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Imphal Free Press - Imphal Free Press
Monday, 19 June 2017 00:00

Saplings planted at Ningthoukhong

From Our Correspondent
BISHNUPUR| June 18
Bishnupur based Army’s Manipur terriers, in association with Lions club of Ningthoukhong have organised yesterday, a tree sapling plantation program at Ningthoukhong ITI ground as part of the world environment day observation.
Rohit Srivastav, commanding officer at Manipur terriers, K. Mani singh, chairperson,  Ningthoukhong Municipal council, Th. Biren and other councillors, office bearers of Lions club launched the tree sapling program.
School students from Ningthoukhong area participated in the program and planted around 500 hundred tree saplings. Guard were installed to protect and tree saplings and troops from Manipur Terriers also participated in the program.
A rock concert organised by Manipur terrier, was also held as part of the program at Ningthoukhong Kha- Leikai community hall. Commander Loktak Brigade, Rajan AY, SP Bishnupur, chief engineer Loktak Project DS, Civil organisation and army personals attended the program. Several tree saplings were also planted at the vicinity of the community hall.

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By Amar Yumnam
Manipur has a tradition, particularly in the Valley, of social and familial emphasis on education as the primary focus. It has been the most significant foundation of social, political and economic strength of Manipur. But unfortunately this critical contributor to Manipur’s strength has not been getting enough and right attention of the government of the land for quite a few decades. Of course, the attention was given in the late 1970s and early 1980s in terms conversion into government institutes (I do not want to use the term nationalisation as the national purpose can be served by both public and private educational institutes). Unfortunately what soon followed and continued till very recently (even on the eve of recent Assembly elections) turned out to be focus only in appointments for personal aggrandisement by the powers that be instead of quality delivery and quantitative achievements.
It is exactly in this background that the new Education Minister of Manipur, Radheshyam, arouses interest, hope and expectations. Fortunately for us, he seems to be on the same page with the Chief Minister as is evident from the announcements of the latter in a state function felicitating successful students in recent examinations. The enthusiasm of both Education and Chief Minister is laudable as education has to be provided here and now without waiting for tomorrow. In the state celebration the Chief Minister even made, inter alia, two important announcements – one relating to Vocational Courses in the colleges and another relating to legislations in the offing. While the potential for lateral entry to the vocational courses in the colleges by school drop-outs is a wonderful application of mind as well as absorption of global lessons in this regard, the other announcements need further deliberations.
While education has to be provided here and now, interventions into this sector and designing the interventions are not an easy task. This is more so now than ever. Interventions in this sector are characteristically very different from interventions, for example, in road highways construction. There are lots of global and contextual issues to be thought over.
Here I would like to refer to the favourite and emphasised approach of Professor Kaushik Basu – evidence-based policy making. Since education as of now is the only critical strength of the Manipur society, legislation and other interventions into the prevailing scenario should not be done in a haste. While the contents and orientations of the forthcoming interventions are yet to be seen, it should not be a case of curiosity killing the cat. Education is an area where half-cooked food can really cause long term damages to the body. It is also an area where persons presumably educated but with very little, if any, knowledge of and exposure to the global education scenario can cause long-tern disasters. There are certain key issues demanding thorough understanding and application of evidence-based thinking.
First, before coming to the private sector institutes, are we in any case aware of the scenario of the government schools except that annual Matriculation and Higher Secondary Examination results depict poor outcomes? Have we done any detailed evaluation of the public expenditure incurred in this area over the last few decades about efficiency, effectiveness and equity? Have we done any kind of evaluation of the effectiveness or otherwise of training teachers? Have we assessed what the teachers in the government schools know and does it matter?
Second, we know that the private schools are providing education in a very mechanical way more or less. But we must accept the fact that they have been yielding results to the financial investments made by the parents of the students. We have not examined yet the relative weaknesses and strengths of the public and the private schools. We have not assessed the scenario of the private schools in a thorough manner where to intervene qualitatively or quantitatively.
Third, thinking of applying regulation on the private tuition scenario is right. But have we really digested the evolution and assessed the role and structure? Have we really endeavoured to digest the dynamics of this sector? Regulation here is very different from the one in the case of private practice of the government physicians.
Fourth, while thinking of intervention and applying regulations in school education, we really need to understand the differential needs of the mountains and the valley. We need to assess these to close the gap in achievements.
Fifth, when it comes to colleges, everyone laments that it is the missing link in Manipur’s education. But are we really applying our mind on this? The University where these colleges are affiliated do not apply her mind on the performance and achievement scenario in these colleges. Instead the affiliating University sees these as inferior components rather than critical components in shaping higher education and as only sources for some finance.
Sixth, we need a contemporary understanding of what exactly is the scenario in Manipur today about parenting education.
Well, here we may note that in about four months we would have the World Development Report 2018. This year the theme is on Education. Massive global deliberations are going on right now for producing a comprehensive report on the understanding that “(e)ducation is central to improving human welfare—both inherently and instrumentally—and yet there has never been a World Development Report on education. The WDR 2018, Learning to Realize Education’s Promise, represents an opportunity to take stock of what we know and to provide guidance on how to expand the scope and quality of education around the world. It will aim to lay the foundations for a sustained policy focus on learning outcomes and skills for life and work, and to provide guidance on how education systems can be reformed to deliver them.
“Through this WDR, the World Bank will try to answer several key questions: How can education drive development in all its dimensions, from employment to health to social cohesion—and how does poor policy sometimes undermine this promise of education? Are students acquiring the knowledge and skills they need to thrive, and if not, why not? What can countries do to promote learning and skills for all children and youth? And how can one ensure that when improvements do happen, they happen systemwide, and not just in localized and often unsustainable interventions?”
In this background, I would like to suggest a two-pronged strategy to the Government of Manipur. First, let us wait for some months till the WDR 2018 becomes available. Second, while waiting for the WDR 2018, the government may put in place studies to better understand the prevailing education scenario instead of immediately rushing ahead with regulations and interventions.
(The author is a Professor and Head: Department of Economics, Manipur University)

Published in Articles
Monday, 19 June 2017 00:00

Federal thoughts

The 16th anniversary of the June 18 uprising to protest the unconditional extension of the NSCN(IM) ceasefire “without territorial limits” in 2001, a move of the then BJP government at the Centre which had seemed to many to be an imminent threat to the territorial integrity of Manipur, was observed today with the same solemnity that marks the observation each year. A total of 18 people had lost their lives in firing by security forces during the day’s agitation and scores more were injured, demonstrating the public passion the issue commands, especially in the valley area of the state. The unmistakable statement sent out by those who were driven to take to the streets on the issue was loud and clear – Manipur will not be allowed to disintegrate at any cost. It is now everybody’s knowledge that the clause “without territorial limits” to the extension of the ceasefire had to be withdrawn before passions ultimately cooled. But the fact is, the ethnic divide in Manipur being what it is, there are others who still stand on the other side of this issue too. This was witnessed even today, with the United Naga Council calling for a total shutdown of Naga areas demanding exactly the opposite of what the tragic but heroic incident in Imphal on June 18, 2001, stands for. Indeed, Manipur’s cup of woe is destined to overflow some more – unless of course the people realize the inevitable destiny of geography and come out of their respective prisons of perspective. It will hardly need any explanation that this meta-narrative of geographical bondage cannot be undone at anybody’s whim without causing huge and tragic tremors in ethnic relations which can leave irreversible traumatic consequences. The unrest in June 2001 gave us all a glimpse of what turns things can take. It is reaffirming that even in the midst of the extreme ethnic tensions then, no murderous mayhem resulted between the communities in the hills or in the valley, and although it cannot be denied that many Nagas fled the valley in the heat of the agitation, leaving their homes and properties unguarded, nobody even thought of taking them over or move into them. When normalcy returned, things were thus where they always stood, and thankfully too.
June 18 must then also be a time to reflect on this unseen and unarticulated grace in ethnic relations beneath what seem to be mutually and uncompromisingly hostile frictions. The ultimate peace and reconciliation that must come about would have to begin with an acknowledgment of the existence of this umbilical cord, and then building on the sense of fraternity that this promises. Of course, this should also not mean homogenization of everything in the name of co-existence. This fraternity, if it must have any tangible meaning beyond its rhetoric, must also be about recognizing diversity and difference. Hence, the demand for autonomy by different communities must be given new thought and focus. However, as IFP has also written on so many other occasions, the territorial divide between hills and valley in ethnic terms is only as old as the advent of British land management system that laid a premium on separating “fiscal subjects” from “absent citizens”, therefore a new imagining is what is called for in today’s popular notion of territory and ownership. The idea that anything hill, including those embedded within the valley and have always been closely associated with the  myths and legends of valley dwellers, must be taboo for valley people, must go. If not, the opposite logic that anything valley must be reserved for the valley people must also apply. This does not however mean all existing ethnic territorial boundaries must be broken, but it does mean their rigidity must end. We also know from a generation which saw the state of things in the state in the 1940s and 1950s, many of whom are still alive, that many stretches of territory which what are now thickly populated, were virtually uninhabited, making our call for a reimagining of the notion of territory all the more relevant.
Perhaps the Meghalaya model of autonomy can be explored. The 6th Schedule covers the entire state, except for the Shillong municipal area, so that the administrative boundaries of the 6th Schedule ADCs and those of the state government overlap almost completely. There are inconveniences of this arrangement as those at the helm of Meghalaya administration will vouch, but the fact is, the two do not have to be mutually exclusive. If such an arrangement can give the sense of autonomous cultural space that so many in the state cry hoarse for, then there can be no harm experimenting with it. If this can resolve the issues of conflict and each community can within each of their autonomous cultural spheres, be themselves without worrying about annoying the other communities, nothing can be better. The state government can remain as the larger structure within which these culturally autonomous units can be find a federal unity.

Published in Editorial
Monday, 19 June 2017 00:00

Legal awareness camp

From Our Correspondent
KANGPOKPI | June 18
A Legal awareness camp jointly organised by All Manipur Gorkha Students' Union Kanglatongbi Unit and Kanglatongbi Gram Panchayat was held yesterday at Hindi Secondary High School, Kanglatongbi.
Dillip Katwal, SO, PWD, Krishna Bahadur Katwal, ex-pradhan KGP, Bir Bahadur Bista, senior citizen Kanglatongbi, Lok Bahadur Basnet, president Nepali Sahitya Parishad Manipur and Binda Pachai, ex-member, KGP were the presidium members of the awareness programme.

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Monday, 19 June 2017 00:00

PAWF poetry recitation held

MPHAL | June 18
Welfare association for the blind and Patriotic Writers’ forum (PAWF) organised yesterday, the 1st state level Patriotic Recitation competition 2017 at government ideal blind school, Takyel, said a release. PAWF have informed that the organisation is going to publish an anthology of poetry, short stories, prose etc. and requested all the blind people of the state to submit their works by July 10.
Raghu leishangthem, president PAWF attended the program as chief guest, Y.Brajamohan singh, president, welfare association for the blind Manipur as president and W. Binakumari, head mistress, government ideal blind school and Kh. Ranjan, assistant professor, department of commerce, Manipur University attended as guests of honour, respectively.

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Monday, 19 June 2017 00:00

Junior Fellowship

IMPHAL | June 18
Konthoujam Maikel Meetei of Wakhong Makha Leikai of Imphal East has been selected in the interview of Junior Fellowship in painting, 2014-15 conducted by ministry of Culture, government of India, New Delhi, said a release.

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Monday, 19 June 2017 00:00

Last date postponed

IMPHAL | June 18
The director, university and higher education, has notified that the last date for submission of duly filled application forms for admission to B.A/B.Sc./B.Com 2017-18 (1st semester) in all government/government aided colleges is extended from June 13 to June 21 till 5.30 PM, said a release.
The date has been postponed due to natural calamities like flood, landslides, etc. However, those colleges that have already conducted admission tests will not be affected by this notification, it added.

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Monday, 19 June 2017 00:00

Public meeting held

THOUBAL | June 18
A public meeting was held today, at Sekmaijin against the incident of placing a bomb at the gate of one Md. Sabir Ahmad’s residence by unknown persons. The meeting was held in protest against the incident, condemning it as an act of terrorising the residents of the locality.
The people who attended the meeting expressed their strong disapproval of the incident and appealed not to repeat such acts again in the future.

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Monday, 19 June 2017 00:00

MAFRO lauds drive against drugs

IMPHAL | June 18
Manipur friendly organisation (MAFRO) has lauded the continuing campaign against drugs held by the present government under Chief Minster N. Biren Singh, said a release.
However, MAFRO has noticed that these banned substances are still readily available at bazaars and lanes. The price of Paan that was sold at the cost of Rs. 5 to 10 has been increased to Rs. 7 to 15 and it actually is helping the business by giving them more profit.
This proves that some of these businessmen, who have a wider circle of friends, are in good terms with bureaucrats of the government and have the power to take control over them, it alleged and demanded that the government must punish those involved.
On the other hand, MAFRO has expressed their disappointment in finding the office of primary sub- centre at Thoubal Khetri Leikai being kept locked, when they visited the place on June 15, 11 am and have requested the authorities concerned to look into the issue.

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Monday, 19 June 2017 00:00

BJP Nungba Mandai appeals

IMPHAL | June 18
BJP Nungba Mandai on behalf of the public, farmers and the fishing community has appealed the authority concerned to address the deteriorating condition of dam and to start repairing at the earliest to meet the primary objective of the dam.
A release said that the ageing Khoupum Dam which was inaugurated in the year 1978 during the erstwhile Janata Party Government in Manipur was inspected by the team of IFCD officials along with the BJP Nungba Mandal yesterday and found out the general deteriorating condition of the aged maiden irrigation dam of Manipur and its system, which requires for major facelift and revival of the irrigation system in Khoupum to meet the demanding needs of the farmers and fishing community.
In its existing of nearly forty years, this man-made lake has been left unattended by the successive previous Governments of Manipur may be due to the lack of initiative by the local MLA and minister or lack of fund for years, it said.
It further said the dam was constructed for the purpose of irrigation meant to facilitate double cropping and cultivation Rabi cropping but the purpose was nailed due to the apathy of government towards the interior hills district of Manipur.
As the first Prime Minister of India termed the multi-purpose dams and mega dam projects are the temples of modern India. However, due to the lack of political assertiveness and indecision of the previous governments the dam has been laying waste for many years, it lamented.
All major structures along the earthen based of the dam, iron railing, cemented statue of the farmer holding spade, water inlet from the dam to the canal through the tunnel have been eroded extensively or damaged badly, it reiterated adding that a cluster of cemented blocks planted along the base of the lake to protect the continuous wave erosion of the lake have all been damaged due to aged or lack of attention by the authority concerned.
The trail of the canal from the zero point to the end have almost lost its traces, thick vegetation, gardens and bamboo groves have found covered along the old track of canal, it added.
It lamented that the top of the earthen dam which provides road connectivity to the other side of the dam has becomes unmotorable during rainy season since the black toped at the time of construction of the dam nearly forty years ago has been washed.
The physical verification of the dam structure and run way of water to the lower riparian and its main canal line implicitly proved to go for major repairing of the dam to fulfil the primary objective of Khoupum dam, it opined.
The improved means of transportation system in Khoupum and its adjoining areas will really encourage the farmers to go for double cropping and truck farming throughout the year as the farmers of today are very aware of their economy needed to improve to support their ever enlarging families, it concluded.

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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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