Imphal Free Press - Imphal Free Press
Sunday, 02 July 2017 00:00

Maoist condoles

IMPHAL| July 1
The proscribed Maoist Communist Party Manipur observing the death anniversary of its military commander Yendrenbam Ibohanbi, Sekta gave revolutionary homage to the departed leader.
In a release the outfit has also condoled the demise of UNLF leader, Wangba. The revolutionary spirit of the leader is still alive among the cadres of the outfit, it said, adding MCP share the grief of the UNLF.

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IMPHAL | July 1
Education minister, Th. Radheshyam Singh convened a special meeting at the SSA hall at Babupara with the chairmen and members of the District Board of Education (DBE) to discuss issues related to Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBV).
 The minister said the meeting is called to rectify the defects in the implementation of the projects approved by the Proposal Approval Board in the past. This is the first programme being taken up just after the completion of the first 100-day of the new government, the minister added.
Radheshyam proposed at the meeting that the district level officers from each and every department of the districts to adopt one or two schools and motivate the students by visiting their adopted schools at least once or twice a month.
He added that in order to compete with the private schools, a residential school needs to be established in every district as model school within the state.
Infrastructural requirements related to education of the newly created districts were also discussed in the meeting. The initiative is to be taken up by the DCs concerned. The minister said the very concern of the teachers – salary, transfer and posting will be sorted out sooner so that they could dedicate their whole time in teaching rather than engaging in unassigned works.
He expressed his concern about the anomaly of the number of students on paper and the exact numbers in the government schools. He added the government encourages the private schools to function provided that the teachers are well qualified, class rooms are adequate and it is not situated in crowded place.
A bill will be drafted for supervising the private schools. Another bill will also be drafted to monitor the teachers of the government schools attending private tuition classes. He also appealed to all the IAS, IPS and MCS officers not to take private competitive exam classes.
The minister said the principals or ZEOs should look into the matter where government school properties including class rooms that are being occupied by the private organisations for conducting different classes.
Principal secretary education Vineet Joshi, summarising the discussions held during the meeting, said, a mechanism would be sorted out on how to adopt the school so that the financial flow reaches the Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya on regular basis. The cost variation between the valleys and the hills has also been noted for which the Centre will be approached, he added.
Taking into account of the positive factors in the KGBVs of Andro and Bishnupur, he added that, these factors will be taken into consideration to improve the KGBVs of other districts. The demand for the KGBVs in the new district should be on needs, not on push of the contractors, he affirmed.
Regarding the terms of incentives to skill girl students Joshi said, possible help will be provided from SSA or RMSA and if not from Labour Department or any other departments to implement it.
It may be mentioned that the DBE comprises of deputy commissioners of each district as the chairman with the SPs, ADCs, SDOs, SDCs, DPMs and ZEOs, of the districts as the members.
Role of the DBEs is to monitor the Central sponsored schemes’ implementation related to the developmental works of the school. Their decision is a deciding factor in upgrading a school in order to make a flow in the education enlightenment of the students. Their reports are mandatory to be produced before the Proposal Approval Board (PAB) which is a joint meeting of all the states.

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IMPHAL | July 1
Out of the 29 divisions in the works department, only 18 were able to submit their progress report for the review meeting convened today. Expressing dismay, works minister Th. Biswajit instructed the officials to submit their progress report before the next monthly review meeting.
Biswajit was speaking at the second monthly review meeting of the department held today at his New Secretariat conference hall. During the first monthly review meeting held in June, it was decided to identify all heavy machineries of the department which are lying unattended at work sites.
On the issue of frequent water logging in certain areas of Imphal including Raj Bhawan, existing Secretariat area, Sanjenthong Officers’ Colony, Babupara and Singjamei Waikhom Leikai and Mayeng Leikai areas, Biswajit instructed the officials concerned to act instantly to clear the water logging.
He instructed the engineers concerned to initiate temporary measures including pumping of flood water from the areas immediately and to set up pumping stations at three locations viz. Waikhom Leikai area, Babupara area and Sanjenthong area.
In the meeting the minister warned all concerned to return the heavy machineries and equipment which were acquired from the works department for utilisation at work sites but yet to be returned even after completion of the work for a long period.
The minister said officials and engineers of the public works department who signed the indents for issue of heavy/light machineries and the contractors concerned should be responsible for the machineries.  
The issue needs to be discussed with all seriousness, Biswajit said, adding if engineers, including retired officials, are found at fault, Personal Liability Acts will be filed against them to exact the amount for the machinery and legal actions will also be taken up against the contractors, if necessary.
He further asserted that indent of machineries and equipment should be issued only on advance payment as well as security deposit against the machineries to be issued from today onwards.
The works minister also highlighted the need to refurbish the entire PWD complex and maintain cleanliness and hygiene in the complex.
He further asked for a detailed report for construction of common roads 12-feet wide from the foothills to the tops of both the Baruni and Koubru Hills and beautification of the natural pond atop Koubru Hills.
He also asked officials concerned to submit the utilisation details of work-charge, muster roll and casual staffs of the department.
Minister Biswajit also discussed the issue of frequent landslides along the national highways and asked the engineers concerned to act swiftly and clear all debris at the earliest so that the highways do not remain blocked for long.
He further asked the department officials to initiate steps to register the land ownerships of all offices of the PWD including the Inspection Bungalows in the name of the department at the earliest.
Today’s meeting also discussed the action taken on resolutions taken during the last review meeting.
Other issues discussed included proposal for reconstruction of old and weak bridges, preparations of estimates for maintenance of mini secretariat buildings at district headquarters, reconstruction of old and weak bridges, stores division of the department to be revamped and identification of a location for the division and installation of a Hot Mix Plant within the range of 15-20 km from Imphal.
The minister sought cooperation of all officials and engineers and said everyone should work efficiently with dedication.
Regarding the need for verification of a huge liability amounting to Rs 447.03 crore under various head of accounts, works commissioner K. Radhakumar expressed the need for a division wise discussion on the issue.
Highlighting the achievements of the department during the 100-days programme, officials of the department said development of the tourist resort at Sendra Hillock, water sports complex at Takmu and other tourism facilities in adjoining areas, Bishnupur district and mending of potholes in all districts head-quarters and roads within are complete.
The officials said that 80 per cent of the works for improvement and upgradation works of NESRIP projects including Tupul to Bishnupur and Thoubal to Kasom Khullen (ADB funded) is complete. Restoration of damaged stretches of Mao-Imphal Highway from Senapati to Imphal and Mao to Senapati is improving.
Today’s meeting was also attended by parliamentary secretary works Awangbou Newmai and other engineers of the department.

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Many parts in Imphal knee-deep in flood waters
By A Staff Reporter
IMPHAL | July 1
Flash floods hit the state for the third time and many rivers have touched danger levels but there is a woeful shortage of flood fighting materials.
According to irrigation and flood control department, water level of many major rivers of the state have crossed flood level. The water levels of Imphal river, Thoubal river, Iril river, Nambul river etc have crossed flood level mark.
The floods have been accentuated by  improper drainage system and converting the river banks into kitchen gardens.
Relief camps have been opened at Tolhal junior high school, Seijang and 87 families are taking shelter at the camp.
Speaking to media, L. Kulachandra, president of Seijang Progressive Youth Club said with heavy rainfall for the last two days almost all the area has gone underwater. Many fish farms and paddy fields have been flooded.
The state might face famine due to frequent floods in the state, he added.
Lungoila Thangal, SDC Imphal East further said relief materials have distributed to the people and district administrators have prepared to take necessary action.
Also the rains affect many government offices including chief minister’s secretariat campus.
Konghom areas in Kpi hit hard:
Our Kangpokpi correspondent added torrential downpour since yesterday hit hard on Konghom areas in Saikul sub-division of Kangpokpi district among many other parts of the district and caused numerous landslides along the NH 2 this morning.
Konghom area located in between Sapormeina and Saikul remained the worst affected in every downpour this year.
Earlier, when Cyclone Mora swept the district in the formed of heavy rainfall, many paddy fields has been inundated in the area while the only connecting bridge Sapormeina-Saikul bridge was also damaged.
The area was again flooded after the devastated Cyclone Mora and inundated once again most of the paddy fields and also caused completed damaged to the already torn out Bailey bridge over Gundung River.
It was flooded for the third time owing to the torrential downpour yesterday night and this morning and distraughtly flooded many paddy fields and also caused severe destruction at S. Mongbung village IVR and Saikul-Sapormeina road.
Farmers in the areas have been reeling under harsh condition when paddy cultivation is in its peak while the paddy cultivation is the main source of livelihood of the general populace of Konghom areas.
Meanwhile, the heavy downpour also caused numerous landslides along Imphal-Dimapur road this morning which stranded all types of vehicles along the road for several hours before the debris was cleared.
Landslide occurred at two different places with a distance of around 50/60 meters along the NH-2 in between Mongpijang village and N.Songlung village which completely blocked the highway with huge stone and debris.
Similar landslide also occurred near Bimparao along the National Highway which caused tremendous hardships to the commuters and passage for vehicles along Imphal-Dimapur road.
The quick response of district administration and concerned department with the assistance of security personnel and locals helped the stranded passengers and vehicles while swiftly clearing the highway for smooth passage of vehicles.
Minor landslides have also been reported along the road in various locations between Motbung and Kangpokpi though it did not create havoc to the commuters. However, if not attended on time, it could have possible caused major landslide.
Concrete retaining wall is considered necessary to be constructed in various vulnerable locations so as to avoid such landslide along the highway which will also sustain the life span of the highway.

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By Anil Bhat
At long last, the jinx got broken. For the first time in three decades, the Indian Army received two new artillery gun systems, the M 777 A-2 Ulta Light Howitzer (Indian) ULH, which arrived on 18 May 2017 for preparation of firing tables. During this event, the guns will fire 155 mm indigenous ammunition. The weapon system was contracted on 30 November 2016. As per the contract agreement firing tables are being prepared by the contracted agency i.e. US Government and BAE GCS Ltd with support of Indian Army. After firing tables are ready, three more guns will be received in the second stage in September 2018 for training. Thereafter, induction will commence from March 2019 onwards at the rate of five guns per month till the complete consignment of 145 guns is received by mid 2021.
Proving its commitment to Prime Minister Narendra  Modi’s call to 'Make in India', BAE Systems selected Mahindra as its business partner for the proposed in-India Assembly, Integration and Test (AIT) facility for the M777. And the government to government deal initiated during the tenure of former Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar resulted in the first two guns arriving within less than six months, much earlier than what was scheduled.
Interacting with this writer, Nik Khanna, Managing Director, India, BAE Systems, said, “The arrival of the first two Weapon Systems in India, ahead of schedule, is a milestone event for the M777 Ultra Lightweight Howitzer programme. We are proud that the M777 launches the Indian Army’s artillery modernization program and look forward to continuing our collaboration with the US and Indian Governments, the Indian Army, Mahindra, and Indian industry.”
In all, 25 M-777s will be imported directly from BAE systems, the manufacturer of the guns, while the rest will be assembled in India in collaboration with Mahindra Defence Systems.
In 2015, BAE developed and submitted a US Government-supported proposal offering a higher degree of indigenization on the M777 weapon system. The highlight of this is the commitment to establish AIT capabilities in India in partnership with a domestic Indian company. The selection followed a detailed assessment of Mahindra’s ability to fulfill the requirements and provide the best value to the M777 India programme, and in the future, grow its capability as a strategic partner for BAE Systems in India.
Mr. SP Shukla, Group President, Mahindra Defence & Aerospace, Mahindra Group said, “Mahindra and BAE Systems share the same values and common vision towards ‘Make in India’. BAE Systems is one of the largest defence companies globally and we could not have a better partner. M777 will give our Defence Forces a much needed operational advantage and an access to state of art technology. Mahindra M777 facility will also ensure that the life cycle support is available locally thereby enhancing operational availability of the guns. We look forward to making a major contribution to our Defence Forces and economy of India.”
Dr. Joe Senftle, Vice President and General Manager, Weapon Systems, BAE Systems Inc. said, “As a founding partner of defence manufacturing in India, BAE Systems is pleased to partner with Mahindra on our offer to develop an Assembly, Integration and Test facility in India. The facility is a fundamental part of the M777 production line. A domestic Assembly, Integration and Test facility will enable the Indian Army to access maintenance, spares and support for the M777 locally. We will continue to support the two Governments to progress to contract agreement so that we may begin the process of ‘Make in India’ for M777.”
With maximum unassisted and assisted ranges of   24.7 km and  30+ km respectively, rates of intense fire of  5 rounds per minute for up to 2 minutes and sustained fire of  2 rounds per minute, the M-777 can fire all current and developmental US and NATO standard 155 mm projectiles and charges, including Modular Artillery Charge System, as well as advanced rounds such as BONUS and EXCALIBUR. The system’s maximum road speed of 88 kph/55 mph, cross country speed of 24 kph/15 mph, it being transportable by towing vehicles, fixed wing aircraft like C130, C141, C17 or C5, as well as the large helicopters, its rapid emplacement in 3 minutes,  displacement in 2 minutes, all provide it high degrees of lethality and tactical and strategic mobility.
Its ultra-low silhouette  makes its  thermal and radar signatures quite low. Its   portability by land, sea and air, makes the system’s logistical footprint low. This means that it can be frequently moved and re-deployed, maximizing survivability, without encountering the IED risks that self-propelled systems face. Also, the weapon can strike over extended distances, regardless of terrain and obstacles.
Its strengths have been proven in battle, particularly in Afghanistan since 2006. Over 40,000 rounds fired have proven its simple, dependable operation, even in harsh desert climates. Selected by the US Marine Corps and the US Army as their next generation Medium Force weapon, the M777 was fully developed through an intensive Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) programme in the USA.
The last artillery guns that India bought were the controversial Swedish Bofors in the mid-1980s. But the $1.4 billion deal was mired in controversy after reports that the Swedish company had paid US$ 9.9 million (Rs. 64 crore) in kickbacks to top Indian politicians. It cost then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi a chance to return to power in the next election; it also slowed down defence procurement considerably. In the 1980S, India had received the blueprints of the Bofors gun but manufacture of the weapon system never began owing to the kickbacks scam.
While the Bofors were used very effectively during the Kargil war in 1999, in the period following it Indian Army’s artillery remained starved for guns and ammunition.  During the ten years of the UPA’s rule there was no progress in the long overdue modernization of Indian Army and particularly the artillery. Some artillery weapon systems were tested and found fit by the artillery, but that was it. There was no forward movement towards replenishing/replacing artillery and air defence systems. Some old ‘Gunners’ even commented that there seemed to be “forces at work to ensure that we don’t get what we need, making us lose much of the edge we had during the 1971 Indo-Pak war.”
Since the BJP government assumed charge there have been efforts to fast-track the acquisition of modern artillery guns for Indian Army, under a Rs. 22,000 crore modernisation plan.
Recently Larsen & Toubro bagged its biggest defence order to partner with the South Korean company Hanwha Tech Win (HTW) for assembling a hundred 155mm, 52 calibre K9 Vajra-T self-propelled howitzers.
Designed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the Ordinance Factory Board (OFB), the Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) showcased for the first time during this year's Republic Day parade is a 155 mm, 52-calibre gun which is towed by a truck. Named Dhanush, with a range of 38 km, it has cleared trials with the Indian Army, which plans to acquire 414 with each gun reportedly costing 14 crores.
Ironically, a modernised and significantly improved variant of the Bofors FHB02 gun is finally being built by OFB after the old designs were belatedly pulled out and dusted.

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Sunday, 02 July 2017 00:00

Transformative Role of BRI/OBOR

By C. Joshua Thomas
(The following it the Keynote Address delivered by Dr. C. Joshua Thomas, Deputy Director, ICSSR North Eastern Regional Centre & Coordinator, ASEAN Studies Centre, Shillong, India,  at the 5th China-South and Southeast Asian Think-Tank Forum (5th CSSA-TTF) held on 12-13 June 2017 at Kunming, Yunnan  Province, P.R. China.)
This conference comes at an appropriate moment in the development of China, South and Southeast Asia when rapid changes are occurring in the region with the participation of multiple actors. The subject is significant; the venue – Kunming – the eternal spring city - is an apt choice and the timing is perfect. I sincerely hope that the participants gathered here, representing different countries, nationalities and institutions, will certainly make an optimal use of this opportunity; they will not only exchange views but also strive to develop a consensus view on new opportunities, new ideas and new measures to deepen their cooperation with China, South and Southeast Asia.
In this address I would like to speak on the transformative role of BRI/OBOR.
Transformative Role of BRI/OBOR
The Belt and Road Initiative is the latest phase of socio-economic development in global arena.  In a sense it is different from colonialisms, welfarism, communism and the present process of globalisation of the West.  The BRI attempts to build an intercontinental economic, trade, connectivity corridor and network in Asia, Africa and Europe. BRI is an ambitious connectivity project which seeks to leverage Chinese core competency in infrastructure-building; seeks to address the problem of domestic industrial overcapacity in sectors such as steel and cement.  It is conceptualised by President Xi Jinping for: greater connectivity, greater prosperity, and greater regional economic integration. BRI aims to build rail, road connectivity and sea route development to link China with the rest of the world and basically it has three components: geo-economics, geo-political and geo-strategic.
In order to encourage further debate and consensus building, I wish to place before you a few considered suggestions: Why the BRI has gained international traction and acceptance and what global transformative changes have catalysed the BRI, notwithstanding its polemics needs to be rigorously analysed, among the multivarious factors the following cardinal factors are catalytic and inevitable.
1.     The Process of  De-globalisation:  The BRI can be useful to the nations not only in terms of mainstreaming its peripheral areas in China, South and Southeast Asia, but also for standing up to the threat of de-globalization arising from nativist tendencies in the USA and some parts of Europe. With the withdrawal of US from the TPP from the globalisation process and the emergence of BRICS, NDB, AIIB China is playing a dominant role to keep globalisation process on track. BRI is the manifestation of the New Regionalism of Asia that is characterised by cultural icons and geographical contiguity—calling for the interplay of regional / peripheral histories, cultures and identities within the larger canvas of Asian Civilizations of India, China and other Asian powers that are not the Westphalian nation-state frameworks, but intrinsically Civilizational Powers of antiquity—rediscovered in the contemporary period.  China’s colossal initiative and momentum is perhaps unparalleled in the post 1945 period with the exception of the Western Liberal economic and democratic order ushered in by the United States. China’s magnitude of the initiative and the colossal investment ambitiously connects the three continents with corridors.
These cultural iconic premised and infrastructure connectivity corridors will certainly benefit China in a large way, and it will certainly help all the countries connected with the BRI corridors.
2.     China’s role in South-East Asia – It is known that trade between ASEAN and China has grown at an annual rate of 18.5 percent — from $7.9 billion in 1991 to $472 billion 2016. China’s infrastructural projects in South-east Asia have also increased tremendously over the years. Economic cooperation is said to be further enhanced with the establishment of ASEAN Economic community. China’s contribution in pulling out the South-east Asian economies out the Asian Financial crisis of 1997 is well documented.
The economic strength of the relationship between China and ASEAN is represented by the quantum of trade flow and depth of economic interdependence. The Chinese Diaspora in South-east Asia have steadily and positively contributed culturally and economically  to China-Southeast Asia relations. This gives a window of opportunity for India and China to work together in South Asia and South East Asia especially when the pro-globalisation economies in the world namely the US, Europe and others are now in “selective retreat” and ironically support the Chinese initiative.
3.     What can China do for South Asia as it has done in Southeast Asia–Compared to the Southeast Asia; South Asia is not connected well. In this regard, we need to look at  the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) forum for regional cooperation, formerly known as the ‘Kunming Initiative’, was founded in 1999 aiming to restore the historical arteries of overland connectivity that once linked India’s eastern seaboard and North-Eastern states with China’s South-western province of Yunnan through present-day Bangladesh and Northern Myanmar. It seeks to deepen friendly cooperation among the four member nations and link South Asia with Southeast Asia and East Asia by building multi-modal connectivity, harness economic complementarity and enhance people to people relations, connecting the peripheral areas and transforming the land locked region into land linked region; turning the adversity into advantage. BCIM has a tremendous potential to transform South Asia and Southeast Asia as a growth corridor. The stakes of the partners in BCIM are now stronger than ever before—thanks to India’s Act East policy’s corollaries.
To sustain and rejuvenate the Asian civilizations and cultures momentum of economic growth and development and to sustain the moment of growth, connectivity and the process of globalisation in South Asia and South East Asia,  there is a great need to look at the following aspects:
a)Need for mutually beneficial outcome: Enhanced connectivity networks and economic integrations need not always result in positive outcomes for all the stakeholders. For instance, increased connectivity between China and Myanmar has led to an easy flow of natural resources from Myanmar to China.  There is a concern in Myanmar that Chinese investments have been substantially in the extractive sector, and they did not result in sustainable employment generation.  Therefore, countries in South Asia are keenly observing the approaches Pakistan will deploy in its economic engagement with China to ensure mutually-beneficial outcomes.
b)Need for continual dialogue: :  Perceptions in India and China won’t change overnight and needs a lot of effort involving the think-tank and other forum to have continual dialogue on BRI initiative. The positive factor of India and China convergence is evident in the strong national leaders. This could indeed catalyse the “connectivity and growth” in the BCIM countries and it is this moment that we need to fully utilize this opportunity.
c)Need for Direct Economic Corridor (DEC):It has been pointed out by Sanjya Pulipaka that China is exploring the possibilities of accessing Indian market through third countries, whether BCIM, CNI. As both India and China have a long land border there is a need for DEC between these two emerging and powerful economies of the world.  A DEC between India and China requires that the Line of Actual Control (LAC) should be delineated at least in some sectors.  Such delineating will enable the creation of customs centres and other paraphernalia required for cross-border trade. We have India-Myanmar Friendship Road; we have border trade between India-Bangladesh; India-Myanmar; India-Bhutan; India-Nepal. A similar may be of a great benefit between India and China. There is a need to relook on reopening the Stilwell Road and making the Nathula Pass for more meaningful to business, trade and P2P contact.
d)Need for an early border settlement: If India has to be persuaded to be a partner in with the grand design of China’s BRI, Beijing has to amicably settle its border dispute with Delhi and make BRI/ OBOR mutually advantageous.
With protectionist tendencies rising in the west, the prospects of economic ties of Asian counties including India and China with the USA and even other western economies are heading for a roll back. Broadening and deepening of ties within Asian economies has therefore become more important now than ever before.
The process of globalization has proved to be beneficial for both China and India, the two largest economies in Asia, hence the onus to keep the process going lies on both the countries. It is not possible for China to bracket India and keep the momentum going, neither it is possible for India to facilitate the global growth without China. Hence, it is important that these two economic powerhouses join their efforts to ensure so that the forces of globalization keep on floating so that their respective national economies can draw the required sustenance.
As America is struggling and in a retreat for a prospective offshore balancing; Europe is failing and faltering; India and China is emerging and raising, it is time that both India and China to stand up and strive for peace, prosperity and stability in South and Southeast Asia  and make 21st Century as the Asian Century!
At the end we would like to say that India and China had close relations while there were huge physical barriers, ideas could travel from India to change life in China and Chinese scholars even braved the mighty Himalayas to come down to India in search of knowledge.  Now, the physical barriers are no more with the onset of BRI, inter-continental corridor, but the minds are apart.  Therefore, we need to work out to bring them together.  What people can do on the ground, sometimes it is not possible for the states/governments to achieve that. We sincere hope that people to people contact and the exchange programmes between Universities, educational institutions, think-tanks and media personal will bring language, culture and relationship much closer for the promotion of universal brotherhood, peace, and prosperity of the world!

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By Mamta Lukram
Overwhelming enthusiasm leads all the way long to participate ‘The World Environment Day 2017,’ observation at Loktak Wetland. Swayed in the wave of the sparkling water, the traditional wooden boats sweep across the core of the lake, where small floating huts could be seen scattered along the heart, detached from one another, yet floating in cohort. The introspecting-self grappled developing a topographic silhouette of the lake and its surrounding- the forest, hillocks, islands, villages, floating parks and so on, sitting vaguely on the boat, trickling the calm surface.
Attempting to recollect the number of development projects, all proposed and planned over the Loktak; my seniors’ matter of frequent discussion- the Oil exploration and Drilling Plan at Loktak, the Keibul Lamjao National Park expansion plan, the World Largest Floating Solar Power Plan at Loktak, the Loktak Ring Road, the Integrated Fishery projects, the Cable Car Network Plan, the Tourism Expansion, Privatisation of the Loktak, the Core Zone, Buffer Zone, the NHPC’s Ithai Dam submerging thousand acres of land, the underperforming lift irrigation canals of NHPC etc, etc, jerked my intuition into endless confusion.     
“SAVE NATURE SAVE OUR FUTURE,” was the theme of the observation, organised by The All Loktak Lake Areas Fishermen’s Union Manipur (ALLAFUM), at the Longol Sabi, Champu Khangpok village of Loktak Lake, with the praxis of emphasising the need to conserve and preserve the Loktak wetland ecology. The side banners with capital red letters on the white background “DECOMMISSION ITHAI BARRAGE OF THE 105 MW LOKTAK, GO BACK NHPC, STOP PLUNDER OF LOKTAK WETLAND” and “STOP OIL EXPLORATIO IN LOKTAK WETLAND” decode more intrinsic meanings of the observation.
Prominent personalities, eminent activists, artist, media, researchers, academician and fishing community filled the little floating elementary school located at the core zone of the Loktak Lake, a ‘no development zone’ where human habitation is forbidden according to the Loktak Protection Act, 2006. The striking key of the opening remark was the commemoration of the traumatic experiences, the Loktak fishing community have been subjected to, during the forceful eviction of the floating huts during 2011, under the said act.   
The quality deliberations revolve around the contestations of interests between the public’s conception/perception and the Government’s expectation. Positivistic outlook contends that environment degradation has become a parcel of human civilization, but the advancement of science and technology has devised successful intervention against the challenges poise by environment degradation. One noted personality even contentedly quoted that “Had NHPC’s Loktak Project not been there, the lake’s existence may not have been apprised by people”   
Another prominent personality critiqued how the NHPC have been responsible for depleting the lake environment for decades. Neither the DPR, nor the MOU of NHPC is available till date since the last 25 years of its operation. Unaccountability reels high in NHPC. It has destroyed the Aesthetic entirety, both the tangible and intangible, the lives and culture of the people. Nevertheless, the collectivity unanimously agreed that Loktak environment is fast depleting during the past few decades, which bear direct and indirect impacts- both physically and psychologically, since the lake has immense socio-economic importance in the lives of people of Manipur.
Interacting the ‘Imas’: Beyond the Observation
Beyond the realm of the observation, interacting the womenfolk decipher the reality. Their participation was maximal, filled with the sense of responsibility. The interaction started with few women, evolving into in a small group, all expressing their frustration in a row. Meishnam Promo, ignites the conversation;
“Hainingbadi yamkhrajatni… (meaning… have lots say), Though we survive from the lake’s resources, it’s not solely the fishing populace, harvesting the wetland’s benefits, whether its fish, vegetables or whatever resource we collect, we sell it at the markets to make our living. It’s the people beyond this lake who are harnessing the prime benefits. (….alleging as if I was responsible…in a disheartening expression…) Then why you the people want to dismantle and burn down our floating huts??? Do you conceive of fishing community as ignorant and arrogant that we want to destroy the ecology of our own ‘Loktak Ema’ (Mother Loktak). Please do convey the responsible authorities that we the indigenous fishing community do treasure ‘Loktak Ema’ more than our lives…she is our life…she is our children’s and grandchildren’s future…..”
The womenfolk shared many of their hardships and trauma. One after another, the women joined the informal interaction, sharing the haunting traumas afflicted by the aggressive eviction during the 2011, and their frustration over the recent information on the renewal of the same ‘Loktak Protection Act, 2006.’; Later, Heishnam Chaoba, 52 years, shared her experience
“Thousands of we the fishing community lost our homes, our world and our lives during the whole eviction drive during 2011, where more than 700 huts have been burnt down. Nowhere left to go, (…a breaking voice….”saijin-sayada tangduna, uchek-wayadouna”…) like birds we fled from our burnt huts and seek refuge at our relative’s huts which were  not yet gulped by 2006, Act. Our solidarity and resistance have been protecting the few huts left and slowly we resettled and thus the number increases. We resisted at the risk of our lives and will ever, we will put to bargain, our lives”. The narratives of the women, projecting life as ordeal like situation portray how insecure must be the lives subjected under such disoriented, chaotic situations.   
The Reality Check of Loktak Ecology Protection: The Hiyang Khong Experience
At a recent visit at Hiyang Khong, of Laphupat Tera area, on the recent Keibul Lamjao National Park extension plan which will shatter the village, the villagers express great discontentment regarding the framing up of new policies without discussing the people. As expressed by the villagers, the Soibupat and Khoibupat inhabitants have been surviving solely on the lake’s resources since time immemorial. The construction and the commissioning of the Ithai Barrage have plundered the villager’s means of sustenance.
Village elders shared their experiences how many indigenous fish varieties diminishes at the verge of extinction due to the Dam. According to them, the quantum of the fish available in the lake ecology is fast depleting, and they shared critical concern over how this degradation possess threat on the loss of food sovereignty for the villagers. The multiple impacts out of the Ithai Dam in Loktak Lake, and the NHPC’s unaccountability and false promises have been plundering the lives of the indigenous communities.  
On Development and Oja Soyam Lokendrajit’s Epilogue
Days later, Oja Soyam Lokendrajit was delivering an insightful lecture endeavouring to unwrap the myth and riddles of the development debate, development’s impacts on the identity of the indigenous community. He quoted of the indigenous community’s identity as “thamnathakta happa liklagummi,” unpredictable enough like the droplets over the lotus leaf.
According to him, the ongoing Trans Asian Railways construction works needs an efficient check mechanism. The framework of ‘connectivity’ in the name of economic boost through the ‘act east policy’ was put to the critical lens as; ‘we are and were not isolated, we have been in global dialogue.’ We need to monitor the height of safe modalities for the indigenous communities in such policies for many reasons. The Quotes from the Epilougue reads as;
“Our Dream is, we want development in our own way, by our own hands, through materials and social forces generated from within ourselves. Our fear is, to be lectured on nationalism and patriotism- only to be branded as anti-nationals. Our hope is, one day the world will know that we also love our motherland in our own way, no less than any other counterparts elsewhere…………………. Money and development is our fear, for, they are ways of seduction, the song of sirens. Our hope is, we still have simple goodness left in us to fight evil forces projecting thousand images”
The meaning of the lines lay the epitaph of reinterpreting the ‘development model’ for the indigenous community which must not be antagonistic, but adhere to the hopes and aspirations of the marginalised community.    
The heart wrenching life episodes shared by the womenfolk of fishing community stamped emotions so numb that I strive against my limited knowledge and skill to bring it out. The ordeal like situation which they have gone through must have made these little hearts into high spirits. Ima Chaoba’s story;
“We starved and resist because we can’t think of going beyond the periphery of the lake to trade the products, in the dire fear of the LDA coming to destroy our huts anytime…they come well feed and all full…and we fight with empty stomach…with our passion….”  
Bewildered and all blurred in the glass ceiling understanding about development, I go through again the lines of The United Nation (UN) Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, as “The right of every woman, man, youth and child to gain and sustain a safe and secure home and community in which to live in peace and dignity’.

Published in Articles

By Garga Chatterjee
Middle class citizens of the subcontinental fractions of the British Empire get to specially engage with each other in mutual hate in the run up, during and follow up of a cricket match that involves any two of the sighted male cricket teams of Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. War is the only other thing that evokes such female support in cheering for a male spectacle where females are explicitly disallowed as participants in the “serious” form of the game. I used to think that riots were another such category. I know better now. And of late, female participation in combat roles of oppressive armies that primarily kill, torture and maim their own citizens has become the touchstone of female emancipation in the subcontinent. This is probably not what Emma Goldman, Rokeya Sakhawat, Gita Mukhopadhyay (Mukherjee) or Manikuntala Sen had in mind when they thought about rights and freedom, especially those of women.
To evoke war as a metaphor has been a way to evoke abhorrence.  But in the present atmosphere it might have an unintended celebratory reception. We are living in dangerous times. Those who might celebrate cricket and war as the same, one might want to think, are out there. Far out.  Celebrating the worst in us, a combination of all the axes of hate. But if we look closely, within us, we will see each of those axes, in their long and short forms, in alive and quiescent forms, explicit and subtle forms – the difference between the far out and the rest being a matter of  degree and the depth of the context when the demons are evoked. We are living in ferocious times.
We live in schizophrenic times. Like some West Bengalis I know. Whose loyalties blur when there are 11 Bengalis on the field. They blur even more when they are called fish-and-rice eaters by Hindustan. And then some Hindu Bengali crosses the border from East to West. One snaps out of the blur. It’s our men in blue again. Against them. The historical other, the most intimate other from an ancestral land with no right to return. A permanent Nakba. Of lasting damage and counting.  22.05%, 18.5%, 13.5%, 12.13%, 10.51%, 9.20%, 8.96% and counting. And then someone else tries to cross the border. Another Bengali. Felani Khatun. Unlamented in West Bengal, because I was busy counting -  22.05%, 18.5%, 13.5%, 12.13%, 10.51%, 9.20%, 8.96% and counting. We are living in dehumanizing times.
 In the semi final, when Malaysian Axiata sponsored Bangladesh batsman “Hindu” Soumya Sarkar got out for a duck against Chinese Oppo sponsored India, there were those, many of those, who insinuated or expressed clearly that the bad performance was deliberate. Because of Soumya Sarkar being Soumya Sarkar. A Malaun. A Hindu. And hence, only a Hindu. With Hindu wrists that served his team so well so many times. With a Hindu head, a Hindu foreskin, a Hindu heart. A Hindu heart, that is, an Indian heart. An enemy heart. An enemy within. Like a snake. Never fully trustable. To be always watched and kept in check. To be always looked upon with suspicion and in moments such as these, with hatred.  I have heard this before. I know this beast. I have grown up with it for I did grow in an Indian setting.  Just like Mohammed Azharuddin used to be looked upon. A captain, a player par excellence may be. But a miah too. The circumcised one. A Muslim. Not a Bangladeshi – that doesn’t fire up the right kind of hate in the Hindi Hindu imaginary. Hence, a Pakistani. A chameleon with an Indian logo on his jersey but a deep hue of green on his skin under the Indian logo. A left over that 1947 was supposed to cleanse. An unfinished job. And there are unfinished projects. For the project of the majority always leaves the minority with either no choice but to show loyalty every moment so that no doubt is left about the presence of an idle moment where there is a possibility that there may be an Indian in the guise of Pakistani, a Bengali in the guise of an Indian, a Pakistani in the guise of an Indian, an Indian in the guise of a Bangladeshi, a Pakistani in the guise of a Bangladeshi, a Bangladeshi in the guise of an Indian. But it is never enough for they do exist. There is now way to put CCTVs on the flags of the heart. Thus, collective branding. Because you never know. Because it is true that an Indian in the guise of Pakistani, a Bengali in the guise of an Indian, a Pakistani in the guise of an Indian, an Indian in the guise of a Bangladeshi, a Pakistani in the guise of a Bangladeshi, a Bangladeshi in the guise of an Indian will exist. They do exist. They will exist for the majority needs them to exist, for the majority rules in the name but without the consent of the minority and sometimes, in more shameless moments, not even in the name of the minority. Cricket here is a comparison of the phallus size of the “national” religious majority male. Even erstwhile underdogs learn this game fast. Yesterday’s underdog, today’s beast.

Published in Articles

By Pradip Phanjoubam
It is interesting that in invoking historical justifications in the latest standoff between China and India in the Sikkim and Bhutan tri-junction area, neither party is keen to recall that the region once constituted sovereign principalities – of Tibet, Sikkim and Bhutan. Of the three, Bhutan is still independent, Tibet was taken over by China in 1951 and Sikkim became part of India only in 1975 by the exercise of Article 2 of the Indian constitution. The controversies behind these takeovers is another matter, but the moot point is that the histories of these erstwhile states have been splintered beyond recognition as they have been absorbed into other historical streams. How much of this destroyed history can, with any moral legitimacy, continue to be used as alibis by China or India to advance their interests in the region is the unasked question.
China cites the 1890 agreement between itself and the British government fixing the boundary between Sikkim and Tibet, claiming that this is the boundary Indian troops have violated in objecting to Chinese road construction in Doklam. Britain signed this agreement with China in acknowledgment that China had suzerainty power over Tibet; however, the latter disputed this and refused to recognize the 1890 treaty and another one, signed again by the British and Chinese in 1893, on trade regulations – which allowed the setting up of a British India trade mart at Yatung in the Chumbi valley. The buildup to these treaties a decade earlier is not only interesting but also marked an important turning point in the triangular diplomacy between the British, Chinese and Tibetans.
The British had for long been looking for a permanent presence in Tibet and towards this end in 1886, they planned a trade mission to Lhasa under the command of an officer by the name of Colman Macaulay. This was in keeping with the Chefoo Convention reached between the British and the Chinese in 1876 in Peking. The Chinese, though not in a position at the time to oppose the British, had weakly conveyed their reluctance, saying the plan would be opposed by the Tibetans ­ – indicating they were unsure of their control over Tibet.
The Macaulay mission was ultimately suspended, but for reasons many scholars, including Alastair Lamb, suspect had little to do with the British not wanting to embarrass the Chinese at their inability to control the Tibetans. The real reason was that the British had tacitly coerced the Chinese to recognise the British annexation of Upper Burma in 1885 – a country Manchu rulers considered their tributary state.
Events that followed again proved Chinese apprehensions that Tibetans would oppose the British trade mission was not just an excuse to dissuade the British. Not knowing the mission had been called off, the Tibetans
‘sent a detachment into the British-protected State of Sikkim, a region to which they now reasserted ancient claims. In Sikkim, at the village of Lingtu, on the main road from Darjeeling to the Tibetan border at the Chumbi Valley, along which Colman Macaulay was expected to travel, the Tibetans set up a military post; and they refused to retreat even after there ceased to be any question of a British mission.’ (Alastair Lamb, The McMahon Line, A Study in Relation Between India, China and Tibet 1904-1914, Vol 1)
Explaining the same episode, a British official and Tibetan observer of the time, Charles Bell, notes that the Tibetan were instigated by ‘the Ne-chung Oracle at Lhasa, which declared that its magic influence inside the fort would disarm any troops that the British sent against it, while the occupation would give them a commanding position in any negotiations that took place for the delimitation of the boundary between Tibet and Sikkim.’ (Charles Lamb, Tibet Past and Present).
What followed is of importance. Despite repeated appeals by the British to the Chinese to have the blockade lifted, the Chinese were not in a position to do anything. It was then that Lord Dufferin in 1888 authorised the clearing of the blockade by force, which was done promptly and without much problem. Dufferin also became convinced then that the only way to deal with Tibet was to deal with it directly and not through Peking. However, despite the Lingtu blockade episode, the British did not abandon their policy outlook towards Tibet immediately, and the 1890 boundary treaty and the 1893 trade treaty were signed with Peking not with Lhasa.
One of the reasons, as scholars point out, is that the Tibet anxiety of the British was informed by the possibility of other European powers, in particular Russia, coming to influence Tibet. This being so, entering into international treaties with Tibet, it feared would give the Tibetans de jure sovereignty status in the eye of international law and this may encourage the Tibetans to enter into independent treaties with other European rivals. To the British, then, China was the lesser danger.
Things however changed under Lord Curzon. When towards the turn of the century, he became convinced that the 13th Dalai Lama was leaning towards Russia, he authorised the Younghusband Mission in 1904, to invade and teach the Tibetans a lesson. Col Francis Younghusband did precisely this and in a brutal act of aggression captured Lhasa. Though the 13th Dalai Lama managed to escape to Mongolia before he entered Lhasa, Younghusband forced the Lhasa Convention with the Tibetan government. Among the many humiliating concessions, the Tibetans were coerced into agreeing to pay a war indemnity of Rs. 75 lakh, an amount thought to be beyond the capacity of Tibet to pay, and until this amount was paid up, Chumbi valley was to remain with India. Not only this, the Rs. 75 lakh was to be paid in an instalment of Rs. 1 lakh a year, ensuring thereby that even if the Tibetans paid up, Chumbi valley would remain with India for at least 75 years.
The Younghusband mission was not met with appreciation among all in Britain. Among those who held it in contempt was Lord Morley, Secretary of State for India. The latter ultimately ended up undoing most of what was achieved by the Younghusband mission, including the virtual transfer of Chumbi valley to India. First the amount was reduced to Rs. 25 lakh, and then, not long after Curzon retired in 1905, he acceded to a demand of the Chinese – who had, in a masterly stroke of diplomacy that won them prestige in the eyes of the Tibetans and strengthened before the world the legitimacy of their claims over Tibet – that Peking pay the Rs. 25 lakh on behalf of the Tibetans and also have the amount paid in just three instalments, ensuring thereby that the Chumbi valley returned to Tibetan custody in three years. With Curzon out of the way, China also convinced the British government that the Lhasa agreement can only be acceptable if it is ratified by another treaty between the British and Chinese, and this came to be so by the Peking Convention of 1906.
What became evident at the time was also the difference in security perceptions between British India and the British Empire. For men like Curzon in India, controlling Tibet was important for India’s security. For men like Morley in London, this interest was only a small and incomplete wrinkle on the larger security map of the empire. In Morley’s words, what Britain does in Tibet, other rivals may want to do in other sensitive regions like Mongolia, Afghanistan, Iran etc. He even derisively referred to men like Curzon as “these frontier men”, calling them too raw to understand the intricacies of the larger interest of the empire. But in the end, it was the empire which dissolved, leaving the colonies to bear the burdens of the exertions made on their behalf. The uncertainties over India’s northern boundary is a prime example.
The Bhutan case is also interesting for another reason. British India concluded an important treaty with Thimphu in 1910 by which Bhutan was to pursue its foreign policy in consultation with India. What prompted this treaty was the Chinese forward policy that began in 1908 in what is generally described as the Qing Dynasty’s last burst of desperate energy before is collapse in 1912 in the face of the Republican Revolution, a tumultuous period in Chinese history captivatingly depicted in the Hollywood classic, The Last Emperor.
Chinese troops entered Tibet, forcing the 13th Dalai Lama who was on his way back to Lhasa from his exile in Mongolia, to flee to India. The Chinese not only took charge of Tibet, but also began probing the neighbouring principalities of Nepal, Sikkim and Bhutan. The British were not worried about Sikkim which was their protectorate, nor too much about Nepal either for the latter had a robust army, but they became very concerned about Bhutan. At the time, the British had only an 1865 treaty with Bhutan but this was an agreement for the Bhutias not to raid the Dooars plains and for this the British would pay a compensation, much like the Posa arrangement the Ahom kings in Assam made with the hill tribes as a conflict resolution mechanism. This treaty however would not have been able to protect Bhutan if the Chinese decided to enter it. The British, at the behest of Charles Bell, who was then their political officer in Sikkim, visited the Bhutan king in 1910, and had the latter agree to sign a new treaty which merely added one more clause to the 1865 treaty – that Bhutan would pursue its foreign affairs in consultation with India. The Chinese threat, however, did not last as the Qing Dynasty soon fell. Not long after, in 1913, the British called the Simla Conference in an effort to secure India’s boundary in this sector.
The history of this boundary is murky, and it gives no one any credit to invoke it to justify present policies. The current standoff between India and China on this border probably has, as so many commentators have pointed out, nothing to do with this history, but with current realpolitik. In the wake of India leaning towards the United States, and the US allegedly attempting to use India as a pivot to counterweigh China, Beijing probably is sending a message to New Delhi that it can have a better friend nearer home, and equally, a worse adversary nearer home.
The two giants need to acknowledge certain truths. On China’s part, it needs to understand India’s concern about the Chumbi valley where the mutual allegations of border incursions are being made. This narrow valley wedged between Sikkim and Bhutan, points like a dagger at the Chicken’s Neck or Siliguri corridor, which connects the Northeast with the rest of India. It is, therefore, legitimate for India to be worried about a dagger pointed at his neck even if the dagger is not touching its neck or the wielder of the dagger is a friend. On India’s part, since Tibet is now Chinese territory, it is legitimate for the latter to connect its territories by roads. A settlement, if any, will have to be placed between these two concerns.
(This article was first published in the popular web journal The Wire)

Published in Articles
Sunday, 02 July 2017 00:00

Women police seizes liquor

CCPUR| July 1
Women police of Churachandpur district led by the officer in charge, sub inspector Chinneilam Gangte caught 250 litres of DIC Liquor from Tuibong area during evening patrolling today.
The officer in charge said the women personnel caught 250 litres of DIC liquor along with one auto driver.  The liquors were caught from the possession of one Mema (65) wife of Tomba of Terakhongsangbi bazar, Memcha (65) wife of (L) Yaima of Terakhongsangbi Bazar, and Ranjit (36)   son of (L) Sanatomba of Torbung Bazar of Churachandpur.

Published in News
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