Economic interpretations of Merger Agreement : Strategic policy shifts in development
- Part 2 -

Dr L Krishnamangol Singh*

INSTRUMENT OF ACCESSION' executed on 11-8-47 between Governor-General of India and His Highness the Maharajah of Manipur
'INSTRUMENT OF ACCESSION' executed on 11-8-47 between Governor-General of India and His Highness the Maharajah of Manipur
Courtesy : RK Jhalajit Singh

Thus, according to the merger agreement signed on 21st September, 1949 between Maharaja Budhachandra and the Government of India, Manipur was merged into the Indian Union on 15th October, 1949, which is now challenged by the critics and the armed revolutionary organizations as an "agreement" signed under duress or force imposed on the Maharajah.

Here, it would be interesting to note that, except under dictatorship or dictatorial rule, experiences have shown that sovereignty could not be easily parcialised, and perhaps remain as a symbol of "Independence" of a nation or country. Now, the question is : Why was Maharaja considered wrong in signing the agreement? Alternatively, why was the Maharaja blamed for signing the Agreement?

In any case, the Maharaja might, perhaps, face both the advantages and disadvantages of signing the "agreement". However, it has been observed that he had taken the decision to sign the agreement on the basis that the King (i.e. the Maharajah himself) was not again conquered and that, in practice, the erstwhile kingdom of Manipur became an independent nation state immediately after the British had left Manipur.

And, this stage of historical and political development of Manipur could be described as the "Golden Age of Manipur" since Manipur Constitution Act, 1947 was passed and adopted for a popular government (elected government) of the independent nation or country of Manipur. In fact, there are a large number of intellectuals, scholars and other experts who have their views on the Manipur State Constitution Act, 1947 and also on the status of independent country or nation of Manipur that existed prior to October 15, 1949. And, therefore, it is not the purpose of the present article to elaborate or repeat their views.

It may, however, be noted that the independent status of the Kingdom of Manipur or the nation of Manipur was lost when the Maharaja Budhachandra, who applied the principle that the Kingship was an institution of hereditary/heir and succession, and propitiatory right of the erstwhile kingdom of Manipur belonged to the King himself signed the Merger Agreement. This marked another historical turning point for integration of Manipur from a small independent nation state to the Indian Union or India.

Here, it would be essential to re-examine why the critics have still argued against the decision taken by the Maharaja in signing the "agreement".

It is argued that the decision taken by the Maharaja in signing the merger agreement for merging Manipur into the Indian Union or India was wrong as Manipur was an Independent Kingdom or an independent nation for a long historical period before the British came, and after the British left Manipur, the Kingdom of Manipur had politically or automatically restored its/her early status of "independence" (i.e. the independent kingdom or the independent nation).

Thus, it has been argued that the merger agreement signed between the Maharaja and the Government of India was wrong as he (the King) had not taken the decision or consent of the people of Manipur and the Council of Ministers of the state in signing the agreement.

It is also their argument that the decision taken by the Maharaja was wrong as Manipur had (already) adopted and followed the Manipur State Constitution Act, 1947 for the formation/constitution or election of a popular government after the British had left Manipur.

Thus, according to their views there are basically two main points which constitute the basis of their arguments that lend support to or that cause the armed revolution against the Government of India and also against the Government of Manipur. These two main points may be set out as follows:

1. First, it is argued that Maharaja (i.e. Budhachandra Maharaja who was the King of Manipur when the British had left the latter had no power or legal right to sign the "merger agreement" as the king of Manipur had lost the power of the King during the British rule in Manipur.

2. Secondly, it is also argued that the Manipur State Constitution Act, 1947 had formally established a popular government (i.e. an elected government) of Manipur which continued to function or existed till the merger of Manipur into the Union of India (i.e. India) on October 15, 1949.

Thus, the merger of Manipur into India marked a turning point in the historical, political, social and economic changes, and development in Manipur. In fact, it (i.e. merger agreement) has larger dimension or implications of historical and political development in Manipur. And the process of economic development in Manipur also takes place with the process of political changes and development in India since Manipur was merged into the Indian Union/India on October 15, 1949. In fact, there is close relationship between the modern economic development and political development, which is generally known.

We may now conclude the brief article in the following ways.

1. It can be pointed out that there are still two opposite views, which sharply differ in their arguments on the merger agreement. And, coming to the case of Manipur, there is still a controversial issue, which lends support to the underground movement or insurgency movement in Manipur.

2. It is also observed that the Government of India and Maharaja Budhachandra had accepted that Manipur was an independent kingdom, which was also a princely state even prior to the departure of British from Manipur. Thus, both sides had not accepted "locus standi" of Manipur State Constitution Act, 1947.

3. In fact, the sequence of the historical events corroborate that there was politically free entry from Manipur into Indian Union (i.e. India), but there is no politically free exit of Manipur from India as the process of political and economic integration, and the process of modern economic growth and development of Manipur has already started and deepened in the state within the political and geographical boundary (i.e. territory) of India, which is now recognized as one of the largest democratic countries in the comity of nations.

4. Finally, it can be pointed out that the process of economic integration has strengthened democracy and development at different levels in most of the countries of the world. And the modern theory of economic growth and development also suggests that the economic integration from the local to the growth centre of the region, from the rural to the urban and from the region to the nation or the country, and from the country to the global economy can provide benefits of growth and development to the people in the country.

It is therefore, essential that there is the need for restructuring and reforming the various barriers to growth and development through effective institutional reforms, massive or adequate increase in public investments in various fields of development including eradication or elimination of poverty and unemployment, provision of basic needs, overall increase in the general standards of living of the people, reorganisation of the participation model/system of development, proper management of the new economic development system, etc. that need to transform the people to maximum level of development.

In fact, Keynes' "maximum development" and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "minimum government and maximum governance" can now be a new starting point for a new economics that needs to transform the country (India) including Manipur into a higher level of development or maximum level of growth and development.


* Dr L Krishnamangol Singh wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is an economist.
This article was posted on June 01, 2015.

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