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From a College Diary

A lot of fellows nowadays have a BA, MD, or PhD. Unfortunately, they don’t have a JOB.
Fats Domino

During graduation in my hometown it was often joked that the DM College occupies the top position in the list of three colleges in Manipur—ahead of TM and BM Colleges ((Thambal Marik College, Oinam and Biramangol College, Sawombung respectively). This was compared mainly because of the nomenclature. In reality, across the town, the most ‘popular’ colleges are just a handful of them: including the DMC Arts, DMC Science and DMC Commerce, and of course, the GP Women’s College and the Imphal College amongst the 94-odd colleges that include the TMs and the BMs in the state, excluding the medical and other technical institutes.

After getting admission, I was amongst those fortunate people who completed the degree course in three years; the ‘actual’ number of years for graduation. Just two batches earlier, it was only on paper that it was also referred to as a TDC or a three-year degree course but it always took four-plus years to get the degree, thanks to the enviable education system in Manipur. 

Back then I guess I had a prejudice against government schools and colleges. These institutes were, by default, considered to be inferior and it was only my fortunate circumstances that led me to take an admission. I opted for English and Political Science and as soon as I started attending classes, I realised I had been wrong. Besides the other factors, the most important was the chance to attend the classes of wonderful teachers like Sarangajit Khundrakpam and Chungkham Sheelaramani and many others. We also got the privilege of attending classes on a general foundation course paper by the late Thingnam Kishan, though it was just for one year.



A short campus introduction

DM College, initially with only arts stream, was established on 6 August 1946 with the sponsorship of Queen Dhanamanjuri aka Ngangbi Maharani, the first wife of King Churachandra aka Churachand (1891–1941). It is said that the dowager queen had donated an amount of INR 10,000, a truly royal amount in those days, to start the college.  

The college was then affiliated to the University of Calcutta and three years later, it was re-affiliated to Gauhati University that was established in 1948. Science and commerce streams were introduced in 1951 and 1954 respectively and further it was finally affiliated to Manipur University that was established in 1981.

Over the years it has been expanding and the first of this was the bifurcation of DMC Science place in 1975 and further the DMC Commerce and the DM College of Teacher Education in 1996. My final year of graduation coincided with the diamond jubilee celebration and in the same year, it was awarded a B+ grade by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council. Incidentally, DMC Science boasts of as the only Cadre A science college in Manipur.

Presently, there have been developments regarding the transformation of this college into a university that the three DM Colleges, plus the GP Women’s College and the LMS Law College will be clubbed under. The Dhanamanjuri University Bill, 2016 had been already passed at the State Assembly, though the processes are still in a mess, out of notorious negligence and owing to reasons such as lacking the basic infrastructure of a university. Considering our political growth in its last seven decades of existence, the transformation is much likely going to take place, just it will be so, sooner or later. Three years earlier, the National Higher Education Mission or RUSA, a central government scheme had as well allotted 55 crore INR, out of which 25 crore INR has been disbursed for setting up the university.

Period properties

Dhanamanjuri College, which was originally started with [a]rts stream only, has a most illustrious saga of academic brilliance in the history of higher education in Manipur. The college has produced a large number of academicians, intellectuals and many outstanding individuals of high professional [calibre] which form the cream of the Manipur [s]ociety.
Official Website of the DMC Arts (www.dmcollegeofarts.in)

One of the responses on the condition of this college today has been the one laced with nostalgia—that in its first couple of decades it was regarded as the one of the best colleges in the Northeast and that many eminent personalities in the region graduated from this college. That should be the Fifties and Sixties, when, then a condemned union territory, was relatively peaceful and life, as they day, was idyllic. However, in the succeeding decades the way of living has been speeding towards the climax of decadence and it reflects clearly on the image of the college.

Nostalgia and glories of the past can be an inspiring lesson but in concrete terms, these elements add little to transform the present sociopolitical and economical conditions—more so in the context of Manipur, where merit has reduced to a mere certificate to be tucked inside the layers of documents of all kinds that we have accumulated over the years of attending schools and colleges. Forget about the jobs, forget about the ideals of learning and forget that ‘education is not the filling of a pail’, according to the quote attributed to WB Yeats, ‘but the lighting of a fire’. All because after scaling the peaks of destruction we are now hitting the rock bottom, with much thanks to the chronic maladies of the society.

Alternatively, the DMC has been a part of the modern history of Manipur. From its establishment in the years of political independence from the British Raj to the subsequent decades of life in the town under the Indian neocolonialism,  the college has seen it all. If we talk about contemporary history, in our second year, we had classes for hardly 40 days in the entire annual academic session. Would it matter to tell you now that it was because of a fake encounter, of a gang rape by army personnel or a high-handed approach of the existing legal military establishment? Hardly so—because then it would be no different from the rock n’ roll fans in the town who are lost in a nostalgia of the 70s and 80’s copycat bands in the town.

A pic from one of the tours in 2005. This was on our way to Darjeeling.
PIC: SOPHIA THINGNAM

Memories and medleys and the verdict

There are two types of people in this world: those who say that the school days are the best time of one’s life, and the others who say it’s the college days. Until the scientists prove that a god cannot sit and lay egg or that an egg came first, school days will always be an antithesis to college days. Never mind the comparison; I can speak like a diplomatic ass that there are enough proofs to show whatever it is there in a college, a school has a corresponding attribute and vice-versa.

Instantly I can remember, in those days, all those sorts of long and short rides, basking in the sun at the field (in which place now a brand new auditorium stands) in the winters, participating or indulging in numerous college fests and inter-college competitions, hiking the Cheiraoching, eating the ‘branded aluchop’ at the canteen, going for excursions, street-fights with the members of the students’ organisations and sleepless nights and so on—and I just realise I didn’t recall anything inside the classrooms!

To sum up, there might be a thousand reasons to declare that the DM College, or all four of them, is just another college in the town. No wonder, after 10th and 12th, all the local students who can declare themselves as living beings in the town are leaving the valley and hills, heading to every known city in mainland India with much thanks to their overly responsible parents. Finally, we can say, as their names rhyme, the DM, TM and the BM consist of just animals of the same ‘kingdom’. For now, we can only look forward to the day when there will be some sanity, rather than having another university under the aegis of a government-sponsored education system.



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