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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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Technology to the rescue

Our state, though nestled on the far fringe of the country with unfriendly hilly terrain to welcome visitors, does not lag much behind in terms of awareness and utilization of available technological developments, and one thing which the people of the state has taken to with gusto, more out of necessity rather than convenience is the information technology or, simply put- IT. The advent of this amazing technology has indeed changed the way the public view things. People can now understand a broader perspective of all issues and hence, can form their own informed judgement. The curiosity and inquisitiveness of the people has also been aroused, leading to a more scientific temper of mind that questions various beliefs. It has also undoubtedly brought the world closer, thereby easing the frustrations of having to deal with the difficulties of overcoming physical barriers regarding communication and transport, or that inextricable feeling of being sidelined.
While IT is not the panacea to the shortcomings of the society, it is indeed a game-changing aspect, and can be utilized to even effect in our state. Take for instance the protracted problem of distributing, and more importantly, that of collecting bills for various public facilities being provided by the Government. How many of us have really seen a water bill in the last decade or so? And who should we inquire about any matter relating to any Government Department in the state. The obvious solution in this time and age is to Google, which is possible only if and when the information and details are made available by the Government. And when online stores are successfully functioning despite the initial concerns regarding the safety of the payment methods, such fears has been proven unfounded. The whole concept of implementing IT in Governance, as envisaged in the NeGP (National eGovernance Project) Vision, to “Make all Government services accessible to the common man in his locality, through common service delivery outlets and ensure efficiency, transparency & reliability of such services at affordable costs to realize the basic needs of the common man” should be made functional, with additional services included as required to facilitate generation of revenue for the state.
A fully functional Common Service Centre (CSC) implemented under the NeGP formulated by the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY- a full-fledged ministry since 19 July 2016, which henceforth is known as the Ministry of Electronics and Technology, bifurcating it from the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology)  are Information and Communication Technology enabled front end service delivery points at the village level for delivery of Government, Financial, Social and Private Sector services in the areas of Agriculture, health, education, entertainment, FMCG products, banking, insurance, pension, utility payments etc. The big question is: are these centers functioning as required, or are they just formalities to make up the numbers in the report sheet of the Government?
What steps have the Government taken up to create awareness amongst the public so as to educate them, and ultimately enable them to access the services provided at these centers? It is clearly evident that there need a lot to be done before such supposedly beneficial services reach the public and make their lives that little more convenient. A concerted proactive approach to create awareness and to educate the mass on the development activities and services should be carried out to ensure that such beneficial and positive steps are not wasted, especially in the present situation when the normal functioning and social interactions are greatly restricted- a situation which is more than likely to continue in the foreseeable future.

Are the Quarantine centres being converted into hotspots?

IT News

Imphal, May 24:

According to social media posts, 102 returnees from UP and Uttarakhand presently undergoing mandatory quarantine at designated centre at Haoreibi College Boys and Girls Hostel are living under pathetic condition with no proper drinking water, dustbin or hygienic arrangements or food, and no government authority has visited this place so far. A press statement issued by Laishom Ibomcha Singh, Former Secretary (Law)& Ex- MLA today further states that the sum of Rs 200 for every inmate staying at these quarantine centres promised by the state government have yet to reach the inmates, and also adds that if any government authority fails to visit and inspect the said community Quarantine Centre by 2pm tomorrow, all the 102 inmates will return to their homes as per an ultimatum submitted to the Chief Minister. Terming the conduct of the state authorities as an abject negligence on the part of the state government, the former MLA cautioned that if the inmates carried out their threat due to the continued negligence of the state government without testing for the virus, it would prove catastrophic if any one of them happened to be Covid-19 positive, and would certainly cause a huge social unrest. Questioning the inequalities in facilities provided at different designated quarantine centres across the state and terming the same as discriminatory, the statement questioned the adequacy of Rs 200 for a day given the lack of facilities, food and water at the centre. Recalling the announcement of Rs 822.22 Crores by the centre on 20 May for Corona Management for Manipur state by Union DONER Minister Dr. Jitendra Singh, as well as an appeal for Rs 100 Crores from the centre by the State Health Minister to Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan, the statement questioned whether the fund has been actually transferred, adding that an utilization certificate would be required before further financial assistance can be availed by the state. Drawing immediate attention of the state government, the press release appealed the authorities to look into the discrepancies to make the sincere efforts of the state government of bringing back stranded Manipuri natives from different parts of the country a success.

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Preparing for the inevitable change

As the world is struggling to find a solution to the present pandemic which is not likely to subside anytime soon, the way of life we have been acccustomed to just a few months ago seem like a distant past, and the only effective means of preventing the dreaded scourge from spreading uncontrollably is to observe social distancing and maintain personal hygiene as of now.
This new social constraints have posed a very paradoxical problem for the society which is still struggling for a new order or system that follows and complements the natural laws and not based on anthropocentric views and beliefs which has contributed, if only in part, to the current crisis. There is an urgent and inevitable need for humans to change our old way of life, and change, in any form or magnitude has always been difficult and chaotic. The first or most basic step should be the acceptance that we are being forced to change our way of life and we need to embrace the truth. This acceptance and psychological preparedness will go a long way in making the transition or evolution smoother and better. We are indeed evolving as a society in the manner and system under which we have been living our lives. We are also evolving as individuals in that we are now required to be more responsible of our actions and behaviours, both socially and otherwise as our actions and habits will have a greater impact on others around us. We are already witnessing a change in how a few organisations and companies are conducting their business by reducing office goers and making employees work from home. Several big businesses plan to let much of their staff work from home permanently, even after the pandemic.
 Working from home could become the new normal — at least for some. Mark Zuckerberg said as many as 50% of Facebook (FB) employees could be working remotely within the next five to 10 years. Twitter (TWTR)will allow some of its workforce to continue working from home “forever,” if they choose. French automaker PSA announced a “new era of agility,” in which its non-production staff will work remotely from now on. PSA, which makes Peugeot, Citroën, DS, Opel and Vauxhall, said the new work-from-home plans will be implemented in the summer. Box (BOX) CEO Aaron Levie wrote in a blog post that the cloud-storage company’s nearly 2,000 employees are free to work “from anywhere” until the end of 2020. Online tutorial and academic websites are having a whale of a time right now, and there is a perceptible shift in a number of parents considering online and home education for their wards even after the present pandemic is over. These emerging changes are opportunities anyone can make use of.
However, government, both at the centre and the state should be pragmatic enough to grasp the moment and build a base for entrepreneurs in the state to enable first mover advantage in these emerging fields as these changes are swift and uncertain. But in the frantic rush, we need to make sure that a large number of people in the state are still  living in areas where basic infrastructures and facilities to enable them to enjoy the technological progress are still lacking. The leaders must do the needful without further delay if we are to step into the new world as equals.

Tending to the trivialities in time

The entire world is getting preoccupied with the battle against the raging Covid-19 pandemic which has been eluding a definite cure to this day despite the best efforts of the best minds and unlimited resources combined with cutting edge technology at the disposal of the experts.
With the battlefield expanding with each passing day, our little state has joined the fray and today, the rising sense of insecurity and concern amongst the public is getting more intense and vocal. On the other hand, there are reports of increasing pressure on the health workers due to the lack of manpower and equipments to handle the increasingly worsening situation in the state.
Till date more than 11,000 Manipuris who were stranded in various parts of the country have returned and are being quarantined at various designated centres for a mandatory 14 day period. About 40,000 more are estimated to be on the wait for their turn to return to the state. These are certainly trying times, both for the common public as well as the administration. And though certain oversights and loopholes are expected to emerge, there are more serious and deliberate sounding blunders committed which has come to light that reeks of opportunism and self-serving motives.
The state government, with all the pressing tasks at hand might be tempted to brush these ‘petty instances’ as insignificant and does not warrant immediate attention, but the fact of the matter remains that such ‘petty’ irregularities and opportunistic behavior by those in positions of power and influence or are close to one is seen as an act of disdain and disrespect for the common public, especially in these difficult times when the common people are looking up to the leaders for succour and reassurance. And when such petty mattes are left unattended, it can culminate into an issue which could spiral out of control sooner than anyone can expect.
There also remains the unfortunate practice of elected representatives to portray themselves as the provider of favours to the people when in actuality, it is their sworn duty, a position they begged for with folded hands and pleadings from the very people they are ruling over rather than serving. The need of the hour which should be considered as important if not more, as keeping the people safe from the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic is to provide a sense of fairness and empathy of the uncertainties and psychological challenges of the common public. Addressing any grievance, however trivial it might seem at the very onset should help in preventing issues from blowing up and adding to the crisis. Drawing up and implementing a uniform procedures and system across the state will ensure greater transparency and speedy operations and will also go a long way in assuaging the concerns of the public especially in rural and remote areas where the feeling of inequality in providing the basic requirements and other assistances by the state authorities still runs strong.
The mark of a true leader is to display the ability to rise over petty politics and individual concerns and commit to the good of the people. This is the perfect opportunity to shine, and the people are expectant.