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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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History – from Obscurity to Visibility?

This write up is an excerpt from the article – “Reflections on the Conflicts of our Times: Attempt at Common Sense reading of the Manipur Experience” written by Lokendra Arambam

The relationship between Manipur and Indian state through history need some understanding, though the relationship was never a harmonious one. (The term Manipur and India are themselves subjects of relative interpretation). From very ancient times, Manipur’s cultural and social orientation was towards the eastern direction, towards Myanmar and Southeast Asia. The pre-colonial Manipur state was an endogenous development, impelled by the nature of its geographic and ecological features, initiated by clan warriors who descended from up the mountains into the fertile valley below. The indigenous populations had origins from racial categories of Southern Mongoloid, with certain complicated admixtures between Proto-Austroloids and incoming layers of Tibeto-Burman speech communities. All these human groups shared habitat, geography, climate, faunal and floral environments, food habits, and ancient technological traits like loin loom and fly shuttle technologies in the plains. While the highlander denizens continued to bear the vagaries of the forest and mountain environments, those who came down in the plains were ushered into challenging the extensive flow of the river waters whose currents had to be controlled and utilized for developing livelihood systems. Wet rice agriculture, with the system of transplantation provided early impetus to change into peasant lifestyle and invention of better tools for food production technologies. The openness of the alluvial flood-plains helped ensophistication of religious beliefs, with a deep ecological consciousness of the notion of fertility of nature and veneration of ancestors. The initial tribal lifestyles of close clan formation and in-group consciousness were transformed into the need for greater integration on supra-village principality formations and the idea of a ritual theatre state, a designed architecture of governance and authority relationship through ritual was organized under a monarchical system, with war and matrimonial alliances binding the clan polities. An urge for civilization propelled the lowlanders into producing a philosophy of life, numerous literatures and texts thereby reflecting the literate status of the communities in the plains. Openness to outside influences and miscegenation with incoming migrants with various human groups resulted to a detribalized life-world of hydraulic civilization based on systematic networks of irrigation and flood control. Early possession of the plough, the horse and iron paved the path for rapid development in the ontology of the plains dwellers into a martial race. Citizen volunteers swift in horsemanship, swift in physical movements in the arts of swordsmanship, rapid in aggression or retreat, with tremendous spirit of sacrifice for the collective, emerged in the medieval period of expansion and conquest. A ranked society helped in smoothening of the governing bureaucracy indigenous in values and beliefs. The clan Piba (male elder of the clan) had been raised to the status of Kingship, and a system of circulation of royal princesses circulated amidst the rising international communities for peace and harmony. The territorial frontiers of the state was recognized in the international community first by the Upper Shan principalities and later by Burmans, the Ahoms, the Dimasas and the Bodos of Tripura.
With the international recognition of prestige, liberality and hospitality of the monarchical regime in the 15th century, the first migration of Brahmin populations, escaping from the violence of western Islamic invasions, was noticed, bringing along with them fresh notions of astrological and cosmological wisdom, along with pragmatic theories of kingship and elevation of the power and authority of the monarch to the status of divinity. The need for the integration of the clans, tribes and other communities into a well-structured poly-glot of cultures and demographies needed a higher religious system emphasizing the power and exhibitory faculties of the state represented by the monarch and his associates necessitating the conversion of the Meitei into Hinduism in the 18th century.
While Southeast Asian polities had easily assimilated themselves into the Indic cultural influences since the 4th to 14th centuries in the Common era, Manipur felt these influences while its social and political systems had already been well-established with a definite identity and status of its own. The conversion into Hinduism faced shift opposition from the proponents of the Meitei indigenous religion. But through the exercise of force and violence, subtle intimidation as well as public oppression, the king Garibniwaj (1709-1748) was able to effect a compromise with the clan elders, a sort of contract to accept the conversion into the Ramandi religion. Other indigenous religious systems of tribes and peripheral communities like the Chakpas retained their traditional systems. Christianity entered Manipur during the colonial era in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The pre-colonial orientation of the Manipur state towards Indic connections, side by side with the conversion of the ruling kraton class into Hinduism was therefore an 18th century phenomenon. It also coincided with the political orientation towards British India since 1762 C.E., because of the expansion of the imperial Burmese ambitions directly affecting the geo-political awareness of the rulers, necessitating support from the Ahom dynasties as well as the East India Company. Total economic integration was unthinkable at that period of history for more than a hundred years. Manipur’s agricultural economy was based on subsistence with incipient trade relations with the proximate neighbouring countries. However the British defeat of Manipur in 1891 CE introduced forcible changes in the indigenous economic structures. The British introduced the Indian rupee as a medium of exchange replacing indigenous systems in 1892, and the Manipur resources were used to feed the imperial military establishments in Assam and the Northeastern region through the export of rice and cattle. Imports of British manufactured goods reached Imphal and the colonial economy altered the indigenous social structure by introducing a new imperial racial class of Marwaris and Bengalis for economic management and organization of the new revenue structures. The earlier migrant population of Brahmnis and Muslims had earlier been assimilated into the indigenous social structure, but the new demographic inputs through the colonial economy introduced a sort of contested pluralism, as different from the organic pluralism of the past. A lot of conflictual societal relationship was noticed similar to the system introduced in Burma by the colonial authorities.
The British also introduced a new system of administration totally rupturing the organic plurality of hill and plains relations. The Meitei ruler-ship was divested of administrative jurisdiction over the Hill people, and the administration of the Hill was given to the British political authority craftily institutionalized in the colonised polity. A system of dyarchy, separation of powers between the Maharajah and the British political agent was structured into the system. When the Hill citizens rebelled against the colonial authority in the first two or three decades of the 20th century, its character and form was later misinterpreted through the prism of awakened ethnicities, which became murky and unclear leading to serious conflicts in the era of ethnic identification movements. When the British left in 1947, leading to a precarious in-equilibrium from the convulsions of the Second World War all the efforts to restore traditional equilibrium of the polity was in vain. Manipur became a district of the vast territories of India through the integration in1949. One can imagine the consequences.

Joint Meeyamgi Numit and Hill Leaders’ Day Held ; State government trust the positive response and commitment of centre: CM

Imphal, Nov 15

Chief Minister N. Biren Singh said that the present State Government has full trust in the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah that they would keep their positive commitments on the Indo-Naga Peace talks. This was stated by him at the press briefing in connection with Meeyamgi Numit and Hill Leaders’ Day held at the Durbar Hall of Chief Minister’s Secretariat today.
Speaking to media persons, Chief Minister maintained that they have gathered a rough report collected from various levels consisting of opinions and wishes of people and CSOs of the State. The same has been shared to the Union Home Minister Amit Shah this morning, he added. Chief Minister also stated that the State Government would invite the representatives of Coordination Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI) and other stakeholders for thorough discussion before consultations with the Centre on the issue.
Regarding the demand for convening a special session of Manipur Legislative Assembly, he said that the State government is not unwilling to convene a special Assembly session. Within the short tenure of the present Government, Assembly resolution on protecting State’s territorial integrity had been taken twice and similar resolutions on the same issue had been taken twelve times by earlier governments, he added. Mentioning that the State government firmly trust the positive response and commitment made by the Central Government on the issue, Chief Minister stated that the government will convene the Assembly session when the situation arises.
Chief Minister urged the people and different civil society organisations of the State to have trust in the present government. He informed that the Union Home Minister also earlier assured them that all stakeholders would be consulted before finalising the peace talks with the Nagas.
Replying to the query about disclosing the contents of the Indo-Naga peace talks, Chief Minister maintained that we had asked about the contents of the peace talks, however the Central leaders reiterated that the Indo-Naga deal wouldn’t affect the Administrative structure of Manipur and won’t led the formation of districts based on ethnic lines etc.
Responding on the recent ban on financial transactions of the State government, Chief Minister said that the ban was just a precautionary measure to overcome the excessive overdraft of the government account so that the Reserve Bank of India would not impose ban on financial transactions of the State. He maintained that the Centre’s share of around Rs. 161 crores was credited to the State government’s account yesterday which was due to be credited on the first week of every month. He assured that the ban would be lifted soon.
The Chief Minister heard around 300 complaints and met around 1000 people from 9:15 am to 12:15 pm. Many differently-abled persons, widows and people belonging to poor families were instantly enrolled under Government’s noble schemes like Chief Minister-gi Hakshel-gi Tengbang (CMHT) and Chief Minister-gi Sotharabashing-gi Tengbang (CMST) etc. Many educated and skilled youths were also identified to provide soft loans from different banks.
 Officials of Health Department and JNIMS were there to attend to the people, who seek medical assistance, reimbursement and health care in Government medical hospitals.  Other Departments including Minority, Other Backward Classes and Scheduled Castes, Social Welfare, Education (S), Manipur State Co-operative Bank Ltd. and Manipur Police were also present to help resolve people’s grievances.
Around 1500 tree saplings were also distributed by the Forest Department to the people who turned up to highlight their grievances on joint Meeyamgi Numit and Hill Leaders’ Day. The saplings included Champaka (Leihao), Jackfruit (Theibong), Indian Olive (Chorphon), Yellow Myrobalan (Manahi), Arjuna (Mayokpha), Indian Gooseberry (Heikru) and Tree Bean (Yongchak).

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Smart city or smart earning for those in the power !!!

Just when the state is all set to propel itself into one of the most well-governed in the country as was unfailingly promised at every election campaigns, the lust for power and pelf played spoilsport, yet again. The dreams of a smart city peddled by the powerful few who decides the destiny of this insignificant state from the cocooned comfort at the country’s capital has been keeping the people of Manipur on a dream and a prayer for so long. Hopefully, things are starting to move in the right direction once again, notwithstanding the fact that the pace of progress is anything but inspiring to put it mildly. And amidst the glimmer of hope, the ever present strife and tussle for power within the ruling party is posing a serious threat to the nascent dream of the collective public and the real masters have to step in once again to bring some semblance of normalcy in the ranks of the elected representatives of the state. no one is certain which way the wind will blow but the need to put an end to such self-degrading attitudes and irresponsible conduct has been felt by one and all for a while now. and the sooner the better else every little progress we have witnessed will literally go down the drain.
Promises and assurances are no substitutes for concrete results which is what the impatient public has been longing for. We have seen promising starts and convincing displays of intent but the follow through and the political integrity to deliver as promised has been largely dismal. For a party which sparked the spirit of change in the public, the feeling of needing that wee bit more push and alacrity to the activities has been present, and the present volatile political situation is not helping matters none.
The concept of a smart city is a fantastic one whose time has come, and there is no denying the fact that integration and synchronization of activities and information is the only way in which the government can effectively take the state forward. Yet previous attempts at modernization (read installation of CCTVs ) turned out to be a farce designed to profit a few at the expense of the taxpayers. No one has ever been held responsible for the deception. Automated traffic signals at majority of the junctions barring those at the heart of the city remain ineffective and unmanned. Waste disposal remains a smelly issue in more ways than one, and the concept of segregation of waste which is the basic step towards proper disposal of waste is still unknown to most public, and nor has there been any perceivable effort on the part of the government to educate and inform the general public regarding the same. Secure parking facilities around the city for cycles, as well as dedicated and safe cycle tracks which would encourage a lot of the public to turn to cycling as an alternative, healthy and cost-effective means of transport needs to be developed at the earliest to reduce pollution and congestion which is becoming a big issue right now. Motorcades for VIPs and VVIPs should be trimmed down to the bare minimal for obvious reasons, and stricter scrutiny and inspection of workings of every government departments should be undertaken to reduce corruption and increase productivity. Regular and timely updates of information in the respective websites of the various departments will go a long way in achieving this objective.
Smart does not necessarily equate to having quick witted intelligence and advanced political manoeuvres. A diligent and sincere approach towards the task at hand, a systematic and honest appraisal of activities and prioritizing responsibilities over privileges will set things for the right course. Perhaps a tall order for the present crop of confused, conceited and conniving souls with the penchant for begging the public once in a while for the chance to ‘serve’ them but ends up getting served instead.

ONE India award to Choden Lepcha

By Raju Vernekar
Mumbai, Nov 15

“ Our North East (O.N.E.) India award for 2019 was presented by Maharashtra Governor Bhagar Singh Koshyari to social activist and novelist from Sikkim Choden Lepcha at a glittering function held at Veer Savarkar National Memorial at Shivaji Park, Dadar West, in Mumbai on Wednesday.
The O.N.E. India award instituted by “My Home India” was presented in recognition of Choden Lepcha’s work in the field of culture, education and welfare of the Lepcha community. Soden Lepcha has been engaged in alcohol and drug de-addiction work and has been fighting for the welfare of the Lepcha community since long. The award comprised Rs one lakh, a memento and a scroll of honour.
On the occasion the Governor complimented ‘My Home India’ for its efforts in bringing about emotional integration of the people of North East with the rest of the country. He applauded Choden Lepcha for matching her novel writings with noble social work.
Former Governor of Tripura and Bihar Dr D Y Patil, founder of ‘My Home India’ Sunil Deodhar, Chairman of Saraswat Bank Gautam Thakur and Vice-Chancellor of Central University Bilaspur Dr Anjila Gupta, Shravan Jha, CEO, My Home India were prominent among those present.
While replying to the felicitation Choden Lepcha dedicated the award to the Lepcha community. “ I came from a small village of Sikkim to Mumbai by an aeroplane for the first time. I saw a bungalow of mega star Amitabh  Bachchan. I felt like I was in a dream land. This award has increased my responsibility. I promise to do more work when I return to Sikkim. I could not take higher education, but I am happy that the organisation like “My Home India” has been extending helping hand”  she said.
ONE India award is presented every year to an outstanding achiever who has worked for North eastern states and to further bolster nationalistic feeling all across North eastern states.