Rinku Khumukcham

Rinku Khumukcham

Rinku Khumukcham, Editor of Imphal Times has more than 15+ years in the field of Journalism. A seasoned editor, was a former editor of ISTV News. He resides in Keishamthong Elangbam Leikai, with his wife and parents. Rinku can be contacted at [email protected] 

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The more the rubber band is stretched, the more force it applies to return to equilibrium, says my cousin brother Rinku Khumukcham, the editor in chief, Imphal Times, when I shared with him about my being homesick and feeling missing traditional festivals for 2 decades, on a WhatsApp chat. It is true that the more we are far away from home, the more we yearn for it just like a rubber band returns to equilibrium after stretching. To me, equilibrium is the state of wanting. This fundamental idea of physics really connects with the real-life situation. Being a member of diaspora communities, challenges always throw at life when it comes to adjustment to a new culture and environment. Though being caught up in the new culture, our roots always bonds us which is the foundation of our life. Our culture, tradition and our food are the part and parcel of our life that has deep seated in every atom of our body.
Valuing our own culture first is very vital. Understanding and respecting other cultures embraces the cultural difference. Exposing our culture to the world and preserving it through continuous exposition underpins the identity and gives a good strength to the society. Though there is a myriad of cultural differences within the diaspora communities, keeping them under one umbrella, we focus on to reflect each traditional theme with a sense of oneness by respecting to one another. Festivals contribute to expose our cultural identity. It builds a bridge between communities and cultures. Festivals bring people together and offer an opportunity to know each other and learn from each other with respect and love within the diaspora communities too. To forge a close bond among the NEIA community, recently Ningol Chakouba and Deepandita festivals were celebrated together. It was organized by NEIA THAILAND (North East India Association, Thailand), that comprised of 8 states including Sikkim. The occasion was graced by Her Excellency Suchitra Durai, the Indian Ambassador in Thailand, along with other guests. Ningol Chakouba was led by Manipur Chapter though the celebration was the combined effort of NEIA. The sincere effort of our Manipuri brother (Ekpua Ibungo) Pisgah Gonmei from Thaninkhun, Bishnupur in organizing the event successfully is quite commendable and much appreciated. We both prepared the delicious Manipuri food for Ningol Chakouba. Assamese brothers and sisters prepared their Assamese food. We all enjoyed the food together.
The great evening was echoed with a rainbow of cultural extravaganza. That was our first Ningol Chakouba edition to be held together with the brothers and sisters from our North East states. The guests were felicitated with handmade gifts by the members of NEIA. Sherly Roy Chanamthabam from Lairikyengbam Leikai, Khuarai did the fantastic hosting job. After the Chakouba lunch, gift was first presented to Her Excellency Suchitra Durai and to all the ningols or ladies by all the brothers from North East states. Blessings were showered upon the ningols and brothers too received the blessings from ningols. The bonding moments was priceless and memorable one. Close on the heels was the Thabal Chongba dance. Her Excellency too joined the Thabal Chongba led by me. It was really a wonderful evening. Everyone wore the happy smiles on their faces. They enjoyed the event with joys and laughter. Many talented members came forward to complete the event by presenting songs and dance. Our Manipuri sister enaonupi Estrillita Gachuiwung Shimray from Ukhrul and Eche Aribam Arati from Singjamei performed a fantastic solo singing. That was our proud moment. We never realized that we have many talented artists in our Manipur Chapter. Such a traditional event offers an opportunity to them to showcase their talents. The same thing is with our Assamese and other north east brothers and sisters. They too showcased their talents. Most of the ladies came in their traditional attire. Different attires make them look distinct and beautiful.
“Together we can do it” is my favorite quote. Irrespective of race, caste, creed and religion, and with less concern of wanting to own ethnic identity, we can experience peace, love and happiness. As we already know that Ningol Chakouba is all about to strengthen the bond of love and affection between brothers and sisters, and family members. There is no any religious matters. In my opinion, this event can be celebrated by every section of the society or by everyone. Let’s not limit this to one particular community because we all are brothers and sisters. This is the pure love event. Love is the pure energy that heals the wound. Love brings peace. Love brings happiness. So, let’s sprinkle love around us and make it contagious. Let’s nurture this seed of love till our last.

With Love
Tilotama Ningthoujam @ mimi ningjaa

Wednesday, 18 November 2020 17:58

Students must get Text books on time

By- Vijay GarG

Unavailability of textbooks, especially in rural schools, has made students rely on teachers’ notes, as they are the only source materials. In such a situation, students from poor economic background are likely to fall behind.
The term “textbook” has been used in different contexts to refer to different concepts. Some use it to refer to any book used during education, but most limit it to books written specifically for classroom use. The textbook, in fact, is the heart of the school and teaching-learning activities and without the ubiquitous text, there would be no schools. Effective use of textbook helps in bringing and achieving the learning outcomes.
Textbooks carry a wide range of new and interesting facts and open the door to a world of a whole new experience. Teachers can play an important and crucial role in nurturing and supporting each child’s creative potential by the proper use of textbooks. Textbooks also help teachers to become more inspirational and motivational.
Textbooks are dependable and a critical part of education, as necessary as classroom itself and as indispensable as the classroom teacher since they are based on developed theory, authored by specialists and refined through active research. They not only provide structure to lessons and students’ progression but also encourage clarity regarding key concepts and core knowledge.
The curricula and textbooks should be more meaningful and relevant for life experiences of students so as to prepare them for real life challenges.
Though there are other teaching-learning resources, say training, and use of chart among others, the importance of the textbook use cannot be denied as they work as “bridges between the worlds of plans and intentions, and of classroom activities shaped in part by those plans and intentions”. Further, textbooks determine the range of possible activities for the classroom, thus influencing greatly what teachers are likely to do, even if they do not restrict what teachers can do.
From teachers’ perspective, textbooks provide extra resources such as chapter tests, worksheets of extra problems and project support materials. Furthermore, a teacher’s edition of the text can also remind teachers of alternative approaches to a topic so that s/she can provide guidance on sequence and timing. This also makes it easier to coordinate among teachers.
From parents’ perspective, textbooks show them what their children are learning and will learn. If a child has questions which parents cannot readily answer, they can refer to textbooks to help figure out the answer.
From students’ perspective, textbooks give them chapter review problems and sample tests and answers to the problems. They also usually have everything they need to know — highlighted in boxes or bold print.
It is quite obvious that teachers would be able to make effective use of textbooks only if they realise the value of textbooks as an important teaching and learning resources. 
The quality of education system entirely depends on the quality interaction between teachers and students through the use of textbooks in the classroom. Textbooks reflect the aims and objectives of the national curriculum. Therefore, the availability and the use of textbooks in the teaching learning process are very important.
Unavailability of textbooks, especially in rural schools, has made students rely on teachers’ notes, as they are the only source materials. In such a situation, students from poor economic background are likely to fall behind. Unavailability of textbooks and lack of creative skills ultimately lead to poor learning, which has greatly affected the quality of education of community schools. Practical subjects like science need textbooks that not only give instructions but also explain the procedures for experiments.
But the availability of textbooks only does not solve the problem. Their effective use is a must to build students’ confidence.

IT News
Imphal, 14 November:

In view of the ongoing agitation at the Manipur University, the Administrator of Manipur University, Jarnail Singh today released a press statement appealing to stop interfering in the normal activities of the University.
The press statement reads,” The Manipur University has been conducting entrance tests for Post Graduate (PG) and Under Graduate (UG) classes from 10 October to 12 November of this year. The intake capacity in MU has increased by 38 percent during the current academic session to help the students who have come back because of Covid 19. As compared to Academic Session 2017-18, the Academic Session 2020-21 intake is about 1219 seats more. The classes for second year students started in October 2020 through online mode and is still underway. The MU has been able to conduct examinations of final semester examinations of BA / BSc etc. and declare the result. The faculty members, students and the staff are working hard during this Covid-19 period to meet the deadlines of various academic calendars.”

The admission in the MU is being done on the basis of reservation system ordered by the High Court in its judgement M.C. (W.A.) No. 54 of 2016 (Ref. W.A. No. 40 of 2015) dated 24th August 2016 and is as follows

                Un-Reserved Category                  50%

                ST Category                                        31%

                SC Category                                        02%

                OBC Category                                    17%

The statement by the Administrator of MU further said, “The 10% reservation for the EWS is within the UR category and depends on the policy of the Manipur State government. I may mention here that some groups had been off and on raising objections to this reservation system without realising the fact that this had been ordered by the High Court as well as in line with central government rules. These groups have often voiced their views of having reservations based on central norms which cannot be done in MU (even though it is a central University) because of relevant amendments by government of India in this regards as well as orders of the High court confirming the same. MU cannot hold discussion with any group on change in reservation of admission seats.

Unfortunately it has been observed that a group of students (some from MU and some from outside MU), have indulged in unwanted activities such as locking of different offices, and agitating. Sometimes they invent the excuses to agitate. This is unfortunate. There is a system of redressal of grievances in MU and students can air their grievances. But locking of the departments and offices and disturbing the teaching / conduct of entrance tests / compilation and declaration or results etc., are undesirable activities detrimental to studies and growth of MU. Such activities cannot be allowed on a continuous basis in the university. By locking offices, this small number of students is affecting the careers of remaining more than 99 percent students who want to study peacefully and move on with their careers.”

The press release added, “Yesterday (13th November 2020), after I came back to my office after attending a function organised by MUSU in Centenary Hall to facilitate the teachers, I was surprised that my office was locked by one group of students some of whom were non MU persons. After breaking the locks, the doors were opened and I attended the office as I had to sign some urgent papers. After sometime when this group of about 15 students came back, I came out and met them.  I was surprised when one of them questioned my authority to open my own office. I requested them to come inside and tell me their grievances. They refused to come inside and a few of them shouted at me. I went inside office and came out again after about five minutes to request them to come inside and tell me their grievances. Instead of telling their issues, they again shouted and questioned my authority to open my own office. Some of them were indulging in unwanted activities and wanted to barge into offices. The police was informed and requested to take action. I also informed the DGP and the SP Imphal West of the position.”

It may be remembered that no institution, more of an educational institution like MU, can function and grow academically and function as per rules and regulations, if some persons can take law into their hands and start closing departments and offices on assumed grievances. If that happens, then such institutes slowly lose their significance and prominence.

We in the MU are working hard for the growth of the MU and its academics. We are applying the rules and regulations fairly and squarely to address the genuine grievances. During the last two years, six new departments namely departments of Law, Fine Art, Psychology, Yoga, National Security Studies, South East Asian Studies have been opened, the intake capacities of all departments have been increased substantially, some by as much as double, new science equipment have been purchased and the existing equipment lying unused have been brought under annual maintenance contracts, annually more than Rs one crore worth of books are being purchased, six new hostels have been completed, more than 60 faculty have been appointed, the promotions of more than 75 faculty members have been effected etc. Whatever is possible within the time and resources available has been done. If any one does not believe me, ask an ordinary student about this.

Keeping in view the interest of the growth of the MU, more so of student community as well the teaching faculty, the students are advised to focus their attention on studies and bring laurels to the MU, their state as well as their parents. It is also advised that any attempt by any group to disturb the work of the university would not be tolerated and the assistance of the police would be taken to restore order and tackle the unwanted activities of such groups. It is further informed that as per the order of the Hon’ble High Court of Manipur dated 24th May 2019; all stakeholders are required to keep peace and harmony in the Manipur University. The parents of such students, who are creating problems frequently, would be informed about the activities of their wards as well as the effect which it has on the academics of the majority of students in MU.

Lastly, Jarnail Singh request the students to focus on study and place their genuine grievances before the MU authority and to stop the practice of locking of offices and departments whereas the locking and opening of offices is the duty of office peons.

Phanjoubam Chingkhei

Less understanding and complexities concerning the Anglo-Kuki War (1917-1919) as well as heavy reliance on one-sided version of the historical event compounded with the failure to attempt to understand the then customary laws of Manipur Kukis has led to broadening misnomer that the war confirmed as one of the costliest marked by severe intensity was instigated and led by a Manipuri adventurer Chingakham Sanajaoba.

Reality of history cannot be concealed, particularly when documented evidences dealing with the proceedings of the armed engagement between an empire and Manipur Kukis who faced them with inferior and out-dated weapons, are accessible.

Of course, Chingakham Sanajaoba was implicated and imprisoned for his involvement, but charges levelled against him does not include involvement in direct armed battles but rather for his objectives of instigating then straight-forward Kuki chiefs. Later enquiries say a lot that Sanajaoba despite his initial instigation towards Manipur Kukis did not led the war. He however did provided some ammunitions and articles to Manipur Kukis for the armed struggle, one of the charges for which he was imprisoned.

Governor of Assam Sir Robert Reid (1937-42) mentions that Sanajaoba toured the hills with tales of British’s waning powers and “favours to come, if the royal house were overthrown and he himself installed as the ruler of the state.” That was his sole objective and role during the “most serious incident in the history of Manipur” as Reid puts in, causing expenditure amounting to “Rs 28 lakhs of rupees to quell” and during the course of which the British suffered casualties unlike never ever before in Manipur’s history.

Perceptions of Sanajaoba being portrayed as someone who led the war comes from British officials but no effort has been given to understand Manipur Kuki’s point of view concerning why they ultimately decided to go into the war against the mighty foe.

Reflection on actual leaders

Former Major General DK Palit, concerning the armed engagement (1917-1919)observes that due to “the more centralized and autocratic nature of Kuki leadership, they have a greater power of combining effectively against a common enemy."He also added that they “have stronger tribal affinity” and was “thoroughly suspicious of the British.”

The Kukis "hereditary Chief or Rajah," as Lt. Stewart in 1855, says "is believed originally had connection with the gods themselves….and looked upon with the greatest respect and almost superstitious veneration and their commands are in ever-case law."

Lt. Col. Shakespeare, referring his account, states "the Rajah is the sole and supreme authority in the village or villages under him, no else being competent to give orders or inflict punishment through him." Interestingly, many instances have been noted when Kuki Chiefs were referred to as “Rajah” in multiple British writings ever since British’s foray in the region.

Initially when the demand for the Labour Corps for serving in World War I, began to cause trouble among Manipur Kukis, the high handed approach of the newly appointed political agent JC Higgins, never understanding the complexities of Kukis’s internal culture and customs, resorted to forceful action ultimately igniting the fire that took more than two years to subdue.

Prior to the outbreak of the armed engagement, the political agent during a meeting with Kuki Chiefs was actually paid “a sum of Rs 1500, 3 gongs and one mithun” and was sincerely told that it was “their custom to bring back the head of the dead man wherever he died.” (Prof. Lal Dena).

Rather than trying to understand concerns of the Kuki chiefs, Higgins fixed a stipulated time to yield to his demand antagonising the Kuki chief who considered it as challenge and accordingly Chief Ngulkhup of Mombi sent stern instructions to the surrounding Kuki inhabited areas, to not yield to the demand of the British official. Unfortunately, on October 17, 1919, the spark was ignited when Higgins, in search of Ngulkhup, burnt his village to ground.

Under such circumstances of Manipur Kukis customary laws and power of their chieftainship, it is inconceivable that Sanajaoba except for interaction with some influential chiefs had hardly any role or led the war as projected.

Chengjapao, Enjakhup and Tinthong - The leaders amongst 12 other chiefs        

 “The Chief of Aishan, Chengjapao who was considered head of all Thadou Kukis and had earlier asked the leading Thadou Chiefs to resist recruiting force, if necessary, which were complied by other influential chiefs.” (Ph Tarapot)

Being the senior most Chief among the Manipur Kukis, the overall leader was charged with “holding a meeting to resist recruiting and to make war upon the government if necessary” in addition to organising “opposition to the recruitment of labour corps.” The highly respected leader who is the Pipa, also “kept communication with other rebels for joint-action against the government.” It was also later learnt that “he was the first Kuki to organise an opposition to labour recruitment.”

Robert Reid acknowledges Enjakhup “as the brains of the movement.” When the influential leader Enjakhup, an ex-sepoy of the Naga Hills Battalion who took active partin the war, was captured, he was questioned by the British officials about his involvement.

Described as a stout fellow, he was asked "is it not true, then" …."that you drilled the men of the rebellious chiefs and taught them how to shoot?" to which Enjakhup replied "with his tongue in his cheek"(whimsical manner) that "I did" and continued "why wouldn’t I" as "it was the best I could do to help you all" to which the British officer asked “How so?"

Enjakhup simply replied "Why, the more powder and shot they would be wasting on their targets, the less they would have for shooting at your soldiers with." 

Enjakhup, based on the charges levelled against him, can be universally accepted to be the commander of the Kuki militias who had taken active role in several fighting and organised meetings with other Chiefs to take a stand against the high-handedness of the British.

Chief Tinthong of Laiyong was charged for fighting against the government forces during the operations. He even went to the extent of going all the way to Naga Hills along with Enjakhup to see what assistance could be received from the Angamis.

Charges brought against the remaining other prominent and influential Chiefs, who were imprisoned reveals a lot while the charge made against Sanajaoba clearly defined his role has been exaggerated and today promoted by non-Kukis social leaders and writers as the leader of the struggle.

Chief Mangkhoom of Tingkhai, Chief Ngulkhukhai of Chassad, Chief Leothang of Gobok, Chief Heljashon of Mombi, Chief Semchung of Ukha, Chief Pakhang of Chassad, Chief Pachei of Chassad, Chief Khuthinthang of Jampi were all charged of either taking active role in the armed rebellion against the government, organising meeting to resist recruitment in the Labour Corps, instigating other chiefs to join in the armed revolt, taking part in the rebellion and raising men from surrounding villages amongst others.(Dr. SMAW Chisthi)

However, charges levelled against Chingakham Sanajaoba are of totally different aspect. The “Manipuri adventurer” supposed to possess supernatural power, was legally tried for proclaiming himself as the elder brother of the Maharaja with “the intention of assuming the title of Maharaja” and accordingly visited Ukha village but there were no charges of organising, trying to raise men, joining in armed rebellion which undeniably are of utmost importance in when the banner of uprisingwas raised by Manipur Kukis. Sanajaoba was charged of providing material assistance to the Kukis. This clearly indicates that Sanjaoba’s role has been misunderstood and projected in a light which is stark contrast to what actually happened.

Less highlighted hardship aftermath the war

Though the arrest of involved lot is often in the common knowledge of the general public, what is of unreported and not mentioned is the hardship faced by the general Manipur Kukisaftermath the war.

During the course of the military operations, “two agricultural seasons” were suspended, while “126 Kuki villages were burnt to the ground, 16 of them permanently declared barren and 140 villages coerced to surrender.”

Officially, the number of estimated of “Kukis killed was 120 which was much lesser than their own version.” Unfortunately, collateral damages were incurred by other tribesman during the course of the operations which was a period when Christianity’s religious principleshad nothold over those engaged in the war and the militias were often occupied with tribal feuds.

Duration of the war has been downplayed in certain claims it commenced from “January 1918 to Nov 1918, say about 10 months” though official documents related with awarding of British War Medal and Victory Medal to JC Higgins for his role in the “Kuki Punitive Measures” mentions that it commenced from “December 1917 to May 1919.”

Reid reports troops engaged in the operations consisted almost entirely of the “Assam Rifles and Burma Military Force,” with Manipur State Military Police and few “Sappers and Miners,” providing support. In contrast, claims have emerged of all these highly trained regular forces being not involved but that the operations was dealt by “Assam Police and Assam Rifles” only, a clear factual distortion.

Chief Commissioner of Assam, in later proceedings stated Kuki Rising as “the most formidable with which Assam has been faced for at least a generation” and was the “largest series of military operations” in the country’s eastern frontier.

Later, as war reparations or “compensation”, Kukis had to pay an estimated Rs 1.7 lakhs which was recovered during five years in instalments, partly in cash while the rest was extracted through “penal labour” for construction of government offices and “bridle paths” in Manipur hills.

Reflecting on the uprising, JH Hutton noted that Kukis “is an enemy by no means to be despised when the matter is one of jungle-fighting and guerrilla warfare”.

Based on Lt. Stewart, Lt. Col Shakespeare informs they are "great hunters and are passionately fond of sport, looking upon it, next to war, as the noblest exercise for man." Though, the conventional warfare could not be applied, being natural accustomed in jungle-warfare, Kuki ancestors resorted to what they could do best.

Of terminologies and Conclusion

“Illegal” is term applied to those who committed an act against established law while “foreigners” is based on citizenship context (Indian Citizenship Act 1955). For a tribe, or Manipur Kukis to be precise, who have settled in the state for some 300 years, terming them as foreigners, illegal immigrants is out of question and needs to be put in silence once and for all for overall co-existence, instead of provoking with statements, potentiality affecting sentiments.

The term “immigrant” was used by few polished British officials posted in the regions in 1850’s for they had not encountered them before in Manipur and British’s systematic presence in the state began from 1830’s onwards only. Though Manipur Kukis may have arrived later than other tribes, during the phase of human migration and settlement in Manipur, today almost three centuries after they have established their residence in different parts of Manipur hills, it no longer is of any significance, and they are just as indigenous as Meiteis, Koms, Chiru, Rongmei (Kabui), Mao-Maram and Anal amongst others.

The objective of a modern society is to have access to proper education, better financial prospect, job opportunities and the only way forward for all is to head towards this direction and have a ‘broader vision and common approach towards a rising internal issue.’

On the question that wars are fought between nations, Manipur Kukis and their kindred tribes shares linguistic, customs, genealogical and traditional similarities, characteristics of a nation even though, exactly politically defined boundary may not have been existed. 

Aftermath the “war” in the nineties of the 19th century in Manipur, British officially proclaimed the short-lived engagementas an “armed rebellion.” Terminologies are applied accordingly to writer’s convenience and outlook, and should not be matter of unnecessary squabbles unless there is a political agenda, which too are, open to interpretation.

Lastly, unrelated to Manipur, is the political history of the Tai Khamtis, a Northern Shan group from Myanmar, who migrated in phases in the 19th century, and settled in Arunachal Pradesh and part of Assam. Upon their arrival, they seized the Chieftainship of the resourceful Sadiya Tract from the decaying Ahom power and established their power before an insurrection in 1839 against the British led to their collapse. However, never for once have the Buddhist group been labelled with offensive terms as “illegal” “foreigners” and “refugees” because all these terminologies have their proper technical definition, based on the Constitution of India.

The objective, of the article, herein is a humble attempt to dispel the myth, one-sided presentation of the historical event and reckless employment of provocative terms towards brethren Manipur Kukis which unquestionably implies a socio-political agenda, through organised campaign that are misleading and promoting “legacy of hate” creating phobia and mistrust towards Manipur Kukis who have been living in this tiny state of less than 30 lakhs people, in a country of 138 crores. 

This is not a reflection of “unity in diversity” which Manipur has always been proud of but rather divisive in nature, and for what for gain?

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