JIRIBAM | Sept 10
The R.K. Sanatombi Devi Vidyalaya (RKSDV), Jiribam observed its foundation day today at the auditorium of the school. At the onset of the observation, the chief guest of the programme Jiribam ZEO, Robert Thomas Koren lighted the candles followed by floral tributes to the photograph of Late Sanatombi Devi. Later, a group of school students sang the school song. During the programme the governor’s award and Sanatombi Devi award were conferred to the best students.
The function was attended by principal of RKSDV, Jiribam, S. Maniton Singh as functional president and principal of Jiribam Higher Secondary school, L. Ranjit Kumar Singh, manager of PGCI, sub-station, Jiribam, A. M. Choudhary shared the dais as a guests of honour.
By Jimmy Leivon
GANGTOK | Sept 10
The two-day ‘2nd North East Healthcare Summit’ which concluded on September 9 in Gangtok stressed on collaborative strengthening health care systems amongst all Northeastern States to achieve the sustainable development goals.
The summit was organised by the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) in partnership with the ministry of MDoNER, the government of Sikkim and the Sir Thutob Namgyal Memorial Hospital (STNM), Gangtok, Sikkim.
In his address the Arjun Kumar congratulated the organisers – PHFI, STNM Hospital and DoNER for organising the second edition of the Summit in Sikkim that highlights key issues in today’s evolving healthcare scenario pertinent to Northeastern parts of India.
“Poor healthcare services in the Northeast and the need to enhance manpower, including setting up of more medical colleges in the region is the requirement of the day. There is an urgent need to review the progress of schemes sanctioned by centre or the NEC towards the improvement of healthcare services in the region, especially infrastructure, in addition to finding out better ways and means to remove health problems and inaccessibility to quality healthcare especially in rural areas of the region”, he said.
In her video address Dr Soumya Swaminathan, director general ICMR, said, “Northeast is one of the most vibrant regions in India, but its health indicators have unfortunately lagged behind from the rest of India on many counts. With so much technological and infrastructure advancements, it is time to bring about a rapid improvement in the public health indicators, especially in light of the renewed commitment by the central government towards the entire Northeast region.”
This year’s 2nd Northeast Healthcare summit concentrated on emerging health concerns in the region with a special emphasis on the current scenario in Northeast and the sustainable development goals (SDG). The themes for this year’s summit were: mental health and substance abuse, non-communicable diseases, health policy, service delivery and health systems strengthening and environmental health.
The summit falls under the umbrella of Project Swasth Uttar Purv, under the aegis of DoNER ministy that is committed to address the identified and felt needs of the eight states of the Northeast by promoting policy and programme relevant research, by filling critical information gaps, conducting health summits and Health Conclaves, conducting impact assessments and cancer awareness programs, evaluating innovations for improving the outreach and effectiveness of health systems, ultimately developing a robust public health cadre in the Northeast.
The summit saw representation from the respective Northeastern states from secretary, health Meghalaya Shangpliang and mission director of NHM, Mizoram Lalrozama, RRC, MoHFW, Bamin Tada amongst other high end officials from the states and representatives from WHO,UNICEF and experts and academia from across the country.
The summit was inaugurated by Arjun Kumar Ghatani, minister, healthcare, human services and family welfare, Sikkim along with PD Rai, member of parliament from Sikkim.
Also present on the occasion were Alok Kumar Srivastav, chief secretary, Sikkim, Dr K Bhandari, director-general-cum secretary health, Sikkim, Jayanto Narayan Choudhury, vice president PHFI, Dr KB Gurung, medical superintendent STNM Hospital, Dr. Priscilla C Ngaihte, in-charge, Northeast Region (Special Projects) along with a host of senior government health officials from all the Northeastern states of India.
By A Staff Reporter
IMPHAL | Sept 10
The chief minister, N. Biren met 400 people from different parts of hill districts and attended to 172 cases on Hill Leaders’ Day, which fell today.
It may be recalled the 10th of every month is reserved exclusively for an interface between hill people and the CM.
Speaking to media persons, chief minister N. Biren said the 10th of every month is reserved exclusively for village chiefs, leaders of civil voluntary organisations of hill districts only and 15 of every month is for common people of both hills and valleys.
But common people of hill district also came to put their grievances and to present gifts. Most of the complaints are based on poverty, he added. Almost all the complaints made by hill people have been fulfilled and till now most of the problems have solved, Biren claimed. But I cannot assure to solve the problems completely as it is “human problem”, he added.
In response with a query from the media in relation with the statement of former chief minister, Okram Ibobi during a press conference held yesterday on MDS scam, N. Biren said the statement of O. Ibobi is appreciated as a responsible leader.
It may be mentioned that Ibobi said that he will co-operate to root out the corruption system from the state.
He said to root out the corruption system from the state people and leaders of the state need to walk together in a same pace.
For air ambulance facilities it will start functioning in the state as central government has made an earmarked of 24 cores as already mentioned by governor of the state Najma Heptulla, N. Biren added.
The chief minister further said today one Meitei woman came along with a boy who was severely injured in the landslide that occurred recently near Shirui village. The boy was totally helpless as he has a poor financial background. “I have instructed the respective district commissioner of Ukhrul to give all the necessary assistance under the regulation of government”, he informed.
Biren also directed Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Science authority to continue treatment from today at free of cost for the rape victim of Senapati district. She was mentally disturbed from the incident and directed the hospital authority to continue treatment until she is completely well.
Biren said usual complaint for repairing of roads, construction of market-sheds, bus-stop for school going children and others came up, he made assurance to solve the problems at the earliest.
People from Tamei came and requested for repairing of Tamei government school toilet along with photographs. N. Biren said he was shocked to see the condition of toilet, and he directed the parliamentary secretary (education) concerned to construct two toilets separately for boys and girls and to take necessary steps immediately.
In response to another complaint for construction of bus-shed at Kasom-Khullen, he asked the deputy commissioner concerned of Kason-Khullen to construct the bus-shed which is especially meant for the convenience of school going students and old-aged people.
Repairing and maintaining of potholes has been continuing and it has completed more than 80 percent for National Highway number 2. But due to rainy season construction of major roads at hill are still under progress, with the end of rainy season construction of major roads will be completed without delay, N. Biren assured.
The chief minister further said that genuine entrepreneurs who came to meet him for assistance on Hill Leaders’ day and Meeyamgi Numit had been provided assistance in the form of loans with reasonable sum from Manipur state cooperative bank.
Further he continued for lack of medical facilities in hill districts a 50 bedded hospital at Tamenglong district is ready to inaugurate. However, the main problem for the health sector in hill districts is due to the lack of manpower and lack of equipment.
In order to solve the problem 300 doctors will be recruited through Manipur public service commission along with other medical staffs and adequate accommodation and quarter facility will be fulfilled within a short period of time.
By Th. Basanta Kumar Singh, M.A., LL.B., IPS (Retd).
An educated individual can observe, perceive and plan in a more effective and efficient manner than one who is uneducated. An educated workforce will therefore invariably yield a greater economic output for the state that invests in its education.
The initial cost of investment to yield such a workforce may appear to be substantial at first; however, it must be noted that the equitable distribution of quality education that is formally standardized in a state has many long term positive effects:-
(1) Generation of human capital (through an educated, and thereby, qualified workforce)
(2) Reductions in population growth rates & gender inequalities.
(3) Attraction of national and foreign investment (MNCs, NGOs and private enterprises desire qualified human capital).
Through the investments and initiatives of the state, education can be made to become a rock-solid institution in itself, a cornerstone of Manipur society. This institution, once firmly established, will persist and expand generating a positive feedback loop and feeding a virtuous cycle of prosperity and development (two educated adults invariably have a higher probability of securing employment in decent paying jobs, and will presumably want their child/children to follow and improve upon the path of education and employment. This process, played out over several generations, creates the previously mentioned virtuous cycle).
Now, it is extremely important for us to take note of the fact that quality education, on its own, does not guarantee economic growth and development. Education has to go hand in hand with employment opportunity so as not to create a situation where there is prevalence of “brain drain” where overqualified individuals (often with undergraduate and post-graduate degrees) are underemployed.
Subsistence Vs. Sustainable survivability in the 21st Century.
It is important to look at the issue of education and employment from the perspective of the populace. While it is true that there are many individuals – educated & uneducated – who are unemployed in Manipur, it quite rare to hear of cases of starvation or people failing to feed themselves. This can be attributed to the fact that most families, at least in most parts of the valley, have small landholdings that provide them with nourishment & subsistence even if any trace of wealth income is absent in the family.
Here, we have individuals with a steady source of subsistence in the absence of a steady source of income. The result is the lack of any sense of urgency in seeking employment or the education and training that employment invariably demands.
What is critical to grasp is that the economic and cultural climate in the state of Manipur will witness a profound change in the foreseeable future. With land being bought and sold, and the gradual development of property markets, such subsistence based “loafing about” will not be a viable option for survival in the 21st century.
It is the duty and indeed the responsibility of the state to inform its citizens of the impending changes and provide opportunities for them to suitably equip themselves against said changes, for when these changes occur (as they inevitably will) and the previously mentioned individuals (of which there are many) are left stranded in the desert of ineligibility and solitude, it is the state to which they will turn their ire for having failed in this responsibility.
The State government with its jurisdiction and authority over the Manipur Board of Education has immense power in its ability to dictate the curriculum and the structure of primary and secondary education for most of the great many educational institutions within the state. With this immense power comes the heavy responsibility of providing the children of citizens, particularly of poor parents in the villages, with an education that they can bank on to survive and prosper in the competitive environment they will inevitably face upon passing out from School.
To fullfill this responsibility, the Department of Education is undoubtedly in need of reform, innovative ideas and vision. While the recommendations for reforms that shall be listed below are by no means comprehensive (or for that matter guaranteed to succeed), it is a start, and it should be stressed at the outset that any efforts to reform educational institutions should be distributed equitably between valley and hills, so as not to reap a counterproductive result.
Some Innovative Reform Recommendations and Suggestion
While it is easy to criticize and find fault with the prevailing system, it is imperative for all right thinking citizens to think about and offer recommendations and constructive suggestions in the overall interest of the State and our people. Here are some of mine:-
1) Introduce English language VERBAL communication skills as a part of the curriculum from class 4 onwards upto class 10. The curriculum should involve listening to audio tapes of native English speakers communicating so as to acclimatise students to correct pronunciations. It also serves the purposes of building confidence so that if the opportunity to converse with native speakers should arise, students are not thrown by “unusual accents” or worse yet discouraged or embarrassed to engage in conversation. Today we live in an increasingly globalized world and the ability to communicate in English and articulate ideas (whether or not those ideas bear merit depends on other aspects of education) concisely will be a vital asset to any student in the foreseeable future.
2) Introduce European languages (French, Spanish or German) from Class 7 upto class 10. The reason for recommending the particular languages outlined above is based on the scope of each language. A person trained in these languages will find that not only are France, Spain, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland & Austria accessible to him/her but also large parts of South and Central America and North and Central Africa. Establishing exchange programs with schools in these Countries would further enrich the educational experience of our students by affording them the opportunity to gain international exposure and practically apply what they have learnt in the classroom.
3) It is recommended that Class 9 students be enrolled in a summer seminar program (lasting the month of their summer vacation) focused on the subject of career counselling and stream selection. It is imperative that students have a clear cut idea about which stream (Science, Commerce, Humanities) they want to enrol themselves in after Class 10 and also formulate an idea about what their respective career prospects would be upon their entry into Class 10.
4) It is recommended that Class 10 students be enrolled in a summer seminar program (lasting the month of their summer vacation) focused on the subjects of sex education, family planning & moral sciences to address the issue of prevailing trends in the state regarding teenage elopement, marriage and pregnancy.
5) It is recommended that a similar seminar be held for Class 11 students (during summer vacation) focusing extensively on career opportunities, college enrolment and internship opportunities.
6) Most importantly, it is recommended that between Class 8 and Class 10 students be given comprehensive knowledge about their political systems at the national and state levels. Both theoretical knowledge (the workings of the electoral system, branches of government, separation of powers etc.) as well as practical knowledge (how to register to vote, developing the ability to form political opinions, and learning to measure the worth of political candidates) need to be emphasized. Politically active and well educated citizens lays the foundations of good governance and the resulting economic development that follows.
Whether or not the state heeds the advice and recommendations above and whether said suggestion yields positive results is yet to seen, and is indeed a matter which is open to discussion, debate and scrutiny. But what is evident is that an attempt (indeed a genuine attempt backed by robust political will) to initiate a departure from the current state of affairs is sorely needed and warranted. We may have to take a lesson in political commitment from the Japanese government of 1868, which issued a firm declaration in its Charter Oath to “seek knowledge wisely throughout the world”. This declaration was formalized under the Fundamental Code of Education issued in 1872 which stated: “There shall in the future, be no community with an illiterate family, nor a family with an illiterate person”. What is important to note is that the government in Japan at that time did not rest on firm declarations or codified laws alone, but backed it up with political action. Between 1906 & 1911, education consumed as much as 43 percent of the budgets of the towns & villages of Japan as a whole. Like the Japanese of the late-nineteenth and early twentieth century, we too must affirm our commitment to the people of Manipur that our children in Manipur shall and will receive the education they deserve, and follow it up with resolute political action for its deliverance.
(Th. Basanta Kumar Singh, M.A., LLB., is a student of History (from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi) and Public Administration, and took voluntary retirement from the I.P.S in November , 2016 and is presently a member of the State Executive, BJP, Manipur Pradesh. The views expressed in the article above are his own personal views) Email: email@example.com
By Amar Yumnam
In the political economy of Manipur, we usually do not come across serious application of collective mind to frame a policy for conduct of governance actions, public discussion on the policy and serious engagement of the concerned officials in the endeavour. For a change we find the Manipur Commission for Protection of Child Rights (MCPCR) setting a new direction in this regard. The Commission has put a draft of Manipur State Policy for Children 2017 (MSPC-2017) in the public domain. This is a positive step coupling the efforts of the new Chief Minister of Manipur to evolve a kind of linking with the people in governance of the province. The MSPC-2017 gives an opportunity to the people of Manipur for collective articulation of shared vision for the children here; thinking for children means caring for the social Manipur of tomorrow.
The Draft MSPC-2017 shows ample intent to contextualise the issues and push for making the policy to inform all other policies having implications for the life, livelihood, progress and welfare of the children. This is good in so far as it goes. There is both necessity and urgency for the Draft to be more intensely debated. This piece is a small endeavour from my end. I have problems on the following areas:
- Dovetailing the provincial policy to the national policy is fine. But I would like to hasten that it needs to go much beyond that for the regional realities are different demanding a kind of differential intervention; the larger framework may be more or less similar, but the interventions have to be necessarily alive to the contextual regional realities.
- The Draft talks of Conflict scenario in more than one occasion, and in fact in a way as if it is the dominant scenario of Manipur society today. This could be of Manipur up to the mid-1990s but it is no longer the overriding phenomenon. Further, the Draft talks of Conflict, Violence and Disaster as qualitatively synonymous in their manifestations and response requirements.
- A policy needs to have a target of time frame as seen in the case of Millennium Development Goals 2015 and Sustainable Development Goals 2030. This is because the context of socio-economic dynamics is never a constant. Thus we need the target year for which we need to mobilise our resources and efforts today for alteration of scenario in the terminal year.
Here I would like to emphasise certain key elements of what a policy should aim for. First, we need to be very clear on the contextual reality of Manipur – is it homogenous demanding a singular intervention or heterogeneous requiring differential interventions. Second, unlike in a case of conflict, what are increasingly getting unfolded in Manipur are the children bearing the brunt of poverty in a sexually, topographically and ethnically varied way. Third, while the outcomes of interventions have a lot to be done as well with the psychological orientation of the beneficiaries and environment of the milieu besides many other things, policy interventions can have a major role in appreciating the initial conditions and equalising the opportunities despite the heterogeneity in context. Equalisation of opportunities is of primary importance for it influences the psychology of grievances and reduces the scope for social turmoil. Further, equalisation of opportunities can address the usual injustice in the initial conditions. Even more significantly, it is easier to ensure more or less equalisation of opportunities through policy intervention than aiming for equality in the outcomes; equalisation of opportunities can better lead to social justice than by other means.
In this context, the prevailing global scenario as revealed in the just published Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals 2017: World Development Indicators of the World Bank is important. It is evident that the people living in extreme poverty are still absolutely large in India. Manipur happens to be a new entrant in India’s poverty menace. The recent reports of child trafficking from Manipur can only be explained by this deepening of poverty and not otherwise. Further, one significant global finding is that “More students struggle to reach proficiency in mathematics than in reading”. This indeed happens to be a major initial potential difference between the valley and the mountains of Manipur. For shared scientific development and social transformation with tremendous implications for enhancing competitive human capability, it is imperative that this initial difference be gradually reduced.
Besides these issues, there are compulsions to be addressed in this digital world. In this increasingly knowledge-intensive world, it is the responsibility of the state to ensure that digital literacy is generalised among all the children and the binary of offline and online youths is not generated. All these have implications for awareness of rights, responsibilities and enhancement of positive capabilities among children. Further, compared to what were there forty-fifty years back, the children in Manipur are increasingly drifting away from understanding of nature in both qualitative and quantitative terms. This is not a positive trend and needs to be reversed. A child policy today needs to be attentive to this challenge such that the inherent strengths are boosted; boosting the relationship with nature would certainly be a positive coupling of the sports capability of the children. Besides these, the positive lessons learnt from the universal child care policy in Norway in terms of long run educational outcomes and for evolving a more equal society need to be absorbed.
In fine, the MCPCR has done a wonderful job by putting a policy draft in the public domain and making the public think over the issues of the children. It would be in the fitness of things not to rush for early adoption of the policy, but rather allow the public debate and articulation run about a few months more. Since we have a document with us to apply our mind, let us now put in our efforts to further contextualise the frame and objectives and evolve a time-bound scheme of things. This is the way to prepare even for the subsequent stages without many hiccups.
The vigilance case initiated against six men who have headed the Manipur Development Society, the special engineering department of the Government of Manipur given the charge of many high profile development works of the state, is welcome. Although this department cannot be the only one unclean, for long it has been considered by many as a den of Manipur’s corruption brigade. Making this vigilance case unique and sensational is the fact that those facing charges are people who once belonged to the top echelon of the state’s power structure. In particular, the inclusion of Congress ex-chief minister Okram Ibobi, is even giving the case the promise of becoming explosive. While the new government deserves praise for such initiatives, and though there would be few who did not wish the initiative a success, given the widespread disillusionment official corruption has caused, we are however constrained to flag some cautions so that the case is not allowed to go out of proportion. The first of these is, the public must understand and respect the noble principle of liberal law that an accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty. As part of the” The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966”, this is now considered a human right. Let it also be remembered that India is a party state of this covenant. We mention this for very often public attitude is just the opposite and the media has done little to correct this perspective. On the other hand, the tendency has been for an unwarranted parallel adjudication process to emerge in the media, sometimes causing undeserving damages to those facing the charges. These “trials by media” may even influence the progress of the case, therefore there may even be elements of the offence of subjudice in them. Let the media then be careful not to either defend or condemn those in the dock ahead of a verdict by a competent court of enquiry.
The second caution is also to let the MDS case be allowed to remain in perspective. Official corruption is widespread in Manipur and cannot by any stretch of imagination be restricted to just the MDS. We are sure the Biren government is thinking of this case as just the start in the cleansing process and not the end of a mission. If it was otherwise, surely the counter charges that this is a political witch hunt would gain legitimacy. We are here reminded of the story from the Bible whereby Mary Magdalene was about to be stoned and punished for adultery (John8:1-11). When the crowd asked Jesus if the woman deserved to be punished thus, ostensibly to put him in a dilemma, his reply was that she does deserved to be punished, but only those who have never sinned must be her punisher. None of the men thereafter was able to throw a stone. The obvious message is, let the wrong doers be punished, but one set of wrong doers punishing another set of wrong doers can never guarantee justice. It also again may reduce the initiative to political vendetta. What the government should now do is to declare itself as corruption free by explaining how every minister and MLA and every high official in its close circle acquired their personal assets, and if their assets are large beyond what is considered normal, explain their sources of income. Once this has been done, the government would only receive applauses for its crusade against Manipur’s corrupt institutions.
Vigilance cases against all Manipur government departments may not be feasible. But the next department to be probed could be another one with a bad reputation in public perception. As so many have suggested, Loktak Development Authority could be this one. There can perhaps be a thumb-rule in deciding this. In a state with virtually no corporate sector, public money that leaves rooms for corruption are those earmarked as developmental funds, or roughly the plan fund of the state’s budget. Departments which get the biggest shares of this fund are the ones most prone to misappropriation. Obviously the corrupt officials would not be simply diverting these funds directly to their accounts, and the pilferage would be happening in collaborative defrauding in awards of contract works. This being so, just a study of the terms of every contract works doled out by these nodal institutions handling developmental funds should reveal plenty about Manipur’s infamous and oppressive minister-bureaucrat-contractor nexus.
Meanwhile, it is also time for the public at large to change perspective on corruption. If they were to critically look around them, they will realise how much they themselves have contributed to the normalisation of corruption. Cars that cost in the vicinity of Rs. 30 lakhs are on the rise on Imphal streets. In a state with little or no big industries, where did all these people get the money for such extravagant lifestyles? It is much like in other impoverished places ravaged by corruption such as Cambodia. You see poverty all around, but you also see many expensive cars as well. Neighbouring Vietnam which economy is now robust is a picture in contrast. The much more egalitarian nature of the society is visible on the streets in the lack of too much outright opulence. And if in Imphal if a survey were to be done as to who owns these super cars, in all likelihood they will all be from the minister-bureaucrat-contractor nexus with their hands on the state’s developmental funds. Yet the public rather than raise eyebrows continue to see them as their leaders and deliverers.
UKHRUL | Sept 10
State apathy has once again forced the people to take up work that the government is responsible for. People from Viewland, Zone IV, Ukhrul repaired the road running through their locality by contributing money and materials.
They decided to do so after a long wait for the government to repair the roads.
Nganaomi, chairman Viewland Zone-IV, Ukhrul informed that the locality was compelled to repair the road due to the pathetic condition.
Ngaranpam Vashum, a committee member remarked that the locals took up the repairing as it becomes unfit for human and vehicle to travel and especially the school going children had to bear all the inconveniences.
The Zone committee had to hire earth mover and other machine as the local labour contribution was not enough to clear the debris, drainage and mud. The committee informed that the repairing of the road will resume from tomorrow again.
IMPHAL | Sept 10
69 Battalion CRPF have organised its employment cell today at Mantripukhri to create awareness and empower the youths with a goal to further the vision of Vikram Sahgal, IGP M and N Sector, CRPF.
About 100 boys and girls from different communities of Imphal participated in the interactions organised at the 69 Battalion CRPF Mantripukhri, said a release. During the interactions, brigadier SK Sharma, DIG IMPHAL Range apprised them about the various opportunities available for the youth in Central Armed Police Forces, Defence Forces and other organisations, it said.
Commandant Dharm Prakash informed that the battalion will help poor children in acquiring books and other study materials, it continued. The employment cells will keep apprising youth about various opportunities available both public and private sector, it added.
IMPHAL | Sept 10
Recognize Rise and Empower Association (RREA) have organised a women’s health care camp today at Lanthungching Village near Shija Hospital today. RREA is a non-profit organisation registered under section 8 of the Companies Act was founded by Mathami Hungyo MSW from Delhi school of social work and Theimpei Raleng (Phd JNU), said a release. More than 200 patients of different communities attended the women’ health camp which was the organisation’s first one to be organised, it added.
From A Correspondence
THOUBAL | Sept 10
A cleanliness drive was held today at RDS leirak under Ward number V, Lamding Municipal Council, Wanjing in regards to the month long celebration of Lamyanba Irabot’s birth anniversary.
The camp was mainly organised by the councillor of Ward number V, Narengbam Binoi, chairperson of the development committee, Th. Shyamsunder in association with member of Ward number IV, S. Sanjoi.
On the other hand, youth enhancement society, Heirok bazaar also conducted a similar cleanliness drive at the areas covered under the club as a part of the month long celebration of Lamyanba Irabot’s brirth anniversary.