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Jeet Akoijam

Jeet Akoijam

Jeet Akoijam, Resident Editor of Imphal Times hails from Singjamei Liwa Road. Has been with Imphal Times since its start. A National level Rugby player and  a regular Trekker and Nature Lover, loves spending time in lap of Mother Nature. Jeet is the father of two lovely kids. Jeet can be contacted at [email protected]

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Threatened democracy

Thanks to Article 370 - a clause in the constitution which gave it significant autonomy, including its own constitution, a separate flag, and independence over all matters except foreign affairs, defence and communications - Indian-administered Kashmir has held a special position within the country. On august 5, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), as the governing party had promised in its 2019 election manifesto, India revoked that seven-decade-long privileged status. The Hindu nationalist BJP has long opposed Article 370 and had repeatedly called for its abolishment. In what was described by many as a coup-like situation, telephone networks and the internet were cut off in the region in the days before the presidential order was announced. Public gatherings were banned, and tens of thousands of troops were sent in. Tourists were told to leave Kashmir under warnings of a terror threat. Two former chief ministers of Jammu and Kashmir, - the Indian state which encompasses the disputed territory - along with more prominent public figures were placed under house arrest. India’s parliament also passed a bill splitting Indian Occupied Kashmir or, to use the more politically correct term- Indian-administered Kashmir into two territories governed directly by Delhi: Jammu and Kashmir, and the remote, mountainous region of Ladakh. Understandably China, which shares a disputed border with India in Ladakh, has objected to the reorganisation and accused Delhi of undermining its territorial sovereignty. Also, as expected, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan vowed to challenge India’s actions at the UN security council, and take the matter to the International Criminal Court.
Looking a little further beyond the border, China is also playing out its own version of the process vis-à-vis Hong Kong which is facing a major political crisis as it heads into its 11th weekend of mass demonstrations. What started as a movement against a controversial law has expanded into something much bigger. Over the past few months, the demonstrations have evolved from millions marching through the streets, to groups of protesters in hard hats storming government headquarters and shutting down the city’s international airport for two days. While the majority of protesters have been peaceful, frustration is building on all sides. Protesters are now demanding greater democracy and an inquiry into alleged police brutality during past demonstrations. And as unrest intensifies, Beijing’s tone is becoming increasingly heated. Hong Kong belongs to China, but it has its own currency, political system and cultural identity. Many Hong Kong residents don’t see themselves as Chinese, but rather as Hong Kongers. The city was a colony and territory of the United Kingdom for more than 150 years, until the British handed it back over to China in 1997. Today, Hong Kong’s legal system still mirrors the British model, prizing transparency and due process.
To many political observers and analysts, the similar sequence of developments points to a deeper and more disconcerting agenda at work- a process that unfolds gradually and in which power is concentrated in the hands of one strong leader, who often claims to understand the “will of the people” and to govern in its name. Autocratisation.

According to a long term study by political scientists Anna Lührmann and Staffan Lindberg, director and vice-director respectively of the V-Dem Institute (“Varieties of Democracy”) at the University of Gothenburg: the biggest international research project on measuring democratic quality; involving 3,000 researchers around the world , there has been three waves of democratisation, each followed by a wave of autocratisation – the overall story of global political development from 1900 to 2017.
According to the authors,the current third wave of autocratisation has new features: while earlier autocratisation took place in countries where such movements were already in progress, this one is happening mostly in democracies. In other words, while in earlier “classic” waves autocratic regimes came to power through foreign invasions or military coup, today the process is subtler and more gradual, and often camouflaged by legal changes and are often characterized by overriding civil liberties and bringing opposition, media, and civil society to heel after coming to power through democratic elections.  “The third wave of autocratisation is real and endangers democracies,” Lührmann and Lindberg conclude. According to them, almost every case of autocratisation in a democracy in the past has led to the countries turning into an autocracy.”Very few episodes of autocratisation starting in democracies have ever been stopped before countries become autocracies”, they write.
Are we in the midst of a change, albeit subtle and gradual, is real and underway, while our elected leaders are too busy appeasing their political benefactors and masters to read the signs? A point we need to ponder upon in light of the present political and social developments.

SHEIPAL observes 13th Foundation Day

IT News
Imphal, Aug. 23

‘Sheihek Sheireng Sheipal Shemgat Lup’ (SHEIPAL), a body of lyricists and poets , observed its 13th Foundation Day at Lamyanba Shanlen, Palace Compound yesterday.

Yumnam Ongbi Joybala, Social Worker, Ngangbam Ongbi Bimolata, Proprietor Ningthibi Collection and Ranjit Singh Irungba, President SHEIPAL , attended as dignitaries.
A book edited by KC Gita called ‘PUKNINGI SEIROL’ was released on the occasion and a collection of audio CD – by Okendro Khundongbam called Yeningthagi Ayukshida was also released.
The organization conferred life time achievement to lyricist Jodha C Sanasam.  And Dr. Kamala Serol Mana 2019 was conferred to Haoba Yaima.  

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Restoring public education system

Education is considered as the cornerstone of socio-economic and cultural development of a society or country. Education has emerged as the most important single input in promoting human resource development, achieving rapid economic development and technological progress, creating a social order, based on the virtues of freedom, social justice and equal opportunities. Education plays a vital role in the present world, for not only raising the standard of living but also as a mechanism to prevent conflict situations. It has been widely regarded as the best opportunity for an individual to acquire and broaden the knowledge and skills to make informed judgments and choices for a better and fulfilling life.
With the recent unfortunate incident where a minor girl was allegedly murdered inside a private school hostel and the issues and disruptions that followed, the focus is once again on the education system and the manner or method of implementation of laws and regulations in the state. Much debated, discussed and deliberated as it is, the condition of government schools in the state still portrays a sorry figure, statistically and figuratively. Preceding governments have framed policies, announced ‘radical’ changes and promised revolutionary steps but nothing has yet to materialize from all the efforts. The present government is no exception, and the government schools remain as a symbol of hopelessness, a last resort and refuge for the utterly helpless and rejected lot, if not worse. Shunned by the high and mighty, these schools remain mere numbers with nothing much more to write about, except of its failures and hopelessness and above all, its potentials.
It is these stigmas- the accepted belief that there is no future for students in government schools which drove the parents to clamor for private schools in the state. This rush fuelled the scramble for establishment of more private schools to the extent that it is now practically impossible to control or manage them, not that the state government has done much in this regard on their part till now. Over the past few decades, lower middle-class and middle-class families have come to believe that private schools will ensure their children a bright career. The subsequent mushrooming of English medium private schools have led to the decline of public schools and many public schools that once teemed with children are facing closure. Others have shrunk and cater to a homogeneous section of children from working class and migrant families.

Data from the Department of Primary and Secondary Education reveal that many schools in the state were “temporarily closed” during this academic year. Schools were also merged with another. While officials argue that the department never declares a school “closed” — the official word for it is “zero enrolment” school — the fact is that a large number of public schools function with 10 to 15 students and one or two teachers, or with no students and only teachers.
The school education sector thus becomes a happy hunting ground for profiteers who do not give the slightest regard to the actual welfare and development of the students. On the other hand, the state government is still shouting hoarse of plans to overhaul and revamp the government schools, with even a few ‘model schools’ to show for it. It is still spending a considerable amount of money and resources with very little expectations. Evidently, there are very serious and grave lapses and mistakes in the system of government education system, from planning to implementation and evaluation. It is only when these faults are identified that corrective measures can be formulated and taken up. 
Another big hurdle in the effort to improve the government schools in the state would be the patronizing attitude of the government authorities, partly from the fact that their children are in private schools or in schools outside the state. It would be interesting to observe their response and commitment to the development and welfare of these government schools if their children are made to study in these schools.
Where there is a will there is a way, and so if the state government put their heart and soul into it, a solution is never impossible. All it would require is determination, perseverance, dedication and willingness to go the extra mile. A good public education system can contribute to state-building and reduce- if not remove- much of the social hurdles on the path of progress and prosperity. With so much at stake, shouldn’t the state government roll up its sleeve and make a real and genuine effort to change the society?

Nature- the answer to global warming.

“I am Gorilla I am flowers, animals, I am nature. Man koko love. Earth koko love. But man stupid. Koko sorry … koko cry. Time hurry.. fix earth. Help earth.. hurry… protect earth..nature see you… thank you.”- a compelling videotaped message left by Koko, a captive and trained Gorilla who died last year at the age of forty seven with a communicative skill of more than two thousand spoken words in English and over a thousand signs.
Today, we no longer need an expert to explain the effects of climate change and the resulting global warming. Climate Change is the defining issue of our time and we are at a defining moment. From shifting weather patterns that threaten food production, to rising sea levels that increase the risk of catastrophic flooding, the impacts of climate change are global in scope and unprecedented in scale. Without drastic action today, adapting to these impacts in the future will be more difficult and costly.
Described as the most important report ever published in the 30-year history of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and an “ear-splitting wake-up call to the world”, the new report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C made headline news around the world with its stark message that limiting warming to 1.5 °C would require unprecedented transitions in all aspects of society. The report stresses the huge benefits to human welfare, ecosystems and sustainable economic development in keeping warming to 1.5 °C compared to 2 °C, or higher. While previous estimates focused on estimating the damage if average temperatures were to rise by 2°C, this report shows that many of the adverse impacts of climate change will come at the 1.5°C mark.

The report also highlights a number of climate change impacts that could be avoided by limiting global warming to 1.5ºC compared to 2ºC, or more. For instance, by 2100, global sea level rise would be 10 cm lower with global warming of 1.5°C compared with 2°C. The likelihood of an Arctic Ocean free of sea ice in summer would be once per century with global warming of 1.5°C, compared with at least once per decade with 2°C. Coral reefs would decline by 70-90 percent with global warming of 1.5°C, whereas virtually all (> 99 percent) would be lost with 2ºC. The report underlines that we are already seeing the consequences of 1 °C of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice, among other changes.
Despite the overwhelming evidences and negative experiences of the consistently rising temperature, we have yet to see a sustainable, committed and concerted effort on the part of the government both at the national and state level to implement policies to counter the situation affecting the world without exception. While the problem is a global in nature, the solution should start at the grass root level, literally and figuratively. And the solution should start with finding the root cause of the problem, which differs with different region and way of life. It is therefore imperative that a thorough study is carried out to understand the ways in which the people in the state is damaging the environment and contributing to global warming and draw up policies and programs with its effective implementation to curb and hopefully reverse the situation.
One of the best ways to ensure effective implementation of the policies is to mobilize the public into contributing towards understanding and preserving nature and the environment, and a few passionate groups of people are making efforts to spread awareness of the importance of preserving the environment and appreciating the beauty of nature like Green Manipur and Lamkoi, to name just a few. It is only when one develops a connection with the natural environment and begin appreciating the beauty nature has to offer that the urge to protect and preserve it will automatically emerge. And there is no dearth of natural beauty in our state. We only need to create better infrastructure and improve facilities for exploring and utilizing these gifts of nature without damaging or altering the surroundings. The most prominent example of such a gift of nature is the Langol hill range which is being visited by numerous nature and fitness lovers daily as it is perfectly situated with the potential to be converted into a natural short hiking trail for the people of the state and even visitors looking for a short hike without going out to the far hills. There are also numerous places which can rival the most famous natural tourist destinations and hiking trails of the world. We only need to feel the connection with nature to start appreciating and think up ways to preserve it. the state government need to take these passionate nature enthusiasts into confidence and work with them at the grass root level to initiate positive change. It would be unacceptable and perhaps too late if we wait for another Koko to tell us that we have failed and destroyed mother nature. We have to tune in and sync up with nature and not the other way around to ensure our continued survival.