Locally flavoured pani puri in the heart of Imphal

Shantikumar opens his pani puri shop for business in Imphal on Tuesday. Picture by Ngangbam Indrakanta Singh

Imphal, Sept. 5: Youths in Manipur are giving north Indian vendors a run for their money by attracting food lovers with their locally flavoured pani puri.

Under the umbrella of Kanglei Economic Development Organisation (Kedo), a self-employed group based in Imphal, these youths are raking in a profit of Rs 24,000 per month by selling the savoury snack.

At least three street vendors were seen selling pani puri at Khwairamband bazar in the heart of Imphal. They attract a large crowd in the afternoons and evenings.

“If we remain idle, we will face serious problems one day,” Oinam Shantikumar, one of the three vendors, told The Telegraph . “I sell between 3pm and 8pm every day and make a profit of Rs 800 per day.”

“I don’t feel shy to be a vendor. I want to live with dignity, working in whatever trade suits me. Remaining shy will worsen our lives,” said Shantikumar, who is also the publicity secretary of Kedo.

Kedo was established on April 20, 2007, in Imphal with the motive to uplift the economy of the state by inculcating work culture and encouraging use of local products.

The organisation has around 100 volunteers working in and around Imphal. They are engaged in various activities like selling tea, sugarcane juice, ice cream, milk, kerosene, edible oil, distribution of food products and working as night watchmen at Khwairamband Ima market. They also supply drinking water in the market.

They have also opened a few salons in the city and are earning a good income. “If the youths in the state follow Kedo’s example, Manipur will prosper,” said a pani puri customer.

The members also carry out cleanliness drives in the city at regular intervals. They have also taken up a vegetable farming project at Irang Ahum Fangba at Lilong Arapti. Some have already started door-to-door vegetable supply. For this, the department of horticulture and soil conservation donated cycle rickshaws to them on October 14 last year.

On Kedo’s 10th foundation day celebrations on May 1, minister Th. Shyamkumar handed a four-wheeler to a member, Thokchom Sanathoi, which is being used to distribute drinking water. Parliamentary secretary L. Susindro Meitei has also assured them of a loan of Rs 20,000 each to Kedo workers in collaboration with Bandhan Bank.

There are around 7.01 lakh jobless youths in the state with a population of 27.21 lakh.

Vendors from outside the state have been selling the snacks, also called gol gappa, which is a favourite of the people here. President of the organisation Soibam Maniton said, “If we inculcate work culture, there are many ways to earn. People of the state have been depending on outsiders for such ‘low profile’ jobs and that could be the reason of the high rate of influx. If we serve ourselves, we can contribute to the economy.”

Ngangbam Indrakanta Singh Telegraph India

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