Saturday, 19 October 2019 - Imphal Times

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Imphal, Oct 19

The 3rd Shirui Lily festival organised by the state Tourism Department  of the government of Manipur concluded today with much fan fare. Manipur governor Dr. Najma Heptulla, who is known for her admiration to the tradition and culture as well as the traditional attires of various ethnic community of the state, who even talk the world about the state of being the biodiversity hotspot attended the closing day of the Shirui Lily festival.

“It is unfortunate that the Lily which flowers in late May to early June, is becoming rarer and many experts have felt that it may ultimately become extinct, with the rising temperature and change in the habitat.  It was earlier thought that due to forest fire, the plant was being affected with a plant now bearing only a few flowers while about 3 to 4 decades back, a stalk carried not less than 12 flowers.  Nowadays, it is a common sight of small bamboos encroaching on the habitat of the Lily and the latter is losing ground to the gregarious bamboos.  There is need for more vigilance on the part of all stakeholders and a proper scientific study on the flower, so that this renowned flower can continue to thrive in its original habitat.  I am glad that ICAR has taken up tissue culture of this plant and hope that it will perpetuate this plant not only in its original habitat but also in laboratory conditions so that it does not become extinct”, Dr. Heptulla said while delivering her speech at TNL ground today.

She further said that Manipur falls in one of the top biodiversity hotspots in the world and surely, the acclaimed Lily is indicative of such richness.  The focus on global warming and climate change and its impact on our biodiversity and the efforts being made to leverage timely remedial measures are laudable. Nothing requires them more than the Lily. As already mentioned, if intervention is not made now with the urgency it deserves, the plant may be lost forever., the governor added.

“It is not only the Lily but other flora and fauna are also facing tremendous threat to their survival as their habitats are being gradually eroded” the governor said and expressed her happiness for taking the brand name of Shirui Lily, the State Flower of Manipur, for the festival for popularizing it far and wide.

Health Minister L Jayantakumar, PHED Minister Letpao haokip, Education Minister Th Radheshyam, Chairman of the Tourism Corporation Dr. Sapam Ranjan and MLA Khasim Ruivah were among those present in the closing ceremony.

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Imphal, Oct. 19

Chief Minister N. Biren Singh said that the State government is committed to uphold the territorial integrity of the State. This was stated by him at the 128th Manipur Police Raising Day held at the Parade Ground of 1st Manipur Rifles Battalion today.
Speaking as Chief Guest of the function, Chief Minister said that the Centre has assured the State government that the territorial integrity of the State will not be affected in bringing solution of the ongoing Indo-Naga peace talks. Chief Minister said that the State government believed that the Centre and its leaders would respect sentiment of the State government. The State is vigilant and monitoring every stage of the ongoing peace talks, he added.
Responding to the ethnic issues in the State, Chief Minister said that it is tragic that most of the communities of the State always think for themselves rather than cohesive thoughts. When we start thinking for common good leaving aside personal/community benefits then there will be peace in the State, he asserted.  
Stating that various welfare schemes have been introduced for the people, Chief Minister said that the government is committed to deliver inclusive governance and development in the State. In the last two and half years, with the love and support of the people peace has prevailed in the State. The government opens its door for any dialogue for resolving any issue in the State.
Appreciating the efforts of the Manipur Police in maintaining law and order of the State, Chief Minister announced that the government would construct a new City Police Station and also renovate the existing Imphal West Commando Barrack. Commenting on the contribution of the Women Police personnel, Chief Minister said that a special Women Commando Unit will be established. Around 100 women police personnel will be given special training in this regard, he added.
Chief Minister maintained that under a scheme of Home Ministry, a Police Memorial Park and Police Museum would be constructed soon as a mark of respect and tribute to those police personnel who have rendered selfless sacrifice and service for the good of the State.
Speaking on the occasion, DGP L.M. Khaute elaborately spoke on various activities and initiatives of the Manipur Police in last one year. He maintained that 527 militants were arrested including 102 Arms with 8908 ammunitions in past one year. Around 925 cases were charge sheeted by the Manipur Police. In war against drugs, drugs worth Rs. 1336 crores were seized and 226 cases were registered under which 413 persons were arrested, he added. He also stated that Child friendly Police Stations have been inaugurated in various Police Stations.
Chief Minister distributed commendation certificates with cash to various police officers for their outstanding contributions in different fields. The best Police Station 2019 was bagged by Moreh Police Station, best Battalion 2019 was bagged by 5th Bn Manipur Rifles and best Police Officer 2019 was awarded to Md. Wakibuddin, Sub-Inspector of Lilong Police Station. Ms. Bhumika Shamurailatpam, who topped the High School Leaving Certificate Examination 2019 was also awarded a cash prize of Rs. 5000 by the Chief Minister.
The Chief Minister took salute from around 15 march-past contingents of civil police (male and female), police commandos, Manipur Rifles, India Reserve Battalion, Home Guards, VDF personnel and Manipur Police Dog Squad.
On the occasion, Chief Minister released a souvenir highlighting the various achievements of the Manipur Police Department in the last one year. Chief Minister also inaugurated Blood Donation Camp at Banquet Hall of 1st Manipur Rifles Battalion.
Deputy Chief Minister, Cabinet Ministers, MLAs, Chief Secretary and top civil and police officers also attended the function.

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Imphal, Oct 19

Meanwhile, American rock band Extreme is all set to perform at the  ShiRock festival which is being organised as a part of the Shirui Lily festival. The already crowded Ukhrul district headquarter is reportedly facing trouble with the number of visitors raising unexpectedly today evening.

 Gary Cherone and lead guitarist and founding member Nuno Bettencourt are today the talk of Ukhrul town and people are eagerly waiting to witness their performance .

Many fans from various parts of the country had already arrived to watch the band perform at decorated Bakshi ground in Ukhrul.

Over two dozen rock bands are competing for the coveted title ‘Shirock 2019’, which carries a cash prize of Rs 10 lakh and the voice – the solo hunt for the individual prize competition.

On the opening day of ShiRock on Wednesday night, popular Scottish hard rock veterans Nazareth captivated thousands of rock music lovers for nearly two hours during their debut performance in Manipur.

The fifty-one-year-old rock band took the stage around 8.30 pm with a new number along with their evergreen ‘Shot me down’ etc as their opening track with Carl Sentance as lead vocalist.

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Yairipok, Oct 19

Major changes in the Yaripok Municipal Council is taking place after majority of the Councilors voted against them in the no confidence moved by the councilors . Five Councilors out of the 9 Councilors of the YMC voted against the Chairpersons L. Haripyari Devi while 6 (six) councilors voted against Vice Chairpersons Dilip.
The vote for no confidence motion was held at the conference hall of the Deputy Commissioner Thoubal district on October 17 with the DC N. Bandana attending as presiding officer  .
The new political development in the Yairipok Municipal Council came after 5 of the Councilors of the YMC joined the BJP recently. Chief Minister himself attended the felicitation function of the 5 councilor who joined the BJP.
Following the defeat of the Chairperson Haripyari Devi and the Vice Chairperson Dillip , councilors had started camping for formation of a new council under new Chairperson and vice chairperson.
Source said that the rival councilors are still not disclosing on who will be the next chairperson of the YMC but source said that Longjam Kamala Devi may be the choice of the rival councilors. Longjam Kamala got elected from ward No. 9 and is also one among the 5 councilors who joined the BJP recently.

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Imphal, Oct. 19

Alleging fund diversion of the TA&Hills including scholarships for students by BJP led Government and consequent failure to release on time the All Tribal Rights Protection Forum Manipur (ATRPFM) threatens strong agitation and litigations if fails to release all funds for tribal people within the month of October.
A statement by the ATRFM said that despite  repeated approach and requests to release the fund of family oriented schemes (FOS), the State Government has failed to do the same till date which is illegal and a clear indication of poor governance. The beneficiaries are force to wait till date when the Central Government has released the fund long ago
“If the State government fails to release the said fund within the month of October, 2019, ATRPFM would no more remain silent and explore all means including filing PIL before the High Court of Manipur in the interest of poor tribal people and in the interest of justice” , a statement by James Haokip of the ATRPFM said.
The statement added that the ATRPFM had submitted charters of demand in pursuant to the resolution adopted on August 24, 2019 in the Joint Meeting of ATRPFM (All Tribal Rights Protection Forum, Manipur) and ATCFM (All Tribal Chief Forum, Manipur) along with various tribal leaders of Manipur held at Mini-Conference Hall, TRI, Chingmeirong, Imphal.
The resolutions are (1) to press the State Government to re-allocated all the matters relating to the creation / recognition of new villages or bifurcation of a village in hill areas of Manipur in accordance with law; (2) for extension of direct funding to ADCs instead of grant-in-aid including revised of honorarium to Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Executive Members and ADC Members (3) to correct the inter-district boundaries i.e. doubling of villages in both the hills and valley district jurisdictions in the past Census records must be corrected in the coming Census 2021; (4) to include all villages in the coming 2021 Census as well as in the current 7th Socio-Economic & Caste Census 2019; (5) to included the Village Chiefs/Ex-Officio Chairmen and all the members of Village Authorities in the warrant of precedence; (6) not to evict the tribal people from their residence/villages and (8) to give reservation to reserved categories in proportion with population in the interest of equal representation in all areas.  However, State government has failed to give any positive response till date, it added.
The statement of the ATRPFM threatens to take action of its own and throw ball to the government for any unwanted eventualities due to the action.

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National Commission for Women, lndia led by  Member Soso Shaiza had visited Chandel yesterday and took stock of women related development schemes in district.

Various women related development programmes/schemes Including Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, One Stop Centre (Sakhi) recently set up in Chandel Swadhar Greh Scheme, Ujjawala Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY) were highlighted in the above assessment meeting.

Matters on opening of Working Women Hostel, opening of Creche Centre for working women, making widow Pension scheme eligible to young widows who are less than 40 years, opening of two more Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidya (KGBV) residential schools etc. were brought up in the above meeting. 

The assessment programme were participated by Dr.Binota Meinam, Chairperson Manipur State Commission for Women, Krishna Kumar. DC/Chandel, N.Madhunimai Singh, SP/Chandel, Bantee Konthoujam Joint Director, Social Welfare Dept., Manipur. DLOs of Chandel and NGOs. 

The assessment programme was successfully organised by District Administration, Chandel and held at Conference Hall, DC Office. Chandel District.

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Saturday, 19 October 2019 17:16

An Introspection to the Shirui Lily Festival

Over 30,000 tourists – both foreign and domestic visited the Shirui Lily Festival, being organised by the state government for the third time. This is a record stated by Commissioner of  Tourism Government of Manipur while addressing in the closing function held today at TNL Ground in Ukhrul district Head Quarter. She also stated that the number is double from last year , which indicate that the number of visitors in next Shirui festival may be more and People in Ukhrul have to prepare for their stay.
Today the much anticipated extravaganza conceptualized to preserve the only flower Shirui Lily that bloom only in the Shirui Hill of Ukhrul district besides showcasing and promoting the diverse socio-cultural heritage and the rich traditional wealth of the state will be concluded. The best part is that Internationally acclaimed rock band “Extreme” is performing today evening.
That the State Government spared no expenses and efforts to make an impression to the visiting tourists would be an understatement. Most places of Ukhrul district particularly the Ukhrul town were witnessed transformed within an incredibly short span of time into one which can compared to any other mid-sized or tier II cities in the country- well almost, with the support of the people.
Despite the best efforts and undoubtedly noble intentions which had made tremendous improvements in the public facilities and certain infrastructures, a closer look into the activities brings to light various clear indications of the haphazard and rushed nature of it all. With the kind of booms the state need a lot to take up in Ukhrul district .
If previous instances are any indications, we will be seeing a change in inertia and a visible drop in enthusiasm making the whole efforts an exercise in futility. The incredible potential for attracting tourism in the State has been well known and even documented. From the enchanting misty mountains to the incredibly beautiful ethnic handiworks and crafts, from the inherently hospitable people to the excellent climatic condition, the unbelievably beautiful and mysterious caves and lakes- this small state has it all, and in no small measures.
This naturally endowed land has been wasted and neglected for centuries, our inability to see the big picture, occupied as we are in finding ways to secure our own personal lives through means fair or foul being the main reason. With the air connectivity with our neighboring Asian countries a reality now, it would be an act of utter foolishness not to cash in on the euphoria and enthusiasm such a development has created. Without going into the details of the nitty-gritty of tourism and it’s pros and cons, it is an undeniable truth that with proper planning, timely and effective checks and due diligence, tourism would only improve the economy, change the perceptions of the local people towards the visitors and their way of life, adopt a more tolerant view of things and most importantly help in propagating our cultures and traditions throughout the world.
For all these to happen, basic infrastructures and basic amenities must be put in place and make the whole state a tourist friendly one. A lot more needs to be done to be where we want this State to be from where we are now. Only a dedicated, committed and sustained effort can make things possible. Working in fits and starts will get us nowhere.

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Achoubi in Love is a documentary film
    by Meena Longjam on the theme of
    protection of indigenous ponies, and it was screened at Mass Communication Department of Manipur University on 11th October, 2019. She conceived the idea after witnessing a dead pony on the road in a horrific condition. It broke her heart, she cried that night, even wrote a poem, and then decided to make a documentary on it to bring the attention towards the conservation of this endangered species. No doubt, the inspiration came from the right place of compassion, but, while in the process, the film seemed to have shifted its focus from the ponies to the humans. What started as a project to center the ponies in the conversation, became a glorified sympathizer for humans, pushing the ponies aside.
The only time that the film focused on the ponies was a few clips where it showed dead ponies on the road with flies on them. It was just a random shock value without any reality check or focus on how did the ponies end up there.
The film revolved around Achoubi, an old woman, who “owned” ponies because she was fascinated with and passionate about ponies and horse riding. It showed Achoubi conducting various rituals for ponies as humans do for other humans. This and other acts of humanization of nonhuman animals (here, ponies) were praised and glorified without delving deeper into its ills and wrongs. Moreover, the film also failed to highlight the selected humanization of a few ponies that only added values to human desires, be it for passion or polo. Apart from humanization, one can also see the meitei feminization of ponies in the official poster of the film where a pony was dressed as a meitei woman. Even the filmmaker said during the post-screening discussion that she was fascinated by how Achoubi “treated her ponies as humans.”
It celebrated the same old outdated idea of mirroring the dominant community for the marginalized community to be treated with respect. Moreover, the film did not show the other side of the humanization of nonhuman animals - how it harmed the ponies and the limits of humanization.
 There was no mention of harms and health hazards or casualties caused to ponies because of using them in sports like polo or horse riding, carrying a whole load of a human body and continuously being ridden for hours with braces on their head. Another avenue it left unexplored was about those ponies that were not beneficial for polo or horse riding. What happened to the ponies that were considered unfit or no more fit for polo or horse riding? If the concern was protection of ponies, then why so many ponies, except for the ones used for polo or horse riding, were stranded on the road? If the love for ponies existed only because of their association with the sports or regardless of the human desires to use them? These were a few questions that the film failed to touch upon.
 While there were mentions of ponies dying on the roads as a result of eating plastic and garbage, it did not explore how did these ponies end up there. The lack of sanctuaries, urbanization, and unavailability of grasses that the ponies could eat was in a few clips but it never went beyond mentions. It also did not touch upon the facts that while some ponies were humanized, the same were animalized (treated like “animals”) during horse riding or on the polo ground. The rest of the ponies not in polo or not humanized at home for various human desires, were still victims of their animal status.
On the contrary, the film laid its focus on the passion and obsession of humans on owning and riding ponies and playing polo. The toxicity of this passion and obsession on ponies was hidden under the garb of human’s love for the ponies. While the film explored the financial difficulties of Achoubi and difficulties she and other humans faced taking care of the ponies, it missed the part of how it impacted the ponies.
On top of it, the focus was extended to how polo had put Manipur on a global platform and its promotion by the government without actually addressing the harms caused to the ponies by the lack of relevant government projects and the irrelevant government (developmental) projects. In its entirety, the film made a reference of ponies yet the ponies and their issues were absent.
 This was pretty evident when the post-screening discussion had an echoing celebration of Achoubi’s passion and diligence. The idea born out of care and compassion for ponies ended up in addressing the interest and struggle of humans in most of the parts. Maybe due to lack of research or maybe not. As a result, the story conceived from the right place was lost in its transition from inspiration to execution.

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My uncle Ningthoujam Binoybhusan (who had left us all for heavenly abode), was a man of typical character who always wanted everyone to be happy with his words of humours, took me to meet his girl friend. That time I may be just around 6 or 7 years old but rare incidents or events happened during childhood still continue to live in my memories. From the place where I was staying, Singjamei Chingamakha is just around 1o minutes cycle ride. Renowned Theatre director cum artist Ghanashyam Kshetri (late) was his best friend those days and they together would roam most time to find their life partner. I was like a doll to them and they would prefer taking me to their bicycle most time. My aunty whom he made his life partner stayed at a place in Singjamei along with her father. The two of them communicate with just by looking at each other and myself being a small kid don’t have anyproblem going near to my uncle’s girlfriend. I recalled this because I still remember that it was Singju that connect them. One day my aunty would called me and handed me a well pack Singju  for my uncle and his friend and another day my uncle would asked me to pass a well packed Singju bought from my Leikai. Keishamthong Elangbam Leikai here in Imphal, the place where my father shifted and settled, was once known for the best SINGJU. Originally family is from a far flung Village , around 60 km but took around 4 hours to reach due to dilapidated road condition. The situation however is different today, some of my brothers used to attend office here in Imphal by staying at my village (Kakching Khunou).  
It’s nearly forty years and the trend of Singju being the bridge of love bond between boys and girls are history now. Youths of today may not know the significance of SINGJU between relationships of boys and girls , even during my teenage I had never share Singju with my beloved wife when we date before getting married.
 Well, R.K. Shyamsunder, a retired govt. employee, now around 80 years old, narrated on how the old lady at Kwakeithel Heinoukhongnembi prepared Singju, on his first date with Jashumati, his wife.
“Those days, there were no restaurants, dating with girl friends were done at the side of small “Lukmai” (small vendor run by old ladies) and Singju is the best item we enjoyed most”, Shyamsunder said recalling his youth days.
Like Shyamsunder, Singju is associated to the love life of almost all boys and girls of his age. These days Singju has been replaced by chicken chowmen, momo, fried rice etc etc. which are not our indigenous food.
Singju is a typical traditional snacks or dish. It is a mix-vegetable salad type items and in still popular among the people of the state, if not an item anymore for dating between boys and girls.
The taste of Singju from locality to locality is different. There were times, when youths roamed from place to place to taste the different variety of Singju.
Days are gone and not many Lukmai run by old ladies are seen, as it has been replaced by mushrooming Restaurants where boys and girls can date. Because of the dying culture, youths of today may not be aware of the kind of Singju varieties.
In December 2017 an organisation called “Singju Yokhat Lup” formed by a group of likeminded youths which works for promotion of this Manipuri Traditional food item organizing a unique festival called “Singju Festival” at Lamdeng Makha Leikai ground in Lamshang Assembly constituency.
In this 12 days festival, the organizing committee is inviting all special ‘Singju’ makers sure that any visitor can experience the taste of varieties of ‘Singju’.
Convenor of the Festival committee, Rakesh Naorem deserves all credit for his effort to remind today’s generation that for some of us our parent secret meeting was all possible by Singju.

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