Sana Leibak Manipur
Roop Raag’s song “Sana Leibak Manipur” written by Jayanta Kumar and composed by Syam Sharma is now recognized as the State song. It is really nice to have a state song.
Perhaps nobody bothers to etymologically trace the origin of this expression “Sana Leibak“. In the last few days, I have been trying to locate the origin of this expression. I had an interaction with one of the teachers of History - Why Manipur is called Sana Leibak, who used it first? He did not have a ready reply, he said perhaps the term Manipur was used in the 15th century during the reign of Kiyamba. The expression Sana Leibak might have been in use since the time of Khagemba in the 17th century (not sure). We have to check the royal chronicles, and other related sources including the oral tradition etc. to trace the real origin.
The expression is vividly found in the literary works of our poets and writers like Khwairakpam Chaoba and others. It seems to me that the term was popularized by artists, literary persons in the 20th century. The historical record of the expression is yet to be found in an authentic manner. Search is on now, historically, literally and etymologically.
When we were children, we used to roam around the streets of Imphal Bazar – collecting emptied cigarette wrappers or boxes – Castain, Gold flake, Wills, Metro, Charminar, Akbar, and so on. This was to play “Chagai hunbi“ etc . Normally, we would have our wandering adventures on Sundays, covering Paona Bazar, Thangal Bazar, BT Road, Dharma Shala, Gandhi Avenue, Alu Gali, Masjid road, Nupi Keithel, Governor’s Maning, Mapal Kangjeibung roundabout, Koukhulong, Samu Makhong etc. Those days too, in the Bazar we heard men and women, young and old grumbling “sana leibak se yadre yadre, loire loire” – meaning “golden land has gone to the dogs' '. I am talking about the late 70’s.
I belong to a political family, my father is a diehard Congress, my uncle was a diehard Communist and myself a diehard parochial-globalist. My wife who is dangerously non-political and my children are die hard pro poor. So, ‘Sana Leibak’ has different meanings for all of us. But one thing is common for all of us – we love sana leibak Manipur
Whether we like it or not, these days Sana Leibak has become a hot spot for drug traffickers; the present dispensation is trying its best to curb this menace; but the drug lobby is strong and smart. The money involved is humongous and so it becomes lucrative for all. I always insist people not to indulge in drugs and arms. If strong men deal with drugs in connivance with the system, this land will fall in the matrix of Golden Triangle. That is the tragedy. The drug lords intend to virtually convert the land as their ‘Sana Leibak’. This is how they want to make our land “Sana Lebak” only for them through opium/heroin in Afghanistan style (10 percent GDP from poppies - opium and drugs).
The poppies on the hill slopes of our ranges – it is so obvious and so evident that there are many involved directly or indirectly in this dangerous business. Recently I met a friend of mine, an IRS Costumes man; he told me that smuggling in the NE can’t be done without the tacit support of the agencies. What he says is that responsible people are involved. I have a simple logic, may not be very legal but humane; let the poor people do ‘chotta motta’ smuggling of small things, clothes, electronic items, phones, crockery, cigarettes, drinks, even gold; I don’t think these are harmful, may be injurious to the revenue; but I believe this is good for our economy. Many people can earn their livelihood and beyond.
Once we open up commercially, culturally, educationally and for tourism with our immediate foreign neighbor we are going to have economic growth higher than that of Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra. Believe me we can mint money through trade and tourism. Only requirement is an Agreement between the Governments; and people are more than willing to do business on both sides of the border.
One senior geologist jokingly told me that the gas and oil reserve you have beneath your land can be flushed out through Burma by an advanced Chinese technology, because there is connectivity inside (contiguous soil/rock profile). If what he says is true, then “Sana Leibak” will become ‘hollow leibak’.
In a lighter vein, I asked a prominent leader – why do the national leaders want to come to our State quite often. He simply said, “Sana Leibak Manipur”. Perhaps he knows the meaning. I really don’t know whether he says it with a hidden meaning. But it is perhaps true that leaders from the mainland get exotic gifts, precious items, beautiful handmade jewellery etc. and sometimes briefcases. Is it the true spirit of ‘sana leibak’?
Nehru called us the Jewel of India, that does not mean that we have plenty of jewels in Manipur. “Sana leibak” is just a simple expression of love with a sense of patriotic preciousness. Still, we can make it real ‘Sana Leibak’… land of gold.