Climate emergency
  • Jumping ship trademark of state's politicians
  • Switching side from JD (U) to BJP
  • Sit-in for Meetei ST @ Kongba :: Gallery
  • Meira Rally against Drug Traffic #2 :: Gallery
  • 57th Hunger Marchers' Day #2 :: Gallery
  • Reception of Linthoi Chanambam :: Gallery
  • Jiribam Train station [15 Jun] :: Gallery
  • Haipou Jadonang - Martyr Day :: Gallery
  • 13 August observed by CSOs :: Gallery
  • Mirabai Chanu: gold @ Commonwealth Game
  • Rules of English Pronunciation : Download
  • Sub-Syllables in English : Book Download