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‘Need to educate rest of India about North East’

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By Surbhi Moudgil

For decades now, the Northeast, comprising seven sisters – Assam, Manipur, Nagaland, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh – and a brother – Sikkim – has been neglected by both, the government and their fellow countrymen.

Almost 98% of the north-eastern borders are international borders, which the states share with Bangladesh, Myanmar, Bhutan and China. A major risk associated with this unique geopolitical hotspot, apart from militancy or development, is its lack of representation to the rest of our country.

Why has their plight not been dealt with? Is it only the government which is to be blamed or the locals should be held responsible as well? Most importantly, will this country ever realise what it is losing in this bargain of ignorance and rights?

To find out answers to these queries, NewsGram interviewed Member of Parliament Dr Thokchom Meinya representing Inner Manipur from India National Congress.

Speaking about the diversity of Manipur, the MP remarked about the state’s beauty of a diverse set of heterogeneous people, with so many dialects living in harmony with as many as 38 multi-lingual ethnic communities. The beauty of Manipur lies in the unity of ethno-diversity and multilingual co-existence.

Manipuri language is called Meiteilon; it is the lingua franca of the state and is spoken by all locals. Meitei is a Sino-Tibetan language whose exact classification remains unclear. It has lexical resemblances to Kuki and Tangkhul Naga.

Giving a historical perspective, in the wake of the Bhakti movement, the Manipur monarchy converted into Hinduism, leading Hindu priests to burn their holy books (Puran) written in their own scripts. They decided, instead, to introduce Bengali characters to rewrite their old literature. Of late, people have started to express their concerns over the authenticity of Bengali, leading to controversies as there were multiple (3-4) scripts that were claimed to be original by different groups.

The Manipuri language was finally included in the 8th schedule of the Indian Constitution after the loss of many lives during the long drawn language struggle from 1972 to 1980. Yet, a proper development of the languages is not being carried out, laments Dr Meinya.

For a functioning state and better governance, rest of India would have to know the history of the Northeast region and be inclusive towards them, concluded the MP.

Dr Meinya condemns the state for representing such an administrative failure.

“For this I don’t blame the Union of India. The blame should also fall on the state because of the three provisions in the constitution; one is the Union List, another is the Concurrent List, and the third is the State List.

“Since, education, health and home come under the State List, it is Manipur government’s prerogative to display good governance. Unfortunately, for many reasons, I am sorry to say, good governance cannot be carried out in these parts of the country.”

He added, “Manipur locals, including the hill region people, speak Manipuri. We don’t know the dialects and languages spoken by the tribes but we all know Manipuri. We now have a big plan to rewrite the entire books written in Bengali. We will retain them but we are also publishing their rewritten versions in the new script.”

There is another issue that the adoption of the new script faces. Technology as well as tradition, somehow, is a hindrance to the new script as the youth prefer English whereas the older generation understands the Bengali script.

“Bengali script is fading away. So, the language is in a haphazard status. We now print all our cards in Bengali scripts but the young people write their names in English. English is becoming easier in terms of expression,” said Dr Meinya.

Although this “easier term of expression” (English) is a completely alien language to the tribals. If the young generation is encouraged to use it, won’t it create a language gap within the state?

With the language issue comes educational problems: what should be the medium of instruction in schools and colleges; do we have books in that script; is it in line with the national education policy; is it good enough to give confidence to the young men and women who fly away to Delhi and Bangalore. The surge of militancy is related to lack of livelihood which finds its origin in lack of proper, skill-oriented education.

The MP claimed that higher education had expanded over the years in Manipur in terms of the number of institutions. Data shows that from just one college in 1946-47, higher education today is imparted through two universities and 68 colleges, including seven women colleges. However, these are concentrated mainly in the valley districts of Imphal East, Imphal West, Thoubal and Bishnupur.

Dr. Meinya expressed concerns over the safety of students in the light of militancy. For a state trapped in the claws of the insurgency, the students need to feel safe and need to be at peace. An ideal study environment needs to be established for the better accumulation of tutelage.

He recognised the issue of student safety and appeared concerned. Militants often convey threats amid a lack of safety provisions for students. Persistent strikes, boycotts and curfews interrupt the regular schooling of students. As a result, they lack the skills and knowledge of their respective subjects due to the fewer lectures delivered.

Deficiency of academic atmosphere, parental and government support are some the reasons for this situation. Therefore, it is not surprising that many parents send their children outside the state for their studies.

The MP from Inner Manipur spoke at length about the apathy of governments, mostly the state, for the issue of militancy and unsafe environment for the youth. However, when asked if there was a solution, he expressed disappointment as well as emphasised upon the prevailing atmosphere where militancy was just one issue.

He said that the Northeast was gripped in corruption, bad physical and human infrastructure, lack of ideas and will for the betterment of the state at the governance level, among many other smaller issues like violence, conflicts, blockades and strikes.

MP Meinya stressed upon the fact that “the solution lies with the people, of Manipur as well as rest of India,” and nobody else. Institutions and societies are made of individuals who care about it.

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Copyright 2015 NewsGram

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Death Knell For The Rape Culture

The death penalty for the child rapist is going to see the light of the day

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Death knell for the rape culture
Death knell for the rape culture. Pixabay

By Salil Gewali

The death penalty for the child rapist is going to see the light of the day. Hearty thanks to the countless candle marchers. The credit also goes to those conscious media and columnists who all fueled the agitation and energized the activists. Here PM Modi’s dynamism can’t be overlooked either, because this ordinance, which was long overdue, has happened now.

Let’s all pray that the ‘fear of death’ will be an effective deterrent.  Hope, this will “frighten away” the real vices. In the meanwhile, it would also be very wise on the part of the government to look for other preventive measures since we have lot many “vices” in lot many avatars and assortments which only encourage the sex related crimes. There are also very dangerous “vices” which, when start to infect one’s thought-process, might give birth to the countless Trojan horses, Malwares, even virulent I-love-You. The virus infecting tragedy usually strikes ones very fast who are with weak inborn “antivirus”. This, in fact, turns “sane men into perverts” if one objectively analyses. But what is too bizarre is that some of such virus generating vices are let to flourish under the cover of silence while some are made to believe through media as “virtues” and while others as “talent” — with a whole lot of modish adornment and poetic adulation. Do you want to acknowledge that ones who cried hard against the despicable rape culture are the premier dealers of these vices? Some are producers too. I cut short here.  Because these days I fear the “thunder of hypocrisy” then the roars of the tiger in a jungle!

Candle March for death penalty of rapists.
Candle March. Pixabay

Yes, remaining complacent by mere hanging the perverts will be thus a downright immaturity. The identifying the causes of those vices that are hurting the society at large are equally important.  Of course, many try to overlook those vices as if they never make a bad impact upon the mindset an individual. Here I’ve an argument — has the heat of the hearth stopped boiling the water or burn your pack of currency notes to ash? As mentioned above, we can draw a perfect “analogy” between the virus infecting a computer leading to its inevitable “malfunction” with the people’s behavioral degeneration and wrong indulgences due to the continuous exposure and acceptance of vices.

Also Read: Rape Survivors in India Still Face Humiliation with Two-Finger tests and Barriers to Justice says Human Rights Watch

However, it would surely be good if the Government and awakened women organizations boldly pinpoint those forces as well which are culpable for presenting women as no less than commodities, and the dealers of the vices. In this, one is skeptical whether we can turn to the media with hope, or with doubt! Because, very absurdly, the definition of “good life” and its values have now been willfully distorted and redefined to suit the situation, plans and programs such that they would help further the agendas of that forces which rule the roost.

Stop the Terror of Rape.
Stop the Terror of Rape.

Anyway, whether one agrees or disagree, disinfecting/detoxing the “mindset” of the society is the only pathway to the sane society which we are now crying for. The healthy thought, healthy attitude, healthy acts can only toll the death knell for any kind of rapes or any kind of depravity.

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’. Twitter: @SGewali