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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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.

IT News

Imphal, Aug 16:

Kangleipak Students’ Association released a press note on the state of the education system in Manipur. According to the release signed by Romen Soibamcha, HRD Secretary, KSA HQ, in order for the education being provided under the higher education system in the state to expand the horizon and present a better future prospect for the students, it has become necessary to set up a committee to oversee the implementation of the NATIONAL EDUCATION POLICY 2020 in the state at the earliest.

It also added that it  has become necessary to ascertain whether the colleges in Manipur are following the guidelines laid down by the UGC as to the teaching hours, Research and Academic contributions and Professional Development, Co-Curricular and Extension Activities etc. colleges functioning outside the RR and guidelines of the UGC need to be identified and categorized according to a state policy as a large number of colleges could not meet the parameters laid down by the NAAC such as lack of required number of teachers and inadequate teacher-student ratio thereby scoring low accreditation grades and losing out on funding by the UGC. The state government should take up steps to appoint the required number of teachers as well as provide the infrastructures for the colleges without any delay. Appointment of principal in charge for a large number of colleges and instead of a regular principal till their retirement reeks of corruption and a big factor for lack of accountability in these colleges, as according to the UGC guideline, regular principals are a appointed for five years, and if one wishes to continue beyond this term, then an interview is necessary for re-appointment as principal which is not the case in the state at present. The state government should stop this trend and appoint regular principals for the colleges on a rotation basis immediately.

Teachers of government colleges and aided colleges who failed to meet the qualification prescribed y the UGC should be given an opportunity to meet the requirements under a timeframe and those who still cannot meet the qualifications within the given timeframe should be dealt with under a policy, and also the state government should adopt the recommendations for the 7th pay commission for the teachers without any delay.

The above mentioned reasons are the main cause for the failure of the colleges in the state to be included in the top 200 list of colleges and universities of India as determined by the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF), Ministry of Human Resources Development, Government of India. The academic activities provided in the state is evidently lacking in depth and quality when compared with that of other states, and in order to make improvements, required parameters such as infrastructure, academic activities, research, faculties etc should be improved said the release.

Friday, 14 August 2020 18:23

Emergence of the Covid contractors

Just the other day, there was news of a Covid-19 vaccine coming to the market in a few days time doing the rounds on social media, with reports of the US government securing advance supply agreements for 800 million doses for its 330 million population with five companies whose candidate vaccines are being considered to be the leading contenders to get approved. With more than hundred and fifty government research agencies and pharma companies scrambling for a vaccine to combat the present Covid-19 scourge which have brought the world to its knees, there is hope on the horizon, but time is of the essence and no expert have been able to state with any amount of conviction or certainty the exact time such a vaccine could reach the market, if ever one is developed. Meanwhile, the daily count of infections continues to rise gradually, and the state of Manipur is not exception to the unfortunate fact. And yet despite the ongoing and increasing danger, it is clearly evident that a large number of the public have been neglecting the only known and proven preventive measures of social distancing and using of face masks in public places. Compared to the time when the first Covid-19 positive patient was confirmed just a few months back, people have taken things too casually, and are even displaying defiant gestures and risking not only themselves but those around them to the contagion which had proven to create as much social and psychological damage as the virus itself, if not more.
Another worrying aspect of the present contagion that is emerging is that of the management- or rather mismanagement of the covid-19 positive patients in the state. There have been an increase in reports of negligence and even downright dismissal of the grievances and complaints of these patients by the authorities entrusted to oversee their well being. From lack of food to hygiene to concerns regarding total absence of manpower in various Quarantine centres in various parts of the state and even the Covid Care Centres housing positive patients. The emerging unfortunate trend is in stark contrast to the convincing assurances of adequate facilities and arrangements made by the state government at the onset of the present contagion just a few months back. If one would care to follow the developments regarding the arrangements and execution or implementation of the plans to combat Covid-19 in the state, one can clearly see a clear deviation from the declared plan of action. Imphal Times have earlier reported outsourcing of procurement of vital testing kits which the department should have arranged by itself, which is just the tip of the iceberg. There are reports of outsourcing arrangements for foods and nutrition, PPE kits and other aspects needed to keep the whole effort running smoothly. The contract culture that is rampant in the state has finally caught up with even COVID-19.
While such outsourcing offering contract for various parties or individuals for various aspects or components required in the fight against Covid-19 is not necessarily a bad thing, the underhanded manner of carrying out these activities reeks of nepotism and favoritism with personal gain as a greater consideration rather than lending support to the effort and making the whole exercise fruitful. If the state government is sincerely working to ease the burden and smoothen the administration of Covid-19 related activities with the sole objective of bringing about a positive result, it has to try and garner support for its action from the public, and only by gaining trust and goodwill of the public can such an objective be accomplished. This is arguably the worst time for doling out contracts, especially in matters relating to the fight for the most uncertain contagion in the recent history of mankind. The state government needs to draw up radical and sincere plan of action and not turn the present social uncertainties into opportunity for a few unscrupulous elements for personal gains.

On August 10, 2020, the Directorate of University and Higher Education, Government of Manipur issued a Memorandum which, citing Section 9 of the CCS (Conduct) Rules, 1964, made it mandatory for all Government College Teachers and other staff working under the Higher Education Department, Manipur to obtain approval from competent authority before publishing or making statement regarding any Government policy or Programme in the media failing which appropriate disciplinary action may be taken. And as expected, a large number of academicians and intellectuals expressed outrage and indignation over the state directive which is widely viewed as regressive and runs counter to the idea of developing critical thinking. While it could be a pragmatic and even essential step in an organization or private business house to apply such restrictions, it would be erroneous to superimpose the values considered good and justified in such organisations onto the government as the ambit of the government is so overarching and all-encompassing that disallowing criticism of the government effectively means that one has to forego the right to freedom of expression almost completely. There is hardly any area of activity in the country which is beyond the purview of government policy. In fact no citizen, whether government servant or otherwise, can be deprived from holding and expressing views on issues that affect him on a personal level as it is directly linked to a citizen’s right to life and liberty. The vague idea of reasonable restrictions on freedom of expression on certain class/category can’t be so wide as to muzzle the freedom itself. The pertinent question arising now is what kind of reasonable restrictions need to be put on the category of citizens called ‘government servants’?
It is not justifiable to deny right to freedom of expression from the government servants. Mention may be made of two judgements of the Constitution bench of Supreme Court delivered in 1962 in which the court ruled that ‘merely because a person has entered government service, it does not mean they have surrendered those fundamental rights which are available to all citizens, and thus continues to enjoy the right to freedom of expression subject only to the categories of reasonable restrictions specified in the Constitution’.
 On a more pragmatic level, it may be detrimental to consider all criticism as harmful for the functioning and image of the government for the simple fact that criticism of many of the existing provisions of law have been instrumental in taking the society and country forward towards improved governance and enhanced welfare of the people. One can consider the debate around the Official Secrets Act leading to RTI Act, right to privacy and the ongoing case about Art 377 to appreciate that the criticism of the existing laws provides impetus for change for the better. In fact, a balanced, fact based and well-intended criticism is the life blood of every democracy and the governmental system also benefits from it. Forcing a muzzle on those who have a close understanding of the functioning of government and implementation of the policies including its lacunae, inherent biases and loopholes would deprive the system of an important input for improving the system of governance. Before stirring this sensitive and contentious issue out of control, perhaps the state government should  also consider the  doctrine of unconstitutional conditions which prohibits the State from denying citizens a benefit by making access to that benefit conditional upon citizens’ abstaining from exercising any or all of their fundamental rights. 
In such times when the government at the centre as well as the state are trying to bring in more transparency and public-centric approach towards governance, imposing of such restricting directives would mean contradicting itself and going back on its own words of increased public participation to governance and would ultimately project itself as a government which is more on the defensive and thereby connotes a compromising image.

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