TODAY -

Trade and Commerce under the Political Agency of Manipur
- Part 4 -

Usham Dhananjoy / Dr. O. Rudrababu *

Silk Inaphi
Silk Inaphi :: Photo - Sisir Banga



Major J. Shakespear, CIE, D.S.O. Indian Army Political Agency in Manipur and Superintendent of the state in "Administration Report of Political Agency, Manipur for the year 1905-1906" wrote on "Trade" as follows: " There are stations for the registration of trade at Mau on the Kohima cart-road and Jhirighat on the Silchar bridle path.

The value of exports and imports by the routes during the year is shown as -
Imports Exports
via Kohima 1,16,029 1,38,637 *
via Silchar 93,998 1,64,417
2,10,027 3,03,054
* Rs. 1,27,330 being value of rice.

Rs. 1,03,047 being value of cattle, Rs. 19,994 piece goods, Rs. 20,871 forest produce, Rs. 10,538 miscellaneous manufactured articles.

A good deal of trade is carried on with Burma by the Tamu bridle path and a certain amount by other routes through the hills. Trade with Assam is much hampered by the terrible state of the cart- road. The slightest rain makes it almost impassable for carts. In former years these were some restrictions put on the export of cattle, but I removed all these; the numbers exported during the year were 4,523. Manipur has an immense area of Land admirably.

Suited for the raising of stock and the breed of cattle is a good one. Only 67 ponies were exported. The agreement with Messrs. Anderson Wright and Company, with reference to the opening of a silk industry was submitted to the firm on 24th July 1905 for signature, but was returned as they objected to some of the provisions. It was forwarded to government with my suggestions on 11th October 1905, since then nothing more has been heard of the matter. The matter has been under negotiation since 2nd July 1900."

Lieut. Colonel J. Shakespear, CIE, D.S.O.IA Political Agent in Manipur and Superintendent of the state in "Administration Report of the Political Agency, Manipur for the year 1906-07" reported on Trade as follows: "The price of rice rose so high, that on the 20th May 1906 I stopped all export but subsequently agreed to allow the merchants to export the stocks they had in their hands at that date which amounted to 7,896 maunds. In December, after the harvest I agreed to grant passes for 14,994 maunds, which the merchants had already purchased while I was on leave.

Manipur is so situated that it is impossible for food grains to be imported at a price within the means of the people and therefore it is absolutely necessary to exercise some supervisions over the export.

The two traffic regulations stations at Mau and Jirighat referred to my last report have been maintained throughout the year but under orders of government have been dispensed with on 1st April 1907.

Of the cattle exported, 4221 buffaloes out of 5105 were imported from Burma. The Trade is in the hands of Sylhet and Cachar Muhammadans and the state derives benefit from it

3. Silk industry: I am glad to say that the agreement referred to in my last Annual Report has at last been signed and the company is losing no time in commencing operations. I am doing all in my power to ensure the success of the venture, which if achieved, will be much to the advantage of the state.

4. I have been in correspondence with two Calcutta firms, regarding the possibilities of the state developing a jute and a shellac industry. There also some prospects of the state being able to become self- supporting as regards sugar, tumeric and some other articles of which considerable quantities are now imported. Mr. Cosgrave, as Vice- President of the Darbar, will pursue these enquiries."

A.W. Davis, Esq. I.C.S. Political Agent in Manipur wrote to the judicial, secretary of the government of Eastern Bengal and Assam on 8th June 1908. "The chief event of the year was the installation of the young Raja on the gadi which was performed by Sir Lancelot Hare K.C.S.I. CIE in February 1908. All the functions in connections with this ceremony were a great success. Previous to this formal installation the government of the state had been made over to the Raja and the Darbar on the 15th May 1907 so that by the close of the year the new system of administration had nearly a year trial x x x"

Administration Report of the Manipur state for the year 1907-1908 wrote: "As the two traffic regulation stations at Mao and Jirighat were under orders of government abolished with effect from 1st April 1907 it is not possible to give any figures as to the value of the exports from and imports into the state.

Out of 5,753 head of cattle and buffaloes exported, 3240 were brought from Burma.

3. In respect of trade, the most important event in the state during the year has been the commencement of operations by the Manipur Company Limited to whom all rights to make silk in the state have been transferred by Messrs Anderson Wright and Company under their agreement with His Highness the Raja. Already a number of blocks of waste lands suitable for growing mulberry have been given to the company and the tact displayed by the company's resident European Manager has done much to smooth away the difficulties inevitable in starting an industry on novel lines among a conservative people. As, apart from the state receiving half the net profits of the company, individual cultivators started to gain much by growing mulberry for the company, it is now rests with the people of Manipur to make or mar this promising industry.

4. As regards the possibility of the state developing an industry in jute and shellac (see last year's report) further enquiries do not justify such expectations. The heavy charge for carting jute from Imphal to the Assam-Bengal Railway would leave a very small margin of profit (if any) on this commodity, while the amount of Lac to be gathered in the state is small. However some ten maunds of Lac have been sent to a Calcutta firm for Chemical examination and if the reports are favourable, it might be possible, in consultation with the Forest Department to increase the production of Lac in the state."

To be continued...


* Usham Dhananjoy Singh / Dr. O. Rudrababu Singh wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao (English Edition)
This article was posted on October 31, 2012.



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