Friday, 10 January 2020 - Imphal Times

IT News
Mumbai, Jan 10

The Employees’ Provident Fund Oragnisation (EPFO) attached to the Union Labour Ministry is likely to reduce the rate of interest on provident fund this month, thus affecting over 8 crore employees throughout the country.
EFPO is likely to announce reduction in interest rate after meetings of its investment officials and executive committee members and the central board of trustees (CBT). The decision comes amid economic slowdown, lower yields for debt market instruments and lower interest rates on similar products including public provident fund and government provident fund.  
The rate of interest was upwardly revised to 8.65 percent from earlier 8.55 per cent last year. However now due to resource crunch, it is likely to be reduced by 15-25 basis points for this financial year, well placed sources here said. A basis point is one-hundredth of a percentage point.
Millions of salaried people are required to mandatorily invest in the EPFO. They would earn lower returns for the financial year ending March 31, 2020. EPFO was offering subscribers an interest of 8.65 per cent in 2018-19.  
The EPF payout is impacted by 55 to 70 basis points in case interest rates in the market falls a 100 basis point. It is therefore likely that the EPFO would find it difficult to offer 8.65 per cent interest this financial year. The EPFO invests 85 per cent of its annual accruals in debt market and 15 per cent in equities through exchange-traded funds.
The EPFO was left with a surplus of Rs 151 crore in 2018-19 after an 8.65 per cent payout - much less than the surplus of Rs 586 crore in 2017-18.  
EPFO had offered an interest of 8.65% in the 2018-19 fiscal after taking seven months to convince the finance ministry of the viability of its proposal.
“The economic downturn is visible this year. The falling returns on debt instruments will force the EPFO to tinker its 2019-20 payout downwards,” the officials said and added that the  long-term fixed deposits and some bond yields have gone down by between 50 and 90 basis points in the last one year and one cannot ignore those indicators.”
“Besides, the 10-year benchmark government securities or G-Secs went down between 85 and 90 basis points between January 2019 and January 2020” and that would be a drag on EPFO’s earnings” officials added.
Two more developments could force a rate cut. First, investments made in small savings instruments such as public provident fund and government provident fund are at present earning only 7.9% interest. Second, EPFO this year has found it hard to recover some of its previous investments in crisis-ridden shadow lender Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services Ltd (ILFSL) and troubled mortgage lender Dewan Housing Finance Corp Ltd (DHFL) (Some of the DHFL directors have already been arrested in connection with multi crore fraud in the Punjab and Maharashtra Cooperative Bank). Despite attempts, about Rs.1,300 crore of workers’ money, invested directly by EPFO,is stuck with these two firms.
CBT, led by the union labour minister, is the apex decision-making body of EPFO, which manages a corpus of over Rs.12 trillion and has an active subscriber base of more than 60 million. It comprising representatives of the government, employers and employees, discusses the EFPO’s earnings for the year before deciding the provident fund interest rate that needs to be approved by the finance ministry.
Employees’ representatives in Central Board of Trustees (CBT) confirmed that 2019-20 is likely to be a tough year, but said they would push EPFO to maintain the 8.65% rate of return for the current fiscal. “ We know it’s a tough year, but we shall push for maintaining 8.65% EPF payout,” said Prabhakar Banasure, a CBT member representing employees. A labour ministry spokesperson declined to offer comments in this regard.

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Friday, 10 January 2020 17:28

FEW &  WODA bids farewell to DC Jiribam 

IT News
Jiribam, Jan. 10

The Friendly Environmental Warriors (FEW) and War on Drugs Association (WODA), Jiribam organised a farewell ceremony to the outgoing Deputy Commissioner of Jiribam District Rajkumar Mayanglambam (IAS) at PWD Guest, Jiribam today.
The farewell ceremony was attended by Rajkumar Mayanglambam, DC Jiribam; K. Saratkumar Singh, Vice Chairman, Manipur Food Industries Corporation Ltd, K. Puna Singh, President, Friendly Environmental Warriors, Jiribam ; S. Shanti Devi, Chairperson, Jiribam Municipal Council ;  Th. Amurashi Chanu, ZEO Jiribam ; Y. Chandrasakhi Devi, Gen. Secy WODA, Jiribam  ; Makhon Das, Pradhan, Latingkal GP, Jiribam ; Ng. Biswajit Singh; All Jiribam Working Journalists Union ; S. Shusila Devi,  President, All Jiribam Meira Paibi, Jiribam ; W. Mema Devi, President, Jiribam Ima Meira Paibi Apunba Lup ; N. Nivarani Devi, President,  WASED, Jiribam shared the dais as presidium members.
The Friendly Environmental Warriors, Jiribam ; War on Drugs Association presented gifts to outgoing Deputy Commissioner of Jiribam Rajkumar  Mayanglambam for his extraordinary services and dedication to the people of Jiribam during his short term posting at Jiribam District.

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IT News
Thoubal, Jan.10

3 day training programme jointly organised by Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) Thoubal and Manipur Small Farmers’ Agri-Business Consortium, Imphal on “Exploring Different Types of Organic Input Production from in Situ Residues, Packaging & Marketing thereof” began today at the training hall of KVK, Thoubal, Under the aegis of National Institute of Agricultural Marketing, Jaipur.
The inaugural function was attended by Director of Agriculture Manipur Laltanpuii Vanchhong IAS as Chief Guest of the Inaugural Function, Project Coordinator, Manipur Small Farmers’ Agri-Business Consortium, MS Khaidem, Sr.Manager of NE India OneCert International (P) Ltd Dr.L.Ibomcha Singh and Senior Scientist and Head, KVK, Thoubal, Dr S Zeshmarani Devi as the Presidium Members.
On the opening day, Sr.Manager of NE India OneCert International (P) Ltd Dr.L.Ibomcha Singh, SMS Agronomy of KVK Thoubal N Tomba, Programme Assistant, S Prabin and Senior Scientist and Head, KVK, Thoubal, Dr S Zeshmarani Devi spoke on the topics “Processing, Labelling, Packaging of Organic Products of Black Rice”, “Nutrient Management in Organic Farming”, “Different Kinds of Composting and Scop for Marketing” and “Role of Livestock and its Importance in Organic Inputs Products” as the resource persons. The resource persons also responded to different queries raised by the farmers.
The 2nd day of the training programme will be participated by APO (MOVCD) Agri Kh.Nimaichand Singh, Agronomist of Agri. Dept. S.Sanatomba Singh, Programme Assistant, S Prabin and Project Coordinator, Manipur Small Farmers’ Agri-Business Consortium, MS Khaidem as the resource persons.
The resource persons for the 3rd will be SMS (PBG) KVK Imphal West S. Gunamani Singh, Scientist of Soil Science ICAR Imphal, MD of Green Biotech Imphal Y.Geetashwori Devi, Sr.Inspector & Reviewer OneCert International (P) Ltd and Dy Director (Skil & Marketing) of NIAM Jaipur Dr. S.R. Singh.

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IGAR (South)

Imphal Jan 10

Troops of Assam Rifles under the aegis of IGAR (South) recovered contraband drugs worth approximately Rs 2.83 Crore from Khudengthabi Check Post in Tengnoupal District on 07 January 2020.

The  troops  at the check post stopped a suspicious Grey coloured Eeco Van (Regn No - MN 04 A 6949) which was moving from Moreh towards Imphal. It was driven by Mr Manlun Haozalian Zou, age 35 yrs resident of Machi village, Chandel District along with two passengers namely Mr Lhunkholal Lhunddim, age 30 yrs r/o Khotlenphai village, Chandel District and Mrs. S. Sundaywon age 48 yrs r/o Salemram village, Chandel District. During checking of the vehicle, approximately  904 grams of suspected Brown Sugar  and 206 Gms of suspected Heroin with approximate total worth of Rs 2,83,80,000/- (Two crores eighty three lakhs eighty thousands) only in the International market were recovered.

The recovered contraband items and the apprehended persons have been handed over to Moreh Police Station for further investigation.

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IT News
Imphal, Jan 10

The Naga Students Federation (NSF) expressed strong condemnation to the unprovoked attack and brutalities unleashed upon the students and teachers of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) by masked right wing goons.
A statement by NSF said that a university space should be one that encourages minds to read, write, debate, and discuss. As a part of this, they should also have the freedom to question the prevailing systems of governance and that no attempt, whatsoever, should be made to mute the dissenting voices using means that are not in the right democratic and secular spirit.
“The barbaric attack on the students and teachers of the nation’s premier university is a manifestation of the growing xenophobic agenda of a certain section of people within the country which is fueled by far right wing Hindu nationalist principles. Terror unleashed within the campus extremist mob does not augur well for the future of Indian democracy and its institutions”, the statement added.
“It is truly unfortunate and saddening for NSF to see that students are not safe on the campus and even in the hostels”, the statement added.
The student body appealed all concerned authorities to take up immediate and necessary measures in all educational institutions across the country in order to ensure that the unwanted precedent set at JNU is not repeated in any other parts of the country.
The NSF also extended its solidarity to the student movement in JNU and demands for an independent and impartial probe into the incident and that strong actions be initiated against the perpetrators and all those who abetted the heinous attack.

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Thong Nambonbi is not just another bridge built by a contractor. It is part of this history. When it broke in half, we should accept that we have betrayed our history and our forefathers. Who are these forefathers ? They are those toiled and built the Thong Nambonbi in the 17th century. This bridge was first made by the war captives from a Chinese village called Khagee, who were later assimilated in the Meitei society. Their children have today become the people of Manipur.  We have betrayed their labour and their skill. When the bridge was built for the first time, these war captives built this bridge using a mix of lime, jaggery and black lentils and brick and most importantly their labour. The humped bridge was again erected in 1854 AD when Meidingu Chandrakriti ruled this land. It was designed by the  British engineers. It was a sight to behold when it was rebuilt during that time.
This humped bridge collapse with no one to protect it though it was in the list of the state’s protected monument. It was declared a protected monument under the Manipur Ancient and Historical Monuments and Archeological Sites and Remains Act 1976 in 1992.  This indicates where the blames lies.  The bridge does not just collapsed without any warning.
There have been many complaints  in newspaper reports about the failure to look after the bridge. Scores of newspaper articles and reports were written when the first cracks started appearing in the bridge. Hawkers and vendors use this small humped bridge to sell their goods but they were removed as it was a historical site. Later, the authorities banned the use of the bridge. Though the government managed to chase the people away from damaging the bridge, it was unable to chase their own incompetence in protecting the bridge. Even a local women’s organisation has urged the government to look after the bridge which was in a critical situation. In July last year, already a section of the bridge gave up. It was the signal of an impending collapse. Now it broke in half.
Now and then the rulers of this land show that they do not know the history of this land. Since these rulers do not know our history, they do not value the things our forefathers have left for us.  While our politicians run around inaugurating foot over bridges, we have failed a bridge which embodies our history. It is not just about those who rule us as we should not have so much expectations from these people. We have to do it for ourselves. It is quite an irony that the death of this bridge happened on the death anniversary of Ghambir Singh. We should not just remember their names and things they did in seminar rooms, we should also treasure the things they have left us, more importantly through their struggle and labour. But, it is not just the king who built these monuments from the money he amassed from the people. We should remember those people who labour to build it. Therefore, it is not just Chandrakriti’s Thong Nambonbi. It is the humped bridge of those who toiled in making it with their hands and we have betrayed them.

Published in Editorial

IT News
Aizawl, Jan.10
A one-day Special Outreach Programme(SOP) on “150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi” on the themes of Swachhta Hi Seva, Swachh Bharat Mission, Ban on single use of Plastics, 180 Days Achievements of NDA-II Government and Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat was held today at Sihphir High School Hall organized by the Field Outreach Bureau, Aizawl, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of Indiain close co-ordination with Sihphir High School, Sihphir Higher Secondary School, Sihphir Venglhun High School And Young Mizo Association of Sihphir. The Main objective of the Programme was to disseminate information and education to the People on the above cited schemes of the Government of India. Professor J. Doungel, Director, Internal Quality Assurance Cell and Professor of Political Science, Mizoram University and Dr. A. Ibomcha. Sharma, IIS, Field Exhibition Officer, Field Outreach Bureau, Aizawl delivered lectures as Resource Persons in the Programme.
Prof. Doungel spoke about Mahatma Gandhi and his dreams of a Swachh Bharat. He narrated about the life of Mahatma Gandhi and what the father of the nation has contributed for the country. He also mentioned that the occasion of the 150th birth anniversary of Gandhiji has given us an opportunity to remind the humanity of the relevance of Gandhiji’s message. He said, Gandhiji’s message are relevant in many policies of the country such as Swacch Bharat, rights of women and children, and of civil liberties of small and disadvantaged groups, health and well-being of the Indian farmer and the Indian villages.
Dr. Ibomcha Sharma spoke about Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat. He said that the main objective of Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat is to celebrate the Unity in Diversity of our nation and to maintain and strengthen the fabric of traditionally existing emotional bonds among the people of our country, promote the spirit of national integration through a deep and structured engagement among the states and union territories through a year-long planned engagement among states, to showcase the rich heritage and culture, customs and traditions of the states and union territories in the country for enabling people to understand and appreciate the diversity in the country, thus fostering a sense of common identity to create an environment which will promote learning between states by sharing best practices and experiences with an endeavour to attain the new height of India as a world leader.
More than 500 people including officials of the Field Outreach Bureau, teachers and students of the three academic institutions attended the programme. A Public Rally was also organized in connection with the programme from the bus stand of Sihphir to Sihphir High School Ground. A cultural programme of Mizo traditional dance, Quiz competition and Prize distribution to the winners of the quiz competition were the other main highlights of today’s programme.

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IT News
Guwahati, Jan 10

City based Journalist fraternity on Thursday appealed to the Assam government for launching a scheme to support the bereaved families of working journalists of the state who died on duty.
Appreciating the government for initiating the pension scheme for journalists, the fraternity also urged to consider extending such benefits to the spouse of journalists who dies before attaining the age of 60.
Attending a memorial meeting of journalist Naresh Mitra at Guwahati Press Club, various speakers deliberated on the need for immediate financial support to his family. The media fraternity has also appealed to all for individual contribution for the benefit of the deceased journalist’s family.
State Information Commissioner of Manipur Information Commission, Oinam Sunil (a former Bureau Chief of The Times of India and a colleague of Naresh Mitra) has already donated Rs. 2.5 lakh to the
family of Mitra. The amount in the form of a bank fixed deposit was officially handed over to Mitra’s wife Biva Sarkar (Mitra) in the meeting today.Amit Kumar Jain, a renowned industrialist also donated an amount of Rs. 50,000 to the family of the bereaved journalists.
Advocate Arshad Choudhury, an advocate of the Gauhati High Court, also donated Rs. 10,000 to the family of the deceased.
Meanwhile, the media fraternity of Guwahati, who are interested in donating any amount to the family of Naresh are requested to deposit the amount either to the bank account number of Biva Sarkar (Mitra) wife of Naresh (Account Holder Name Biva Sarkar, A/C No 3194937302, IFSC Code: CBIN0283229, Central Bank of India, Bhangagarh Branch, Guwahati) or to the Guwahati Press Club (Santosh Mahato, Cont:7002700486) within next seven days.Various other organizations are also welcomed to contribute towards the bereaved family.

Published in News
Friday, 10 January 2020 17:18

The curious case of Congo ‘Sapeur’

By- Chalamba Kshetri -

“ I could buy a piece of land, but bought a pair of shoes”    - Congo Dandies
What is Sapeur ?
The word Sapeur derives from the French acronym ‘SAPE’ short for ‘ Societe’ des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Elegeantes, and this translates to “ The Society of Tastemakers and Elegant People” and the term refers to Congolese men who take pride in dressing in stylish, elegant and colourful clothing.
Origin of the Sapeur -
At the coming of the 20th century, French colonial workers or coastmen arrived in Congo. The Native Congolese men who either worked for the Colonizer or spent time in France were deeply influenced by the Parisian elegance. Few Colonists thought it wise to pay their workers in Secondhand clothes instead of money. Soon, the Congolese workers now spend their meager wages lavishly to acquire the latest fashion from Paris.
In the 1960’s when both Congo ‘ Republic of the Congo ‘ and ‘ Democratic Republic of the Congo’ were granted Independent by their Colonizers. This cultural influence continued and soon became a part of Congolese cultural phenomenon.
Who are the  ‘Sapeur’
The first impression of Sapeur might appear to be lavishly dressed, high-powered businessman. But in reality, they are ordinary men working as taxi drivers, shoemaker, carpenters, electrician, gravediggers.
Analysis on ‘Sapeur’ fashion style
The Sapeur or Dandies ( informally ) style is defined by impeccably tailored suits, bowler hats, canes, silk ties, pipes, bright pocket squares, scarves, flashy and bright shining socks. Striking pattern and matching colour co-ordination. Their accessories also includes a silver tie clip, a watch almost as large as his face and sunglasses of strange pattern. These Congolese fashion pioneers took the European aesthetic and made the style all their own. From French crocodile shoes and British sport coats, to handmade Italian ties, the Sapeur wore high end designer brands like Versace, Christian Dior, G- Star, Yohji Yamamoto, Gianfranco Ferre. But the thing is, ‘brand’ is not everything. It’s all about creativity, uniqueness, matching, attitude which define their attention to the masses. There are also clear rules and expectation about what to wear and how to wear it. Sapeur wear no more than three colours at one time, excluding white. The Sapeur culture stands in contrast to the immense poverty of the area.
‘ Hub’ of Sapeur culture -
Sapeur culture is centered  around Brazzaville and Kinshasa, the adjacent capitals of the ‘Republic of the Congo’ and ‘ Democratic Republic of the Congo’ respectively. These Capital cities are separated only by the Congo river, but the differences between each city’s Sapeur community make them feel World’s apart.
Fashion amidst Caos ?
The Congo conflict and Civil War has killed, 5.4 million people and made hundreds and thousands of Brazzaville and Kinshasa residents into refugees. According to the U.N. Human Development Report for 2007, people in ‘ Republic of the Congo’ have a life expectancy of just 53 years, and a per capita GDP of $ 2, 030 making it the 136th least developed country on Earth. But in the case of ‘ Democratic Republic of the Congo’ fares even worse. It’s life expectancy is 47 years and per capita GDP is $143. It is the 176th least developed country in the World.
Sapeur Philosophy and their Justification -
Media often describe many African cities uniformly as run down Urban slums where War, Poverty, Crime and Disease hit the improvement of living standards. These negative depiction considered hindrance to the Country’s image by the Sapeur. The Congo Dandies look beyond these stereotypes and focusses on creativity and the individual. The rising Sapeurism is considered a good sign by the Sapeur as they say, “ Sapeur can only exist in peacetime’. To them it is a sign of better things after years of Civil War. It also means to indicate Peace and Stability.
With extreme poverty and undeniable political crisis in the Country, participation in the ‘Sapeur Community’ is for many a means of building self confidence despite many strife and political turmoil.
The practice is a form of escapism, which many Sapeur says enable them to forget the crippling poverty and economic problems in their everyday lives. In the face of Colonialism, Corruption, Poverty, and even Civil War, Generation of Sapeur have found something refreshing and carefree in which they can take immense pride with. To them dressing means a sense of pride and identity. Sapeur participate in public cultural events and festivals and command immense respect and admiration from their home communities. No one can deny the artistry behind ‘Sapeurism’. They considered these attitude and pattern as work of art.
To these men, the competition and investing in their image is more important than improving their living conditions. My question to these confusing theory is that, Is it self - defeating to invest to such a degree in clothing? What about their families needs? Is it a right justification amidst the Country poverty.

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