TODAY -

Review of the status of Manipur Language
- Imphal Times Editorial :: August 21 2020 -



People’s history of Manipur is the history of agitations and protests which indicates absence of power to take its own decision.

There might be instances of protests and agitations against authority or king when Manipur was an independent and sovereign nation.

However, it is written in history of Manipur that Manipuri Women had, for the first time, launched protests against the British authority for withdrawal of order to build house of British officers with the woods from Kaboo Valley and to stop export of Manipuri rice outside the state in 1904 and 1939 respectively.

Thereafter, social reformer and revolutionary leader Hijam Irabot had also staged many protests and agitations against the ruler to remove social evils such as purity and impurity which was legitimised by the religious institutions of state such as “the Brahma Samaj”.

The course of his movement had changed and launched armed struggle in line with communalist revolution for mass emancipation to establish a communist government in Indo – Myanmar region.

Merger of Manipur into the India dominion in 1949 could not calm the resentment of the people down and reduce the frequency the protests and agitations launched against the authority in the state.

A Case to the point is the series protests launched by the people of Manipur demanding granting of statehood to the union territory of Manipur which ultimately turned out to be a series of violent protests including stoning even to the then Prime Minister when she visited in Imphal.

The demand for inclusion of Manipuri language in the 8th schedule of the Constitution of India has also followed the same suit.

Since major demand of the people of Manipur could not fulfil without agitation and protest people are compelled to perceive that Manipur received nothing from the central government without violent or peaceful protest and agitation.

Manipuri Language, now, is one of the schedule languages of the country because of all out effort of the people of Manipur and by dint of having rich literature inherited from our forefathers in various subjects.

Apart from other provisions of the constitution pertaining to language, Manipuri language enjoys special protection under Article 29 of the constitution of India as it is spoken and use by a minority community.

Remembering the dedications of those persons who had persistently endeavour for the development of Manipuri language which was almost eclipsed by Bengali and Sanskrit for centuries and considering the need to promote the language, “Language Day” is being observed on 20th August every year in those states and countries where Manipuri speaking peoples resides since 1992 in which year the language was included in the 8th schedule of the Indian Constitution.

In this regard, it may question the present status of Manipuri language in terms of its policy and development. Since language evolves along with the community, it carries identity of the community or the nation.

UNESCO observes that many language were no longer spoken which ultimately had died. Nation shall also follow suit after the death of its language.

The Government of Manipur has upgraded Language Cell, Department of Education (School) into the Directorate of Language Planning and Implementation cell a few years back with a vision to take up measures for development of Manipuri language and tribal dialects of Manipur and to implement official language in the state of Manipur.

It is seen that government has taken up a few measures for the promotion of Manipuri language.

However, it has been an uphill task to attract students for learning in their mother tongue since English is the medium of instruction from primary level for many schools in the state.

On the other hand, there is also a tendency of the parents wanting to send their wards to English medium schools as command over English and Hindi language has long been considered as sine qua non of educated gentlemen which has resulted in a new generation who neither has excellent command over the English language nor can comprehend the old/archaic and even plain Manipuri language in totality.

This present education system should make efforts to instill a deeper understanding and love of the native language by bringing out the beauty and unique characteristics as well as the folklores which are intrinsically intertwined with the native language.

The task at hand is an uphill one, but not impossible; and it would be too late if the state government fails to take up immediate steps in consultation with experts and intellectuals on the matter.



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