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E-Pao! Manipur - Merger of Manipur with the dominion of India

Merger of Manipur with the dominion of India - I
Creation of India in 1948

By: Waikhom Damodar Singh *



Before the British came to India, the land was a very much divided country, a land then not existing under a unified or unitary sovereign Govt but a vast land of conglomeration of different domains and principalities called kingdoms and states (later on named native states), big and small, with so many culturally, ethnically and linguistically varied and divided groups of indigenous peoples under their own hereditary rules and chiefs, in the names of Maharajas, Rajas, Nawabs, Dewans, Zamindars, Jagirdars and Emperor.

The British landed in India in the year 1608 AD firstly at Surat, one of the richest sea ports on its west coast, as ordinary traders, in the name of 'British East India Company' who had been granted on 31 December 1600 by Queen Elizabeth I a charter with rights of exclusive trading for 15 years to the 'Governor and Company of Merchants of London trading into the East Indies'.

The British people who so landed as very ordinary traders initially consolidated their power in due course of time, and with their better skill and supremacy in arms and diplomacy, became the overlords and invincible rulers of the vast and much divided country by expanding their power gradually for which they took the fullest advantage of the 'disunity' that were there amongst the indigenous peoples, who by then, were living not as a unified and strong nation as such, though majority of them had been somehow brought under the rising great Mughal power established at Delhi from the times of Babur and his son, Akbar, the great during the 16th/17th centuries till it came to an end from 1707 AD onwards with the death of their last and weak Emperor, Aurangazeb.

The power so established by the British East India Company in the vast and much divided land during the period of some two and half centuries came under the direct control of the British crown by an Act passed in the British Parliament with effect from August 2, 1858 under the name 'The Government of India Act', with full power and responsibilities for the Government and Revenues of India vested on one of Her Majesty's secretaries of States due to the effect of a great and widespread 'Indian Revolt' known as 'Sepoy Mutiny of 1857' that had flared up against the misruling of the company over several aspects.

The great frustrations and discontent of the people had been accumulating for long which culminated at the aforesaid time with a violent burst. The British Govt thus continued to rule over the vast country directly under their crown in the name of 'British India', including that of the land of a large area in the east annexed by them on 1 January 1886 known as the kingdom of Burma (now Myanmar) ruled by king Thibaw, till year 1935-36 when it was separated as a different unit (Dominion) under their rule.

The direct ruling of the British Crown over the country was done through a representative known as the Viceroy of India with his capital shifted to New Delhi from being earlier at Calcutta (now Kolkata), founded by Job Charnock of the company in the year 1696 on the 'marshy village called Sutanati' after the failure of the company to take nearby port Chittagong by force in 1686.

The British thus had been ruling over the country with unchallengeable mighty powers, for the establishment of which the credit really goes to Robert Clive, who began his service in the East India Company as a mere clerk but who subsequently rose to higher military ranks by his hard works and exemplary valours displayed in the crucial battles taken place between the force of the company and the outnumbering local force and ultimately became the Governor of the Presidency of Bengal annexed and ruled by the Company.

However, they (the British) had to part with their paramount power so acquired quite dearly, as was inevitably compelled to do so under the rapidly rising national and international political heavy pressures that had been exerting on them since 1929/30s which reached the highest peaks in the year 1946 and 1947 i.e. immediately after the end of the Second World War.

Therefore, as a result of an Act passed in the British Parliament under the Premiership of Clement Richard Attlee of the Labour Party under the name 'the Indian Independence Act, 1947' they ultimately relinquished their 'imperial power' at midnight of the 14th August by handing over to the interim Government headed by a Governor-General, Lord Louis Mountbatten, later on succeeded soon by CR Rajagopalchari under an interim Constituent Assembly which soon enacted and adopted a new Constitution for the independent country and it became a Republic from the day of the 26th January 1950 onwards with Dr Rajendra Prasad elected as its first President and Jawaharlal Nehru as the first Prime Minister.

The handling over of the Sovereign power to the interim Government was done at midnight of the 14th August 1947 as it was considered to be a day more auspicious than the day of the 15th of August 1947, a day and date for the occasion recommended by Mountbatten and approved by the British Prime Minister, CR Attlee.

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the leader of the interim Constituent Assembly thus hit upon a compromise by calling the sitting of the Constituent Assembly in the midnight and thus took over the power immediately after the 'zero hour' of the day thus serving both the purposes of observing the 'auspiciousness' of the day as fixed by the learned Hindu astrologers according to Hindu calender, and also fully conforming to the date fixed by the British authorities, for the British system the day of the 15th August 1947 begins immediately after the midnight of the 14th of August 1947 which, for the Indian system, continues to be the day of it still till the 'Surya-udai' - the 'Sun-rise' of the 15th morning.

While the people of the land rejoiced on their becoming a nation of a free and independent sovereign country it was shrouded in deep feelings of great sadness because the great land, which was once existing as a vast domain of a singular country, known as 'Bharat-Varsha' had been divided into two separate dominions of independent countries named, India and Pakistan, the former being a 'Secular State' and the later a country purely of Muslim religion.

To the Pakistanis they prefer India to be called always by the name 'Hindusthan', most probably with an aim to subvert its well laid down spirit of being always a secular country.



to be continued


* Waikhom Damodar Singh wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on October 05th, 2006


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