TODAY -

Patriotism Redefined
"I must be a good citizen to save my motherland"

Seram Neken *

Meira Rally along with heikat leikat as part of 126th Patriots' Day Celebration :: 13 August 2017
Heikat leikat on 126th Patriots' Day Celebration - 13 August 2017 :: Pix - Shankar Khangembam



"Instead of having the notion that 'I am studying hard to become an IAS Officer to get rich, to purchase luxurious vehicles, to own flats abroad or so on and so forth'; our young students must think in terms of public welfare as priority after they become prominent persons in various fields. Manipur will ever remain intact and prosperous, when our administrators, professionals, sports and cultural icons have the national character in them. Hence grooming youths with sense of nationalism is the need of the hour."

The 13th of August every year is a red letter day for the Manipuris residing at the extreme north eastern corner of India. On this very day, during the onset of dusk, the gallant freedom fighters namely Bir Tikendrajit and Thangal General were hanged in public at the Imphal Pologround, on charges of waging war against the British Government.

The two heroes, although failed to save the motherland from the British subjugation, had taught a lesson to the posterity that 'the responsibility to save the motherland lies on us all' and 'Foreign intervention in the affairs of the nation must be prevented at all cost'.

In the aftermath of the 1891 Anglo-Manipuri War that led to occupation of Manipur by the British Government, Maharaja Kullachandra along with his two brothers and twelve noblemen were also sent to Kalapani Prison in Andaman and Nicobar Islands for life imprisonment. (King Kullachandra, Angousana Singh, Wangkheirakpa Lokendrajit, Ayapurel Nilamani, Luwang Ningthou Shamu Singh, Major Chongtha Miya, Abungjao Yengkhoiba, Uru Singh Usarba, Khamba Singh Laishraba, Ghana Singh Khongdra, Chaobi Haidar, Dhojo Singh, Noni Singh Nepra, Trilok Singh Nongthonba, and Dhono Singh). Apart from these recorded names, a number of Meitei fighters fled their homes, vanquished and remained underground.

Among the prisoners in Kalapani Prison, Maharaj Kullachandra and Major Chongtha Miya were released and allowed to return to mainland India for their decency and good behavior. Kullachandra breathed his last on 27th January 1934 at Radhakunda in Uttar Pradesh, while Chongtha Miya reportedly died in Tripura.

The British described the Manipuri freedom fighters as 'Murderers and Instigators' who revolted against the British Queen, because the British had the notion that the Manipur had already been under their sovereignty well before the War. History is a lesson to us all today that frequent infightings and antagonisms within ourselves gives ample room for the alien power to interfere into our own affairs.

In fact, the infightings among the Manipuri Kings of yore were also a major factor for our submission to the British reign. On the one side, the British Indian efforts of colonial expansion attempted to find a land route to Burma to accomplish its mission to sway hold over Asian territory. On the other, the Manipuri princes frequently fought among themselves for grabbing power hegemony. Such a coincidence resulted to Manipur becoming a colony of British India.

Frequent infightings and recurrent antagonisms within ourselves always lead to our own destruction. No force on Earth can subjugate us when we remain united and cordial. History of Manipur's gradual subjugation under British Rule during pre-1891 period ever remains a lesson to the posterity that 'first of all we need to be united and dignified' in order to shine in this high-tech modern world.

Patriotism, the trait possessed by the Manipuri Heroes such as Bir Tikendrajit, Thangal General, Paona Brajabashi and a host of other fighters, was so immense that they never retreated in the face of the mighty British forces at no point. The writer may quote the lines from what Paona Brajabashi shouted during the Khongjom Battle, "The enemy's shell can land in our camp, whereas ours cannot in theirs. My fellow countrymen, it is a disgrace to die fleeing. Death is now certain for us, but we will never retreat". Their love for the motherland is worthy of celebration for all times to come.

Now during this highly sophisticated and globalized environment, it is worried that the quantum of patriotism or national character has either been considerably lessened or totally lost among the youths. In respect of agitations or uprisings for saving the territory of Manipur, thousands of youths may come out to the streets, shout slogans and vandalize things out of emotion.

But, the main thing which all our youth must keep in mind is ' I must be a good citizen to save my motherland'. Patriotism nowadays should be redefined as having a national character in ourselves. A good citizen connotes all traits right from good discipline, good health, good education, able leadership, helping attitude, work culture, peaceful living, due respect to all communities.

On the one hand, many individuals of Manipur under the banner of various Civil Society Bodies have been striving to revive the lost unity among the various communities, to protect the identity of our composite nation and to bring about a united Manipur. On the other, a number of young people are lost to drugs, alcoholism, laziness and indiscipline attitude.

The patriotism of the 1900s was cultured through physical excellence, competence in martial arts and war-craft. However, in today's world, patriotism may be redefined in terms of grooming good citizens having national character. National character as a Manipuri should be imbibed in our young minds, who would one day become administrators, medical professionals, engineers, teachers, sport stars, music icons, cultural celebrities etc.

Instead of having the notion that 'I am studying hard to become an IAS Officer to get rich, to purchase luxurious vehicles, to own flats abroad or so on and so forth'; our young students must be made to think in terms of public welfare as priority after they become prominent persons in various fields. When today's children have the strong vision to serve their people and their nation imbibed through their formal and informal education, they will manifest in the future their patriotic fervor.

Parents, teachers and rather our education system should strive to instill our youths with the patriotic emotions and sense of nationalism as a Manipuri. Only then, the observance of Patriots' Day every year on 13th of August will be significant and meaningful.


* Seram Neken ( of 'The Voiceless Speaks' ) wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer is a Freelance Columnist & Social Activist and can be contacted at nekenseram(AT)yahoo(DOT)co(DOT)in
This article was posted on August 12 , 2018.


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