Imphal, October 30: Construction of new roads and upgradation of certain inter-village routes in Manipur under the centrally sponsored schemes such as Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) has started to change the lifestyles of several villagers.
“The recent construction of a road between Sugunu and Sekmaijin villages has helped the villagers to change their lifestyles upto a certain level”, a senior official of Manipur State Rural Road Development Agency (MSRRDA) said here.
The 40.5 km road between Sugunu in Thoubal district and Sekmaijin village in Imphal West district which was upgraded under PMGSY in the last four years now connects at least a dozen villages of the two districts.
Thus the villagers of Laphupat Tera, Warukok, Phoubakchao, Sekmaijin and those remote villages under Sugunu Assembly constituency now can travel on mini-buses and jeeps plying along the newly developed route, the official of MSRRDA added.
MSRRDA is the implementing agency of the centrally sponsored PMGSY schemes in Manipur. PMGSY is a 100 per cent centrally-sponsored scheme to provide road connectivity in rural areas.
So far the agency has managed to connect 190 villages in Manipur by constructing new roads besides upgrading the existing roads under the scheme. But it targets to connect not less than 500 villages of the State by constructing new roads covering a total distance of 3,160.86 km till the end of its seventh phase.
Till end of September this year, the construction firms under the State’s implementing agency has completed 664 work packages out of an allotted 1,023 with an expenditure of around Rs 42,732 lakh, according to an achievement report of MSRRDA.
In Manipur, as per the national guidelines, – a work package under PMGSY means a construction work worth Rs 5 crore only..“As a result we took up the Sugunu-Sekmaijin road under four sections (four work packages)”, the official further informed.
The works were taken up as per the recommendation from the government including the State MLAs and MPs. But officials here in Manipur are facing various forms of difficulties in implementing the schemes mostly in the valleydistricts compared to the hill districts because community participation in the valley is low, local sources said.
Though villages with population of 500 and above were covered in the initial phases, the works were later extended to villages with a population of 250 in the following phases, the sources added.
The Government India targets to construct 3.68 lakh km new roads besides 370,000 km of upgradation and renewal of roads to provide connectivity to unconnected rural habitations as part of a poverty reduction strategy at a cost of about 26 billion US dollars.
The Government India targets to construct 3.68 lakh km new roads besides 370,000 km of upgradation and renewal to provide connectivity to unconnected rural habitations as part of a poverty reduction strategy at a cost of about 26 billion US dollars.
The statement in the Lok Sabha on 19th August ’10, by the Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram that the Govt. of India rules out any move to alter the boundary of the states in the North-East region to ACCOMMODATE the demand for ‘Greater Nagalim,’ is but a fitting example of the left hand of the UPA II not knowing what its right hand does. While the GOI is free to use its options in governing the country evaluating the consequences, its actions are expected to be within the parameters fairness, rationality and due protocol. If the statements were made at a press conference it would have been bad enough but having made the statement on the floor of the house he surely knows the total ramifications of his action. P. Chidambaram knows he treads dangerous grounds and is well experienced on the fact that loose talk from insulated high seats can cause tragedy at the ground level .While replying to discussion on the reimpossed economic blockade in Manipur there appear to be little reason to pre-empt the ongoing Indo-Naga peace talks, and make a policy statement on the floor of the parliament, against the spirit in which the peacetalks are being held presently. Much because the Naga peace talks is also a Government of India agenda. More because the matter was still under negotiation with the Government of India. On 19th august ’10, P. Chidambaram represented the GOI .
The Home Minister is well aware that ceasefire declaration and the subsequent peace talks were being held a) at the Prime Ministers level. b) in a third country, and c) without pre-conditions. Though the conditions have been softened over the years due to the good rapport between the negotiators, the three guiding principles remain intact. The proper and honourable way to completely rubbish the on-going peace talks would have been to, a) first call-off the ceasefire with the Naga groups, b) unilaterally withdraw from the peace talks, and then c) make the declaration in Parliament or elsewhere.
The question here is not whether Nagas are to be united or not, the question here is why the GOI should serve an ultimatum on its own prestige and sincerity. The question here is not whether the Naga peace talks are ejected or not but how the Government of India really looks at the the much flaunted peace talks offers made across the country where peoples movements exists much for the same reasons, be it Kashmir, the Northeastern states or the Maoist areas of central India. The Indo-Naga peacetalks are going on for all the world to see but after the Home Minister’s statement in parliament, the questions in the minds of the people is - has the GOI fooled the Naga People and the whole world for all these years? Is it such that the GOI had never intended to keep its word as far as peacetalks were concerned right from the beginning?
Chidambaram talks of “the pluralistic character of states that cannot be wished away”. What the he unfortunately does not realize is that all naga area district headquarters and townships are miniature India’s where many communities co-exist peacefully. On “honour, dignity and equal rights” in Manipur state – the less said the better. On 28th August 1948, four persons were shot to death by Manipur Rifles exactly at the place where two students were shot dead by the Manipur Police commandoes on 6th May 2010. The meitei – naga divide/conflict started more than 200 years back from the Treaty of Yandaboo in 1826. Tha Nagas have time and again tried to swallow the bone of the meitei promises of “honour, dignity and equal rights” but have always ended up with lacerated throats and nothing else. So the H.M’s offer, passed on through meitei hands is not likely to serve any real purpose.
The statements that it will be ‘inconceivable that we break-up the states’ appear to be escapist politics and tantamounts to saying we are not prepared to set things right or let justice prevail- let the situation continue. We don’t mind. His assertion of “no question of altering the integrity of the state of Manipur” he tries to imply that the political boundaries of Manipur is sacrosanct. By that yard-stick then maybe no boundary disputes exist in the country between the states nor border disputes with neighbouring countries.However, the statement was in stark contrast to the press statement Shri. Pranab Mukherjee the then Defence Miniter of India made on the first of December 2006, where he went on the say “in the course of the settlement of Indo-China boundary dispute, the territorial integrity of Arunachal Pradesh may have to be compromised”. That he went on, less than two months later to receive the Padma Vibhusahm on 26th Jan 2007 is altogether another matter. It was not the territorial integrity of Arunachal Pradesh but that of India vis-à-vis China – between sovereign countries. Within the country at best it will be boundary disputes between neighbouring states which every state in the NE has with its neighbouring states. The issue of territorial integrity of a state within the country did not arise when Jharkhand, Chhatishgarh and Uttaranchal were created, simply because it does not arise. However, the Government of India, appear to have different ways of dealing with the same problem with different people in different parts of the country.
The local administration of tribal areas by the tribals granted by the Sixth Schedule amendment to the constitution was whittled down by the majority Meitei Government (40 reserved meitei assembly seats in the house of 60) to a loud sounding nothing. It was also kept in abeyance for the last 20(twenty) years. It must be appreciated that the Union Home Minister realises that the truncated caricature of the Sixth Schedule amendment granting the autonomous district councils is known as the Naga Autonomous District councils in Manipur It is unique in the entire country.
The socio political structure in the sate of Manipur is built like a Pyramid. The valley area of the state, (25% landmass 70% population) stands right at the top. All development activities, funds, educational institutions, medical facilities, markets infrastructure, sports complexes, everything you-name-it, is located in the valley area, the top of the pyramid and nothing percolates down to the Nagas who are at the bottom. Sometimes it is as though the hills areas are called part of Manipur just because two lifelines passes through Naga territory. These lifelines feed the whole of Manipur state and not only Imphal. In every economic blockade the worst hit are not the meitei people of the valley but the hill people of the six hill districts. All the godowns, wholesellers- government and private, petrol and fuel depots, all buffer and reserve stocks of all essential commodities are stored at Imphal. From Imphal these goods are collected/dispatched to the hill areas on daily- weekly-monthly basis depending on the goods. During economic blockades this transfer to the hill areas are completely stopped and all the quota for the hills are retained as the reserve stock for the valley.In Manipur,the oppressor have become the victim and the victims have become the oppressor. And the rest of the country realizes that the hill areas are inhabited only when economic blockade is called on the two highways NH 39 & 53.
Now it is upto the Prime Minister of India to make a statement on the same floor of the House on the status and life of the Naga Peace talks. The Prime Minister have to convince the people that his government had not lied to the Nagas , the Indian nation and the world at large. The denied people in the war zones across the country need to know and gauge the sincerity of the Government at the centre. They need to know whether the government really seeks peace sincerely or is not so adverse to use treachery and lies to suppress the rights of the oppressed indigenous tribals and alienate them from their land and resources to the advantage of majority advanced communities in the neighbourhood. Whether the Government really means to protect the indigenous tribes so that they may best preserve their traditions and customs, their lores and ways of life, their land and resources or whether they are out to annihilate the tribals of the land. Yes, the Prime Minister of the land owes it to the other people of India and the Naga people especially those living in the present state of Manipur an explaination on the stand of his Government in the light of what has been stated by his Home Minister on the floor of the Lok Sabha on 19th August 2010.
Source: Hueiyen News Service
The power situation is better now, so are the roads; but today in Toubul, there are only a few families who do not buy rice from the market.
For the dam worshippers and anti-dam lobbyists alike, there is food for thought in these words of 58-year old Thoudam Gyaneshor of Toubul village of Manipur in the northeastern periphery of the country bordering Myanmar.
Toubul, with a total population of around 4044 people as per 2001 census and located in Bishnupur district of the state and around 34 kilometres from the capital city of Imphal, is one of the worst casualties of the Loktak Hydropower Project and its constituent Ithai barrage. The project is under the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) Ltd.
The 105 Megawatt capacity power project takes its water from the largest freshwater lake in northeast India, the Loktak Lake, which in reality comprises more than 20 smaller lakes with a fluctuating hydrological regime. The project required that the water level is maintained at a constant level of 768.9 m throughout the year to provide adequate supply for the hydro project. As a result, a huge agricultural as well as settlement area on the periphery of the lake was adversely affected.
A case filed by the Loktak Lake Affected Areas’ Peoples’ Action Committee at the Gauhati High Court, Imphal Bench, states that an estimated 80,000 ha of arable land was destroyed by water inundation and frequent flash floods through the year after the project was commissioned.
Gyaneshor lost around three hectare of agricultural land to the Loktak after the commissioning of the project in 1983. It was the same for most families in Toubul. The loss couldn’t be more marked as at one time, Toubul was known for its production of the taothabi, a variety of rice grown on wetlands.
“Once Toubul had no dearth of rice in our houses, but after the barrage came, almost every house is compelled to buy rice from the market for consumption,” says Gyaneshor.
Sixty-four year old Soraisam Kola used to feed her own family of nearly 20 people with the rice from her one and half hectares of agricultural land. “The produce was so good that even after we ate and sold some, there would be so much leftover from each season that some of the rice would eventually mould,” she recalls. She now buys rice at 26 rupees a kilo.
Oar on her shoulders as she prepares to row down to the lake for her afternoon fishing trip on the Loktak, she says, “Loktak ate my fields, it ate my cows too now that the fields are no longer there … Loktak ate everything.”
Gyaneshor used to harvest around 200 phoubot annually from his fields. Phoubot is local measurement amounting to around 50 kg. He would sell around half the harvest leaving the rest for his family’s consumption. “I was not a rich man by rich man’s standards, but I was not poor either. I had rice, there was fish from the lake and vegetables from the kitchen garden, there wasn’t much I lacked,” he said.
After losing his agricultural lands however he has been compelled to convert a part of his fields into a fish pond. But not without fear. The lake water often spills over into their ponds and the village during the monsoons, carrying off much of the fish in the flood water. But if the flood water spares him, he earns around 40,000-50,000 rupees annually. “It is my land and I have to put it to some use, no matter how much I gain or lose,” he says.
His neighbour, 70-year old Keisham Brajamani, continue to pay revenue tax for his one-and-half hectare field which now lies “about two men’s height” under water. “If we don’t pay, it will become khaasland/wasteland, and be lost to us,” he says. Behind his words is the hope that the water might dry up one of these days and he can sow paddy there once again.
Brajamani who used to harvest around 100 sacks of rice annually from his own fields, now farms one hectare of field on lease. He invests both manual labour and money, and gets around 30-40 phoubot of rice while the owner gets around 20 phoubot after each harvest.
Both sides of more than half a kilometre stretch of the road leading from Toubul market to the Loktak banks is a glaring testimony of how the proponents of the Loktak hydropower project failed to take into account the effects of the project on the lake ecosystem, the people and wildlife whose lives are inextricably inter-connected with the lake. What used to stretches of paddy fields has now been converted to strips of fishponds framed by eucalyptus trees on one side and a huge sheet of vegetation-covered Loktak waters on the other.
Considered as the lifeline of the people of Manipur, Loktak plays an important role in the socio-economic and cultural life of the state. Around 12% of the total population of Manipur are directly dependent on the lake for their livelihood. A major part of the rest of the populations, especially those living in the valley area also depend on the fish and vegetation resources of the lake for their nutritional intake and economic security.
Overall 132 plant and 54 fish species have been identified from different parts of the lake. While the fish form a major part of the cuisine as well as socio-religious practices of the people, especially the majority Meitei community, the plants are usually utilized as vegetables, food, fodder, fuel, thatching, fencing material, medicines, raw material for handicrafts, and for religious and cultural purposes.
When the 105 Megawatt capacity Loktak hydropower project was first commissioned in 1983, it was with the hope that the project would rapidly usher in an era of industrial, commercial and agricultural development in the otherwise backward state.
However, the moot question today is whether the disadvantages have outweighed the advantages of the project and its constituent Ithai barrage.
The Ithai barrage has blocked passage of the migratory fish from the Chindwin-Irrawaddy river system, leading to a decline in the fish species and stock in the lake. It has also blocked the natural flushing of loose phumdi or floating vegetation masses down the Manipur River to the sea, thereby encouraging the accelerated eutrophication in the lake. The changed hydrological regime and ecosystem too has affected the endangered brow-antlered deer locally known as Sangai (cervus eldi eldi) found only in the Keibul Lamjao National Park.
One failure of the project has been that it has never been able to provide regular power supply even to the villages in the Loktak lake periphery. There are daily outages of around 16-18 hours a day in most parts of the state.
Manipur gets only around 32.01 share of the power output from the project, while rest is sold by NHPC to Nagaland, Assam, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Tripura. The multipurpose Loktak Power Station also provides for lift irrigation of over 23000 hectares of land in the Manipur valley.
On top of that the issues of compensation, rehabilitation and resettlement of the people and areas by the Loktak hydropower project are under cloud. State Forest and Environment minister Th Devendra Singh recently clarified in the Manipur Legislative Assembly session on July 15 last that the matter which was related to the omission of compensations, rehabilitation and resettlement during the time of MoU signed between the state government and the NHPC is being monitored in depth by the state government at present.
Inordinate delay in payment of compensation has added to ire of the people. There are still 22 cases pending at the Gauhati High Court, Imphal Bench registered by different farmers’ society and committees.
The Loktak Lake Affected Areas’ Peoples’ Action Committee which has around 6000 members too had filed a case for crops compensation at the Gauhati High Court, Imphal Bench in 1994. The petitioners are still awaiting payment even though government had ruled in their favour a few years back.
Meanwhile, thousands more are bound to be freshly affected by the state policies, the most significant of which is the recently passed Manipur Loktak Lake (Protection) Acts, 2006. The most important part of the Act is the division of the 236.21 sq. km of Loktak Lake into two zones – a core zone of 70.30 sq. km which is also a “No-Development Zone or Totally Protected Zone” and a buffer zone of the other areas of the lake excluding the core zone.
The most significant aspect of this division is the prohibition against building of any hut or house on phumdis inside the lake, plantation of athaphum and engaging in athapum-fishing in this core zone area. These clauses will adversely affect nearly 10,000 people living in phumdi huts as well as thousands others dependent on the lake resources.
According to Ningthoujam Rakhon, general secretary of the All Loktak Lake Floating Hut Dwellers Progressive Committee, the phumdi huts are essential even for those migrant fishermen who come to stay in the huts during the fishing season only. “There are high winds on Loktak, and squalls could develop suddenly. How can we fish on Loktak waters without having a hut nearby where we could take refuge? It would be the same as asking us to throw ourselves into the lake to be killed,” he adds.
Rakhon lives with his family on Champu Khangpok, a phumdi village on Loktak Lake populated by above 1500 people. “My great-great grandfather lived here, and even those before him. We have no agricultural land holdings or homestead on the mainland. Loktak is our lifeline,” he said. Interestingly Champu Khangpok is on the 2001 census list of the state. Besides, many among the residents of the floating huts are said to be on the electoral list.
Another aspect of the Act is that only athaphums are the only phumdi formations recognized for compensation by the LDA and state authorities. In a memorandum submitted to the Chief Minister Okram Ibobi in January this year the All Loktak United Phumdao Koitha Owners Welfare Association (ALUPKOWA) had requested that the phumdao – a phumdi formation of three acres to 20 acres in area – be left alone during the LDA’s phumdi removal programme on the Loktak.
“There are around 250 households, amounting to more than 3000 people, dependent on phumdao. They feed their children, educate them, and earn money for their other expenses from the phumdao. If the government snatches away this lifeline, how will they live?” asks Heisnam Brojen, general secretary of ALUPKOWA.
He further pointed out that since the phumdao are not anchored down with stones and keep floating, they serve as cleaning agents crushing the loose phumdi formation known as phumjoi in their paths. “The government should leave these beneficial phum alone and concentrate on removal of the phumjoi instead,” he said.
But with Chief Minister Okram Ibobi reiterating in his Khongjom Day celebration speech on April 23 this year that there will be no tolerance from the state government’s side on the removing the phumdis from the lake and eviction of hut dwellers, the Loktak Lake is heading towards witnessing a new cycle of dispossession, displacement and loss of livelihood.
Source: Hueiyen News Service
Apropos of “The absence of opposition” by Shri Iboyaima Laithangbam, published in your esteemed daily “Huiyen Lampao” dated July 7, 2010; I read with rapt attention as usual as in his other articles published earlier. The scenario described therein is representative one of the difficult parts in the total system of Manipur. However, since people here are already used to such exposures for many years together the beautiful reasons raised by Shri laithangbam is ostensible in the context of Manipur to a certain extent. For example, in a state like Kerala, where PDS is functioning the best in the country- there was a total band in July 5, 2010 in protest against the price hike of petroleum products. At the same time, Manipur is enjoying the non-availability of sufficient petroleum products, because it fetches more prices, opening a new area of better business, employment and financial well-being. Petrol sells at Rs 140 per litre, Diesel at Rs 75 available at every “tea stall” and “pandukan”. Kitchen gas sells at Rs 1700.00 per cylinder. Manipur manage it silently.
I remember a day of 1964 while, on the way to Thanglon of Churanchanpur District, I was tracking hills and dales for five days all the way to join my service. Those days there was no Jeepable road. The Churanchanpur – Tipaimukh road was in its infant stage of formation cutting, giving at least a couple of hours walking along newly cut plain road here and there. I found a group of BRTF manual lobourers, as they say, cutting and carrying heaps of excavated earths. The labourers were working very slowly and lazily, it appears to me. I reached my place of posting, worked there for about a month. I had to report back to the district head quarters about the farm situation. That was the ‘Progeny Orchard – cum- nursery’, a government Agricultural farm of the time. On the way back, after crossing two ranges, I found the same labourer working there. They have completed only the same heap that I saw one month back and were just beginning to harp on a second. I felt a bit disturbed with lazy progress and chided them in the broken Hindi. But I was nullified. One of them deliverd a filmi dialogue very calmly, “Babu, ye hamaaraa rojiroti hai, suba- shaam/ Ham kahaan jayenge, jindagi isime gujarna hai/ jyadaa kaam, jyadaa thakaan/ Bimaar paregaaa, rojgaari kaategi”. I was dumb- founded but enlightened. I appologised, gave a cigarette to him and lighted a match stick. He joyously puffed it. I left them waving goodbye. I still mark the day the as dawn of my ‘sociology’. That is sustainability in our system.
I remember again an equivalent experience in 1976 while I was District Agricultural Officer at Chandel. I found, one dusk a Maring oldman selling a lot of a handful of “Hawai maton” (green shoots of Pea plants), 3-4 rhizomes of paan (Colocassia), a small pumpkin, a small ‘hand’ of banana; that’s all. He was sitting aloof in a corner of kakching bazaar. I was curious. I purchased the whole lots at five rupees. He was happy. I asked him “Do you like to come with me? I will pick you up to pallel station on the way to Chandel.” He stood up quickly and signaled me to wait for a few moments. He ran to the next grocery shop and came back running to join with me. On the way I came to know that he purchased mustard oil for only two and Ngari ( fermented fish) a half rupees and the rest he had to keep as daily saving in their tradition ‘iron chest’. Taking that moment as a chance I asked him why he was sitting the whole day with a small quantity, and why not more. He gave a gist of an unique marketing principle of short- supply and more earning. He told me “Saab, people in Kakching market are so intelligent (he means clever). Once I brought a big harvest from pallel, a basketful of “hawai Maton”, a bagfull of “paan” and then a bagful of banana.
A crowed surrounded me. They started bargaining like anything and I got only rupees fifteen out of my harvest. Later on I realized that I was the loser. The day onwards I used to sell in small lots and could sell at fixed prices and could have a regular saving of rupees two to three per day. During my short Chandel regime this was the only the best thing I could learn “Less production, more earning and sustained income”.
Now let us come to the construction of roads. The whole story as of now is as old as the vedic era. The written form of the epics of Road construction in Manipur may be traced as far back as the infamous “Blocks Lampi” (Block road). In those days of ‘exile’ I had to walk on foot many times across the hill tops and sometimes along the block road. Those ” Lambi” were found old , Unattended to, Overgrown with big trees like Uyung( quarcus sp.) Sahi (quarcus Sp.) or Leihao (Michalea champaka). Those roads overgrown with trees and grasses were lucky ones for themselves as they could withstand heavy rains (abandoned roads). There was another category of block Lambi. In those roads I found big Nallas, a natural drain, in the middle of the roads formed by rain water erosion over the newly cut soil. This second category of road was better for me since they were at least walkable along either any of the two ‘bank’ of the big dry riverbed formed in the middle of the roads . There was not a single sign of conventional drainage engineered along the foot hill as a protective device against heavy rush of rain water from the high of the hill slopes.
Tired of this exercise, experience of course, I threw out a suggestion to my Block engineers concerned as to why the roads are constructed without the conventional drainage between the foot hill and the roads. Solemnly he answers, “Why dear! If we constructed road like that we will be starved. Where do we do annual repair? This is one.
Another important point, my dear friend, is that we can’t go on constructing roads and roads every year”. The truth was so harsh to me in those days. But the truth prevails in the long run. The same thing is happening now all along NH-53, NH- 39 and NH150 in Manipur.
The present definition of road- construction keeping the drain collateral to it so far under Manipur condition is now absolutely out dated. Drain construction and Road construction should better be kept separately under two heads of deptt. On the other hand, construction of building is very big element of it own. Giving equal status to each of these 3 compartments PWD should be trifurcated as the Department of Buildings, the Department of Drainages and the Department of Roads, each under one Chief Engineer, each as a Major Department. Only then, the metamorphosis of PWD/ BRO pucca roads into “seasonal rivers” high up the hill will become a forgotten past by 2020. Dummy culverts can no longer hold its domain. Peeling spree of tarred roads by the rains will no more happen. Hill roads will regain its dignity on par with those Shillong roads, the Nilgiris and Shimlas.
I could follow what very many responsible people would say “Governance is a tough subject. Things may not be that easy. Sri Sainath also wrote like this in the Hindu, Tuesday, July 6, 2010; “Most dishonest of all is the ‘there- is -money’ line. The country spends Rs 10000 crore on a new airport. There’s Rs 4,0000 crore or more for the common wealth games. There’s Rs 50,0000 crore in write-offs under just three heads for super rich and the corporate sector in the current union budget. But funds for hungry are hard to come by. What would it cost to universalize the PDS? Pravin jha And Nilachal Acharya estimate that if rice/ wheat were made available to all Indians at Rs 3 a kilo, it would add Rs 84,399 crore to the food subsidy in coming budgets. That’s about one- sixth of the tax write-off for the wealthy in this year’s budget”.
So, Sir, my humble suggestion is that austerity measure is the best resort in this hour of trouble of ours. By dint of blockades along the National Highways, the state will be saving few million litres of petroleum products by Manipur as a fore- runner among the contributors to the un renewable resource saving of the Nation. The blockade in Manipur create artificial famine, no doubt, but let us remember it regulates our eating habit ultimately reducing the ‘rice’ consumption, junk foods, petrol consumption, consumption of all essential commodities at least bringing ‘every controller 8 degrees down’, which is a big one among all austerity measures. We are saving energy. Manipur civilization will sustain longer with this energy saving. I have begun with this austerity practice. To compensate the ‘low’ of energy I use to go to the New Cachar Road (NH-53) on a motor bike, climb up the road at least once a weak a few hundred yards up and stop there. I can see the beautiful Manipur valley with the lush green fields. I stand there, raise my heels on tip of toes and stretch, my hands up. I breathe in fresh air fully, Manipur air sweet. I enjoy the fullness a few seconds. Breathe out, hands and heels down, relax. How would you feel? I feel full, fresh and strong. This is peace. This is the bliss. This is energy – a perennial energy source of Manipur, not available in big and effluent cities. Opposition or no opposition, this lifestyle settles the score in Manipur. Hope, everything will be alright.
Source: Hueiyen News Service
Language is power. It does not merely communicate feelings and thoughts but re-enacts and re-produces power relations between speakers and listeners. For instance, what has often been regarded as a beauty of (the imperial) English language, the phrases like “I have the honour to state that” or “I beg to state that” and “yours humbly” or “yours faithfully” with which one starts or signs off an application are statements of power relation. Similarly, when we say in public function, “leibaak-ki angam-athou”, the word “angam(ba)” communicates power position, a power that is so aptly conveyed by a familiar dialogue that appeared in many plays and shumaang leelaa that depict the life and times of a feudal-monarchical order: “Eibu loiba leimaaba, angambagee khuya da, tollabaa nanaaina punemjariye!”
Languages of the Slave and the Modern Citizen
“Eibu loiba” is an admission or affirmation of one’s subjugated nature, of being a subject of a sovereign power. It communicates a status and power position which is akin to that of an animal as in “hui loiba” or “yen loiba” or “sun loiba” (owning or domesticating dog or hen or cow). Similarly, “tollaba nanaaina” is a concomitant admission of being a “slave” or being subservient to the power that be.
Needless to say, expression such as “eibu loiba” does not convey the status and power of a modern citizen as a “right bearing” individual. Indeed, the expression “eibu loiba” communicates something which is distinctly different from that status and power position of modern citizen, who is “sovereign” or endowed with a right to “self-determination”. Unlike the feudal-monarchical subject, this right bearing citizen exercises her or his right to “self-determination” to influence the authority that governs her/him. This individual citizen is the foundation of what we called “people’s power” in modern democracy. And it is the dialogues and transactions amongst such citizens that constitute “public opinion” and “public mood”. The much talk about “role of media” in contemporary society will not have any tangible meaning had “media” not been a site for those dialogues.
No polity which is not based on or does not invoke this notion of the “people” (a collective of the right bearing citizens) can have a stable legitimacy today. Indeed, such is the centrality of “people’s power” in modern times that even dispensation under a military dictatorship would also justify its actions in the name of “the people”.
Now the moot question is, does the “ruling class” care about “public opinion” and “public mood” in Manipur today? More importantly, if the “ruling class” is least bothered about the “people”, “public opinion” and “public mood”, what are the reasons behind such an attitude? Correspondingly, why is that certain “public opinion” and “public mood” on issues (such as those around the “territorial integrity” of Manipur) seem to inform/dictate/constraint the behavior of the “ruling class” while some issues (e.g., AFSPA or development deficits) do not?
These questions further beg the queries on the nature of the “public opinion” and “public mood” and the activities, particularly the success and failure, of those who seek to shape the same. Countering the turmoil and decadence in Manipur today has to be informed by some answers to these questions.
Language of the Marginalized People and Indecent Life
Two interrelated conditions that have shaped the nature of the discourse on issues of public importance in Manipur can be noted here. First, at the time of de-colonization, the once colonized people try to restructure their life and shape a new destiny for themselves as “free” people. Such a moment was poignantly expressed in the famous “tryst with destiny” midnight speech of Nehru in 1947. Yet, in Manipur, such a move represented by the nascent effort in 1948 that sought to move away from being “subjects” of a “sovereign” Maharajah to a democratic ethos with individuals as “citizens” who shared that sovereignty with the Maharajah was subverted in 1949 by introducing a bureaucratic rule directed from New Delhi.
In fact, the dispensation of Chief Commissioners and Lt. Governors, which lasted almost a quarter of a century in the postcolonial period, has produced an unholy marriage between the remnants of the feudal-monarchical ethos and the paramount colonial power of the Imperial British. Consequently, political culture in Manipur is critically mediated by a language that are used in the “summons” and “phone calls” from New Delhi that we get to read in local newspapers. Such a language points to, on the one hand, the intimacy between New Delhi and Imphal, with the former re-enacting the role of a paramount power and those in Imphal masquerading as local feudal lords, and on the other, the gap between those who govern and the governed in Manipur.
That such ethos, which has ideological as well as the materiality of a political-economy, has survived the transition from the colonial to the postcolonial is critical in understanding the situation in Manipur. Take for instance, the preponderance of the language of violence in the state. While the language of violence and intimidation is a central feature of the feudal-monarchical and imperial order, the language of reasoned and informed dialogue is a cardinal feature of modern polity in general and democratic order in particular. Thus, discarding dialogues and debates on issues of public importance and a tendency to address (read, suppress) such issues or elicit compliance by resorting to violence and intimidation speak volumes on the return or continuity of the order of the feudal-monarchical-imperial axis in Manipur.
Incidentally, the success of the oppressive regime critically hinges on its capacity to make the oppressed learnt the language of the oppressor as their own language. In other words, making the language of the oppressor a shared language between the oppressor and the oppressed is critical in sustaining the oppressive order. In that, the language of violence and intimidation – kaapthat-luraa and haat-tok-uuraa or eikhoise kidabaraa etc – has become so pervasive in Manipur shows the success of the oppressive regime.
Needless to say, such a language of violence and intimidation is antithetical to the language that mediates reasoned and informed dialogues. And if the ideas of “public opinion” and “public mood’ based on reasoned and informed deliberations are being contemptuously subverted at the expense of our collective and individual survival and well-being, such oppressive language must be held responsible as a major culprit.
Second, the inability to address issues in a reasoned and informed manner has also been nurtured by a psychology – the “crabs-in-the-bucket” mentality, which is seen amongst the marginalized or defeated people. Indicating the preponderance of a status based social ethos and a deep sense of inferiority or inadequacy born out of a marginal and marginalized existence, running down each other and personalized discourses (e.g., statements such as “the problem with X” rather than “problem with X’s views or X’s works”) are not uncommon in Manipur. Cynically brushing aside the activists as ill-informed or half-educated or unemployed self-seeking people and contemptuously dismissing intellectual insights and contributions as “academic” or theoretical are common refrains amongst the people.
Indeed, rhetorical exhortations and platitudes rather than informed and reasoned articulations often come as opinions in the public domain. Sometimes such utterances can get as bizarre as leaders pronouncing with some sense of authority that “the right to education is more important than the right to life” or “laairik paabana kaanna-roi, theory na yaaroi – reading books or theories won’t work” (as if the death can study or schools/colleges/universitsies are useless institutions or there can be no intellectual intervention that shapes the terms of the debate on public issues)!
Thus, overwhelming language of violence and intimidation and the orientations and practices of the “crabs-in-the-bucket” mindset become impediments to evolving informed “public opinions” and “public mood” for sustained mobilizations of “people’s power”. Consequently, those who are responsible for the decadent and non-existent infrastructures and degenerated norms and institutions (e.g., institutionalized corruption and subversion of rule of law by the law enforcing agencies) are hardly held accountable to the system or the people.
Indeed, not having confronted the wrath of “public opinion” or “public mood” in elections after elections, the “ruling class” continues to get away with the degenerations and indecent life in our society. And understandably, a driving motive for the “ruling class” seems to be that of earning enough money so that they can deal with the “people”, like a client would deal and bargain with pimps and prostitutes, at the time of elections to ensure their continued pleasure of the power and wealth of the state. And in a violent environment, even when they face physical threats, they may do as some rich bourgeois would deal with criminal mafia: by paying off ransom money or “protection fees” or offering business stakes. For the rest of the people, ordinary citizens, they can continue to live in misery and oppressive environment as dispensable lives.
Incidentally, despites these degenerations that implicate the failures of our “ruling class” and their hanger-ons, they still seem to command reverence from the general population as “ee-kai khumnajaribasing and khumnajaribeesing” and “peisaa paaibasing and paibeesing”. And rather than being offended, they seem to be amused even by inappropriate conducts of their “leaders” in public.
Such characteristics are not the only ones that show the extent of the rot in society. True to its ethos that smacks of a feudal-monarchical and imperial-paramount order, more often than not, subservient and pretentious conduct passes off as decency, capacity to induce sycophancy stands for leadership quality, an obvert preference for the expression “we” camouflages an unspoken “I” of self-seeking and alienated individuals, cynicism is mistaken for criticism, rhetoric and platitudes substitute informed and reasoned deliberations, and modesty hides ignorance and perpetuates dominance.
If this is so, what language should one speak to change the situation? Undoubtedly, a language of self-respect that is capable of reasoned and informed dialogue must be the foundation. Having been used to the language of decency of the indecent life, some might say that this is wishful thinking. But then, it is as good as saying that one doesn’t have the capacity to hope and act and therefore one must as well live through, and leave behind for the next generations, a fucked up life!
(The author is an Associate Professor at Centre for Study of Social Systems, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi)
Source: Hueiyen News Service
The term ‘Substance Abuse’; the over-use of alcohol, drugs chemicals to the detriment of the person’s health and well being. It is a common problem of our society specially for our state, Manipur. It is an increasing problem both for the affluent and non-affluent people or society as it carries a great social and economic cost through its impacts on crime and health.’ ,
For the past 50 (Fifty) years, the Western World tried to treat the addicts or people who involved in substance abuse as criminals and punish them only to see increase of its abuse rather than curbing the same.
I. Definition of addiction:
The Word ‘Addiction’ can be termed as ‘Over-indulgence’, or “Obsessed Behaviour”, a habit excessively adhered to or hold on to a particular behaviour. In other words, it is a habit which has taken full control of an individual and nearly impossible to come out from it by one’s own effort.
According to neuro scientists, addiction of such substances is seen more and more as an “Organic Disorder of Brain Function”. If this is true, then corrective measures must be taken up for the disorder by the people or organizations involved to help out the situation.
II. A historical perspective:
Looking back to the history of opium which is known to be the mother of all dreaded drugs, we find that THOMAS DE QUINCEY’S famous Autobiographical Confessions of an Opium Eater (1821) was the first literary account of the powerful addiction that opium can cause. Prior to this, the literary movement of Europe called ROMANTIC REVIVAL extensively depended upon opium to free the users to the FLIGHTS OF FANTASY & IMAGINATION. The literary figures included Schlegal, Madame de Stael & Puskin in continental Europe, and Coleridge, Wordsworth, Scott, Shelley Keats and Byron in Britain. It was not until the later half of the nineteenth Century that restrictions were placed on the use of opium in Britain. Even as late as 1895, the Royal Commission appointed to report on the use of opium in India concluded that the drug had no harmful effect on the local population. The consequences of such a faulty report or finding had been damage of lives of the innocent public beyond measure.
III. A Common Disease:
Unfortunately, the general public are yet to make themselves aware of and be sensitized that SUBSTANCE ABUSE is a COMMON PROBLEM because it is a COMMON DISEASE Socially speaking, it can be termed as GENOCIDE BECAUSE IT destroys health and weakens the will power to do the good one should be doing. Moreover, it blurs thoughts as it confuses conscience. Economically, it unnecessarily wastes away both private (Individual) and public (State) finance by the addicted generations(s).
Politically, it can be termed as an ARCH ENEMY, very subtly invading the state to wipe out its populance both from within and without. It is disheartening to see that our government seemed to have been fighting a losing battle!
Spiritually (Religiously) speaking, it is a symptom of the most dreaded, incurable disease called SIN (Satan Indwelled Nature) – an inherent nature of human being which inclined on Arrogance, Greed, Deceit and Wickedness. It is vital to note that without removing these spiritual symtoms, all the so-called deliverance of the addicts through other means do not last long; there is high chance of relapse time and again. Therefore, spiritual problem is considered as the root cause of the pandemic (Common, Global Disease).
Iv. Overcoming the problem:
Since substance abuse is a common problem, a common disease-a genocide every member of the society must rise up against this enemy Of humanity. I would like to suggest the following brief strategy to face the challenge which threatens our existence. This strategy can be worked out through 2 (Two) agencies.
1 . The Government and
2. Civil Societies & NGOs (Non-Qovernment Organization) including Religious Institutions.
1. The Government must have a sincere political will to help out in making their society clean from the abuse or addictions by doing every possible action against the smugglers, peddlers or vendors of the substance. All the defense staff (whether Police or Army) and Civil Officers & staff who themselves become users need to be excluded from the effort but be placed in some duties suitable for them it suspension or termination of their services is not in question. Unless the Government formed by the people is not clean, it is very difficult to tackle the issue.
2. The civil Societies and NGOs including Religious Institutions need to do much more than the present efforts. They need 3 (Three) pronged approach:
a. Commit to the Higher Power or the power of the Almighty God by praying always and demonstrate the true spirit to attain the objective by “WALKING THE TALK”.
b. Join hands with the Government in the effort.
c. Join hands with the public in the same effort.
Many thanks go to some organizations like AMADA, CADA etc. (to cite a few) for demonstrating this approach with the combative spirit against the menace. Such a spirit need to be encouraged by extending moral, prayer and even financial supports. It is important for-each one of-us to realize and act that our common enemies can be won over only by common effort.
May Love, Peace, Prosperity and Progress reign in Manipur forever!
Source: By Hueiyen News Service
India’s recent border initiatives should help ‘economics of neighbourhood’ trump the politics of suspicion
One of the features of the economic integration among nations is the manner in which some major countries have harnessed the “economics of neighbourhood”. These countries have taken initiatives to develop synergies with their neighbours, which have translated into major gains for the region as a whole. Two of the most notable examples in this regard, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and the European Union (EU), have not only gone a considerable distance in developing their region into an integrated market, they are also in the midst of expanding the contours of their “neighbourhood”.
Asean has become the hub for linking countries in East Asia. This reality was given effect in 2005 through the East Asia Summit (EAS), a grouping that brings India, China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand together with the 10 Asean members. The formation of EAS was based on the recognition that in the rapidly changing international environment, the economies and societies of East Asia have become increasingly interlinked and interdependent.
The EU has actively pursued the policy of extending its engagement with its neighbours, ever since its members had drawn up a road map to form a single market in 1992. In 2004, the European Commission unveiled the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), a framework for developing relations with its eastern and southern neighbours. The stated objective of the “new neighbourhood” was to increase production, economic growth and external trade, and to create an enlarged area of political stability and functioning rule of law, besides fostering the mutual exchange of human capital, ideas, knowledge and culture.
Alongside these groups of countries, large economies in different regions are also building partnerships with their neighbours. China has gone a long way towards cementing economic links with its neighbours, particularly Asean members. India, too, is seeking an increase in its level of integration with countries in the neighbourhood through both regional and sub-regional initiatives, initiated under the “Look East policy”. These include a free trade agreement with Asean that could be enlarged by adding services and investment to the movement of goods in the near term, and the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation, or Bimstec. The latter is a sub-regional initiative that connects five countries in South Asia—India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan—with two members of Asean, Myanmar and Thailand.
Divided by history, India’s neighbourhood remains one of the less integrated regions. So say the official statistics. But the situation on the ground is very different.
The redrawing of political boundaries in the middle of the last century was not able to break down the economies of the border regions, particularly those existing on India’s borders with Bangladesh and Myanmar. Informal trade flourishes at the border; the available evidence suggests that across the Mizoram-Myanmar border, for instance, the movement of people is commonplace. In other words, an ideal world of free trade exists here.
But a combination of policy constraints and inadequate infrastructure has undermined the potential of India’s border trade with Bangladesh and Myanmar. Trade between India and Myanmar is conducted under the Border Trade Agreement of 1994. The agreement was aimed at formalizing border trade practices and creating congenial conditions for trade ties to develop. It initially provided for cross-border trade in 22 products, mostly primary commodities. Besides the restriction on the number of tradable products, border trade faced several other constraints. Firstly, border trade could take place through only one trade point: Moreh in Manipur. Secondly, the agreement required that imports from Myanmar to India should precede exports from India to Myanmar. Thirdly, restrictions were imposed on the conduct of barter trade which, according to the agreement, could take place only by using head load or non-motorized means of transport. These constraints, together with severely inadequate infrastructural facilities and the near non-existence of trade facilitation measures, were hardly conducive to realizing the potential of cross-border trade.
There are, however, indications that the situation is on the mend. In 2008, the third meeting of the India-Myanmar Joint Trade Committee took the decision to convert what is now “border trade” to “normal trade”. While restrictions were maintained on barter trade, the list of the 22 products originally agreed upon was expanded to 40. More importantly, the Indian government’s ministry of development of north-eastern region has taken a number of initiatives to activate identified land customs stations, which include Zokhawthar in Mizoram and Avankhung in Nagaland.
Though India-Bangladesh border trade was not subjected to the restrictions that were imposed on the trade with Myanmar, infrastructural bottlenecks, particularly lack of transport connectivity, has affected trade volumes. The good news here is that under the current leadership in Bangladesh, the issue of transport connectivity is being addressed as never before. The two countries have also decided to improve the facilities available at a number of land customs stations and to upgrade the major ones into integrated checkpoints.
Given the trade potential that is waiting to be exploited, implementation of these projects may result in a situation where the “economics of neighbourhood” is able to steal a march over the politics of suspicion.
(The author is is director general at Research and Information System for Developing Countries, New Delhi)
Courtesy: (The Wall Street Journal)
Source: Hueiyen News Service
Good talents find jobs outside
Union ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) under the guidance of the ex-Union Minister, Mani Shankar Aiyer had during the past several years tried to attract major investors from within the country and abroad to come and invest in the North Eastern Region with promises of making a lot of facilities available to them. Quite a few business summits had been organised at huge costs across the seas, for instance, in the US and Thailand and also many cultural festivals, seminars, etc. had been organised in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Guwahati and Shillong for the same reason. Our Chief Minister O Ibobi had tried at his best level to impress upon the big investors to come and explore the business opportunities in Manipur. All necessary facilities such as site, security, power, etc. will be made available to the investors, the Chief Minister had assured at all the summits and seminars that he attended. Howsoever hard he and the DoNER might have tried to entice the big investors from within and outside the country, no one made a beeline at the state’s door. It’s really unfortunate, but considering the law and order situation prevailing in the state, it’s not surprising at all.
The multi national companies, industrialists and big businessmen might not have fancied the idea of risking their necks in the violence-prone state by pumping crores of rupees to set up shop in Manipur, but certain other sectors quite unexpectedly rushed in to grab a lot of opportunities. With a huge number of students estimated to be somewhere between 20,000 and 30,000, may be more, studying in different cities and towns of India and still many others studying abroad presently and thousands others studying in the state that has two Central Universities, yet another one coming up soon, Manipur, though a small state, we can proudly claim, is a mine of formidable human resources. The literacy percentage being high, much above the national average, and most of the students bright, not a bit less compared with the students of other states, Manipur certainly produces young talents in huge number. Not just bright educationally, but also many of them are physically smart and have pleasant looks. Demands for our young talents, both male and female, are rising in different sectors, may be MNCs, health care, defence, hotel or other service sectors in the country.
Therefore, many business groups are turning towards the North East, especially Manipur for direct recruitment in their companies. Be it nurse, air hostess, hotel management, defence service, sports or other professions, talented and promising young educated persons from Manipur are being taken in for employment by the government and private sectors outside the state. Many recruiting agents are coming to Imphal to conduct on the spot interview for recruitment. This is a good trend in the sense that this helps lightening the state’s unemployment burden to certain extent and also provides the youths of Manipur opportunity to expand scope for exploiting their professional expertise. Moreover, apart from earning their own livelihood, the youths can certainly help improve the economy of Manipur. Though the fact remains that employment of a large number of talented youths outside the state is certainly a kind of brain drain, for now it’s far better to go outside and work than remaining caught in the hopeless confusion prevailing in the state. After all, there are no scopes for employment here in the state. However one must be extremely careful so that he/she is not duped by some unscrupulous conmen who indulge in all kinds of evil activities including collecting money as a price of the job or human/immoral trafficking.
Source: Hueiyen News Service
There must and should have some measuring scale as a yard stick or criteria with terms of reference etc. as per relevant advertisement and recruitment rules of the Govt. in its statutory process for appointment of about 1500 Primary Teachers, including 50 Hindi Graduate Teachers. The exact marks obtained individually by the 5322 successful candidates as per declared Written Test result, in order of merit should be published in white paper to ensure maintain crystal-clear transparency in its process for appointment. In the said examination conducted by the Board of Secondary Education under the guidance of the Directorate of Education (S), Govt. of Manipur on 22nd December 2006 openly, and secretly, on 10th January, 2007 and 28th January, 2007 for which the result was declared on 16th April, 2007. Subsequently Viva-voce was conducted from 6111 February, 2009 upto the last week of October, 2009. Out of 58,685 appeared, only 5322 were declared successful and qualified. Education Directorate (S) had collected Rs. 21,47,800 as Examination and application fee etc. from the aspiring candidates. In the original advertisement there were about 1800 vacant positions of Primary Teachers.
Everybody gets surprised to know the so-called recommended list of 1413 (including Waiting list) candidate’s names were published in Hueiyen Lanpao Daily (both in Manipuri and English edition) from 24th to 30th of June, 2010, consecutively for 7 days under the signature and issuance of order of Shri M. Harekrishna, Director of Education (S) dated, 22nd April, 2010 after a lapse of about 4 years, counting from the date of advertisement and its initial necessary process etc. It is fantastic and vulnerable to confirm that some dummy candidates are found in the said recommended list, who had not been declared successful in the Written Test Examination under reference. This is the height of corruption, nepotism and arbitrary manipulation at high places in Manipur. This is not a myth, and it is happening in reality. One cannot imagine that impossible untoward happenings are made possible, through bribery and corruption. Facts are twisted through manipulation, by way of confiscating and depriving, the justified rights of the talented/ promising candidates, in violation of Fundamental Human Rights in Manipur. When the appointing authorities are so corrupt and sub-standard, there is every apprehension/suspicion of mark-tampering of some candidates to meet the vested interests of some VVIP’s during the long period of 4 years, as had been detected by the Das Commission in connection with MCS/MPS Examination conducted by the MPSC some 20 years ago. He should know that all appointments are to be made on the merit basis of the result of the Written Test Examination, as have so far been done by the UPSC and other State Service Commissions applicable and admissible for all Competitive Examinations like IAS/IFS/IPS and MCS/MPS/SDC/MFS etc.
Everybody is aware that corruption at high places is letting loose “the reign of terror” in Manipur. That is why the cream of the future generation of Manipur (who are very promising with high caliber/talents but could not afford to pay bribes through unfair means) have a tendency to join en-mass the UG outfits out of frustration/dejection in a helpless condition, under compelling circumstances. They join the insurgent and terrorist groups for want of justice and for eradication of corruption at high places. Needless to say- Education Department is not only the worst Department of corruption and bribery, but also all the other Departments under Manipur Govt, are infested with corruption and bribery in matters of recruitment and promotions. Merit cum performance stands nowhere. All posts are auction-sale and the highest bidders are selected and appointed in Manipur., as Shylock in the Merchant of Venice did. Advertisements of vacant positions and processes for physical tests, viva-voce and written test are nothing but an eye-wash before the eyes of the public. Why preparation and finalization /updating of MGEL list could not be completed for the last five years or so, and also, why the serious cases of pay anomaly of Govt. employees could not be rectified as on date by this corrupt Govt?
The Education Minister and the Director of Education should not be spared either. Why merit result of the Written Test was kept suppressed and abandoned as if it is an unaccountable criteria and how some mock and dummy candidates who were not candidates in the said Written Test Examination are inserted in the recommended list? These are the questions answerable by the Government of Manipur. Are they maintaining the quality and sanctity of Education in Manipur?
Hueiyen News Service
The British explorers had come across shaman, medicine man and exorcist or a person claiming to possess all these supernatural powers together in the dark and dicey African countries. But then the Britishers must have come across such cheats and frauds in thousands after conquering Manipur on April 23, 1891. Because the Manipuris were superstitious, illiterate and were insulated from modern education and civilization and these cheats took full advantage of it.
There have not been much of palpable changes in the people’s mindset with the result that such cheats and frauds continue to earn impressive income by taking the gullible and semi-literate people for a ride. A pointer in this direction was the incident reported at Singjamei Khetri Leikai. A shame is that this should have happened here in Imphal. A married couple have been barren. This was purely a gynaecological problem. There are modern scientific means like artificial insemination to make the wife pregnant. However the couple had elected to consult the woman shaman who had assured them a child after performing a ritual by chanting numbo-jumbo, burying weird items at the cremation ground. But the local residents are not all idiots. They had pulled up the woman shaman. It remains to be seen whether she uses her supernatural powers to wreak revenge on those who had humiliated and exposed her. One woman claivoyant at Patsoi is in cahoots with a shaman at Khangabok. They have been doing a brisk and lucrative business by taking the semi-literate and gullible people for a ride. One former police chief had asked the then SP of Thoubal to pull up the shaman. It appears that the chief’s wife had also fallen prey to the cheat. However the then SP had flatly refused to lift a finger on the ground that he could not stick out his neck since the shaman enjoyed popular support. It was a wise decision.
It was circa 1963 and the place was the Dispensary at Andro. One farmer was working in the paddy field and he had injured his leg, severing the artery. A local shaman had taken a long time in exorcising the evil spirit which had caused the accident. During the appeasement ritual he had sacrificed one bantam. Eventually he was brought to the Dispensary since the blood could not be staunched. He had started having bouts of faints and he would have died of loss of blood if there was further inrodinate delay.
There is a low rung government employee somewhere at Mayai Lambi. He is however earning much more as a clairvoyant and his monthly salary is peanuts. Anyway he does not have time or patience for the dry and boring office works. From early morning there is a heavy rush of the faithfuls who are mesmerised by his off the cuff remarks about the personal problems of the faithfuls before the formal discussion. There is a modern science known as mind reading and an experienced clairvoyant can speak something about the problems of the faithfuls on sight. I am abashed to say that my wife had become a victim of this cheat. When I hit the ceiling a consolation came which said that I would get lots of money within 15th of the following month. I forgot by wrath and was on cloud nine. I had started fantasizing on what I would do with those bags of money. I had started stacking up mentally burlap bags to stuff the currencies. The 15th had come and gone and many months have passed since. However I did not get bags of money. Even there were some problems for my monthly salary. I am making it a point to sock the mobile brandishing clairvoyant if I ever come across him.
Clairvoyants are everywhere and the latest example was how Octopus Paul had forecast the winning country in the FIFA world cup. In Manipur all sections of people would have venerated and worshippped Paul as the incarnation of the super power. But in case of Manipur it has been commercialised and the semi literate and illiterates are the victims. As a part of business, these scheming shamans are spreading their alleged supernatural powers through paid persons much quicker than a bush fire. The number of such persons earning five figure income, tax free, is legion in Manipur. The harms done in many aspects are well known. However nobody has done anaything to enlighten the people on it.
In Manipur’s context we undrstand by the term “social worker” a dodgy person who has accumulated filthy lucre left and right. On the eve of elections the person will splurge a fraction of his earnings to dazzle the electorate with a view to becoming MLA. In fact the social workers should be ones who educate the people socially. It would have been of great service to the people if the sinister repercussions of the dubious roles of the shamans, exorcists and medicine men were exposed from time to time. But then many of them are restrained like that of the one time SP of Thoubal.
Well, these persons shall continue to have carte blanche and have an iron grip on the people. We are marching through the cul-de-sac. Octopus Paul could be a roaring business in a place like Manipur.
Hueiyen News Service