Building a cultural competence obligation for the University of Culture of Manipur By S Birahari


Developing cultural competence: an obligation for the University of Culture of Manipur

Dr S. Birahari Singh *

Ibudhou Marongkhong Chingdrensana Pakhangba Haraoba at Govt Dance College, Imphal in June 2019 :: Pix – Lamdamba Oinam

Manipur, a mini-India, has been the scene of many ethnic conflicts in recent years. In addition to having a nagging conflict between the Indian government and non-state actors, there are persistent conflicts between ethnic groups. Undoubtedly, such conflicts are intrinsic characteristics of a polycultural state or country like Manipur or India. Nevertheless, such conflicts must not be let go unresolved with temporary containment measures. A conscious and well-planned education is imperative to manage such societal conflicts.

Conversely, our formal education turns a blind eye. Precisely, the course for strengthening cultural skills is not organized at the University of Culture of Manipur, although it is the most suitable institute for such a mission. The name Manipur University of Culture necessarily implies an in-depth study of the cultures of several ethnic groups in the state of Manipur.

The University should open courses of studies on the plural cultures of the state. Our state is a multilingual state. It does not have a monolithic culture. It is therefore imperative to adapt to all the unique cultures of the plural societies of the state.

It is true that the main study programs available at the university are:
3-year graduate course in
(a dance,
(b) Music,
c) Thang-Ta,
d) Umang Lai Haraoba,
e) Theater and performance studies,
f) Nat Sankritana and
g) Tribal studies
as well as a 4-year graduate course in visual arts.

Specifically, the university places more emphasis on the study of the arts, which are part of behavioral culture. However, most of the ideological and material cultures of the plural societies of Manipur are not available. Undoubtedly, the products of certain art forms are, unmistakably, species of material cultures. In this context, it should be noted that “art is not culture in itself and culture is not art in itself”. We have to remember it.

It is emphatically asserted that the study of art forms and their products alone cannot develop the cultural competence of students, call of the hour. Suggestions for integrating education with cultural skills are put forward for the good of society and the state. The study of cultural universes and specificities in relation to the study of the basic cultural elements and cultural aspects of the plural societies of Manipur is obligatory to develop the cultural competence of the students.

It can be assumed that the objective of strengthening cultural competences is not categorically enshrined in the objectives of the university and that the course framework is not designed to achieve such an objective either. The emphasis on the study of art forms at university is indicative of the premise that art is interpreted as a culture in itself.

Wikipedia writes: “Cultural competence, also known as intercultural competence, is a continuous and permanent journey to increase the skills of people to master intercultural and intra-cultural knowledge which can improve the ability to work with people of culture. different “. Simply cultural competence refers to an ability to interact effectively with people from different cultures. writes: “The term cultural competence refers to the ability to work effectively with individuals of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds, or in contexts where multiple cultures coexist. This includes the ability to understand the language, culture and behaviors of other individuals and groups, and to make appropriate recommendations. Cultural competence exists on a continuum from incompetence to mastery ”.

The writer’s proposal is further reinforced in the context of the perspectives of the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, who reportedly said: “I want the culture of all lands to be blown on my house as freely as possible. I refuse to be blown off my feet by any. I refuse to live in the homes of others as an intruder, beggar or slave. ”(Nehru: The Discovery of India).

The writer’s proposition is further reinforced by two professors, Stella Ting-Toomey and John G. Oetzel who wrote: “At the dawn of the 21st century, it is inevitable that we meet people of diverse cultures and ethnicities. in our own backyards. understanding these cultural differences and dealing with these differences proactively will be a major step towards building a more harmonious multicultural society ”.

https: //cdn/ also writes: “The development of cultural skills translates into an ability to understand, communicate and interact effectively with people of all cultures”. Here we can add that no one can deny the applicability of the proposals in the context of Manipur. With this philosophical foundation, this article is written.

Another inevitable point is that there is no dearth of formal institutions in Manipur for the education of several art forms besides having non-formal centers for the promotion of art forms. There are
Imphal Art College, Imphal;
Jawaharlal Nehru Manipur Dance Academy, Imphal;
Shri Shri Balmukunda Dev Government Music College, Imphal;
Governmental College of Music and Dance, Imphal;
Department of Dance and Music, University of Manipur;
Kha-Manipur Hinsdustani Sangeet Mahavidyalaya, Kakching;
Manipur Sangeet Natak Academy, Wangjing;
Sangeet Natak Mandir, Nambol;
Lamka Film Academy, Churachandpur;
Manipur Cinema Academy, Imphal;
Kalakshetra Manipur, Imphal;
Choir repertory theater, Imphal;
NT Theater, Langjing;
Aryan Theater, Imphal;
Manipur Dramatic Union, Imphal;
Langmeidong dramatic union, Kakching;
National Institute of Cinema and Television of Manipur, Imphal;
Liberty Theater, Kakching;
Cherubin Institute of Music, Imphal;
Manipur State Kala Academy, Imphal;
Echoes School of Music Tuning Arts, Imphal and Ukhrul;
Excel music school, Imphal;
Agape Academy of Music, Imphal;
Harimati Music and Dance Center, Imphal;
Shivanita Art Academy, Imphal;
Dance lessons Vidya, Imphal;
Meipa dance and fitness studio, Imphal;
Dance studio in motion, Imphal;
Maranatha Institute of Music and Media, Imphal;
Guru Gulapi Nat Sankritan Academy, Imphal;
and Nat Sankritan Research Center, Imphal.

A formal course in Tribal Studies is available at the Manipur Campus of Indira Gandhi National Tribal University. A formal course on Thang-Ta is available at Jawaharlal Nehru Manipur Dance Academy. It is also available in nearly 10 other formal and non-formal centers.

Very unfortunately, however, a formal course in cultural competence is not available at any state institute, despite rich resources. The University of Culture of Manipur can become a unique model institute by opening a formal course for the strengthening of cultural competences, call of the hour.

It is high time to formulate courses to develop cultural competence comprising four basic components:
a) Awareness of own cultural worldviews;
b) Attitude towards cultural differences;
c) Knowledge of different cultural practices and worldviews; and
d) Intercultural competences.

Therefore, it is time to make a concerted effort to evolve or design a formal course aimed at enhancing the cultural skills of students, which will be made available to the University of Culture of Manipur for advanced and specialized education in order to that Manipur’s concept of unity in diversity can become a real reality. In this context, it is categorically asserted that the spirit of the writer does not drift away.

To be aware! It’s at stake!

* Dr S. Birahari Singh wrote this article for
The writer is a former principal, YK College, Wangjing
and can be contacted at biraharis (AT) gmail (DOT) com
This article webcast on October 04, 2021.


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