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'1949: The Story of India's Takover of Manipur' : Book Review

Khoirom Pamil Mangang *



Author: Arambam Noni
Published By: Centre for Alternative Discourse Manipur
Year: 2018
ISBN: 978-93-5291-568-2
Printed at BCPW, Lamphel, Imphal
Price: 350/- INR

I find '1949: The Story of India's Takeover of Manipur' to be very informative, archival and a passionate work. One aspect of the book that I really appreciate as a neutral reader is its approach to the question of 'Takeover' of Manipur by India in 1949 at Shillong.

Instead to dwelling into the right and wrong of the 1949 episode, the book dwells upon what had actually happened in Shillong, leaving the readers to arrive at what had actually transpired. It provides a political reading on the historical events that continue to plague us even today.

Another admirable feature of the book is that although it discusses history, it does so, not with the intention of playing the blame game, but because of the need to understand the wrongs of the past to understand the situation of our present reality.

The book provides a clear context of the political situation of that era which helps the reader understand the motives and actions of the different players of that time.

It does a marvellous job of detailing out the widely unknown behind-the-scene factors at play, some of which successfully made me question my original concepts and reactions with regard to the Takeover. I admit like most other average citizens of the country of being very less informed about the Takeover before reading the work by Arambam Noni.

All that I knew came from hear-say rather than from facts. This book made me able to self-retrospect and question a number of what and ifs? What if one of the factors had been different? What if the Takeover didn't take place in 1949?

Reading the book made me rethink and widen my perspective on the various players in field (some of which I had never considered before). I never would have thought that the rise of Communist activities in Burma would have an impact on the events that led to the Takeover! But surprisingly, I learned that it did!

I appreciate the fact that the book doesn't try to force-feed an agenda. It has something to offer for every reader, be it pro-Takeover camp or anti-Takeover camp or just the curious neutral bystander.

If we hope to find a peaceful solution in the near future, to this ambiguous and tense relation forged in the past (albeit under less than fortunate circumstances) it would greatly benefit the average Manipuri and every other average Indian to read this and understand what had really transpired in 1949, how it built up to that and how it affects the present political and social relations between the mainland and the State.

It lays out the existing information in a reader friendly manner and allows the reader room to digest the information and come to his/her own conclusions which, in my opinion, is the most appealing feature of the book.

And the appendix offers a vast treasure trove of hard to come by information in the form of very interesting confidential letters and reports which gives us a chance to dive into the past and into the minds of the major players and experience their thoughts and piece back together the previously obscure part of the past.

The book raises some pertinent questions on the epistemic hegemony as encountered by the people from the north east. In order to substantiate the argument, the author rises the racial blending of dominant nationalism in India. The book passionately disagrees with the rise of area of study centres in Universities as select segmentation rather than as an academic boon.

The book also tries to understand nationalism in India while rampantly exploring the experience of people in Manipur, Nagaland and Kashmir. The back cover commentary by G. Aloysius rightly acknowledges the books attempt for being attempting to "passionately argue how a democratic Manipur was taken over by the Indian State with the use of plain force and how the phenomenon is being passed off as 'integration' of India in the dominant historiography."

My only grievance would be the amount of typographical errors! It made the otherwise smooth reading a bit jerky at times. I am looking forward to grab a copy of the second edition which would hopefully be a smooth read for a Grammar Nazi like me!

Another point that I would like to bring up is that, it'd be fair warning to brush up one's knowledge of the technical terms of Political Science, if anyone unfamiliar with the subject wishes to pick this up for a rela xing reading both for the old and new generations.

I would definitely recommend this as a go to reference book to anyone looking forward to understanding recent Manipuri history and politics. This book is a very interesting, unbiased and informative read, which in my opinion, makes it great for academic reading.


* Khoirom Pamil Mangang wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on May 08 , 2018.



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