Two visit to Pettigrew College, Ukhrul in the month of February, 2018 and again on the 6th September, 2019 goaded my thoughts that it is my social and moral responsibility that Pettigrew College, a college that bears the name of the man who brought the gospel of Christ to Manipur and who can also otherwise be attributed as the father of modern education for the State of Manipur, should be given the rejuvenation it was long waiting for and to render my support however insignificant it might be.
I don’t belong to the Tangkhul tribe nor am I from Ukhrul district but I belong to a tribe rather alien and from a place far-off. Though I am just a small fry, poor, irrelevant and nondescript but the heart-rending conditions of the college shook the core of my foundation. So after much dithering I took out my pen and decided to reach out to any compassionate soul willing to listen to this cry in the wilderness.
I write with this strong conviction that the revival of Pettigrew College will have great and positive consequences in the upward mobility of the Tangkhul community especially the majority of the poor people who do not have the fortune to go places where there are good educational institutions and also in turn act as a catalyst in the economic as well as academic growth of the district itself. I believe that this will not only alleviate the misery of the unfortunate poor but in turn ensure that affordable higher education is within the reach of everyone in the district and beyond.
Justice has been long denied to this luminary, Reverend William Pettigrew, who in 1896 came to Ukhrul with the conviction that Christianity and modern education are two strong forces that can propel the moral and social development of society. Due to his preoccupation with the construction of a mission bungalow, studying of the local dialect and translations works he could only open his first school on 10 February, 1897 with 24 boys. It was his students who were responsible for the spread of Christianity to the farthest corners of Manipur hills and to the hinterlands of Myanmar. Not only did they act as missionaries but were also the vanguard of modern education.
It must be the result of his enormous and invaluable contributions to the people of Ukhrul district that the college was christened after his name, i.e. Rev. William Pettigrew. Then why we as good Christians should allow this hallowed institution to be in shambles ?
My intention is not to blame anyone nor fix responsibility for the present condition of the college but to churn and evoke the benign heart of all the people inhabiting Ukhrul district, particularly the Tangkhul community that you have collective responsibility- moral, social and personal for the betterment of this college. Therefore all stakeholders are urged to chip in for its development and transformation.
Ukhrul was once the epicentre of Christianity, modern education, morality, love, brotherhood and all the good virtues that Christianity accompanies. It had possessed a hallowed character that was envied, adored and yearned by one and all. It started with a man and a school.
But sadly that sheen has attenuated and gone. So let’s start by giving a major face-lift to Pettigrew College and transform it into a centre of excellence. That progressive ideas start with educational institutions and that higher educational institutions are the epicentre, is something irrefutable.
Let us have a dream i.e. to walk at par with other contemporary colleges within and without Manipur. “Let us not go to Shillong but create Shillong here itself in Ukhrul”. The success of this dream will have far reaching impact on the economy, prestige and societal growth of Ukhrul district. With this dream firmly etched in our collective consciousness it is incumbent on us to create an ambience conducive for learning.
Courtesy: The Sangai Express. The largest circulated News Paper in Manipur
(To be contd)