Jeet Akoijam

Jeet Akoijam

Jeet Akoijam, Resident Editor of Imphal Times hails from Singjamei Liwa Road. Has been with Imphal Times since its start. A National level Rugby player and  a regular Trekker and Nature Lover, loves spending time in lap of Mother Nature. Jeet is the father of two lovely kids. Jeet can be contacted at [email protected]

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With politics- or more precisely the ugly side of cut-throat politics being played out at present in the state and occupying the collective energy, efforts and mindset of the elected representatives of the people of the state, it is no surprise that an increasing section of the medical fraternity, both as individuals and as groups, have started expressing concerns regarding the handling of the pandemic situation in the state by the state administration.

Ever since the Covid-19 pandemic had its footfall in the state, there have been apprehensions and unfounded fears about the means of transmissions and social stigmatization of covid-19 positive patients to the point that a young girl who recovered from the infection committed suicide due to the callous and inhumane attitude towards her by her family and the society. Almost five months on, there is little to show for all the efforts and works the state administration have declared to have performed to dispel the apprehensions and unfounded fears still gripping the minds of a large number of the public. Imposing lockdowns and curfews are very well and are welcome, but these are restrictive measures which have negative connotations in the minds of the public even though these are for the benefit and safety of everyone,  and there has been precious little by way of actually taking up concrete steps to dispel such fears and anxieties from the public mindset.

One can experience such unfortunate incidents of localities barricading themselves from ‘outsiders’ with banners and signs preventing ‘outsiders’ from entering the localities. The state administration as well as the state security agency have evidently turned mute spectators to such increasing acts of ‘self-segregations’ thereby posing a great risk of letting this pandemic getting out of hand.

The issue is gaining greater significance with the number of transmissions from persons with no travel history increasing alarmingly in the state. Various experts are now of the opinion that the number of infections in the state would turn out to be much higher than the official figure if testing is increased to include random candidates from different localities in the state. As a matter of fact, 8 doctors and healthcare workers have reportedly urged the state government and health authority to launch a total community survey to ascertain the present situation so that a more effective means of fighting the epidemic can be formulates as they are of the opinion that the state have entered the early stages of community transmission almost a month back. It would be unfortunate and may even prove catastrophic not only for the state but the whole region to sit on the concerns and opinions expressed by these people who are at the forefront of the war against the pandemic. Forewarned is forearmed, and at the same time, along with the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) announced from time to time, announcements regarding do’s and don’ts regarding the public perceptions and concerns such as announcements and procedures for social conducts within containment zones, disposal of covid-19 related deaths, local assistance facilities and formalities to contact first responders etcetera should also be disseminated through all forms of media.

Removing doubts and anxieties from the minds of the public in these uncertain times is as important as combating the real infection. While the rate of infection and fatality is reported to be on the decline, yet the sense of foreboding and uneasiness still lingers strong in the society. Stigmatization, self-denial, sense of guilt and depressions are unfortunate realities we need to accept and fight, and for that knowledge and confidence will prove to be the most effective weapons.

IT News
Imphal, Aug 20:

Environment Conservation Network (Eco Network) has strongly appealed the Government of Manipur and India to withdraw the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed with the extractive industries without the consent of the Indigenous Peoples to initiate Mining of Chromite, Limestone and other minerals deposited in Manipur Particularly in Ukhrul, Kamjong, Chandel, Tengnoupal, Tamenglong Etc.
“The initiative taken up to initiate the mining of natural resources by the Government of Manipur and India without the consent of people is considered as an act of non-democratic approach which need a serious attention. Allowing the extractive industries or profit makers to destruct the environment inhabited largely by the indigenous peoples who has been securing their livelihood from the natural environment is a threat to Article 21 of Indian Constitution.  Granting the profit makers by the Government of Manipur and India to start the mining will violate one’s right to clean environment and will lead to serious unwanted crisis”, a statement by the convenor of the Network said.
It added that large scale mining will also have negative impact on the rare species, birds, animals, loss of flora and fauna etc. One cannot deny the fact that Manipur and North East India lies in one of the richest biodiversity hotspot in the world which need a serious consideration to withdraw the MoUs signed with the Profit Makers.
The Eco Network appealed the Government of Manipur and India to withdraw the MoUs signed with the profit makers to destroy the Environment of Manipur and the Indigenous Peoples.  

Manipuri Language Demand Coordinating Committee was formed under the Sahitya Parishad Manipur to intensify demand for inclusion of Manipuri Language in the 8th schedule of the Indian Constitution as Sahitya Parishad is the only Govt recognized body working for the development and recognition of Manipuri language at that time. As part of the ongoing efforts, exhibitions of the Puya (sacred ancient Manipuri scriptures) were held at Delhi and presentations made to central ministers by intellectuals and even the MP from the state to impress upon the rich and ancient traditions of the Manipuris but without much success or desired attention. Meanwhile, Teachers’ Forum comprising of around 300 teachers from schools, colleges and even the university was formed and functioning mainly in the present Thongju Kendra area in the early eighties. The forum slowly started mobilizing other teachers as well as students and create awareness for the need to develop and support the demand for inclusion of Manipuri in the 8th schedule besides publishing articles and suggestions/opinions on the school textbooks prescribed and used in the schools, with regular meetings and discussions being held in the schools every weekend which led to a large annual gathering at Manipur University Canchipur. This group drew the attention of the language demand committee who announced a statewide bandh at that time to press their demand which was later dropped after a compromise with the state government, but a large number of supporters took to the streets and carried out the bandh, even torching vehicles where a driver died in the ensuing mob frenzy, all because of the utter lack of coordination which resulted in a change of office bearers of the language movement due to public backlash. The committee then approached Professor Dr MS Ningomba of Linguistics Department, Manipur University who was the president of Teachers Forum to head the Coordinating Committee who accepted the proposal and soon started mass mobilization throughout the state spreading awareness about the need and benefits of including Manipuri language in the 8th schedule.
The movement for inclusion of Manipuri language in the 8th schedule of the Indian Constitution took a dramatic turn in the beginning of the nineties when various other modes of demand was taken up including public rallies and hunger strike which was carried for the first time at the footpath near Johnstone Higher Secondary School and from there various organizations and individuals started coming forward in support of the movement and thus hunger strikes and rallies were held concurrently in different places of the state. Feeling the need to take the movement to the centre, funds were mobilized and a few members and volunteers headed by Professor Dr MS Ningomba went to Delhi in April of 1991 after entrusting the continuity of the movement in the state which have, at this point of time, garnered the support of even a number of state government employees’ associations. The efforts of the committee hit a major roadblock when the state’s elected representatives to the centre refused to lend support to the demand and even tried persuading the team from Manipur to give up the plan for staging the hunger strike at India Gate, fearing repercussions and reprimands from the centre, but nevertheless the plan was carried out after due formalities were completed including obtaining permission from Delhi Police. Prof. Dr MS Ningomba and his associate who were undergoing the Hunger strike were arrested by Delhi Police into a week of the planned 15-day event and were forcibly admitted into a hospital while the remaining volunteers including manipuris from other states such as Assam, Tripura etcetera continued with the Hunger strike. All throughout these happenings, the MPs from Manipur continued trying to persuade the team to wind up what they perceive as unnecessary intimidation on the central government. There were however some very encouraging incidents from unexpected quarters when the MP from Sikkim expressed her support of the demand to the volunteers and an MP from Silchar actually went out of his way to secure a written communication from the home secretary to the team stating that the issue for which they were staging the hunger strike merits discussion and will definitely be put up for deliberation during the next winter session of the parliament. Having secured a written surety of the demand being discussed in the parliament, the hunger strike was called off and the team returned to Imphal, and true to their words and much joy for everyone who supported the movement, the Government of India included Manipuri language in the 8th schedule of the Indian constitution on 20th August 1992 by 71st Constitutional Amendment Act.
Inclusion of Manipuri in the list of languages of the 8th Schedule meant that the language was entitled to representation on the Official Languages Commission, and that the language would be one of the bases that would be drawn upon to enrich Hindi, the official language of the Union The list has since, however, acquired further significance. The Government of India is now under an obligation to take measures for the development of these languages, such that “they grow rapidly in richness and become effective means of communicating modern knowledge. In addition, a candidate appearing in an examination conducted for public service is entitled to use any of these languages as the medium in which he or she answers the paper.
This landmark achievement has however lost its flavor and significance as the state government have so far failed to take proactive interest in the development and awareness of the language other than setting up of Directorate of Language Planning and Implementation whose vision and mission as appears in its official website is still in future tense with activities report from that of the previous government.
According to Professor Dr MS Ningomba who retired as Head of Department (Linguistics) of Manipur University, it would be futile and pointless to spell out suggestions and personal opinion on ways and means to develop the Manipuri language, or any other language for that matter. If the state government is sincere in its intent to develop the language, it must approach the intellectuals and persons who have dedicated so much to bring the Manipuri language to the present level so that serious and positive discussions and deliberations can be conducted to achieve the desired result.
Mere translations and printing of textbooks will not prove adequate to popularize and develop the language. People should be made to feel proud of the rich cultural heritage and understand the beauty of the language. It would take much more than setting up directorates and departments to achieve such complex and vital objectives, especially when there is a perceptible shift towards English as the preferred means of communication amongst the children as well as the burgeoning ‘elite’ class.

Thursday, 20 August 2020 18:49

Review of the status of Manipur Language

People’s history of Manipur is the history of agitations and protests which indicates absence of power to take its own decision. There might be instances of protests and agitations against authority or king when Manipur was an independent and sovereign nation. However, it is written in history of Manipur that Manipuri Women had, for the first time, launched protests against the British authority for withdrawal of order to build house of British officers with the woods from Kaboo Valley and to stop export of Manipuri rice outside the state in 1904 and 1939 respectively. Thereafter, social reformer and revolutionary leader Hijam Irabot had also staged many protests and agitations against the ruler to remove social evils such as purity and impurity which was legitimised by the religious institutions of state such as “the Brahma Samaj”. The course of his movement had changed and launched armed struggle in line with communalist revolution for mass emancipation to establish a communist government in Indo – Myanmar region.
Merger of Manipur into the India dominion in 1949 could not calm the resentment of the people down and reduce the frequency the protests and agitations launched against the authority in the state. A Case to the point is the series protests launched by the people of Manipur demanding granting of statehood to the union territory of Manipur which ultimately turned out to be a series of violent protests including stoning even to the then Prime Minister when she visited in Imphal. The demand for inclusion of Manipuri language in the 8th schedule of the Constitution of India has also followed the same suit. Since major demand of the people of Manipur could not fulfil without agitation and protest people are compelled to perceive that Manipur received nothing from the central government without violent or peaceful protest and agitation.
Manipuri Language, now, is one of the schedule languages of the country because of all out effort of the people of Manipur and by dint of having rich literature inherited from our forefathers in various subjects. Apart from other provisions of the constitution pertaining to language, Manipuri language enjoys special protection under Article 29 of the constitution of India as it is spoken and use by a minority community.
Remembering the dedications of those persons who had persistently endeavour for the development of Manipuri language which was almost eclipsed by Bengali and Sanskrit for centuries and considering the need to promote the language, “Language Day” is being observed on 20th August every year in those states and countries where Manipuri speaking peoples resides since 1992 in which year the language was included in the 8th schedule of the Indian Constitution. In this regard, it may question the present status of Manipuri language in terms of its policy and development. Since language evolves along with the community, it carries identity of the community or the nation. UNESCO observes that many language were no longer spoken which ultimately had died. Nation shall also follow suit after the death of its language.
The Government of Manipur has upgraded Language Cell, Department of Education (School) into the Directorate of Language Planning and Implementation cell a few years back with a vision to take up measures for development of Manipuri language and tribal dialects of Manipur and to implement official language in the state of Manipur. It is seen that government has taken up a few measures for the promotion of Manipuri language. However, it has been an uphill task to attract students for learning in their mother tongue since English is the medium of instruction from primary level for many schools in the state. On the other hand, there is also a tendency of the parents wanting to send their wards to English medium schools as command over English and Hindi language has long been considered as sine qua non of educated gentlemen which has resulted in a new generation who neither has excellent command over the English language nor can comprehend the old/archaic and even plain Manipuri language in totality. This present education system should make efforts to instill a deeper understanding and love of the native language by bringing out the beauty and unique characteristics as well as the folklores which are intrinsically intertwined with the native language. The task at hand is an uphill one, but not impossible; and it would be too late if the state government fails to take up immediate steps in consultation with experts and intellectuals on the matter.

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