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Sanjenbam Jugeshwor Singh

Sanjenbam Jugeshwor Singh

Sanjenbam Jugeshwor Singh is a regular contributor of Imphal Times. Presently, he is teaching Mathematics at NIELIT. Jugeshwor can be reached at: [email protected] Or WhatsApp’s No: 9612891339.

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VIP Culture in India

     India’s VIP culture forget Abraham Lincoln’s definition of democracy-”Government of the People, by the People, for the People”. What is telling about the directive is the VIP mentality that has become part of the DNA of India’s ruling elite. Contrary to the famous definition of Lincoln’s democracy; India has a government of VIPs, by VIPs and for VIPs. They do what they can, the people suffer what they must. In the heyday of European empires, colonial masters ruled imperiously over conquered subjects. During the British raj, class system fused seamlessly with India’s caste system to entrench social divisions even more rigidity. A simple google search of 15th August 1947 would show clippings of newspapers with headlines such as “British of India’s Freedom” “Nation Wakes to New Life” etc. There is no doubt that it was a historic day for this country but, was it true freedom? After independence, India proudly declared itself a “Sovereign, Democratic, Republic” and added the word “Socialist” in the Constitution .The central tenet of the four words taken together –”Sovereign ,Democratic, Socialist, Republic” is the sovereignty of the people; Politicians and officials are their servants. But as in other self-described socialist and communist paradises India’s ruling elite capturedall the privileges while the disempowered populace was saddled with poverty, scarcity and general misery.
      The more that the quality of public services (health, education, and infrastructures) decayed and institutions were degraded and corrupted, the greater was the distance between the lifestyle of the closed circle of the elite and ordinary citizens. Inevitably this morphed into the VIP culture that Indians by and large detest with depth of contempt, anger and resentment that is difficult for foreigners to fathom. We are told that invaders ransacked the country, exploited the natives, and discriminated against the people on the basis of color and inflicted many atrocities on innocent people. But aren’t the majority of people being exploited even today? It was easy to identify Britishers as they were outsiders and remained outsiders. But how do we identify our own people who are working against us? Are they even our “own” people? Do they see us as fellow citizens or just a number to be exploited? When some of them sit in the Parliament/state Assemblies, do they understand the responsibility of their position or are they just interested in abusing power? Aren’t they violating the fundamental Right to Equality by getting excessive preferential treatment as VIPs? Aren’t Executive&Bureaucrat officers paid by the taxes collected from us?
      I get so amazed when I see people fighting and abusing each other or even strangers, just because they have a different opinion. But I wonder how is it that they fail to see that it hardly matters which part is in power because it is the public which bears the brunt of policies geared to suit certain vested interests. When people are fed up of one Government because of corruption, they vote for another party. But what they fail to realize is that if policies are geared to exploit the general public and poor people that could also be termed corruption. But just because it is passed as law, it is tacitly deemed acceptable. For instance, there are practices in the Indian parliament even today which are discriminatory and despite the issue being raised by multiple channels, nothing is being done to stop it.In all the Airports of Indiathere are separate VIP entrance gate for so called VIPs but for everyone else there is a small narrow gate where they are frisked roughly and everything they bring is put under scanner. There is nothing wrong in putting security measures in place but why is it selective and why aren’t these so called VIPs frisked? Is it possible that those who discriminate and take advantage of the VIP culture think of their country before themselves? How is it possible? I am shocked that instead of asking the right questions, people follow such leaders blindly and fail to see that it is the rotten system that has held back the country. How would the society find solutions to its problems unless it refuses to identify them in the first place? I understand that it is not only politicians and government officials who are answerable but also the general public as there is a huge chunk of population which does not think about the country at all. When one witnesses someone spitting on the road, taking bribes, abusing others or showing lack of respect, it is so evident that this is the excuse that people in power use to continue the status quo by saying that these people can force and not by a civilized administration. Ultimately, we need to ask one question. Is this kind of society we want or do we actually want to develop? Till when will we go on ignoring things? This is India, that’s how it happens here, nothing can happen, nothing will change! Till when will we keep on saying this? Aren’t Indians humans? Isn’t it our responsibility to contribute to the growth of the country? Is it too much to ask to behave respectfully and follow traffic rules, not liter, urinate or spit on the roads? Is it too much to think for yourself and not follow people blindly? When will we focus on things that matter? When will we learn to speak up and speak the truth? When will we realize that democracy means responsibility and not abusing the freedom we get? The day we become aware and responsible, may be then we will realize that VIP culture needs to go and it should start from the top.
     There is something demeaning about the idea of VIPs, something inherently undemocratic. It militates against the idea of equality for the simple reason that it makes some citizens inferior to others. When red beacons and police protection become status differentiators and they come at the cost of the dignity of the ordinary citizen, there’s reason enough to challenge the idea and trip it apart. There can be no argument that some people deserve special treatment. However, it’s conveniently forgotten that the treatment is reserved only for the special offices they hold, not for the individuals per se. In India, just about everybody, who’s anybody is protected. The list is impressive indeed: Politicians, Ministers, bureaucrats, judges, spiritual leaders, criminals and even the kin of the leaders. Let me point out that the problem has become an endemic and a part of our political culture. Let’s stop CHORON THERAPY to  those who knelt down  and touched our feet at the time of election as PM Modi said in his Mann Ki Baat about new India that we should nurture EPI( Every Person is Important) not VIPs .

No School bag day in Manipur

It is great to learn that on 3rd September2019 Government of Manipur Secretariat: Education(S) Department issued an office Memorandum No-29/22/2019-SE(S) Misc.; that every working Saturday should be “NO SCHOOL BAG DAY” for all students from class I to VIII in all schools of Manipur.It’s great initiative but there are still miles to go to completely remove the heavy burden carried by our children.Why? Doctors say, carrying heavy school bags cause neck and back pain, shoulder strain and fatigue amongst other. Because when they carry a heavy bag what they do is they tend to bend down too much and they look little short, otherwise it will have not much of effect. When a backpack is too heavy, the body will have to compensate by tilting forward to counter the effect of gravity. This will alter the alignment of the child’s posture and increase the strain on the spine. It is said that school children’s backpack should not exceed more than 10% of their body weight. Research has proven that carrying heavy school bags will have adverse impact on students’ health as they enter into adulthood. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons recommends students to carry only 10% of their body weight. For instance, if a child weighs 20kg, then the child should carry only around 2kg of weight. Children use backpacks every day to get their books back and forth from the school. Many students carry larger school bags with excessive weight. Some parents help carry the school bags, most carry on their own. Much has changed in the school for the better of our students. Ways of teaching and learning have changed. School environments have also transformed to absorb the changes in teaching and the learning. Despite these changes, one thing has remained unchanged that is the excessive weights of school bags that our students lug to their schools. It is common sigh to see students carrying school bags that are unnecessarily heavy that often larger than their backs. Scientific studies offer a range of adverse implications on students, as they grow into adulthood from carrying heavy school bags. It is time that parents andpolicy makers also understand both the short-and long term impacts as reported in these studies, because our students carry their bags from home to school and back, six days a week, nine months a year, for thirteen years of their developmental period.
    Some of the commonly discussed effects are: fatigue; muscle strain, back pain, distortion of spine’s natural curves, rounding of the shoulders, poor body posture and short attention spans. Heavy school bags are also known causes of cervical and lumber pains. Convincing claims also points out that reduction and shortening of the lumber spines in proportion to the weight of the school bag will result in overloading and degenerative changes in spine. Such changes are known causes of back pain in later year.It has also been reported that growth points in the bones from which bones grow will be damaged by carrying excessively heavy school bags resulting in abnormal or stunted growth. The above impacts are alarming in various ways. Firstly, the impact will have a huge burden on our health system and some studies terms these impacts as healthcare time bombs. Secondly, the toll of excessive weight of school bags on our school children will result in underdeveloped human capital, because some studies have made persuasive claims of casualty between healthy bodies and high student achievement. While our country is unusually quiet on the silent struggle of our students to carry heavy school bags,other countries have not only recognized the socio-economic problems associated with their students carrying heavy school bags but also implemented diverse solution to the problem. In Australia some state governments provide their public with advisory information about the risks of heavy school bags, ways of reducing the risks, alternative to carrying school bags and ways of reducing the number of books, students carry. In India, some courts have issued orders to state governments to formulate policies for adverting students from carrying heavy school bags. In USA, health specialists have recommended the critical ratio of the weight of school bag to the students’ body weight. In the United Kingdom, health specialists have called for a review of the weights students carry. In some countries the media awakened the public on the issue. All these concerns show that the impact of carrying heavy school bags by our students need quick intervention as the concerns are no less relevant to our country and the state of Manipur.
    When the body weights and weights of school bags of one hundred students from middle secondary school in the country were randomly measured, the average weight of the school bags that the students carry to their school was 17% of their average body weights of 40.20%. This falls outside of the recommended range of 10-15% of the body weight. As the number of participants is small, this finding may be only the tip of iceberg  of diverse ill effects of heavy school bags that our students experience on a daily basis as they traverse between their school and dwellings over e few thousand meters of rough uneven foot paths. The risk is too obvious to pretend not to know. It is a fact that students cannot go to the school without books. Therefore health experts do not say that the students should not carry school bags. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons recommends that it is alright for students to carry less than 10-15% of their body weight as mentioned in the beginning of this write up. This implies that our children can still carry some books in their school bags, which will allow them to complete their home tasks and other extended learning activities within their permissible limit of the weight of the school bag.  Many countries have implemented many measures. Some countries provide students with locker facilities in their class rooms for keeping their books. Some countries requires school to formulate students home work time tables so that students get home work in no more than two subjects in a day. According to experts, children needs proper rest and sufficient sleep for their all-round physical & mental development. It is fact that, in almost all the schools in Manipur, heavy home works are being given to these young & tender children. On the contrary, in Manipur, home work are being done either by parents or tuition teachers. Parents are happy when class teachers gave good marks for the home work done either by parents or tuition teacher. But is that mark, the mark obtained by real works of the children? Nobody cares. Some countries mandate schools to develop class time tables to use only some subjects on a day, not all the subjects. Some countries provide specifications for the size of note books. These remedial measures have no less potential in our country as well to address the ill effects of carrying excessively heavy school bag by our students. Our children, born in the Gross National Happiness(GNH) country, should not learn happily in the GNH-oriented schools but also develop into adulthood with healthy bodies ,free of the ill effects of heavy school bags as they graduate from their schools.

Women’s Empowerment & Hurdles to it

        Women’s empowerment is the process in which women elaborate and recreate what it is that they can be, do and accomplish in a circumstance that they previously were denied. Empowerment can be defined in many ways ,however when talking about women’s empowerment ,empowerment means accepting and allowing people(Women) who are on the outside  of the decision –making process into it.This puts a strong emphasis on participation in political structures and formal decision-making and in the economic sphere on the ability to obtain an income that enables participation in economic decision –making.Empowerment is the process that create power in individuals over their own lives, society and in their communities. People (women) are empowered when they are able to access the opportunities available to them without limitations and restrictions such as in education, profession and lifestyle. Empowerment includes the action of raising the status of women through education, raising awareness, literacy and training. Women’s empowerment is all about equipping and allowing women to make life-determining decision through the different problems in society. Alternatively it is the process for women to redefine gender roles that allows for them to acquire the ability to choose between known alternatives whom have otherwise been restricted from such an ability. There are several principles defining women’s empowerment such as for one to be empowered, they must come from a position of disempowerment. Furthermore, one must acquire empowerment themselves rather than have it given to them by an external party. Empowerment and disempowerment is relative to other at a previous time; therefore empowerment is a process not product.Women empowerment has become significant in development and economics. It can also point to the approaches regarding other trivialized genders in particular political or social context. Women’s economic empowerment refers to the ability for women to enjoy their right to control and benefit from the resources, assets, income and their own time as well as the ability to manage risk and improve their economic status and wellbeing.
      Entire nations, business, communities and groups can benefit from implementation of programs and policies that adopt the notion of women empowerment. Empowerment of women is a necessary for the very development of a society, since it enhances both the quality and quantity of human resources available for development. Empowerment is one of the main procedural concerns when addressing human rights and development.Women empowerment and achieving gender equity is essential for our society to ensure the sustainable development of the country. Many World leaders and scholars have argued that sustainable development is impossible without gender equality and women empowerment. Sustainable development accepts environmental protection, social and economic development and without women’s empowerment, women wouldn’t feel equally important to the process of development as men. It is widely believed that the full participation of both men and women is criticalfor development. Only acknowledging men’s participation will not be beneficial to sustainable development. In the context of women and development, empowerment must include more choices for women to make on their own. Without gender equality and empowerment .the country could not be just and social change wouldn’t occur. Therefore scholars agree that women’s empowerment plays a huge role in development and is one of the significant contribution of development. Without the equal inclusion of women in development, women would not be able to benefit or contribute to the development of the country.
Many of the barriers to women’s empowerment and equity lie ingrained in cultural norms. Many women feel these pressure, while others have become accustomed to being treated inferior to men. Even legislatures, NGOs etc. are aware of the benefits of women’s empowerment and participation however many are scared of disrupting the status of the women and continue to let societal norms get in the way of development. Research shows that the increasing access to the internet can also result in an increased exploitation of women. Releasing personal information on websites has put some women’s personal safety at risk. In 2010, Working to Halt Online Abuse stated that 73% of women were victimized through such sites. Types of victimization include cyber stalking harassment, online pornography and flaming. Sexual harassment in particular is a large barrier for women in the workplace. It appears in almost all Industries but is most notable in- business, trade, banking and finance, sales and marketing, hospitality, civil services and education, lecturing and teaching. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), sexual harassment is a clear form of gender discrimination based on sex, a manifestation of unequal power relations between men and women. Furthermore, in UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) is urging for increased measure of protection for women against sexual harassment and violence in the workplace. 54% hadexperienced some form of workplace sexual harassment. 79% of the victims are women; 21% were men. Recent studies also show that women face more barriers in the workplace than men do. Gender-related barrier involve sexual harassment, unfair hiring practices, career progression and unequal pay where women are paid less than men are for the performing the same job. When taking median earnings of men and women who worked full-time, year-round, government data from 2014 showed that women made 0.79 US dollar for every dollar a man earned. The average earnings for working mothers came out to even less than 0.71 dollar a father made, according to a  2014 study conducted by National Partnership for women and children. While much of the public discussion of the wage gap has focused around women getting equal pay for the same work as their male peers, many women struggle with what is called the “pregnancy Penalty”. The main problem is that it is difficult to measure but some experts say that the possibility of having a baby can be enough for employers to push women back from their line. Therefore women put in a position where they need to make the decision of whether to maintain in the workforce or have children. This problem has sparked the debate over maternity leave in the United States and many other countries in the world. Such barrier make it difficult for women to advance in their workplace for the work they provide.
 As a part of women empowerment initiatives, The National Commission for Women was set up by an Act of Parliament of India in1990 to safeguard the rights and legal entitlements of women. The 73rd and 74th amendments (1993) to the constitution of India have provided for reservation of seats in the local bodies of Panchayats and Municipalities for women, laying a strong foundation for their participation in decision making at the local levels. However, there still exists a wide gap between the goals enunciated in the Constitution, legislation, policies plans, programs and related mechanisms on the one hand and the situational reality of the status of women in India on the other. Gender disparity manifest itself in various forms, the most obvious being the trend of continuously declining female ratio in the population in the last few decades. The underlying causes of gender inequality are related to social and economic structures which is based on informal and formal norms and practices. Consequently the access of women particularly those belonging to weaker sections including Scheduled Cast/Scheduled Tribes/other backward classes and minorities, majority of whom are in the rural areas and in the informal –unorganized sectors-to education, health and productive resources, among other is inadequate,therefore, they remain largely marginalized poor and socially excluded. Girls/women who are vulnerable and marginalized and in difficult circumstances are those-impacted by violence, impacted by internal displacement, disasters and migration, domestic/bonded labor, destitute women who are homeless affected by HIV/AIDS, slum dwellers and women belonging to Ethnic & socially vulnerable communities. Taking all these facts in to account, the slogan of Women’s Empowerment is still continues to be the lip service of our Netas and how long it will continue is the question that many asked.

IAS Officer: a Hero- a Whipping boy- a Villain

 The Indian Administrative Service (IAS) is the administrative arm of the All India Services. Considered the premier Civil Service of India, the IAS is one of the three arms of All India Services along with the Indian Police Service (IPS) and the Indian Forest Service (IFoS). Members of these three services serve the Government of India as well as the individual status. IAS officers may also be deployed to various public sector undertakings. As with other countries following Westminster Parliamentary system of government, the IAS is a part of the permanent bureaucracy of the nation and is an inseparable part of the executive of the Government of India. As such, the bureaucracy remains politically neutral and guarantees administrative continuity to the ruling party or coalition. Upon confirmation of service, an IAS officer serves a probationary period as a sub-divisional magistrate. Completion of this probation is followed by an executive administrative role in a district as a district magistrate and collector which last several years, as long as sixteen years in some states. After this tenure, an officer may be promoted to head a whole state division, as a divisional Commissioner. On attaining the higher scale of the pay matrix, IAS officers may lead government department or ministries. In these roles, IAS officers represent the country at the International level in bilateral and multilateral negotiations. If serving on deputation, they may be employed in intergovernmental organizations such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank or the United Nations or its agencies.IAS officers are also involved in the conduct of election in India as mandated by the Election Commission of India. The modern Indian Administrative Service was created under Article 312(2) in part XIV of the Constitution of India and the All India Services Act, 1952.
        The typical functions performed by an IAS officer are:
To collect revenue and function as court officials in matters of revenue and crime(for the revenue courts and criminal Courts of executive magistrate),to maintain law and order ,to implement Union and State Government policies at the grassroots level when posted to field positions,i.e as Sub-Divisional magistrates,additional magistrates,district magistrates and divisional Commissioners and to act as an agent of the government in the field, i.e to act as an intermediary between the public and government.
·    To handle the administration and daily proceedings of the government including the formulation and implementation of policy in consultation with the ministers-in charge of a specific ministry or department
·    To contribute to policy formulation and to make a final decision in certain matters with the agreement of the minister concern or the Council of ministers(depending upon the weights of the matter),when posted at the higher level in the Government of India as a Joint Secretary,additional secretary,Special Secretary  or Secretary  equivalent, Secretary and cabinet Secretary and in state Government as Secretary, PrincipalSecretary, additional chief Secretary or special Chief secretary and Chief Secretary.
Upon retirement, high ranking IAS officers have occupied Constitutional posts such as the Chief Election Commissioner of India, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India and Chairperson of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).They have also become members of administrative tribunals such as the National Green Tribunal and the Central Administrative Tribunal as well as Chief of regulators including Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, the Securities and Exchange Board of India and the Reserve Bank of India. If a serving IAS officer is appointed to a Constitutional post such as Comptroller and Auditor General of India, Chief Election Commissioner of India or Chairperson of UPSC or as head of a Statutory authority, such as the National Human Rights Commission, the National Commission for Women or the Central Information Commission, he/she is deemed to have retired from service.  IAS officers can also be deputed to private Organizations for a fixed tenure under Rule 6(2) (ii) of the Indian Administrative service (Cadre) Rules, 1954. If IAS officers execute the services rendered on them in public interest sincerely and honestly, they are the savior of people. However the IAS is the hamstrung of political interference. Outdated personnel procedure and a mixed record on policy implementation and it is therefore need of urgent reform. The Indian Government should reshape recruitment and promotion process, improve performance-based assessment of individual’s officers and adopt safeguards that promote accountability while protecting bureaucrats from political meddling.Several think tanks and media outlets have argued that IAS is hamstrung by political influence within the service. It has been reported that many local political leaders have been seen to have interfered with IAS officer. Politicians have also exerted pressure on IAS officers by repeatedly transferring them, suspending them, beating them and in some extreme cases, killing them.A deputy Commissioner of one hill district was removed as DC of the same district and transferred to some other department for exposing the boundary dispute between India (Manipur) and Myanmar (Burma) which was a public issue in Manipur, known as boundary pillar no 81 issue. This makes bureaucrats’ officers’ scapegoats.  While hearing T.S.R Subramanian  vs Union of India, the Supreme Court of India ruled that IAS officers and other civil servants-were not required to act on oral instruction given by politicians as they” Undermined credibility.
   In spite of all these, IAS officers have also involved in corruption and crimes for which many convicted of crimes. In 2015, it was reported by the Government of India that a hundred IAS officers had come under scrutiny by the CBI for alleged corruption. In 2017 Government records showed that 379 IAS officers had deliberately failed to submit details of their immovable assets (IPR). Since 2007, a number of Chief Secretaries and Principal Secretaries have been arrested in cases of graft or money laundering. IAS officers have been found amassing disproportionate assets and wealth varying from Rs.200 crore (equivalent to Rs 254 crore or USD 37 million in 2018) to Rs 350 crore (equivalent to Rs 587 crore or USD 85 million in 2018).A retired IAS officer who was the  Deputy Commissioner of one hill district of Manipur was arrested by Imphal West district Police in the night of 24th June ,2019 in connection with the misappropriation of compensation of villagers for the expansion of NH-102,Imphal Moreh road and remanded to police custody for eight days by Judicial Magistrate (First Class),Chandel. The bail pleaof the said (Retd) IAS officer was rejected on 2nd July by Special Judge (PC) Imphal West and remanded up to 5th July in judicial custody for further investigation. Which are the destroying acts of IAS officers. In 2016, it was reported that the Government would provide the means to prosecute corrupt IAS officers with the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, agreeing to receive request from private citizens seeking punitive measures against IAS officers even without supporting documentation. In 2007, a CBI special Court in Delhi sentenced a former Union coal Secretary and two other IAS officers to two years in prison for their involvement in the coal allocation scam. In 2017, it was reported by the Department of Personnel and Training, part of the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions that since 2014, one IAS officers was prematurely retired from service, ten IAS officers had been deemed to have resigned, five had their pensions cut and a further eight IAS officers suffered a cut in remuneration. In 2018 the Union Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Jitendra Singh, informed the Lok Sabha that disciplinary proceedings were underway against 36 IAS officers. Few days back Modi Govt sacks another 22 senior officials in latest crackdown on corruption charges. Sometimes news of missing IAS officers has also come out. In 2015, “The Telegraph” reported that 12 IAS officers had gone missing and has not reported to either the Union or the State Government for their allocated cadre. It was believed that they were working in foreign countries for companies such as Microsoft for more lucrative pay. The Asian Age, later reported that the services of three of the 12 officers were likely to be terminated due to prolonged absence from service. However, some of the notable IAS officers whose names are worth mentioning are: Naresh Chandra (1956 batch IAS of Rajasthan); T.N Seshan (1955 batch of Tamil Nadu);NarinderNath Vohra ( 1959 batch of Punjab); Vinod Rai (1972 batch of Kerala );DuvvuriSubbrao ( 1972 batch of Andhra Pradesh); YogendraNarain (1965 batch of Uttar Pradesh). Their contribution in public service and Nation building were incredible and will remain forever, at the same time they are therole model of the new IAS officers.