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Sunday, May 16, 2010

My Manipur Diary

It was a learning experience visiting Manipur during 10-12 May 2010.  Thanks to Rajmani who could make my maiden visit possible to Imphal (Manipur).  I was skeptical after receiving the invitation whether should I go or leave it as Manipur is one of the most disturbed state in India and so much so for the North-East India.  There have been militants' attack and agitations against the government as well as the military setup specially on the Assam Rifles.  There have been cases of innocent killings by Assam Rifles which has instigated the public to go against this force.
Recently NSCN leader Muivah's visit has been the issue of distress and disturbance in Manipur.  Muivah, a known NSCN leader who had talks with the union home minister (P Chidambaram) and other inportant leaders in New Delhi, who agreed and allowed him to visit his home village situated in a district called Ukhrool in Manipur.  The demands of NSCN have been primarily establishment of greater Nagaland which should expand present Nagaland to the territory of Manipur and Assam where Naga tribe people reside and secession from India resulting in full sovereignty to Nagaland.  Muivah has strong followers base in Nagaland as well as all the areas where Nagas reside.  The home minister while allowing him to visit his hometown did not take Manipur Government into confidence which claims that Muivah's visit is not just a visit of a person to his village but it is to do with series of meetings with the activists as well as people for the cause of Greater Nagaland, which Manipur would never like.
Having green signal from the central government, Muivah tried entering Manipur through NH 40 which connects Dimapur and Imphal and while on the way the Manipur government as well as people signalled warning that they would not allow any such activist to enter Manipur who propagates the division of Manipur.  AS a response to this, Muivah supporters blocked the highway and declared ECONOMIC BLOCKADE till Muivah is allowed entry.  And it has affected the lives of almost all the Manipuries who depend on the supplies through this highway.  So there is no entry to Manipur through this road.  And I am visiting Manipur during this chaotic situation.
My flight is right on time which takes me from Guwahati to Imphal on 10th May,  Rajmani comes to pick me up and I am on my way to Manipur University.  I look around the roadside while in the vehicle, am reminded of lot of things which my father use to share with us when we were small and he was posted in Manipur.  We use to look forward for his annual leave and he would tell us the conditions in Manipur, that was sometime in late 70s and early 80s, Ukhrool, Monn, Mokokchung, etc etc. are the names I heard from him only.
I check into the guest house of the university, the ambiance of the university and the guest house is good, I am told I have to be ready at 10:30 AM so that I can attend the Silver Jubilee celebration of the department of commerce at Manipur University, Imphal.

We are there at the venue at the given time but the Vice chancellor comes after around 45 minutes with all his security guards, so the function starts late.  I am glad that this department has completed 25 years of its existence.  Many of the oldies of this department are know to me directly or indirectly.  The Profile of the department is released today at the function which reflects on the achievements of the department as well as the present status.  I carry a copy of the profile back home.  Two books are released on the occasion one authored/edited by Dr Tejmani singh (Head, dept of comm) and another one edited by Dr Rajmani Singha on 'Commerce Education in North-East India' and I have a paper in that book on Commerce Education in India-its past, present and future.  Prof Sunil Kumar Gupta (SKG), Vice Chancellor, Himachal Pradesh University, Shimla is the Invitee Speaker, who spoke on the status of Commerce Education in India, I dont quite agree on his views.  I shall be writing to him about it through Email.
The function is organized nicely and after the function is over, I get back to the guest house for lunch.  Both of us (SKG and I) take lunch, he proceeds to take little rest and I join Rajmani in visiting different departments of the university as well as commerce department.  There seems to be some problem as to the maintenance of the university buildings, furnishings etc however Manipur University is able to make a mark amongst the universities of the north-east india.  This university has a very different past, first it used to be a campus of JNU and in 80s it became full-fledged state university and till 2005 it functioned like that, however in 2005, it was declared as Central University.  One can see lot of constructions coming up in the campus which shows the flow of funds from the centre to the university.
We are taken at around 4:30 pm to the Imphal city, we walk through the market fully run by manipuri women, we follow a thorough way towards Aloo Road where I heard an old song being played...tu hindu banega na musalman banega, insan ki aulad hai insan banega...kudrat ney to bakshi thi bas'ek hi dharti hamney kahin bharat kahin iran banaya. (तू हिन्दू बनेगा ना मुसलमान बनेगा, इंसान कि औलाद है, इंसान बनेगा.... कुदरत ने तो बक्षी थी बस एक ही धरती, हमने कहीं भारत कहीं ईरान बनाया).
It was raining all through our visit to the city, the market looks like any other city market.  Imphal is a huge valley sorrounded by hills...4/5 part of manipur is hills comprising of 5 districts, remaining 4 districts are in the valley/plain area... We are taken to a hotel (Nirmala - if I correctly remember the name) for dinner, the time - 6 pm, because the shops get closed by that time so it is advisable not to be around after 6:30 or so. We are seven of us there, 4 opting for veg food and 3 for non veg.  The food is ok, we are then taken back in the same vehicles to the guest house. 

It rained heavily in the night.  The electricity has played foul and after the tiring day I depart to sleep....
11th May 2010
I am taken for Breakfast at Prof Prasain's place alongwith SKG, the breakfast is good and then afterwords while we are on our way to the airport to see off SKG, we go to a hindu temple which is one of the oldest temple of Manipur, further we also visit ISKCON temple on our way.  After leaving SKG at the airport we reach back to the university and I take lunch at the guest house and get ready for the Viva of a doctoral student of Rajmani.  WE meet the Dean (Prof Amar Yunam) and conduct the viva in his office.  Interesting study on the university accounting systems and comparison between State universities and Central Universities in North East India.  It all gets over in around one and half hour. 
I visit International market with Rajmani and did some small shopping.  I take dinner at Rajmani's place and get back to the guest house.  There is no electricity the whole night,,,, it is dark, terrible and still it is raining.
The next day I am called by WC Singh for breakfast and then taken to the Imphal Airport.  On the way I see 4-5 kms que of 4 wheelers on one side and around 1.5-2 kms of two wheelers on the other side of the Petrol pump (which is fully guarded with security personnels) for the want of petrol/diesel which is scarce at present in Manipur.  I am told Petrol is sold around Rs 150 per litre, LPG is more than Rs 1000. 
I make some simple observations as follows:
- Culturally, Manipur is very strong state.
- I find relatively more shops of medicines in the city, all across places.
- Generally, the sight of a smoker is not very common as compared to Guwahati, Dimapur, Kohima, Aizawl and Shillong.
- Residents are distressed, the glow on the faces is missing.
I reached back from Manipur visit to Shillong on 12th May 2010...
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some more details coming....
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