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Items filtered by date: Saturday, 11 November 2017 - Imphal Free Press
Sunday, 12 November 2017 00:00

35th women foundation day of ZBC held

TAMENGLONG | Nov 11

 The Women department of Zeliangrong Baptist Church, Tamenglong, today celebrated the 35th Women Foundation Day at Zeliangrong Baptist Church Tamenglong, under the theme ‘symbolic and representatives’.

 To mark the event, devotion, indigenous games and a marathon were held in the church complex.

 Suaihiamliu Riamei, Achamah Kamei and Sanghiamliu Kamei bagged the first, second and third position respectively, in the aforementioned marathon that kicked off from Jadonang Park Tamenglong and ended at the church premise.

 Zonal education officer Tamenglong, Gaidonlung, graced the occasion as speaker and exhorted all the women of Zeliangrong Baptist Church to be a symbol in the society for glorying God.

Published in News
Sunday, 12 November 2017 00:00

Charuangc 2017 held in Delhi with gaiety

IMPHAL | Nov 11

The Rongmei people staying in Delhi and National Capital Region held their Charuangc 2017 on Saturday at Thyagraj Stadium, New Delhi.

The function was attended by Gaikhangam, MLA, Manipur Legislative Assembly as the chief guest.

A statement issued by the organizing committee, Charuangc in Ruanglat (language of the Rongmei people) means “social gathering for a cause”.

In the hectic life of metros, Charuangc was started in 2012 to provide a platform for the Rongmei people to come together, meet each other, interact with each other, know each other and build unity and build up community spirit.

Charuangc encourages socialization and enables the community members to hone their social etiquette. Exposure to charuangc, especially at the impressable stage of life, is vital towards building and instilling social and moral values.

Such activities are also crucial for harnessing and sustaining important aspects of community life such as respect for and honour of fellow beings. We are witnessing society in constant change and fluidity. In the face of obscure transition, we consciously or unconsciously reject the traditional values of our culture in favour of the fast and popular culture. Our society was once proud of its unique culture that highly values the spirit of collectivism and community-centrism.

We are witnessing a steady gravitation towards individualism where an individual’s aspiration is highly celebrated as opposed to the egalitarian collective achievement and wellbeing. Personal achievement is certainly imperative in contributing to the greater good of the society. However, our values, ethos and purpose of life also need to be oriented towards and in tune with that of the society for the larger collective good.

Charuangc 2017 is based on Games and Sports. Eight Houses named after the famous personalities, rivers, lakes and mountains in Rongmei areas viz. Meiriangh, Gayriammang, Khowduang, Kamningchyng, Kasuakcbut, Zeihlat, Alangh and Apinc competed with much sportsmanship and enthusiasm Football, Volley Ball, Track and Field events and traditional games like Gah Pinhmei, Tug-of-War, extreme sports and Dui Zumei. Kamningchyng House emerged as the Champion House. Children also had a joyful time racing, breaking the balloons, breaking the pots and jumping for chocolates.

T.T. Kabui, Charuangc Py blessed and extolled the Rongmei people to do well in life  and to be successful. Rev. Thomas Kahmei, Finance Secretary of Rongmei Phwam Delhi pronounced the blessing prayer for the freshers. Pouh Machunlung Kamei, Chairman of RPD, in his welcome speech extolled the Rongmei to encourage and support each other to make the community stronger, and to strive to become good leaders in various fields like politics, social, cultural, academics, bureaucracy and sports. Rev. Kadimna Gangmei exhorted the youngs on the need to be proud of one’s identity, to have realistic attainable motivation and to be disciplined. The Chief Guest gave an eloquent speech on the need to interact and network and to communicate. He said there are many teachers but very few to obey, everybody knows what is needed to be done but there are few doers. He extolled the people to explore and expand one’s potential. He also spoke on the richness of our areas and God’s blessings in many ways. He also spoke on the technological development and said that why we are behind the others in technology is because of our weakness. The function ended on a high note with Words of Gratitude from Rev. Jaojian Gangmei, Information & Publicity Secretary of RPD and Ms Gaichanglungliu Kamei (IRS), Commissioner of Income Tax.

Published in News

 By Kuwar Singh

Unlike other roadside vendors, Pratima Devi refuses to wear an air mask. She runs her fingers round her spectacles, explaining that little drops condense on her lenses whenever she puts on a mask.

The 45-year-old vendor has abandoned her coveted stall license in Ima Keithel to sell phaneks and shawls on the main road in Imphal’s cacophonous Khwairamband Bazaar, where trucks, cars, autorickshaws and motrobikes hurtle past her and other vendors who sit in a precarious position on the traffic divider. A thin, dirty smell of smoke hangs around them during peak hours.

 The Bazaar is flanked with buildings of Manipur’s internationally-renowned Ima Keithel, where thousands of women vendors sell every household item from fresh flowers to mosquito nets.

 While Ima market can trace its origins to the sixteenth century, its three present compounds - the old market, the new market and Lakshmi market were built by the state government in 2010. They would prove a short-lived comfort; in January 2016, a 6.7 magnitude earthquake shook the city and severely damaged two of the buildings.

 “It was good that at least the quake came at night, so the rubble didn’t fall on the women,” says Shanti Thoudam, president of Nupi Keithel Sinfam Amadi Saktam Kanba Lup, the Ima market vendors’ association.

 The damaged compounds had been built by private contractor Simplex Infrastructures for National Building Construction Company. The old market building, constructed in the same area by the public works department (PWD), was the only one of the three left standing, albeit with a crack or two.

 Pratima had owned a garment stall in the new market compound. She was now among the two thousand vendors stranded on the footpath. As an aid measure, PWD built a makeshift shed nearby for them to temporarily carry their business before the buildings were repaired.

 When they set up, the vendors saw that unlike the compounds, which were open from all sides, the shed only had two openings at the end of long, narrow lanes with little room or ventilation.

 “Each woman is allotted 22 inches of space here,” association president Shanti says. “In the compound, we had 34 to 36 inches.”

 Vendor RK Thoibi, 72, says she had stayed in the shed for less than two weeks when she fell sick. In time, and there has been an abundance of it, Thoibi and a few others would return to the footpaths. Pratima went with them.

 The women say their main concern is not congestion itself, but the impact it has on their business. The shed’s dizzyingly colourful lanes cannot accommodate enough customers to sell the stocks of two thousand vendors. And most people only approach the handful of stalls at the opening of the lanes. A few steps inside, a fading smell of fresh garments hangs in the air, and vendors outnumber their customers.

Waiting for buyers, the women converse in resigned tones over red tea, boiled potatoes and roti cooked on oil. They kill time playing Ludo or popping foam fruit covers. Some of them fiddle with their stock; tie a knot at the end of a shawl, pull a thread off a pillow cover. Some others use their cloth piles to lounge on. It has been almost two years since the earthquake, and this temporary situation feels more permanent to them every day.

The BJP government in April had announced that the reconstruction of the buildings will be finished before September. “But now they say it will go on until March next year,” Shanti says.

 A delivery in March is also not certain. Private contractor Chandrahas Singh is retrofitting the compounds on a PWD contract. “We have more than 200 men working on the two compounds,” his site supervisor Momo Kh says. “But we could not get any construction material to the site during the blockade.”

The United Naga Council had called for a blockade of the national highways leading to Imphal last November to protest the creation of new districts in what it viewed as Naga-dominated regions. The blockade lasted for over four months.

 “We had managed to successfully procure the construction material but during the blockade it was lying in Dimapur,” says PWD’s executive engineer Randhir Singh. “We had to send it back to Guwahati and hire a warehouse to keep it there.”

 In front of the site, wrapped in her sunflower-print shawl, Pratima sits on a spread out gunny bag. There are few privileges in being on the footpath, but she now gets dozens of customers, even though they tend to walk away too soon amid rushing traffic and blaring horns.

 “Police harass us. Municipal officers harass us.” she says chewing her paan. “They say we don’t have permits.”

 On Tuesday afternoon, police officers again arrived in the market with lathis and rifles to drive vendors out of the street. No reason was given, and no reason was asked for.  The whistling men marched from one side to the other; beating their lathis on the road as the female officials nudged the vendors to pack their merchandise quickly.

Old women turned to pedestrians for help in carrying the stockpiles. Some vendors left for home, others walked around listlessly with their bags. The ice cream carts cycled away.

 The road was cleared within minutes. It now looked broader than usual. One of the policemen, who at this point was speaking into a megaphone, smiled triumphantly to himself. More armed officers and media persons had arrived. Women from the temporary shed were called to the reconstruction site.

 After an hour of waiting, a cavalcade of SUVs stopped by and out emerged the housing and urban development minister Th Shyamkumar. The minister beamed at the crowd, his palms folded in salutation. Among those gathered, Pratima kept craning her neck to see him.

 The minister spoke with the market president and other vendors from the shed, as well as with the contractor and government officials, all readily present at his disposal. He understands their pain, he kept saying to the women.

 Before leaving, the minister announced that he has received assurance from the contractor that the buildings will be completed and handed over to his department on the festival of Phairen Manchami on January 22. The crowd burst into applause. The women’s faces lit up.

 “We wanted the buildings before Diwali. Now we want them before Holi next year,” association president Shanti had said earlier. “Otherwise we will go on a protest.”

 Many vendors of Ima market work their calendars in terms of festivals, when sales spike. Now they have been promised the buildings a festival too early.

 But Pratima and a few others are not holding their breath. Soon after the minister left, they went back to spread their mats and set up their stalls, keeping a cautious eye out for the police.

The history of the market is chequered with threats to its survival. In 2010, the tremors again shook its foundations. But the mothers have been enduring on for centuries. Ima Keithel persists.

Published in News

Part III

I am a human being and I am not perfect. So, please kindly read the message and not the messenger  

By Sanjoo Thangjam

Sunita was born a candala, a member of the untouchable class. He was not educated; in fact, by laws he wasn't allowed to learn. It would have been a grave offence if he had been caught writing or speaking even one words from the Vedas ( the holy teachings of the Brahmins). He wasn't allowed to enter a place of worship, and he had been overheard reciting one of the Vedic prayers, his tongue would have been cut out. If he was caught even listening to them, he would have had a spike driven into his ears. This was their law.

He was born near the Rajagaha area, and people who belonged to the untouchable caste survived by cleaning streets, drains and toilets. They disposed of dead animals and did other "dirty" unmentionable work that no one else would do. They wore scraps of cloth, which barely covered their nakedness, and weren't allowed access to the public wells. To touch the water reserved for the higher-caste people was to pollute not only the water, but the casted people who used it as well.

Any contact and the high caste person had to perform extensive rituals to cleanse themselves, and the untouchable would be severely punished.

Sunita collected night soil, human waste,  and took it to the fields in two large buckets suspended on a pole carried on his shoulders. You can imagine how filthy he was, and how foul the ugly smell was that exuded from every pore. Flies and other insects covered not only the buckets, but his body as well. His unkempt hair was matted and his skin as black as night from dirt and excrement. He was never but an inch away from starvation; every borne in his body protruded against his leathery, sundried skin. He had no home; he slept on the side of the road wherever he happened to wind up at the end of the day.

Sunita was late on his collection rounds collecting one morning and when he looked up the street, he saw a group of monks approaching. There was a beautiful golden aura surrounding them and he could tell by their bearing that they were of the higher castes. Sunita knew that he was not allowed to make an eye contact with anyone outside his caste, nor was he to let his shadow even fall across theirs. Immediately afraid, he started to look for a place to hide. He felt ashamed and he didn't want the monks to see him. He didn't want to be accused of unlawfully looking at them.

There was nowhere to go, no alleyway , nearby , so stood up against the nearest wall , put down  his pole , and with his arms folded in front of him bowed as low as he could. He hoped with all his heart that they pass by without ridiculing him or complaining that he was fouling the air they breathed or the earth they walked.

Sensing the group of monks close by, he couldn't believe it when he heard a voice call out, " Dear friend;  would you like to join us?" Now his fear was combined with a tentative feeling of joy. He couldn't bring himself to raise his head or even answer the speaker.

The Buddha had stopped in front of him. Sunita whispered, " I am a candala, my Lord. I am not even allowed to speak to you. I am grateful for your words; no one has ever spoken kindly to me before. Your voice brings joy and light to my heart."

The Buddha stood there waiting patiently. Sunita found himself feeling stronger and happier by the second. Finally he was able to say, " If you would have this miserable, wretched untouchable, I would gladly go with you to become a monk."

The Buddha said, " Come, O monk!" and that was Sunita's ordination.

Sunita followed the Buddha and the other monks to their monastery. He was shown where to bathe and his head was shaved. Ananda, the Buddha's chief attendant brought him how to dress. Everyone at the monastery was so kind that day and every day. Not a day went by that Sunita didn't bless the Buddha and his brother monks for their limitless (Karuna)  compassion."

Sunita blossomed very quickly. The Buddha gave him an object for meditation, and told him to find a secluded corner of the monastery and practice. Sunita was so grateful for the Buddha kindness. He felt like he owed him - and all the of the Sangha members - to try his very best to strive for the highest goal. And Sunita did become enlightened, an arahat. It was far beyond his wildest dreams ; in fact, before meeting the Buddha, he have had no dreams at all.

From that moment on, the people of all ranks respected and paid homage to Sunita when he taught them the way to attainment. His attainment set an example for all time. The Buddha showed the world the true meaning of nobility; a person was noble because of good actions. Sunita's story also demonstrated the fact that social conventions are meaningless when viewed in the light of the unlimited  (Karuna) compassion and vision of the Buddha.

The Buddha taught that everyone's  tears and blood are the same colour. By birth no one is high or low caste, it was by their actions that people were judged high or low. Just as the water of each river has its own name, but upon reaching the ocean the river water became ocean water. Likewise, when any person enters the order, he becomes one with the sangha.

The writer is a lay Buddhist and a Human Rights Activist for People Who Use Drugs (PUD).

Published in Articles

By Mohammad Imtiyaj Khan

Reservation is in competition in different states of late. After Tamil Nadu govt’s decision to exceed the Supreme Court mandated 50% cap in reservation, recently Rajasthan govt increased reservation to 54%. Central govt few weeks back expressed in principle acceptance of the inclusion of six communities of Assam under Scheduled Tribes (ST) list. It was also reported that the benefit will be extended even to Brahmins and some upper caste Hindus in the state. Back home in Manipur, demand for inclusion of Meeteis/Meiteis under ST list is gaining momentum. The Scheduled Tribe Demand Committee of Manipur (STDCM) submitted a memorandum on July 16 this year to revive the pending demand since 2013. The memorandum highlighted the historical, geographical and socio-economic reasons for the demand. Though the name of the committee doesn’t specify any community (somewhat surprising!), the memorandum sought inclusion of Meiteis/Meeteis under ST list, while it absent-mindedly left out fellow indigenous communities. The mixed response and limited support of the demand among Meiteis/Meeteis ignited intelligent and unintelligent minds to huddle for multiple discussion sessions deliberating on the pros and cons. Criticism also came from some hillsmen. Is there any ulterior motive behind naming the demand committee as STDCM, even as they demand only for one community? In Manipur, in the recent past, with mushrooming of civil society organisations, some of such non-inclusive committees turned out to be demand-happy, Manipur-is-us-we-are-Manipur organisations that have often led to fissures in mass movements and eventually became reasons of failure of movements against corruption, backwardness, AFSPA, Hill-Valley divide, territorial integrity, and so on. Among the indigenous communities left out by STDCM, Pangals constitute the largest community. Recently, All Manipur Muslim Organisations Co-ordinating Committee (AMMOCOC), an apex body of Pangals, called for a joint-ST demand for all indigenous communities of Manipur. Apparently, AMMOCOC’s proposal is to indirectly question why STDCM went ahead with the demand only for Meiteis/Meeteis, especially because the justifications included in the July 16 memorandum were commonly applicable for all the indigenous communities in the state, more so for Pangals.

Sub-community of Meiteis

One of the yelhoumee (indigenous) communities of Manipur, known by its unique name Pangal, has been living in the state for centuries following the same socio-cultural practices as that of Meiteis/Meeteis. Almost every account available about Pangal history in Manipur share the undisputed fact that Pangals are family members/blood relatives of Meeteis/Meiteis as more than four centuries back Meitei/Meetei ningols (daughters) became mothers of today’s Pangals. Now, after more than four centuries of cross-breeding and socio-cultural mixing, without doubt, it could be said that Pangals form a distinct sub-community under the Meitei/Meetei community. Based on this fact, Pangals were accorded OBC status after Mandal Commission recommendations implementation started in 1993 as a community called as Meitei-Pangal.

Pangals

Historically, Pangals were just known by the term ‘Pangal’ before British started (in)direct interference in the politics and governance of the Kangleipak kingdom, historical name of Manipur. The kings and public never referred to Pangals by any other term, however, British records that appeared by the end of 19th century onwards referred Pangals as Mohamadans, particularly because the community patriarchs were Muslims/Mohamadans and the community follow Islam. It is worth mentioning that Islamic practices were never a matter of concern to the kings of Kangleipak. In fact, the kings were very much secular and granted Pangal community special provisions for practising Islam.

Economically backward

The Pangal community formed only 4% of the total population of Manipur way back in the beginning of 20th century (Imperial Gazetteer of Assam Bengal 1909), which increased to 5% in the year 1947 (as per Manipur State Constitution Act 1947), to 7.3% in 1991, and then 8.4% in 2011. The population of Manipur rose from approx. 2.8 lakh in the beginning of 20th century to 18,37,149 in 1991, and 28,55,794 in 2011 which is almost a 10-fold increase. Compared to this, Pangals had just 2.1-fold increase in 100 years. In addition to this, as per the only socio-economic survey conducted in 2004 by Manipur Govt., the Pangals (or Meitei-Pangals) are economically backward owing to various reasons. According to All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) 2016, Pangal representation in higher education (among teachers) is 1.6%, down from 2% in 2011-12 (AISHE), and 2.5% (among non-teaching staffs), despite 4% reservation policy in Govt jobs adopted in 2006 by state govt. The just announced results of the MPSC conducted college teacher recruitment drive are not going to level off the existing shortfall in Pangal representation in higher education institutes of Manipur. As the reservation policy didn’t include reservation in admission to higher education, in 2015-16, only 3.6% enrolled for higher education in Manipur were Pangals (Muslims) (AISHE 2016). As a consequence of such policy oversight, the aforementioned MPSC recruitment drive couldn’t find qualified candidates in many disciplines, even though there were reserved seats available for Pangals.

Reservation and access to hills

Among the indigenous communities of Manipur, Meeteis/Meiteis and Pangals have more or less similar culture, shared history for four centuries, and similar mother tongue. These two communities co-inhabit the valley, which accommodates more than two-third population of the state. More than reservation in jobs and other benefits, the silver lining of the ST demand is the access to hills by valley people as the hills (90% of Manipur’s land area) have so far remained exclusively for tribals protected by certain constitutional provisions. Be it for reservation in jobs and other benefits or access to hill land, the demand for inclusion in ST list cannot ignore the interests of the most backward community of Pangals. The STDCM’s unacceptable attitude of excluding Pangals has left the community in lurch. The sentiment of the community was rightly presented in an article recently published in The Assam Tribune. In the article, Pradip Phanjoubam, the editor of Imphal Free Press, indicated that granting ST status would help in pacifying the growing sense of injustice among certain communities, which have more or less same economic status as that of listed STs.

(Mohammad Imtiyaj Khan teaches at Gauhati University. The views expressed in this article are personal. He can be contacted at nohimbo@gmail.com.)

Published in Articles
Sunday, 12 November 2017 00:00

Wrangles In Mapithel Dam; Legal Perspectives

By Jajo Themson

Introduction

There have been numerous instances of contradiction where Judiciary orders and actions of project developers and other administrative machineries happened to be squabble. History of India clearly revealed instances of discord between constitutional framework and real execution of infrastructural development projects such as Mining, Industries, Railway, Airport, National & state Highway construction, mega dam projects etc. and corresponding negative blows to the existing environment & forest laws and other procedural systems and impacts upon the original settlers who actually owned land and resources.

Among the developmental projects of Manipur, the Mapithel dam is one which is associated with various areas of controversies. In all the anomalies, case litigation is one of the challenges that lie at different level of courts which are considered the most serious squabble in the Mapithel dam of Thoubal Multipurpose Project. The three decades old Mapithel dam project bears a vivid picture of serious violations of trampling Court’s order and arrayed from basic norms, rules, guidelines of World Commission on Dams and intervention of the UNSR that professed for indigenous peoples rights over their land and natural resources and right to live.

The 36 years old Mapithel dam project has been intertwined in the cobweb of triangular layers of cases so far. The first case was filed before the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) through the Naga Women Union Manipur ((NWUM) in 2012. However, it is observed that this case being in a mere statutory body, could not take up to the level of strict court system. The second case lies pending before the Manipur High Court (The then Guwahati High Court) since 2011 on Rehabilitation & Resettlement (R&R) matter. And the third layer of case is before the National Green Tribunal (NGT), a Fast Track wing of the Supreme Court of India on Forest & Environment, is litigation against the violations of Forest Conservation Act, 1980 & Forest Rights Act, 2006.

Case before the Manipur High Court

The case before the Manipur High Court is related to Rehabilitation & Resettlement (R&R) issues which was under the purview of the Expert Review Committee (ERC) constituted by a Govt. Order Vide No. 20/1/2005-IFC (Pt) dated 18th January & 14th February 2008. Seven rounds of official meetings were hold from 2008 till February 2011 under the banner of the ERC. Field Experts of 11 Govt. departments took up exhaustive effort to work out a conducive conclusion. Series of field investigation were carried out in the affected area in three years duration. Subsequently, those experts submitted their field visit reports but the whole process was scrapped when the same Govt. issued an Office Memorandum (OM) on 13 June 2011.

Thus, the affected villagers headed by the Mapithel Dam Affected Villages Organization (MDAVO) filed a case in July 2011 against the said OM which was in favor of only two affected villages. Additional case was filed by the Village Authorities of Chadong against formation of new affected committee by name, Mapithel Dam Multipurpose Project Displaced Villages Committee (MDMPDVC) and the secret agreement they entered with state Govt. on 24/9/2012. The Guwahati High Court was pleased to pass an interim order on its prema facie case, dated 25/4/2012 stating that, the MDMPDVC is a Bogus Committee and hence the agreement they signed on 24/9/2011 shall stay until further order.

JVT & subsequent actions violate High Court’s Stay Order

While it was clearly inculcated in the interim order not to proceed further on R & R matter, a Joint Verification Team (JVT) was instituted on 28/9/2012, followed by forced Household verification in October & November 2012 free hand even after the Court served a legal notice on dated 10th November 2012. A Contempt of Court was filed on 16th January 2013 for defiling of Court’s Order. Still then, further household verifications were carried out and RR packages were paid to some beneficiaries. Besides all these independent actions, the Court disposed off the Contempt case in September 2013 substantiating the vacate petition filed from the Mapithel project Proponent, Govt. of Manipur. And thus, the main case has been left in multiple times adjournment without final verdict for over five years.

Case before National Green Tribunal (NGT)

In another case litigation, the affected villagers filed a case before the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in August 2013 against 3 decades long illegal construction of Mapithel dam without obtaining the mandatory Forest and Environment Clearances. On confirming the illegality, the construction of the project was halted by the NGT court in its Order dated 12th November 2013 & 20th of November 2013 for violation of Forest & Environment acts, stating that, the project be maintained its Status Quo till 23rd January 2014 for necessary compliance of rules as per the acts. The said court issued the Interim orders based on the recommendations of the Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA), a nodal Ministry regarding R&R and other related matters in November 2013. However, the 33 years old violations of National Green acts was resolved as the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest & Climate Change (MoEF & CC) granted the Stage-II final Forest & Environment Clearances on 31st December 2013 and subsequent Clearance order of the NGT on 15:01:2014 without going through the in-depth of the contraventions.

The petitioners filed an Appeal case on 15thDecember2014 being the grant of Environment & Forest Clearances by the Ministry of Environment & Forest & Climate Change (MoEF & CC) and subsequent NGT Court Order were premature and miscarried justice. The petitioners further applied for reviewing of the judgment on 22nd March 2016, which was admitted on 7th April 2016. The NGT court on dated 21st November 2016 issued an order for final verdict of the Review case on 22 December 2017.

Comment & Conclusion

It is a testimony of bitter experience that it seems hopeless for the general public to receive justice unless judiciary wing is given real independent function as a guardian of law. Practice of maintaining thin-line relativity between Legislature and Judiciary is one of the biggest challenges in Manipur. It’s ever true that Justice delayed is justice denied. It is remarkable that question of credibility of state Judiciary becomes high. Many instances of major case left in a marathon of adjournment on a beat to make the case a natural death. The case of Mapithel dam before the state High Court is going to be a clear testimony where denial of justice suffices up to the successive failure of justice in the land.

Further, the case of forest and environment acts violation in Mapithel dam project might be the first case litigation before the NGT court from Manipur. The power of Forest & Environment laws of India is being manifested through the case history of Mapithel dam. Decades of serious violations of letter and spirit of the FCA, 1980 and FRA, 2006 seem to be diluted in terms of some penal fines to the perpetrators without resuscitating or rectifying the contraventions. This is becoming a bad precedent in the history of Manipur and substantiates another chapter of entire India where justice was not done to the forest dependent communities making the Forest and Environment laws a mockery.

Lastly, the introduction of Single Window System by the Union MoEF&CC on Forest & Environment Clearances in September, 2017 is yet new challenges for the indigenous communities as the same was launched solely in the interest of project developers to safe time, price and ensure quality supply while provision of enough space for independent decision of the land, forest and resources owners seem to be erased with less consideration. It is suggested that timely voice of the general public will save nine in the interest of development justice.

(The author is a social activist. He can be reached at thmsontezonge@gmail.com)

Published in Articles
Sunday, 12 November 2017 00:00

Pollution affects Beauty

By Shahnaz Husain

Pollution has become buzzword in the region in Delhi /NCR and is affecting normal functioning of life  due to toxic air and  heavy blanket of smog leading to  zero  visibility throughout the day .While pollution takes toll on environment and health but it also affects natural beauty very adversely .Highly toxic air  containing smoke, soot, acid and other pollutants severely  affect skin by  draining  away skin moisture  which leads to allergies  and    pigmentation spots on the forehead and cheeks on dry and rough skin.

The toxic haze hanging over Delhi /NCR cause uneven skin tone, accelerated ageing , wrinkles and black spot  on face

Among the other organs of the body, the skin is also one of the first to bear the brunt of air pollutants, which not only attack the skin surface, but also lead to an accumulation of toxins. In fact, they are potent skin irritants. There are both long and short term effects of pollutants. Firecrackers during weddings and festivals also add to the chemicals in the air, which are potent skin irritants.  Chemical pollutants cause oxidation damage and this can lead to the manifestation of premature ageing signs on the skin, like wrinkles, loss of elasticity, dark patches and spots, etc. Chemical pollutants also disrupt the normal balances of the skin and scalp, leading to problems like dryness, sensitivity, rashes, acne, irritation or allergic reactions, dandruff and related conditions. They also make the skin and hair dull, lacking vitality. All of us who live and work in urban areas need protective beauty care, whether they are housewives or working women. Of course, for working women, the job may involve traveling long distances to work. The skin is thus more exposed to the pollutants in the air.

Cleansing of the skin assumes more importance in order to get rid of the impurities and pollutants that are deposited on the skin. If you have a dry skin, use a cleansing cream or gel.  For oily skins, cleansing milk or face wash may be used. For oily skin, also use a facial scrub after cleansing. Look out for products with ingredients like sandalwood, eucalyptus, mint, neem, tulsi, aloe vera, etc., when you buy cleansers. The anti-toxic and tonic properties of such ingredients have helped in clearing the skin congestion and eruptions that result from exposure to chemical pollutants. Aloe vera, for example, is also a powerful moisturizer and an anti-oxidant. So are ingredients like apricot kernel oil, carrot seed, wheatgerm oil, etc. the skin needs to be protected. If the skin is prone to eruptive conditions like acne, pimples, rash, it should protected with specialized creams that not only protect, but also reduce oiliness and deal with the problem.

After cleansing, wipe the skin with a rose based skin tonic or rose water, to complete the cleansing process and refresh the skin. Soak cotton wool in chilled rose water and tone the skin with it, patting briskly. It also improves blood circulation to the skin surface and adds a glow. Green tea also makes a good skin toner. If there is a rash or eruptions, add a little rose water to sandalwood paste and apply on the face. Wash off with plain water after 15 minutes.

Anti-pollution cosmetics help to provide protection and reduce the damage caused by environmental effects. These are basically “cover creams” that form a barrier between the skin and pollutants.   sandalwood protective cream is very useful  to protect the skin from environmental effects. It forms a transparent protective cover. Sandalwood soothes the skin and protects it from irritative reactions and eruptive conditions. It suits all skin types and increases the skin’s moisture retention ability too.

The hair also needs frequent washing if one regularly travels long distances for their work. Pollutants also collect on the scalp. Shampoo, hair rinses, serums and conditioners help to restore the normal balances if they contain ingredients like amla, brahmi, trifala, bhringaraj and henna. They also coat the hair and form a protective cover. Mix one teaspoon each of vinegar and honey with one egg. Massage the mixture lightly into the scalp. Leave on for half and hour and then wash the hair. Rinse well with water.

Or, give the hair hot oil therapy. Heat pure coconut oil and apply on the hair. Then dip a towel in hot water, squeeze out the water and wrap the hot towel around the head, like a turban. Keep it on for 5 minutes. Repeat the hot towel wrap 3 or 4 times. This helps the hair and scalp absorb the oil better. Leave oil on overnight and wash hair the next day.

The impurities and pollutants can also affect the eyes, causing burning or redness. The eyes should be washed with plain water several times. Soak cotton wool pads in chilled rose water and use them over the eyes as eye pads. Lie down and relax for fifteen minutes. This really helps to remove fatigue and brightens the eyes.

(The author  Shahnaz Husain is international fame beauty expert and is called Herbal   Queen of India

Published in Articles
Sunday, 12 November 2017 00:00

Friendless Rohingyas find sectarian friends

By Garga Chatterjee

The attempted ethnic cleansing of the Rohingyas by the mostly Myanmar Army is a huge humanitarian crisis. There have been deaths, rapes, arsons and burning of whole villages. This started a huge exodus of Rohingya refugees into the neighbouring People’s Republic of Bangladesh. Myanmar government maintains that Rohingyas are Bengalis. Some also Bengalis claim that Rohingyas are Bengalis. Rohingyas say that Rohingyas are Rohingyas.

Rohingyas appear to be particularly friendless, especially among stake holders who matters and not Erdogan type neo-fascist Ottomans who want to project a sort of leadership position in the Sunni “Ummah” by public acts of benevolence through relief giving photo-ops of his wife and an offer of building 1 lakh shelters. It is cynical but apart from Bangladesh, that’s huge and at this point, everything counts – even aid from USA and India. The so-called Sunni “Ummah” does not treat brown Muslims are equal human beings, so naturally, the great defenders of the 2 holy sites of Islam are busy devastating Yemen and have not made any offer to provide refuge to fleeing Rohingyas or even the Muslims among the Rohingyas. China has sided with Myanmar government. USA seems unmoved by their plight. The Indian Union has sent token relief to Bangladesh but has proclaimed Rohingyas inside the Indian Union as illegal immigrants and not refugees and has instructed its Border Security Forces to confront Rohingyas with pepper spray. It is sick but that is to be expected from a government at New Delhi that is driven by Hindi-Hindu-Hindustan ideology. In many ways, this reflects the sad reality of a post-Cold War quasi-unipolar world where effective multi-polarity is still more theoretical than real. The Soviet Empire, with all its ills, was an effective check against unipolarity of the Yankee Empire. Thus, when a flashpoint happened or a huge humanitarian crisis happened, if one of them sided with the perpetrators, the other sided with the victims. Rohingyas today are friendless largely due to the loss of that global political balance. China has had a long standing relationship with Myanmar during its wilderness years- thus acquiring mineral resources, mineral exploration rights and crucial infrastcuture including a port and pipeline project that will enable oil supplies to come from the Gulf to China bypassing the straits of Malacca. The Indian Union is playing a make up game for the benefit of its own big Banias who bankrolled BJP’s rise to power in 2014. Its payback time. There are projects in Myanmar for Delhi to grab and handout to these big Banias and some such projects are already in place. There is nothing that Rohingyas offer to anyone in any cynical cost benefit analysis. Bangladesh, a very poor state, is left holding the bag and the refugees on its own land that is the largest landmass in the world at its density of population level.

In this context, the enthusiasm and solidarity of pan-Islamists of all hues, from the benign to outright genocide supporters of Bangladesh 1971, have been the biggest impediment for non-Muslim solidarity, especially among non-Muslims in the Indian Union and the People’s Republic of Bangladesh.  If these pan-Islamists were actually interested about the plight of Rohingyas, rather than using their images of real Rohingya plight and in many cases manufacturing fake images of Rohingya plight, they would have desisted from playing sectarian political games in their own domestic context. But that moment is over. In fact, such a moment of possibility has ceased to really in the 24 hour multimedia networked world and the huge social media presence. From the moment the Rohingya crisis erupted, “Islamic” solidarity erupted too with full vigour and it asked the question “Are Rohingya Muslims not humans?” without any irony. Such is the strength of this narrative that even the Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina mentioned in the Bangladesh parliament about the Muslim aspect of Rohingyas. As it turns out, most Rohingyas are Muslims but all Rohingyas are not Muslims. Many of the Hindu Rohingyas are also among the refugees and disturbing reports have emerged from TV media in Bangladesh about Hindu Rohingya refugees being raped and tortured in Rohingya camps. Additionally, BBC has reported a mass grave of Hindu Rohingyas, mostly female.  Though not independently verifiable, the Myanmar Army has claimed that this is the work of Muslim Rohingya insurgents, whose coordinated attacks on Myanmar Army outposts triggered the chain of events leading the brutal campaign of the Myanmar Army that caused the mass exodus. Reality is always more complicated than narratives that emerge out of it.  Otherwise, this subcontinent would not have produced so many Muslims who believe that Hindus are the worst type of human beings and so many Hindus who believe that Muslims are the worst type of human beings. In such contested times, the Rohingya issue becomes a ‘Muslim’ humanitarian issue and Erdogan becomes neo-Suleiman, the magnificent.

But one must try to understand why Sheikh Hasina too had to underline the “Muslim” bit when she meant Rohingya. There is a context. The Islamists of the opposition, including those who opposed the independence of Bangladesh, have charged the ruling party with “minority appeasement”. Minority appeasement is a charge that is always stuck to anyone who does not seem to actively promote hatred towards the communal other in this subcontinent made up of byproducts of a communal Partition. Dhaka has responded way beyond its means in this human disaster. The official but tacit Bengali nationalist understanding works at the relief camp level – the strong promotion of contraception among the hugely contraception unaccustomed Rohingyas. The message that emanates to the Rohingyas from this understanding is- “Refuge is okay for now, we would ideally want all of you to go and while you are here, we do not want you to increase in number in comparison to us who increase in much lower rates). Islamists have not lost an opportunity to spin the situation in accordance with their own divisive agenda through this issue and that has become one of the main, if not the main, narrative of why the Rohingya issue concerns Bangladesh. The reason is Muslim-Muslim solidarity. And that brings in a very fertile ground of a most hateful form of Islamic terrorism. And that association makes most governments very wary from getting associated (if being resource-less, poor, brown people without a state with its biggest neighbours hardly rushing to rescue altogether is not already bad enough). My friend and noted columnist Sarwar Jahan Chowdhury of Dhaka sums this up succinctly, “The beastly Islamist radicals and terrorists have brought so much bad name for the Muslims that even on a genuine and dire case of persecution of ordinary Muslims, the latter fail to draw appropriate empathy and necessary supportive action from the rest of the world.”. Only fools would believe that governing principle of White people’s charity money flow is just human compassion, not prejudiced ideology. A more acceptable veneer has been attempted on this by claiming Rohingyas to be Bengalis and hence it is one of national solidarity but that doesn’t cut much cake since Rohingyas themselves do not say they are Bengalis. They say they are Rohingyas. When the solidarity becomes faith based, the lens through which the perpetrators of violence against Rohingyas is viewed is coloured by that. Thus, the Buddhist becomes the perpetrator. No doubt hate-filled political Buddhism in Myanmar is part of the ideological frame, which makes this sort of ethnic cleansing possible. But then the response widens. There have been cases when some Buddhists of Bangladesh have been harassed and threatened by some Muslims, as revenge for Rohingyas. Thus, the action of the majority Buddhist Burmese does not help the case of the minority Buddhist citizens of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, a community already at the receiving end of attacks and destruction of Buddhist places of worship in Bangladesh. And it is also simultaneously true that for some CHT Buddhists, this is akin to the long awaited ‘Gujarat silent support’ of some Hindu Bengalis of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh – a rare celebrated moment of counterpunch for all the punches they have received in the hands of Muslims, Urdu and Bengali, in East Bengal-East Pakistan-People’s Republic of Bangladesh. Nothing could be sadder than this – that of victims of hate united with perpetrators of hate. That is a moment of dehumanization. The Muslim reference of Sheikh Hasina was probably avoidable, given this complex context in her own country.

In West Bengal, the Rohingya issue has had some play in public discourse. There are a few Rohingya refugees in West Bengal. The Union government has announced that it considers them as illegal immigrants and not refugees and hence liable to be deported. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has made her stance very clear on this issue. It is a humanitarian issue and she will not allow any Rohingya refugee to be deported from West Bengal. The Union government’s attitude on this humanitarian issue has been one of inhumanity, given its otherwise open-door policy on not deporting persecuted religious minorities from neighbouring states. Thus, Sunni Muslim minorities persecuted in their homeland are not fit for the even token verbal compassion compared to other persecuted religious minority groups. Like Sheikh Hasina, in the eyes of anti-Muslim Hindu communal forces of Hindi-Hindu-Hindustan ideology, Mamata Banerjee too is a minority appeaser. The few Muslim refugees are apparently plans to complete Islamize West Bengal under the watchful and willful actions of Mamata Banerjee, who they also accuse of being a closet Muslims. The fantastic, if not borderline insane, claims of this political front of West Bengal feeds off partly from the Delhi plan of making West Bengal a vassal state, an extension of the Hindi-Hindu-Hindustan hegemonic space, partly from the pathological hatred of Muslims many of them actually harbor and from the action of Islamists in West Bengal. For example, on this Rohingya issue, multiple protests were held in West Bengal. In Kolkata, the consulate was gheraoed by students and youths. Islamists didn’t join. Some Muslims did. Various hues of Islamists held their own protests. The one by the Student Islamic Organization (SIO) held banners which talked about ‘genocide of Muslims in Burma’, without even mentioning the term Rohingya! This is ironic because it is at this point still does not fulfill the internationally accepted definition of genocide, neither is it only Muslims who have been affected among the Rohingyas and Burma is now Myanmar, a name change that reflects an ideological shift. Another such protests by Islamists in Kolkata had a prominent Urdu-speaking loudmouth, with the self-certified authority of talking on the behalf of Muslims the 95% Bengali speaking Muslims of Bengal, conjuring up gory images of mass violence. He said that ‘our’ (‘Muslims’ as he imagines them) people might lay down 72 lives but will make sure that the other side has 1 lakh funerals. Such things were said in broad day light peppered by chants of Allah Hu Aknar. One of the main organizers of this protest was also one of the main organizers of the biggest protest in Kolkata (and read the next bit carefully because this is quite amazing and shocking) in support of war criminals of the 1971 Bangladesh genocide! These are the kind of elements and characters that the Rohingyas have in their support and that do not help the Rohingya cause but the utterly friendless Rohingyas cannot practically do much about it, even if they wanted to. And that is the tragedy of the Rohingyas. The Christian fundamentalist non-chalance of USA, the Hindi-Hindu-Hindustan imperial ideology of the Indian Union, the local variants of a hardline pan-Islamist ideology in Bangladesh, West Bengal and in Rakhine state and Burmese Buddhist ethno-nationalism of Myanmar  are the major narrative shapers here among the stake-holders.

 It is an intersection of stupendous hate from an assemblage that collectively represents a significant section of the scum of the earth. The Rohingyas are in the middle of it. And every other ideological ‘enemy’ of the different stake-holders are smaller co-victims.

And yet, the Rohingya issue and all the associated victims of communally inspired oppression, are also products of colonialism and the inherited political and structural nature of the seuccessor states. And these narratives of competitive hate often also miss out the various powerless ones, counted as members of such armies of hate but are people who are victims along multiple axis with little real freedom to stand apart in any meaningful way. That is often the majority of the people caught under terms like ‘Rohingyas’, ‘East Bengali Hindus’ and such. Thinker and political activist Khalid Anis Ansari of Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh, drives this point home – “Rohingya is an ethnic issue and a product of the constitutive violence of the nation-state in general. Homologically, it needs to be placed alongside the Tibet, Kashmir, Baloch and other similar conflicts. The framing of the Rohingya violence through the 'Islamophobic' lens (a replay of the Kashmir conflict) is part of the white imperial 'clash of civilizations' project and legitimizes all right wing 'native' voices, through competition and symbiosis, thereby excluding subaltern concerns.” History bears this out. It had different names in different times. From the Rohingyas of Myanmar to the Hindus of Bangladesh to the Muslims of Hindustan, what unites most of them is a lack of equal citizenship.

Published in Articles

By A Staff Reporter

IMPHAL | Nov 11

Imphal East District Legal Services Authority chairman, Golmei Gaiphulsilu said the legal services authority is ready to carry out legal awareness programme if proposal comes from any organisations, institutes or establishment till November 18.

She was speaking to media persons during the legal awareness programme conducted today at Manipur Central Jail, Sajiwa as a part of the observation of the 10-day nationwide campaign “Connecting to serve”.

The programme was organised by the Imphal East District Legal Services Authority and was sponsored by Manipur State Legal Service Authority.

The chairman said that such programme is organised in the jail to let the inmates become aware about their legal rights and the rules and duties to be followed by them.

Such programme will be helpful in their life when they got released from the prison as the society is running under a law, she added.

Advocate, Ch. Momon spoke on the topic, “Provision of Legal Service Authority Act” and social worker, Th. Bonbihari spoke on the topic “Rehabilitation Measures”.

Later in the afternoon as a part of the campaign the legal services authority organised painting competition at Eternal Spring English School, Sekta and essay competition at Gem Public School, Pourabi.

Published in News
Sunday, 12 November 2017 00:00

FEEDS president lauded on getting award

From Our Correspondent

KANGPOKPI | Nov 11

The Kuki Inpi Kangpokpi district including various CVOs and BJP Sadar Hills lauded FEEDS Hengbung president, Haokholet Kipgen on his achievement of Balipara Foundation Lifetime Service Award on November 3 at Guwahati.

The founder president of Foundation for Environment and Economic Service (FEEDS) Hengbung and former cabinet minister, Haokholet Kipgen was conferred the ‘Lifetime Service Award’ by Balipara Foundation during the fourth edition of Eastern Himalayan Naturenomics Forum 2017 at Vivanta by Taj, Khanapara, Guwahati Assam for embodying the core values of sustainable development through FEEDS.

Balipara Foundation Lifetime Service Award is given to an individual whose life has been devoted to the ecological of the people of the eastern himalayas and whose purpose has been guided by the need to protect, restore and care for nature.

Kuki Inpi Kangpokpi district and CVOs including UWC, KSO Sadar Hills appreciated the former Minister and FEEDS President for his achievement stating that he deserved the award considering his unrelenting efforts and struggles for the past many years fostering in the field of environment, economic and natural resource management in various part of the district and immensely contributing towards the welfare of the state.

“It is impossible to express our happiness and gratitude in language sufficiently” said the Kuki Inpi and CVOs appreciation message while adding that the Kuki Inpi on behalf of the entire Kuki community acknowledges the vast contribution made by the FEEDS Hengbung towards the society.

It also said that Kangpokpi District is fortunate to have such non-profit, non-political, non-religious, voluntary organization like FEEDS, a front-runner among voluntary organizations in the district which has rendered tremendous contribution in the society irrespective of caste, creed and religion.

It termed Kipgen as ‘Inspiring politician with constructive vision’ in the entire Manipur and Northeastern states considering his activities at FEEDS Hengbung and conveyed anticipation that anyone who happen to step inside the FEEDS campus would not say wrong with the title given by the Kuki Inpi and CVOs Kangpokpi.

Kuki Inpi and CVOs Kangpokpi wish kipgen a healthy and successful life ahead and pray that FEEDS Hengbung achieve more a momentous achievement in future.

Meanwhile, BJP Sadar Hills also conveyed its heartiest congratulation and appreciation to the Kipgen, who is also the former national vice president, ST Morcha and the current executive member for his Lifetime Service Award achievement.

The party general secretary, N.Sehjalien Gangte said that BJP Sadar Hills proudly expressed our sincere appreciation to the Kipgen for his commendable achievement and we feel fortunate to have such leader amidst us.

“May the Almighty bless you and your family including FEEDS, the host of institute of various projects and scientists and staffs in rendering service to the people”, he added.

Published in News
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About IFP

Imphal Free Press is a widely circulated English daily published in Manipur, North-East India. Started in 1996, it has relocated its head office from Sega Road, Imphal to Palace Gate, Imphal.

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