Janghaolun Haokip

Janghaolun Haokip

Janghaolun Haokip, a resident of Kholep Village, P.O –Motbung, Kangpokpi District, Manipur -795107  is a regular contributor of articles to Imphal Times. He completed his B.A (Psychology) Delhi University, Delhi and is currently pursuing Bachelor of Divinity at Manipur Theological College, Kangpokpi, Manipur. He used to work as a Assistant Teacher in English Literature for two years at MBC Higher Secondary School, Kangpokpi Mission Compound, Kangpokpi.

Haokip can be contacted at : [email protected]

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By - Janghaolun Haokip

Life is a beauty to see; a blessing to live, and an opportunity to explore. It is a privilege we must hold on to. To be born and to be alive is an adventure we must learn to enjoy and make the most until we die.
Life is also rude and cruel; it is a curse to live, and a road to misfortune. It is a spell we cannot break away from. To be born and to survive is a tragedy we helplessly fall in as victims until we die.
Indeed, life is a mystery. It is an adventure to a mystery land. It is a ride to a distant place, somewhere that has remained undiscovered since the beginning of mankind –someplace we know nothing about.
Of course there are tales spoken of those who have once travelled this path, but unfortunately not where the path finally leads to. Because you don’t know where it goes until you die, and once you die you cannot come back to narrate the story of how it all went, how true or false it is the beliefs that we hold, the notion that we devote to, the concept of life, and most of all the entirety of existence.
We may then have every reason to wonder what is the meaning and the answers to living. Why do we come to the world, not because we want it but just simply as we do. It sounds weird and funny at the same time that someone’s humour had us coming to the world simply as a result of our parents love story and physical and sexual attraction. The true reason may not be as silly as this but the fact is that it remains unknown.
Such is life, which even the greatest scientists cannot entirely prove, or the greatest philosophers cannot fully understand. It is just too big an entity for us to comprehend. It is literally out of the capability of our minds to try to understand not the entirety of our existence but not even the existential nature of existence. Imagine the vastness of the universe; imagine it will take you a thousand lifetimes to explore the ends of the universe, just if in case there is an end. What do you say?
Live it still! In a big vast universe with a thousand question unanswered, don’t be that one person to fail to live. Why bother about the things we can’t change when we don’t bother about the things we can’t help? We know pain and joy, that’s enough, let’s struggle through pain and live through joy. Isn’t it as simple?
There is beauty to see and live. The mornings are particularly beautiful to me. The night as well with its silence and serenity are beautiful too. I promise also that it is a lot of fun to just stare at the sky and wonder how it had come about and what would exist beyond it. I remember a friend who told our younger children in the village that if the sky would be rolled away, lots of eatables would fall from heaven. I don’t know why he would say that, but it was fun for the children at least.
Even as we fight the pandemic today, it is still a beautiful life. The only problem becomes the fact that you can’t go out. But on the other side of perception, staying home is the only answer to spending more quality time at home. It’s just a matter of choosing our priorities. We just have to make sure that we choose our priorities with much care and concern and choose to be optimistic, to look for the best in every situation. Because once when you learn to be optimistic, you will always find a way; find a meaning in even the littlest things.
As much as we do not know most things in our lives, the universe, and the entirety of our existence, we know that life will always be a mystery. It will bring both tragedy and ecstasy, and both pain and joy. It will therefore remain up to us to decide or choose how our lives would be. If we cannot choose what must happen with us, we can still choose what can happen to us. These are entirely different concepts. In simple words, you will be hurt, and you can either cry with despair or simply cry because you know that it will go away. Which will be much easier in that situation?
COVID-19 will not be the end of tragedy, and it may surely not be the last pandemic. The Beirut blast can happen again somewhere else, the floods in Assam may take more lives –we will always be threatened somehow. But unless we die, we must live. Moreover, we will continue to be faced with threats if we wish to perceive so. But otherwise, every moment we live is an opportunity to better our lives as human beings or at least we can always save ourselves from being victims of the certain facets of life.
Live it still; the joy, the pain, the hurtful, the smiles, whatever it is in life, we got to live it somehow. We got to live until we die. We should always remember our entire existence is a part of the system of nature that we cannot change but only adapt ourselves to.
Live it still, even if there are endless battles to fight. Live it still because it is just this one life. Live it still, most of all Live to Live, but not just survive.
You are only one step away from living the life of your dreams, choose to live every moment.

By - Janghaolun Haokip

The #Imphaltimes headline on day two of august reads “Community transmission has started, we should all take responsibility in fighting COVID-19.” For the next couple minutes I was wondering “but how?” the next morning I read it in some other newspapers; the news was everywhere; COVID-19 had intruded and claimed our territory!
But how did the wheel turn when the recovery rate was higher than the number of infections that showed that the pandemic will somehow go? If I remember right, the rate of recovery went as high as sixty per cent which was very much on a positive note. Consequently, there was hope and I believe we were all celebrating silently with eagerness of having to go back to leading a normal life; normal office hours, normal schooling, normal activities, and normal fun among other normal-s.
However, the news of community transmission came as a shocking shock to many people. The once high hopes now should die and people must once again brace themselves for another wave of uncertainty due to the pandemic. In my village, we had to hold another meeting wherein we framed certain guidelines that clearly professed that the time for being ‘normal’ has yet again come to an end, or at least up to sixth of August. No tuitions, no games, no meetings, and nothing; meaning people have to stay home at all times. The dangers have heightened as certain places have recently been declared as containment zones. With it, many localities have been sealed with no movements allowed.
Whatever the reasons or the failure in policies and programmes to combat the spread of the pandemic, the situation we are in right now is something which has raised several  troubling questions that are negatively affecting the minds of the people. The elderly people I know are always murmuring of ‘end-times’ and the ‘curse of the gods’. Parents are worried about so many things, and on the other hand the youths too are regretting all the fun they would miss. The leaders may as well be extremely perturbed by this sudden spike in the effect of the pandemic. One may therefore believe that we have come to a somber mark in our fight against the pandemic.
Furthermore, the recent rise in the impact is a matter of concern not just because it has threatened lives on an incomparably larger scale than the first wave, but also because it came as a fire-service to the almost burning political scenario of the state. Had it not been COVID-19, the state would now be “#dashmurdabad” or “#dashmustresign”. It came in a time when the BJP government is challenged and the Chief Minister is questioned. One may ask whether it is a mere coincidence or the more critical and cynical intellectuals may ask if there are any villainy links between the two.
What is also puzzling about the pandemic is that its stated modes of transmission, in most cases, belie what we witness in reality. The results often come as a shock as two closely associating individuals as that of a mother and child would have different test results of COVID-19. Wherefore the mode of transmission is really baffling. One may ask if the doctors, organisations and government are only jabbering at something which they do not really know. In addition, everyone everywhere is talking about COVID-19; its remedies, such as drinking hot water, garlic, exposure to sun, and the most recent ‘staying in water’ for a stipulated amount of time without the necessary evidence to support their passionate claims.
Nevertheless, the entire world wants the pandemic to go. But what do we do when it worsens; when at first you worry about people who are coming home from across the country and abroad but now you have to literally worry about yourself too even while you are staying put at home. What can you do when you are only worried about the front liners and people who are working close to the ‘contained’ and ‘quarantined’ but now you literally do not know where the virus is and it could strike you anytime and from anywhere. One thing is sure, even if the Pandemic does not come to physically or biologically harm us, it has already started doing a great harm to our mental and emotional health. It has rendered us victims of the imminent threat it poses to our health and our entire existence, not to forget to think about the validity, credibility, and morality of our system of governance.
But in the end, we have to live with it somehow. Be it the face of a political conspiracy or be it a real threat, the sudden spike has to be endured somehow. People must be cautioned to take precautions to help combat the spread. We must be ready for any adverse consequences, meaning we must be prepared at all times. The severity must be heedfully realised; and with it the necessity to put our fight against the pandemic into practice. Surely you can’t go shopping anymore, nor go out for fun. The directives clearly stated no outdoor activities except on really serious matters.
Inevitably, the reports in the coming days will worsen, if not a terrible indication towards an imminent havoc. The guidelines will have more lists included. But whatever it is, stay calm. Do something you love at home, discover your hobbies or you could make your parents proud by doing all the house chores. Keep calm because the pandemic will go. It will disappear just as it appeared. It will relieve our hearts as much as it had burdened. Those of us who didn’t go in with fate to the dark dungeon of the pandemic will still be alive. We will once again live a normal life.
And with a light heart: There is no need to panic, my friend, no need to be careless too. Take it easy and just be responsible, be a decent human being. Just stay home, do something you love or if there is nothing you love at all at home, just go out to your backyard or your veranda, but the washroom must remain your last option still, and if you plan to cross your gate, please remember you are on a mission to exterminate the world.  
The pandemic will go, and humans will stay. Just make sure you deserve to stay on.

Friday, 24 July 2020 18:15

Chassad and the Question of Justice

(A critical comment on Chassad burning, efforts in re-building, and the idea of Justice)
By- Janghaolun Haokip

Amidst the lockdown, the monsoon, and the political instability that has been on the show in Manipur, the rebuilding of Chassad, a village in Kamjong District of Manipur, has been on progress thanks to the government, various CSOs, and other concerned individuals and groups. Chassad has now about half of its houses re-built after the village was completely devastated roughly four months ago.
What happened to Chassad?
The whole village was burnt and ransacked on 16 March 2020 by miscreants from their neighbouring village who were reportedly backed by armed rebels. Videos covering the incident were circulated and it went viral on social media in no time with people giving various comments on the video without anything they could do to lessen the tensions. In the videos, the miscreants can be seen armed with stones, firewood, catapult, knife and pointed spears; a large group of men screaming and shouting in mockery and anger as they pelted stones at the houses while some others were setting the houses on fire. In another video, the rebels can be seen in military camouflage with firearms joining the miscreants in burning the village.
The burnings reportedly started at around 08:00 hrs, and by late afternoon, the whole village of almost two hundred households was already reduced to ashes. The houses were levelled by the fire and everything that the villagers owned were turned into ashes including many two and four wheeler vehicles, and the lone educational institution, Lhingkim Memorial Academy was also not spared as can be seen from the photos and videos that circulated. It is also important to note that the 42nd Assam Rifles and the State Police Forces have stations in close proximity to the village.
The struggle of the people
That fateful day, the villagers of Chassad had faced unimaginable terror. The thought of helplessly watching their homes turning to ashes and at the same time having to run for their lives must have been mentally and emotionally devastating. On that day, most of the people of Chassad, excepting those who took shelter with the Assam Rifles, men and women and young and old were given no choice but to fare through the jungle in order to avoid any  uncertain dangers to their lives the miscreants may cause them.
Any effort therefore to bring out how much the people of Chassad had suffered on that day and after would still remain an understatement. In fact, though reliefs and aides have been constantly provided, the people are still faced with various hardships. They have been devoid of basic mental, emotional, and physical needs to which the flooding of temporary makeshifts tents and the difficulty in various others stands proof. There are even reports that suspect some people to be psychologically adversely affected by the sudden and unprecedented terror being inflicted upon them. 
Efforts in re-building
As aforementioned, construction of prefabricated houses has been ongoing for the Chassad villagers. Apart from it, the government has also provided financial assistance and necessary items as food, clothing, and tents. The CSOs too, on their part have been toiling hard towards re-building and offering humanitarian service to the villagers. Also praiseworthy is the public who has been generously donating reliefs in cash and kinds for the people of Chassad.
Furthermore, one may also note the overall concern of the like-minded and bright-minded individuals and groups, who had joined visionary hands for the society to raise voices for the people of Chassad, and for humanity and justice, irrespective of community origin. Efforts such as this are the bedrock of social harmony that can re-build the village and its people in re-shaping their mental and emotional state towards their social outlook. However, we are yet to strive harder to bring in more people into expanding our mentalities and broadening our mindsets beyond communal lines.
The idea of Justice
Unfortunately, though much has been done by everyone concerned, the idea of justice until so far sadly remains a far cry. In fact, the barbaric incident will remain entangled in the hearts of the villagers of Chassad and nothing can rightly do justice to it. It will remain as a nightmare, and will remain a day of sorrow and mourning for the people.
But what is baffling towards the striving for justice is the inaction towards the miscreants. Until today, the state and its administration hasn’t raised a single question about the culprits before the laws of the state. One therefore may wonder ‘what is the idea of justice’ of the government. Does the government believe that compensation and Justice are terms that are interchangeable or of the same nature? It is also to be remarked that the incident has greatly caused and questioned the government in its policy and ability. What then is the government’s answer towards such sensitive questions that can be detrimental to the overall governance policies?
Interestingly, in the photos and videos that circulated in social media, the culprits can be easily identified, and their inhuman acts of brutality and arson are plainly evident. The popular question is now why the government does not bring them into justice. Or one may go further and point the government of any lapse in the administration towards equal treatment before the law for all its citizens. But to a right thinking person, the law remains the same, irrespective of any virtue by community origin, birth, status, rank or any other kinds of relationships. In fact, justice must be for all and it must be known that it is a natural Human Right which must never be, in any way under any circumstances, compromised.
Subsequently, the government needs to be wise enough to understand that their actions and inactions in matters relating to granting Justice is of crucial significance as it will but remain a lesson to learn for the people. The government has every right to choose whether to stand with Justice and therefore grant justice or turn a blind-eye to the grave violations of law and order and the necessity and urgency to granting justice by bringing the culprits before the law. The government must know that this choice will automatically determine the kind of image that the government wants to build and the subsequent excellence or mediocrity in governance.
Re-building hopes and societal harmony
Albeit the efforts taken up by the government and the commendable role of the CSOs and individuals; the people of Chassad are yet to wake up to Justice. The honour and integrity as human beings and as citizens of the state are yet to be restored. In fact, until the culprits are booked and brought under the law, one can never say that Justice has been served to the people of Chassad in particular and to humanity as a whole.
As a result, just as Helen Keller, a political activist, had stated “Until the great mass of people shall be filled with the sense of responsibility for each other’s welfare, social justice can never be attained”, we therefore, as responsible citizens, and as like-minded, and bright-minded individuals, and as visionaries for peace and harmony of our land, have to come together and raise our voices for the people of Chassad, for our aspirations of societal harmony, and most of all for Humanity, so that Justice be granted its rightful place and honour.
It is an earnest plea therefore, that we must come together, regardless of our community origin, and stand together as we strive towards a shared vision and common goal of well-being and societal harmony for all.
Let’s say #JusticeforChassad
(The writer is a Human Rights Activist and General Secretary, International Human Rights Association (IHRA), Manipur State)

When mountains, once glorious of its rich vegetation, stand and remain depleted, we all know where we are heading towards.
Koubru is one such mountain. As one treks to its peak, most of the vegetation one can find are grasses and bushes; and trees, especially big and tall, have become a rare sight. In addition, one can find small to bigger landslides all along the way to the peak particularly during monsoon. Indeed, the once glorious mountain has but become a victim of human ignorance, and is now therefore but a dying beauty.
It is true that Mount Koubru was glorious. Apart from its rich wildlife, it is also of a great religious and cultural significance to the people of Manipur. According to the Meities, Mount Koubru is the abode of Lainingthou Koubru and other Meitei Manipuri deities. With it, it is also believed to be the most visited pilgrimage sites in Manipur. Meanwhile, it is also stated that it has been the source of livelihood for the Kukis settling in its foothills since the time well before the British conquest of India. On the other hand, the Nagas too also settle in the foothills of the mountain.
Why and how has Mount Koubru come to its ruins?
Certain reasons may be pointed out of how this once glorious beauty has sadly come to meet its dying days:
The foremost reason is the traditional Jhum cultivation. The Kukis called it “Thinglhaang-lei” and is and has been their primary practice for food sustenance, contextually for those settling in its foothills. This practice of Jhum cultivation is also known as slash and burn agriculture, and it involves the cutting and burning of plants in a forest to create a field for cultivation of various crops from food-grains to vegetables. Consequently, due to constant exploitation in a time-span of over more than a century the mountain range has not only become infertile but has also been devoid of trees that once flourished in its ranges.
Apart from it, pollution from plastic waste is another important factor leading to the dying beauty of Mount Koubru. Every year, and all the year round, the mountain has passionate visitors because of its beauty. While there are many who are strictly on a pilgrimage to offer worship, there are also many others who are basically trekking for the joy of adventure. Unfortunately, few of these trekkers often leave behind large amounts of plastics and food wastes scattered along the way and at the peak. These wastes are detrimental to both the plants and the soil as they are non-biodegradable and hence remain as pollutants, polluting both the soil and the beauty of the peak.
The construction of a motorable road is also another factor in the decline in the area of forest land. A construction at such difficult terrain involves higher machinery works that proves adverse in its entirety. While it may facilitate easy trekking, it exploits the virginity of the mountain. Other factors may include cutting trees for firewood and the Kuki’s traditional style of hunting that involves burning large areas of land.
Immediate and long-term impacts:
Due to these reasons, the mountain now stands only as a structure completely exploited. The trees that once stood tall with its shadows dark and deep have long vanished in the hands of mankind’s survival instincts. Consequently, as one explores the mountain, one can see that it lies barren, dry and infertile, with bushes as its only vegetation. The decreasing fertility of the soil, on the other hand, had naturally prompted the use of fertilisers which is harmful to both plant and animal life, and more importantly to human health. The land has indeed slowly come to lose its boon and beauty and may become but a source of disaster as large landslides or sudden flooding especially during monsoon.
The soil has become loose without trees to hold it together, and it appears that the land could slide at any moment and cause great amounts of hardships to the people. One may remember the Keithelmanbi incident where a major landslide occurred and caused great havoc to the people and the state. Furthermore, in a few years from now, besides sudden flooding and major landslides, water scarcity except during monsoon may become a crucial issue to tackle. The decreasing quality of air and the variation in weather conditions is also a cause of concern.
Save Mount Koubru
Mount Koubru has been devastated and been robbed of its beauty and being. But it has become clearer every day that it cannot stand like this but be restored to its youth and glory. This is because the range not only affects its foothills but the entire state, and otherwise it may cause greater hardships to the people and the administration alike. Afforestation and reforestation are therefore requisites. Besides, efforts and vigilance to revive and safeguard the vegetation has become a must to bring back the mountain to its glory.
Moreover, in order to save the mountain, the mechanisms leading to its devastation must be deliberately checked and addressed. While it is true that the deterioration is primarily due to Jhumming or Thinglhaang-lei by the people settling in its foothills, one cannot entirely blame the people alone. Subsequently, this can also be viewed as an economical drawback of the state in failing to provide means for the livelihood of the people. As such, if the state may provide financial assistance in forms of job opportunities or other forms of skill management, the issue of exploitation may be effectively addressed. It is therefore imperative for concerned societies and individuals to step up to change the course of the future of the mountain.
SGAYO and its benevolent effort
Fortunately, the Saitu Gamphazol Area Youth Organisation (SGAYO), the youth wing of Saitu Gamphazol, an area in the foothills of Mount Koubru, has recently stepped up to stand out and offer  benevolent service to revive and safeguard Mount Koubru. Apart from organising online workshops for the people in the area on the impacts of environmental pollution, and the importance of afforestation and reforestation, the organisation has also conducted field review that may facilitate planning and implementation. The organisation’s objective is to repay what had been provided in several forms by planting saplings and maintaining cleanliness in the foothills to the peak. It is also learnt that the organisation earnestly urges trekkers to be responsible and help the organisation in reviving and safeguarding Mount Koubru.
The degrading Environment and the way forward
It is not only Mount Koubru today, but environmental degradation and pollution has become a concern all throughout the world. It is one of the most crucial issues that have brought the world leaders and intellectuals into several talks and conferences in trying to find a way to cope with the rising environmental issues.
However, the issues have until now remain a far cry. It is therefore all the more imperative for us, as responsible individuals, to contribute as much as we can, towards safeguarding our environment and making possible a sustainable world for our future generations. Because the existence of mankind would be lost as specks in the vastness of the universe if we do not realise now the urgency and necessity to save and conserve our Environment.

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