Saturday, 09 May 2020 - Imphal Times

IT News
Imphal, May 9:
Amidst the arrangement made by the State Government to bring back the people who have been stranded due to the lockdown imposed by the Government to fight the COVID-19 pandemic in India, many Manipuris stranded in Mumbai have started returning back to Manipur in privately arranged vehicle.
The 36 people including 16 Cancer patients departed Mumbai in a bus and an ambulance. The 3200kms long journey will transit through Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Assam, and Nagaland.
The 16 Cancer patients were undergoing treatment at Tata Memorial Hospital and were stuck at Mumbai due to the sudden lockdown imposed by the Government to curb the spread of COVID-19 and were facing many problems like shortage of food and  money. Out of the 16 Cancer patients, 14 have already finished their treatment and were waiting for the lockdown to be relaxed, but were shattered by the extension of the lockdown. In light of all the difficulties being faced by them in Mumbai, the 36 people took the collective decision to leave Mumbai using their own pocket money instead of waiting for intervention from the Government.

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IT News
Imphal, May 9:
Lifting of PDS rice, allocated for the month of May, 2020, began with Ukhrul District lifting 992.35 quintal under National Food Security Act (NFSA) for its Chingai Assembly Constituency (A/C) and Thoubal District lifting 2051.30 quintal under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) for its Wangjing Tentha A/C on 7th May, 2020. PDS rice of 50 quintal under Open Market Sale Scheme (OMSS) was also lifted for Wangjing Tentha A/C on the same day.
PDS rice under NFSA, PMGKAY and OMSS allocated to 60 A/Cs of the State is being lifted from several FCI Godowns located at various parts of the State. The lifted rice is for distribution to the beneficiaries of the State to ensure uninterrupted supply of food grains, specially rice, during the ongoing lockdown to contain outbreak of COVID-19,
In Imphal West District, there was lifting of a total quantity of 5,618.1 quintal of rice under PMGKAY for three Assembly Constituencies (A/Cs) today .The lifted rice consisted of 1459.05 quintal for Keishamthong A/C, 2,270.7 quintal for Lamsang A/C and 1,888.35 quintal for Mayang Imphal A/C. With today’s lifting the three A/Cs had completely lifted its allocated quantity under PMGKAY.
Bishnupur District too reported lifting of 136.60 quintal of rice under NFSA from Sangaiprou FCI godown for its Nambol A/C today. There was also lifting of 1307.40 quintal of rice under NFSA for Nungba A/C of Noney District from FCS Godown, Sangaiprou.
Distribution of PDS rice was also carried out at certain districts of the State. In Thoubal District, 2051.30 quintal of rice under PMGKAY and 50 quintal under OMSS was distributed to the beneficiaries of Wangjing Tentha A/C today. There was distribution of 50 quintal of rice under OMSS to the migrant workers in Imphal West District.   

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IT News
Mumbai/Pune, May 9:
The professors of Industrial Training Institute (ITI), Pune (Maharashtra)  have developed a robot at low cost under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dream project “Skill India” to help health workers engaged in fighting deadly COVID-19.
 The robot designed at a cost of Rs.50,000/- is being used in Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Hospital (SVPH), Pune where around 33 patients are under treatment. Once charged, the battery operated robot remains operational for 8 hours and reaches meals, water, medicines etc up to the patient. The medicines, meals and other material is placed in a tray fitted to the robot. The robot can be sent to the patients by a remote control. This automatically ensures social distancing and also gives relief to hospital staff.
It is fitted with a finder camera, two way communication microphone and speaker, so that the doctors can communicate with patients. The robot is sanitised after every use. SVPH Chief V. D. Gaikwad said that this robot was prepared by a team of two professors led by ITI Principal Vijay Chauhan within a week, after constantly working for 10 to 12 hours per day on the project. The idea came from students of the ITI, Pune. The skill development department canl certainly consider promoting this robot, he added.
As per the information provided by ITI officials here, ITI, Cuttack (Odisha) has also developed two robots to combat COVID-19. The cost of each robot is in the region of Rs.2.5 lakh. These robots can save health workers from the infectious virus and reduce the need for personal protective equipment. In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, ITI, Cuttak had constituted an innovation team that developed these robots in its laboratory, in association with SAK Robotics Lab, a start-up.
One of the two robots is a service robot, named CO-BOT (Corona Combat Robot), which can move on wheels and has a humanoid structure. Its hand-like structures can hold a tray and carry a load up to 20 kg. This robots can be used in COVID-19 hospitals for carrying food, water and medicines to and from patients. The wireless communication protocols being used to control the robot can be further programmed with navigation and mapping to make them work autonomously in a hospital ward.
The second one, named NIGA-BOT, is a tele-presence robot which can be used for surveillance and tele-consultation by doctors who can interact remotely with patients through live video-streaming. This robot is also enabled with a wheeled mobile platform and has an interactive device for video calling. It can be used by health workers who have to make several rounds to the patients’ beds for monitoring their health. This will protect the doctors and nurses from contracting the virus during such interactions.

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IT News
Churachandpur, May 9:
The Paite Relief Committee for COVID-19( PRC-19) provided relief materials to 463 family members of migrant workers who are living in a very economically backward condition in Churachandpur town yesterday at Young Paite Association ,YPA ,Hall located at Hiangtam Lamka.
The 104 families comprising of 25 Bengali Hindus, 11 Bengali Muslim, 53 Bihari and 15  Nepalis totaling 463  in all were provided rice at a very nominal rate of 3 kgs per head of family members.
The migrant workers in this area earn money by taking up works like hair cutting, cobbling, selling of sugarcane juices, pan shops, selling ice creams, variety shops, dustman and are facing extreme economic problems as they cannot carry their normal activities due to the ongoing lockdown.
The PRC-19 leaders assured the migrant workers that they will come to their help in the days to come as and when it is required.

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IT News
Mumbai, May 9:
Nearly 569 Maharashtra policemen, including 7 officers and 480 constables and some jail inmates , have tested positive for COVID-19 ,who are being treated at various hospitals in the state. So far, five policemen have died due to the virus.
 Maharashtra jail authorities said that 72 inmates, an under trial and two prison guards and 7 staff members, have tested positive for COVID-19 at Mumbai Central Prison, triggering fears of a possible infection hotspot.
All infected were shifted to GT Hospital and St George Hospital in guarded vehicles on Friday morning while staff members were shifted separately. Besides, as many as 150 others, including over 15 staffers and senior prison officials who came in close proximity with the infected people,  have undergone tests.
Since the lockdown, there had been 189 incidents of assault on policemen in which 73 personnel and a home guard sustained injuries. Besides around 30 health professionals were  attacked, the official said adding at least 683 persons were arrested for these attacks.
Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said that 487 policemen have tested COVID-19 positive in the state ever since the nationwide lockdown, which was imposed on 24 March and was extended till 17 May to contain the spread of coronavirus.
The Maharashtra Police have registered at least 96,231 offences so far under section 188 of the IPC for violation of lockdown-related norms and arrested 18,858 people. The IPC section 188 deals with disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant.
Police have registered 1,281 offences of illegal transport and seized 53,330 vehicles which had come on roads in violation of lockdown rules and a fine of Rs 3.56 crore was collected from violators by the police for various offences during this period.

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IT Correspondent
Mumbai, May 9:
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Friday issued notices to the Maharashtra chief secretary and Aurangabad district magistrate after a cargo train ran over migrant labourers and killed 16 of them.
The human rights panel took a suo motu cognisance of media reports about the incident. The migrants had fallen asleep on the track while they were walking back to their home from Jalna in Maharashtra to Madhya Pradesh. The accident took place at 5.15 am near Karmad, around 30 km from Aurangabad.
 The commission directed the officers to submit a detailed report about the incident within four weeks. “It should also include details of the steps taken by the state and the district authorities to provide food, shelter and other basic amenities to the poor people, especially the migrant labourers, who are facing extreme difficulties from every angle,” the NHRC said in a statement. “The details of the relief and rehabilitation provided to the victim labourers and their dependents along with status of the medical treatment provided to the injured is also required to be given in the report.”
While the incident was an accident, the NHRC observed that it could have been averted if “some arrangements been made for their shelter or halt during their tiring journey”.
The accident occurred even as the loco pilot of the cargo train honked the horn as soon as he noticed the group of people on the rail tracks and also made all possible efforts to stop the train, the railway ministry said. The South Central Railway has ordered a high-level inquiry headed by the commissioner of railway safety to investigate the matter.
 ”Apparently, the affected persons had gathered along the track under the impression that the train services were suspended due to COVID-19 lock down.,” Chief Commissioner of Railway Safety Shailesh Pathak said his letter  to Railway Board Chairperson V K Yadav.
Furthermore, false sense of security may have come to their minds about there being no trains on run, whereas freight, parcel specials have already been running and now migrant specials “Shramik Express have also started plying.”
The safety commissioner has directed that henceforth a “caution order” will have to be given to ensure special precautions. “Under such circumstances, as an abundant precaution, it is essential that all railway personnel connected with train operation, maintenance and patrolling activities should be cautioned to immediately communicate any such occurrence of persons walking along the track, if noticed by them, to the nearest station so that necessary  caution alert can be passed on” he added.

Published in News
Saturday, 09 May 2020 18:59

Road to unity

The state, as is in every other part of the country is experiencing lockdown at present, and while we are much better off compared to most other states of country having to engage their resources and efforts to fighting the worsening Covid-19 pandemic, the importance of self-sufficiency has again been felt, perhaps more acute than ever before. Instances of villages in far-flung corners of the state struggling with essential daily needs in face of the extended lockdown imposed by the central government has been getting worse by the day. While 72 percent of the population of the country lives in the villages and rural areas, the situation is quite the opposite in Manipur with about 90 percent of the state’s population scrambling for space in the valley comprising about 10 percent of total area of the state. The situation appears rather tragic when one learns that of the 10 percent staying in far flung places of the state, almost half of them have great difficulty connecting with the state capital. We have heard heart-wrenching stories about how half of the people from Tipaimukh have never been to Imphal, not because of lack of desire, but for the fact that the road, or what has been passed off for a road for so long, is taken only by those who absolutely must have to go to Imphal. The Imphal-Jiri road is always in the news, with pictures to try and drive home the unsavoury ground reality that is still being experienced by the commuters and hundreds of transport trucks on a daily basis.
The importance of roads in ushering in progress and development of a place has been so frequently written about, but still remains a topic that needs more writing and reporting about. Rural Road connectivity is a key component of rural development by promoting access to economic and social services and thereby generating increased agricultural incomes and productive employment opportunities. It is also a key ingredient in ensuring poverty reduction. In fact road connectivity is the most important project that should precede any other socially or economically progressive plans or infrastructural developmental activities. Roads connect not only vehicles but also hearts. One of the factors for the lingering suspicions and hesitations being felt amongst the various communities living in the state which has so far posed a stumbling block to the efforts of bringing about a consensus in various vital social issues has been the utter lack of cooperation and coordination amongst the communities. This is basically the fallout of the absence of decent roads which would have made frequent and easier access to different places possible. When people from different communities and walks of life comes together more frequently, ideas and perceptions gets accepted more readily and positively. In fact increasing interaction amongst the different communities is vital to foster healthy arguments and also to address differences which otherwise would lead to cynicism, suspicions and objections.
For now, the state government has been proactively engaging in providing lip-service and verbiage without anything much to show for it when it comes to matters regarding expansion of road connectivity in the state, let alone repairing or upgrading the existing ones to be able to withstand the vagaries of nature.
In stark contrast to the promises of the state government, conditions of roads in the state, even in the capital has been deteriorating except for a few select ones which has been bestowed unofficial special status for reasons best known only to the high and mighty. If every other efforts of the state government to usher in inclusive progress is to take shape, the people needs to be united first, and only an improved connectivity and roadways can open new roads, figuratively and practically speaking, can make it happen.

Published in Editorial
Saturday, 09 May 2020 18:58


By Dr.Aniruddha Babar,
Tetso College, Dimapur
    Sheela woke up from deep slumber with a noise of an alarm and realized it’s already 7. She reached her hands to catch hold of her mobile. There was no Good Morning message on Whatsapp. Yawning she rubbed her eyes with her hands and kept the mobile back on her bedside table. She blinked her eyes for a moment and started looking at the fan hanging from the decorated ceiling spinning in a rhythm. “Life has been volatile; it was very difficult to adjust with the new reality that came upon me when Ramos took his last breath”. Sheela was getting nostalgic. “Sweety was not even a year old, she never had the opportunity to experience a father’s love and care, I had to play both the roles at young age of 20. From a small ‘Roadside eatery’ to ‘Chain of Restaurants’ I came a long way in 30 years. A lonely journey of victories and defeats was too much. There are countless unhealed wounds and longings”. Clouds of thoughts started gathering in her mind.
    Sheela Fernandez was born in a Sao Jacinto Island, a small village located in Mormugao Taluka of South Goa districtin a catholic Christian family. Her father was a fisherman who spent his life in drinking and gambling. When he died, both Sheela and her mother were relieved. Sheela neither liked nor ever respected her father because of his drinking habits and abusive behaviour with her mother who was compelled to be the sole breadwinner of family. While riding through difficult curves of life she fell in love with Ramos Saghoji, son of a rich Civil Contractor from Cansaulim village. Nobody in vicinity liked Ramos because of his character. Though he was strong, handsome, educated and intelligent, he had other side too, he was a well-known womaniser, but Sheela never bothered, nor Ramos ever failed to prove his love for her. Whether Sheela really loved Ramos was a question that even Sheela could not have answered because somewhere deep inside her mind she knew that she wanted to escape from the clutches of poverty and for that she needed a saviour. Despite stiff opposition from his family Sheela and Ramos got married, subsequently his parents; though reluctantly, accepted Sheela as their Daughter-In-Law, however Sheela knew so well that her ‘roots’ had already built an unbreakable wall between her and in-laws. Within a year of marriage Sheela gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, but her happiness did not survive longer. One fateful evening, when Sheela and Ramos were taking an evening walk Ramos had sudden heart attack and he died on the spot. Sheela’s world changed completely. Ramos left her leaving behind Sweety in her delicate arms. As expected, her in-laws rejected Sheela and her daughter completely. They never saw her beauty nor did they ever recognize her character or manners and dedication to the family, what they saw was her ‘caste’. Sheela was a daughter of fisherman, the stigma of which has followed throughout her life.  
    Her lone struggle to survive started with the confiscation of her small house and cow by moneylender who was yet to recover money which her drunkard father loaned from him. Seeing shelter disappearing above her head Sheela soon moved to Mumbai with sweety and old mother to test her ‘stars’ where she discovered commercial value of her culinary skills. With little money in hands and support of mother she set up small street-side eatery where delicious Goan style Fish Fry would be served in affordable price. Poverty was nothing new to Sheela but she had never been outside of Goa. Crowded streets of Mumbai often made her nervous and fearful. Poverty of rich Mumbai dwindled her soul. She knew she had to fight with this cruel city to survive. After she finishes with her work, she would often sit silently at night in her ten by ten rental room at Anandnagar slum area thinking about her painful past and uncertain future.
    As days pass bySheela’s financial condition improved. Sweety now started going to municipality school. Money was coming in from her newly opened small roadside Dhaba, now there was nothing to worry about ‘survival’. However, there was still something missing in Sheela’s life. She has long forgotten Ramos, but she could not forget the memories of ‘those’ delicate moments that they created together. She was a human too-a woman with blood, flesh and ‘hunger’. All these years in Mumbai she never allowed herself to get entangled in emotional relationship with any man. Mumbai failed to destroy physical charm of Sheela. She was still the same who won heart of a womaniser. Hundreds of men of all ages approached her but she kept denying their advances. Tired souls left her after failed attempts except one –‘Kachroo Bhangi’. He was a peculiar character. He was about 5ft tall, fair with thin, malnourished physique. Kachroo was half blind. His one eye got damaged while cleaning one of the ‘Gutters’ of Mumbai. Kachroo was one of the contractual labourers working for sanitation department of Bombay Municipal Corporation (BMC). Kachroo always wanted to be helpful to Sheela. Like a small child he would roam around her tall and hefty figure. Sheela too liked Kachroo for his innocence, honest and hardworking nature. Every morning before going to work Kachroo would take his old bicycle and go to wholesale fish market to buy fish stock for a day and some vegetables, then he would open wooden gate of Dhaba and start washing-cleaning-cutting, boiling, frying- fish, vegetables, rice and also prepare dough for rotis. By 8’o clock in the morning he would leave for work. In the evening Kachroo would attend B.A. lectures in Siddharth College at Fort. Kachroo was proud of his college, not only because it was set up by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, but also because its doors are open for an ‘out caste’ man like him who would go, sit in class with torn clothes and naked feet. His father would often tell him, “kachriya, study, study hard, become someone like Babasaheb”. Illiterate “JhanguBhangi” had only one dream- to see Kacharoo-his only son becoming a ‘Badaa Saab’. While on his death bed “Jhangu Bhangi’ told Kacharoo to not to waste money on ‘Last Rites’ but use them to buy books. “Kachariya, after I am gone burn my body thinking that you are burning a waste, don’t waste money, use paisa to buy books Kachariya, buy books and study”. Sheela mourned on death of Jhangu Bhangi. Her emotions for now orphan Kachroo became stronger.
    Sheela often liked to see Kachroo studying. She herself studied till class five. Kachroo also used to help Sweety in her studies. Gradually he became a part of Sheela’s life. They would not talk much but Sheela knew that Kachroo liked her as a woman. With Kachroo’s dedicated help her business was running good. He never asked a single paisa nor ever expected words of gratitude from her. Sheela would often find him lost in his own world. With cold silence on lips, his thin, malnourished body would work tirelessly to survive.
    She often used to wonder as to why Kachroo never spoke about other women. She often used to think as to why young man like him should remain single and for how long. Kachroo’s college was also coming to an end. One night as usual after finishing his college lectures, he came to Sheela’s place to teach Sweety. “Kachroo, when will you marry re”? Sheela asked. Kachroo looked at her and burst into laughter, “BaaiJii, my salary goes to one time food and study, from where will I feed ‘Gharwali’, poor man like me has no right to love or marry, see no clothes too”. Sadness in his eyes was deeply nauseatic for Sheela who herself was fighting battle to survive.”I want to study more and more books to become like Babasaheb Ambedkar, I don’t want to die cleaning ‘shit’ of this city”, words of embers were coming out of Kachroo’s small mouth. A five feet tall malnourished man was challenging a system that compelled him to do dirtiest job in the world. Sheela smiled. “Will you remember me when you become Bada Saab Kachroo”?  Their conversation abruptly stopped as Police entered Sheela’s room.
    “Kya re, are you Kachroo Bhangi”?
    “Hasaab, Kachroo Bhangi”, ! replied Kachroo folding his hands.
    “Take him, Sala Bhangi. Chor”. Inspector shouted.
    Two constables came forward to catch hold of Kachroo. Seeing them Kachroo started rolling on floor at their feet crying for mercy. Seeing this Sheela shouted furiously at police but they did not listen to her. “Saab, I did not do anything, my exam is coming saab, don’t take me I am not a thief, saab my books, my books”. Kachroo’s words were hitting on deaf ears of inhabitants of Anandnagar. Kachroo was taken away. “YOU come only for people like us, we are illiterate, poor. Anyone can Come and take us”. Sheela shouted looking at Police Jeep going away. After that incident nobody heard anything about Kachroo except news that came after couple of years that he was awarded 3 years of imprisonment for theft. People sunk in darkness of poverty; illiteracy and struggle to survive cannot do much except seeing their brethren disappearing in the quicksand of injustice.”Dying becomes living” for some unfortunate souls in this unfair world.
    However, time did not stop. Sheela’s business was gradually expanding. After Kachroo’s arrest she truly became lonely and helpless, moreover, her only support her mother died too. However, by this time Sheela bought one old restaurant from a Bankrupt owner. It was biggest risk she took all alone. She invested every paisa that she earned all those years in this new project; however, due to her hard work she started it running successfully. With this new fortune she bought new 2 BHK flat at Versova. Sheela was experiencing fruits of her honesty, commitment and dedication towards her business.”
    In all these years, she never allowed sweety to help her. She kept her daughter far away from the practical hardships that she faced. Sweety was given everything by her mother, her every need, requirement was fulfilled. Now Sweety started studying in new English medium convent school. Sheela was happy that she never disappointed her as she always found her daughter’s name in top ten rank holders of school. Meanwhile Sheela also started to learn reading and writing English properly. Her night routine now completely changed. She stopped thinking about past and worrying about future. After her dinner, she would take dictionary, newspaper and start copying news with pen on a plain paper for hours. Kachroo’s memories have become her inspiration.
    With a takeover of ‘Golden Desert Bar and Restaurant’ – an international brand, Sheela Fernandez became one of the most powerful hoteliers in city of Mumbai. Her interviews started coming in Newspapers, she started to be invited by various Hotel Management institutes for expert talk. Sweety was then studying to become a Barrister in England. Sheela recently constructed new Bungalow, a news of which was kept a surprise for her daughter. She named her Bungalow by the official name of sweety “Cynthia”. “Cynthia’s Villa” became symbol of three decades of struggle of Sheela. Entire past was moving on before her eyes like a movie; Sheela’s mind got entangled in different scale of time and space.
    Mobile started ringing. Sheela suddenly woke up from her deep nostalgia; all drenched in sweat.
    “Mom, I called you thrice, are you still sleeping”? WAKE UP !
    “Sweety, I am sorry Baccha, say, how are you? Enjoying Switzerland”?
    “Yaa Ma, too good, next time we both will go together okay”?
    “alright alright, please take good care of your health and enjoy”.
    “Okies, Buh Bye”.
    Sheela kept mobile in her drawer, adjusted wraps of her nighty and tied her hairs.
    “Come on, you successfully sailed through storms, get up its morning baby; sunshine is waiting for you”, she mumbled to herself with a loud laughter.
    Sheela was so happy when Sweety accepted marriage proposal of Rishi- a young writer and Professor. “My Baccha has now become a part of highly educated and cultured family.” she lost in thoughts as she sits on commode. Even though she was missing her daughter, Sheela became happier and a content woman. After Sweety’s marriage sheela thought all her hardships and struggles finally bore fruits. Newly painted walls of her Bungalow reminded her of sweety’s passion for colours. “I am sure her children will inherit her passion”, Sheela mumbled to herself.
    Now Sheela wants to pursue her own passions. She wants to travel, wear sexy dresses, spend money on herself and write. She wants to do everything that she could not afford to do all her life. Her Business has now been safe in the hands of her daughter and top executives. Sheela once thought of retiring, but she knew that her work has become part and parcel of her life. “I will have to live with this” she said aloud while looking at her reflection in a mirror.
    “Kachroo, poor fellow, how could I forget his face when police was dragging him like animal, what might have become of him, he never returned home.  Why am I thinking about him now? Do I still miss him? Yes I do. Do I still like him? Yes I do. Do I still love him? I think yes, I do. I think I loved only one man in my life, Ramos had my body; Kachroo became part of my ever burning Soul. ‘Baaiji, keep your keys, I am going to work, your ‘Maal’ is ready in kitchen’, his words are still echoing in my ears.”
    God knows where he is now. I wish I could hug him and tell him, “Kachroo, Aee Kachroo re, your BaaiJee can now read, write and speak English ek dum gori Memsaab type”.Sheela smiled, walked out of her bedroom and the door behind her shut with a bang.

Published in Guest Column

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