Coming of Manipur University in 1980 A defining moment in the history of higher education in Manipur

Dr AK Chishti
Contd from previous issue
This time in 1980 the teacher was not alone; some senior students joined him and formed the G6. The decision of G6 though taken by a microscopic body was momentous. No cause was greater to the G6 than the establishment of a University at that time. The Group first of all took the occasion of meeting the Honourable Minister of Education Mr Rishang Keishing on 13th March, 1980 and told him that there was a dire need to review the academic problem faced by state students. Oja Rishang was kind enough as to meet the group with all the seriousness and readiness to discuss the matter concerning the fates of BSc/BA and PU Science/Arts/Commerce candidates in the event of University’s keeping silence over that issue spelling doom for State students aspiring to join medical/engineering professions, etc. For them the examination was crucial that no postponement could be made or accepted since dates for admission into the courses were determined by concerned authorities of India. ‘What could I do?’ was the counter question from him’. The cutting rejoinder was that, who was the right authority to take the cause of State students, if he was not ? He was to answer to the people not to the G6. The suggestion of the group was that their Education Minister should without further loss of time contact the Guwahati University Authority for making a special arrangement for the State college students. The inevitable should follow. No VC on earth could give a positive response to that as the situation was against such a favour and an action the team pointed out to him. There was no option for the State Government also but to initiate the process of establishing the long waited University of its own with no qualms or feeling of doubt or worry that, what the Government might not be right. Oja Rishang agreed with the team with some reservations of course. The team tried its best to clear the deck; came up with an offer to assist him if necessary in the meeting with the VC Guwahati University and the Prime Minister of India. The group was 100% sure of the favour to come from both authorities as to arrive at a solution was crucial.
There was no politics involved in that approach. Oja Rishang was more than convinced and he expressed his readiness to talk to the VC at his behest and asked the team to come to him in the very evening of the day for further deliberation on the outcome. The group expressed their gratefulness to the Education Minister Oja Rishang and wished him all the success.
The group of G6 also met with the Principal, DM College of Science in his office chamber and appraised of the situation and development. It was a different picture to convey, quite in contrast to that of Oja Rishang. He was not at all smart in expressing his true reaction; always pessimistic. To the suggestion that in the event of GU’s denial to the approach for making a special arrangement, the State Government should take up the case suo motu and establish duly a full-fledged University of Manipur to save the valuable careers of the children that will be in the fitness of things. To that Shri NC Sen sharply reacted “Impossible”, “Chishti you are quite sentimental and not practical.”
The group also met Shr E. Yaima Singh in his office chamber and from there, they contacted the Education Minister’s office. It was however called a day instead asked them to come next morning.
The narratives made above are based on the notings made in a special diary as maintained by Shri L Nilkamal Singh in-charge of the job. The same will be true for all the notings to follow.
On 28th March, 1980 the G6 and the Principal of DMC of Science Shri NC Sen visited the Education Minister’s Bungalow to meet the Education Minister. The Principal however left the premise as Student Union Secretaries did not come as planned. The G6 also returned without meeting the Education Minister who was busy in an emergency meeting. As the rallying point was already there for the G6 to advance their approach, Oja Rishang always welcomed them though he was quite busy and engaged with many visitors. On one occasion he was found busy with the party leader Shri RK Joychandra Singh and Shri E Yaima Singh, Director of Education (U). The two also joined the discussion with Oja Rishang and supported the cause. He did not lose time, asked the G6 teacher leader to meet his PA for setting a programme of meeting of all concerned officials including the Commissioner Education DE (U), Director JNU Centre of PG studies, Chairman Higher Secondary Board, etc. for deliberation and decision on the agenda item the G6 urged as a rallying point. Shri H  Ranabir Singh the then Director of JNU Centre of PG studies was entrusted with the job of drafting the Manipur University Bill 1980 for the placement in the Manipur Legislative Assembly Session. Oja Rishang also requested the teacher to assist H Ranabir Singh as and when necessary. In reality however it was otherwise. As it so happened, the teacher while on a visit to the new secretariat came across a copy of the draft Manipur University 1980 lying on the table of the SO, Secretariat Education Department. It was really by chance to get such an opportunity of going through the draft.
Commissioner (Education), Shri Sangura was pleased to offer a copy of the draft which was then discussed in an emergency gathering of G6 in the DM College canteen. Prima facie, there were full of unwanted and irrelevant references in the draft that required to be deleted or removed before the introduction in the August house. The team had to rush to the residence of the Director JN centre of PG studies in that evening of 7th April, 1980. A lengthy arguments for and against the inclusion of the references in question took place. The group of G6 insisted upon him again and again in favour of removing the references from the body of the draft to make the establishment of MU as an independent policy decision of the state government. The deliberation was quite interesting and illuminating in spite of the face off before coming around the understanding in favour as requested. However, as to the request made by the team to him to initiate the move at his behest at the earliest and save the situation, he denied on the ground that there was no sufficient time left. Sensing the difficulties ahead the group ultimately decided to submit a representation in that regard to the honourable CM next morning. The representation was drafted in the bordering night with a prayer to do the needful deemed proper for removing the references in question from the MU 1980.
Members of the G6 gathered at the security officer’s office inside the CM compound in the morning hours for seeing the honourable CM. To the surprise of the members Shri H Ranabir Singh all of a sudden appeared there and went through the representation copy. Having satisfied with the representation and development brought about, he expressed his intention to submit the representation by himself to the Honourable CM in favour of the removal of unwanted references. The team agreed in the situation. After some 40 – 45 minutes Shri H. Ranabir Singh came out with satisfaction and conveyed to the team that his mission was successful that honourable CM of Manipur accepted the prayer of the G6 readily. They thanked him again and again for the outcome. On 8th April, 1980 the August Assembly passed the Bill and it became the MU Act 8 of 1980.
It now came as a blessing to the people of the Manipur the erstwhile kingdom in the East. It was really the result of a concerted and historic movement that led to the establishment of MU for the future to remember with the sigh of relief.
Coming of MU in 1980 was really a defining moment in the history of higher education in Manipur. The G6 members have been sharing the historical moments among themselves and the lasting impact on their minds for the past four decades. The defining moment when appreciated by the young generations can be of help in building trust, camaraderie, alignment and sense of unity.
(To be contd)