Wednesday, 25 March 2020 - Imphal Times

Coronavirus Combat; not just the Government's fight

By: T S Haokip 

“There is no economic task force; medical infrastructure is pathetic; the Government has failed to act timely," are few of the many statements the Government is bombarded with as India fights the highly contagious Covid-19. But over time, it has become clearly visible that while we, the public scrutinized the Government's actions and inactions and criticized the measures adopted by the Govt. to control the spread of covid-19, there are many instances which show the picture otherwise. Though the Govt. is faced with the gruelling task of steering the economy and keeping the virus at bay, it has fared exceedingly well by implementing a well balanced action plans with indomitable spirit. After all the state Governments have declared lockdowns and semi-lockdowns till 31st of March, the Prime Minister has now declared #NationalLockdown for the next 21 days starting from 25th of March 2020. As rightly said by the PM, there is no alternate options but to #StayHome and #StaySafe. Except for the medical infrastructures, which too is expected to show positive developments after the allocation of Rs. 15000 Crore, the Govt. has done most of what is possible in its hand. 

Many people have rightly pointed out our inordinate delay in fighting corona virus; especially our dealings with in-bound foreign travellers- both Indians and foreigners. That concern no longer exists and we are now in a stage beyond pointing fingers and throwing accusations. The Government has made necessary advisories and has initiated social distancing and personal hygiene initiatives. What about the public? Have we done our part? For, the fight against Corona is surely not the Government's alone. We have equal, if not greater roles to play. There are concerns raised by many people regarding the availability of essential items for the common men and also the plight of those daily-wage labourers during the lock-down. While the Government in general and state Governments in particular have assured the public of ensuring the availability of essential goods and services, the concern for labourers and wage earners will require collective efforts from the state as well as civil based organisations and  'religious and charitable institutes'. 

It is understandable the hesitation and fear to face lockdown, more so isolation and self-quarantine. But the same way we expect our Government to shut offices and schools and save stranded Indians overseas, it is obligatory on our part at the least, to quarantine ourselves- to stay home and to stay safe. Most importantly, to contained the virus in the unfortunate event of us getting the infection. Media is flooded by a story of an infected boy from Kolkata who visited many places after testing positive with covid-19. Then, there are instances of people fleeing from hospital isolation-wards. We can witness the fear and anxiety people attached with 'isolation'. 

There are lots of initiatives that can be taken, especially by the more known personalities- to not just educate people about the necessity of 'isolation' and 'public distancing' but to convey a message that,' it is not scary and perfectly normal.' This is a time when we look up to celebrities to be our role models. In contrast, a celebrity singer, Ms. Kanika Kapoor, who landed in India from London on the 9th of March 2020 allegedly bypassed Government's directive of self-quarantine for a minimum 14 days for all travellers from infected nations and had even attended a party. The singer expectedly was slammed by twiterrati when she announced on 20th of March 2020 that she has tested positive for the virus. The thought of many people thus having possible chances of contacting the virus as a result of her alleged negligence is frightening. While Kanika Kapoor in her defense has claimed that she informed concerned authorities about her travels and in fact insisted herself for the test to be conducted, many people find it unacceptable for a person of her stature to disregard basic preventive norms. There will be hundreds like her who have evaded screening process for the virus and while it is only human to err, one hopes the incident teaches people, especially the celebrated personalities to be not just responsible but exemplary worth emulating by the public.

 Some people mocked the Government for its just concluded 'Janta curfew' by saying that the fight against Corona virus will take more than just clapping and a one-day national shutdown. While that is true, what most people overlook is the fact that the initiative has aroused the much needed public -awareness about the virus, apart from acknowledging the selfless dedication and sacrifices of the healthcare workers and other essential service providers. Also, worth mentioning is the simple fact that the observance of 'Janta Curfew' in no ways imply that the Government's initiative is restricted to that one day. Schools and offices remained shut; lockdowns continue to exist; social distancing and self-quarantine guideline are still in place. What is more? The Indian railways have suspended its services and all flights; both domestic and international are cancelled. In fact, it was some people, who, contrary to the purpose of the observance, defy social distancing norms and took to streets the drumming and clapping exercise. That surely is not the Government's fault. 

The fight against Coronavirus will require efforts from the public as much as from the Government. Advisories are of no use, if flaunted at will. The onus now is on the public to render all possible help to the concerned authorities. Putting the blame on the Government may be easy but we all know this fight will not be easy. This seemingly unwinnable fight does not require our herculean efforts though. A small initiative on our part, as simple as maintaining social distancing will go a long way. Honestly, that could be the only weapon, with which we can effectively control the deadly corona virus. 'Yes, together we can' seems the right message right now. 

(The writer is author of the book HILLY DREAMS)

Published in Guest Column

 By - M. Kalanjoy Singh and  Dr.  P.  B.  M.Basaiawmoit 

The world is in the grip of  Corona Virus or  COVID-19,  i.e. since the latter part of  2019, when it was discovered in  China’s  Wuhan  Province. Perhaps,  it was a  bit too early to become alarmed as it had happened in mid-2009,  with regard to swine flu or  H1N1.  Few leaders even joked about its impending imminence,  particularly on  COVID-19    being contagious and/ infectious. However,  today,  the situation has drastically changed,  whereby it warrants declaring  Health  Emergency in most affected countries as a preventive measure and to contain its spread far and wide through  Italy,  followed by  Spain leads in death statistics. 

In  India,  Kerala followed by  Maharashtra leads in  COVID-19  cases though comparatively,  the death toll is still below the two-digit figure.  And all  States and Union  Territories are in a  state of complete lockdown. India has been taken to be a  model in accelerating the pace of containing the spread of  COVID-19  and we cannot but laud the timely initiatives taken by the  Union and  State  Governments under the leadership of Prime  Minister  Narendra   Modi. NEDF extends our sincere appreciation and acknowledgment of the Government of India and Government in North East India for your deep concern and urgent action to respond to COVID-19 in spite of all the challenges to deal with the virus.

However, preventive and/ pre-emptive measures alone are not enough.  Instead,  we should find the origin and root cause of COVID-19  so that it can be eradicated from the face of the earth.    In this regard,   China may be able to help by providing information and sharing with the global community as to the origin of this amoebic and tentacle-like virus which has brought about a  state of global emergency and which perhaps made  Prime Minister  Modi said that it is even worse than world wars.  Unless capped and uprooted at the very earliest, it won’t take long for this  Frankenstein to swallow up the whole world;  more deadly and dangerous than chemical weapons  (or is it one of such products ?)  and other human adventurism without calculating the cost leading to an uncertain future and uninhabitable planet earth.  As a  small and insignificant group of concerned persons from  North  East  India,  who have been engaged in mitigating climate change within our limited knowledge and resources,  we are reminded of the words of the venerable    Gautama  Buddha,  ”Try to spit at the sky and the spit will fall on you”  and also of the Law of Physics which states,  ”For every action,  there is an equal and opposite reaction”  in that,   we believe that  COVID-19  is an incidental  Frankenstein human creation/invention as a  by-product of all those effluences, emissions,    wastes which negatively impact climate change and coming forth from such an environment,   obviously is immune to any unproven countermeasure unless tested and tried. Perhaps,   bio-techs,    microbiologists and climate change scientists may be able to provide more concrete verifications and solutions. As such,  it is paramount upon all,   irrespective of nationality,  race,   gender,  age,    occupation, religion,  colour to take   (not play)   an active role for mitigating climate change along with all its related actions such as global warming, rising sea level,    melting of ice caps, etc.,   through air,  soil and water pollution,  accelerating extractive industries,    dumping nuclear wastes,    considering nuclear energy as an alternate and renewable energy,  raping mother earth,   replacing natural biodiversity with genetically modified biodiversity and so on.

First and foremost, it warrants  that  all   signatory   countries   of  the  Paris Agreement  on  Climate  Change  fulfill  their  respective commitments   to carry   out   its   mandated   provisions   and    take  it  forward   with  all  seriousness  and   that  those countries  still  hesitant  to  sign  and  ratify,  should do  so   without  much  further  dilly-dally.

At the same time,   people need not to be panic irrationally but to carry out to the best of one’s ability,  instructions, guidance coming from  Government sources and related agencies.  We would also urge upon  Governments to provide succor to the poor and the vulnerable,  viz.   daily wage laborers and unorganized sector of labour, the homeless,  differently-abled,   widows,  the jobless and many others. We would further request one and all, not to add insult to injury to victims of   COVID-19    in that,   there should not be  any  ostracizing,   stigmatizing, discriminating them,   socially and  mentally.

Published in Guest Column

By Raju Vernekar

Mumbai, March 25


Eighteen new suspected coronavirus patients, including a doctor, were admitted to Mayo hospital and Government Medical College at Nagpur (Maharashtra), even as the first coronavirus infected couple, admitted to the PMC’s Naidu Hospital in Pune was discharged on Wednesday. 

The couple which had returned from Dubai was admitted to the Naidu Hospital on 9 th March. However husband and wife responded to treatment and were fully recovered within a fortnight, giving much needed psychological relief to the doctors. While eight fully recovered patients were discharged from Kasturba Hospital in Mumbai on Tuesday, another 12 patients admitted to different hospitals, were in the process of being discharged on Wednesday. 

Most of those admitted to hospitals in Nagpur had a travel history abroad and are suffering from cold and cough, even as number of positive patients in Maharashtra reached 112 on Wednesday.

In another development a 54 year old man passed away at Rajaji Hospital in Madurai, Tamil Nadu on Wednesday. He had a medical history of prolonged illness with steroid dependent COPD, uncontrolled diabetes with hypertension and was admitted on 23 March. He becomes the first victim of Covid 9 in Tamil Nadu.

 Wednesday witnessed a subdued celebration of Gudi Padwa, which marks the beginning of New Year in Maharashtra, as people stayed indoors in view of the national lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak. Prime Minister Narendra Modi posted a tweet in Marathi to greet people of Maharashtra for the festival. "People of Maharashtra are celebrating Gudhi Padwa. I wish them success, happiness and good health. May all their wishes be fulfilled this year," he tweeted. Gudi Padwa is the first day of the month of Chaitra and marks the beginning of the New Year as per the Hindu calendar.

 People hoisted the traditional 'gudi' - made of a bright cloth adorned with brocade (zari) tied to the tip of a long bamboo stick and a silver or copper pot placed in the inverted position over it - in their balconies and windows. But, they could not garland the gudi with flowers, mango and neem leaves as flower shops were shut and markets wore a deserted look. People were also not able to put up the traditional 'toran', a garland of marigold flowers, on their house doors. They also gave a miss to the other traditional ritual of tasting sour 'neem chutney', as markets were closed. The Gudi Padwa processions were also cancelled.


Published in News
Wednesday, 25 March 2020 17:16

PREPAK to observe 40th Red Army Uprising Day

IT News

Imphal, March 25

Chairman of the Military Affair’s Committee of the Red Army of the rebel group People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK) Kh. Sathy greeted the people on occasion of the 40th Red Army Uprising Day which falls on March 26.

In a message, the Chairman of the outfit said that PREPAK in cooperation with other revolutionaries of WESEA region which shares a common objective and vision has been tirelessly pursuing a revolutionary movement to uproot the colonial practices of the Indian Union and to restore the independence of Kangleipak with more than 2000 years of written history which was annexed by brute force of the rapacious Indian colonial regime.

In this relentless movement for independence, PREPAK and its army wing - Red Army (RA) have endured hardships with unflinching dedication to the cause and are fighting without concern for personal safety or comfort for a free and equitable society.

After the annexation, India has been trying to portray the revolutionary movement spearheaded by Hijam Irabot as the handiwork of few people with extremist outlook thereby trying to degrade the movement, terming the freedom fighters as terrorists and claiming to the world that there is no liberation movement in India. Such an attempt to cover up the movement of the people will prove useless as fire cannot be kept covered for long. The ultimate goal of the revolution is not to be disintegrate or break up India, but to reclaim the independence which was snatched from the people using armed forces. When the hapless king of Kangleipak signed the treaty of annexation with India under duress, there was no approval from the National Legislature which was a body of elected representatives of that time, nor was there a referendum or plebiscite held to approve or oppose the move. If India respect its democratic principles and is really brave enough to face the truth, there is still time to hold a plebiscite to determine whether the people of Kangleipak wants to remain under the Indian regime or wants independence, but so far it has not been able to take up the bold step accepted by the international community as a standard democratic procedure to end conflicts around the world. On the other hand, as practiced by the previous governments, the present NDA government is insisting on giving up violence and to conduct peace talks with the armed revolutionaries in the state to usher in peace and prosperity. What is ironic is that the assumption that the armed revolutionaries are extremists seeking violence and bloodshed and opposing peace, and its efforts to portray the revolutionaries to the world as such.

The genesis of all these armed conflicts is the forced annexation of Kangleipak on October 15, 1949 and the subsequent enslavement of its people, and India should never forget this. The people of Kangleipak is fighting to reclaim what is truly theirs and does not want even an inch more of India’s territory. While India claims that there is no separatist movement in the region, the declaration of armed revolutionary movements in Kangleipak and the WESEA region as outlawed organizations under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967 has laid waste to their claims, and even though India termed the revolutionaries as terrorists and extremists, the directive of the UN Human Rights Committee to the Indian Government to settle the armed conflict through political dialogues and peace talks have reiterated the fact the revolutionary movement in Kangleipak and the WESEA region is being recognized by the international community as a legitimate one.         

India claims itself to be the world’s largest democracy, but it has not been able to occupy any credible position in the annually published Democracy Index of the Economist Intelligence Unit based on parameters such as electoral process and pluralism, governance, political participation, political culture and civil liberties. Looking at the population this claim might be considered true, however it still lacks basic democratic practices and principles. In 2018 , out of 167 democratic countries  the position of India in the democracy index was 41  and in 2019 it declined to 51.  Of the total population of about 1.4 billion, about 21.9 percent or 300 million are below the poverty line, about 26 percent or 350 million people are illiterate. Moreover, per capita GDP of India has not been able to reach 2000 dollars till date. According to a report of Transparency International corruption perceptions index 2019, India is in the 80th position. Excessive and unchecked expenditure on elections and working for the profit of the powerful and influential while snuffing out the voice of the poor and weak still persists. Transparency in governance is still nonexistence despite claims of being the largest democracy, and unlawful political financing is still a bitter reality at present. Big corporate groups often interferes and have a big say in drawing up important decisions of the government, and while the Press has been regarded as the fourth estate of democracy after the legislature, executive and judiciary, journalists in the country are working under pitiful conditions. Except for a few journalists who sold their ethics to the highest bidder to be in the good books of the rich and powerful, the majority of them are under constant threat to livelihood and life. According to ‘2019 World Press Freedom Index’ published by Reporters Without Borders, India ranks 140 out of 180 countries. Intimidations, threats and warnings from politicians, criminals and hired goons are a common professional hazard of a working journalist in India .In 2018, 6 journalists were murdered under suspicious circumstances while carrying out their duties. Journalists and media houses are constantly under threat for reporting news against the parties and people in power especially in Kashmir and WESEA region with no reporters from abroad allowed. Constant shutdown of internet has hampered the work of the journalists. In reality, India is a crumbling entity whose parts and units have deteriorated beyond repair. This is not the time to heed the words of a few and enjoy the fleeting luxuries of life while forgetting the path we need to take and the goal we set of a free and independent region.

 The time to wish for a resurgent India is gone. The time has come for everyone to remember and appreciate the work of the United Nations and its subsidiary organ the Decolonisation Committee in making efforts to root out colonialism from the face of the earth. Such encouraging efforts have become a source of hope and inspiration for smaller and weaker states and regions to assert their independence and rights from the big and powerful nations of the. After the UN was established in 1945, more than 80 countries have gained independence from their former colonial powers and it is at present working to help regain independence of 17 recognised countries in the world. In its latest session of UN Special Committee on Decolonisation, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres expressed that these small fledgling countries should put their priorities in meeting the aspirations and respecting the wishes of the people while taking up efforts to put up a responsible government, thereby reiterating the fact that the UN is committed to help regain freedom to colonized countries. The process for decolonization should depend upon the wishes of the colonized people, and the UN is taking a vital role in this regard. Colonized nations are usually small ones, and the roles of the colonized nation as well as those people who are to shape and determine the future of these colonized nations should be an ongoing challenge.    At present, there are 17 Non Self Governing Territories without an independent and functional government. The revolution for independence of Angola, Mozambique and Guinea Bissau inspired the Portuguese revolutionary army to establish a people’s government in Portugal. People around the world living under colonized rule are eagerly awaiting the day when they can determine their own future. After 20 long years of struggle Timor Leste have regained its independence and have successfully established a free and popular government according to the aspirations of the people. According to Gueterres, the effort of decolonization has slowed but is still marching forward. In the Pacific region, New Caledonia – a French colony is holding a second referendum in September of this year after the people have voted for it. In the history of the UN, the efforts of decolonization is an ongoing process for the international body, and is a crucial one in attaining the goal of self-determination and independence for many colonized countries of the world, and is also contained in the UN Charter. Declaration of the UN General Assembly as well as International Law provides regulations for discussion and practice of self determination and governance, but today India does not abide by them. This does not mean that India can neglect or deny the existence of such regulations and rights. There has been no referendum or plebiscite which allows India to exert its rule on the people after Kangleipak was forcibly annexed. The right bestowed by the UN to be recognized as a group or community still exists. The task at hand for the people of Kangleipak is to advance the revolution for independence while knocking on the door of the UN to lay down the goals and rights as demanded by the people.

 In closing, the duty of the Red Army in the 43 years of the revolution for independence and self determination of Kangleipak by PREPAK is commendable. The courage and valour they showed while facing the IOF in numerous instances and the spirit of sacrifice that they embody is remarkable. As long as the Red Army continues to resist and make persistent efforts to repel the IOF, the common goal of independence and self determination is getting nearer. The purpose and the goal of the revolution should always be held close to our hearts. Only such an approach can help us regain our lost independence and power of self determination.

Published in News

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