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DESAM seeks introduction of Pony Riding as mandatory Co-Curricular activity

Photo from the 14 Manipur Polo International organized by the Manipur Horse Riding and Polo Association at Mapal Kangjeibung on November 27, 2022.

Students’ body submits a memorandum to the Chief Minister and the Education Minister urging them to take up appropriate action at the earliest in the interest of the students and future generations

TFM Desk

Democratic Students’ Alliance of Manipur (DESAM) has submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister of Manipur and the Education Minister for the introduction of Manipur’s Sagol (Pony) Riding as mandatory Co-Curricular activity. It also sought the inclusion of Manipuri Performing Art (MPA) as an optional paper in Class IX and X of BOSEM and the introduction of the practical of MPA & Thang-Ta in School Education.

As per the memorandum signed by DESAM president Leishangthem Lamyanba Meitei and general secretary general Mayengbam Somorjit Meitei, their plea is in the interest of the students of Manipur. “The importance and significance of Manipuri Sagol (Pony), which is also a part of our History, Culture, and identity, is in a critical stage and has become endangered. It is the need of the hour to introduce a Pony riding course to school education so that the new generation could understand the strong sense of our own cultural identity, belongingness, and self-esteem,” it said.

“As a matter of Policy of the State Government as well as a follow-up action of NEP 2020 optional papers of Manipuri Performing Art may be introduced in the school of Manipur from IX-X standards to enable the students to understand and appreciate the rich cultural heritage of their own state before they do undergraduate in different fields of their choice,” said the memorandum.

“The Manipur Pony Conservation and Development Policy also encouraged introducing the Pony Riding to the students to popularise the Pony amongst the youth of Manipur,” it added.

The memorandum further said the National Education Policy 2020 of India focuses on different aspects which would promote the language and culture of every community. In NEP (4:31) local contents and flavours are clearly mentioned to incorporate into the school curriculum.

“It is also mentioned very clearly that cultural awareness and expression are among the major competencies considered important to develop in children, to provide them with a sense of identity, and belongingness, as well as an appreciation of other cultures and identities,” It added.

Maintaining that children can build a positive cultural identity and self-esteem through the development of a strong sense and knowledge of their own cultural history, arts, languages, and traditions, DESAM said cultural awareness and expression are important contributors both to the individual as well as societal wellbeing (NEP 2020, 22:2), Schools/school complexes will be encouraged to hire local eminent persons or experts as “master instructors” in various subjects, such as in tradition local arts, vocational crafts, etc (NEP 2020;5:6).

The memorandum said it is an undeniable fact that the performing arts of a community are a mirror that reflects the culture and value system of the community, performing art is the window through which one can see the cultural history of the society.

“Manipur is well known for her unique and rich cultural heritage. Her culture represents the perfect blending of aesthetic and ethical aspects in an extraordinary way which are very much necessary to cultivate in the present education policy of the State as well as the Nation. The famous Manipuri Rasa Dance which has been one of the classical dances of India and the Sankirtana of Manipur which has been listed in the Intangible Heritage of UNESCO are clear examples of the aesthetic aspects of Manipur culture while the internationally famed ‘hockey on horseback later came to be known as ‘Polo’ and Manipuri Thang Ta (Indigenous martial arts of sworn and spear) are the clear examples of chivalry and ethical aspects of Manipuri culture,” it added.

The memorandum also said that in UPSC (IAS) Main Exam paper of Manipuri, there are units on performing arts, such as Lai Haraoba, Maha Rasa, Indigenous games-Sagol Kangjei, Khong Kangjei, Kang, Legend, Folk tale, Folk Song, Ballad, etc. “However, many of our students are quite unaware of the performing arts,” it lamented.

“It is strongly felt that with the aim and objective to promote and preserve the rich cultural heritage of Manipur within the Institutional mechanism, an optional paper on Manipuri Performing Arts may be introduced phase-wise in High School and Higher Secondary level to provide the students a sense of identity, belonging, as well as an appreciation of other cultures and identities,” said the memorandum.

In the memorandum, the DESAM suggested the curriculum of the Performing Arts as the following:

  1. Dances of Manipur: Traditional Dances of Manipur including the tribal dances, and Classical Dances of Manipur.
  2. Music: Folk Song, Musical Instruments, Khongjom Parva, Moirang Parva, Narrative Art (Wari liba), Pena, etc.
  3. Manipuri Sankirtana, the Intangible Heritage (UNESCO) 4. Lai haraoba, Laithou Touba.
  4. Theatre, Sumang Kumhei.
  5. Art of Arambai, Sagol Kangjei, method and technique of Pony Riding, etc.

The students’ body urged the Chief Minister and the Education Minister to consider the request and take up appropriate action at the earliest in the interest of the students and future generations.

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