TODAY -

Manipuri barbers face many problems but struggle to run families
Source: Hueiyen News Service / Mangolchand Chingakham

Imphal, June 27 2011: Local barbers who survive and maintain their families by running barber shops/saloons in Imphal areas are facing lots of problems.

They face financial and social problems in the city.

They have not approached and are even not aware of procedures of seeking financial assistance from the concerned department of the state government.

There are many local barbers in the city but they cannot compete with non-local / non-Manipuri barbers in the main markets like Paona bazar and Thangal bazar due to lack of financial assistance and lack of knowledge in the trade.

Oken Naorem, 30 a bachelor from Chairen Khunou, Sugnu AC Thoubal has been running a barber's shop at Khongman Mangjil, Imphal east for the last 6 years.

He has been staying in a rented room at Khongman Mangjil and has been surviging by running the barber's shop.

In his shop, he works with Robert Singh aged 25 (name changed) of Bishnupur.

They attend to 30-40 customers a day.

In the shop, customers can have only haircuts as there is no facility to provide shaving.

In an exclusive meeting with Hueiyen Lanpao at his shop Oken revealed that his customers sometimes asked for a shave but for the time being he cannot afford to add the facility due to financial problems since he and his co-worker are not locals from where his shop is situated.

Every essential need has to be bought since we stay in a rented room, we even buy water, he added.

He also asserted that his shop at Khongman Mangjil which serves 30-40 customers daily, happens to be situated in Paona bazar and Thangal bazar then they can easily cater to 50-60 customers daily.

If any NGO, association or a government department provides us financial assistance as grant or loan then many skilled local people can compete with non-Manipuri barbers and can even dominate the main markets of Imphal.

There are many skilled young people who can compete with non-Manipuri barbers.

They suffer from lack of financial assistance and cannot deposit huge amounts to hire a plot on rent.

The main factor for barbers like me who cannot serve our customers is the lack of money and I am quite sure if the government takes an initiative to uplift labourers like us by providing loans through some schemes then upto some extent the unemployment problem in the state will be solved, he added.

Oken's regular customer Sanjoy Wangkhem, 38, a businessman by profession of Singjamei Mayengbam Leikai said to Hueiyen Lanpao that he has been a regular customer of Oken for more than 2 years.

Sanjoy appreciated Oken's will power and his work attitude.

He said that Oken provides a better service than any non-Manipuri barber.

Oken is doing a great job by coming forward and challenging the society by becoming a barber and he has proved that a barber can survive and maintain his family.

He also said that if the government and the people encourage the local barbers than many local barbers will come forward to serve the people.

In the Hair Cutting Saloon (Economic Self Reliance), Singjamei parking there are five local barbers.

All of them are from Naran Konjin, Imphal West and Langthabal area.

RK Brojen (40), Devan (40), Waikhom Robindro (25), Thounaojam Bishworjit (25) and Waikhom Nilakanta (25) are working together in the Hair Cutting saloon, Singjamei parking.

RK Brojen has been in this profession since the last six years and he has been successfully maintaining his family.

He has a three and a half year old daughter.

He revealed to Hueiyen Lanpao that as a barber he has been living a normal life without depending on others.

He also said that in their profession there is no off-season, so is not a poor profession since a barber can maintain his family and can live an independent life if he works hard and sincerely.

He also revealed that All Manipur Manpower Upliftment Centre, AMMUC, Chingamathak, Imphal (NGO) had helped them financially in opening the barbers' shop.

"If a government of Manipur, NGOs or any organisation supports local barbers and provide financial assistance and training programme I am quite sure that very soon we will dominate the main market," he added.

Sarat Potsangbam a businessman by profession and a regular customer of this shop said that local barbers can provide better service than non-Manipuri barbers.

Sarat is from Khagempali Panthak and he regularly comes to this shop for a hair-cut.

He said these local barbers are very talented and they will surely change the society in a good cause.

If the state government, NGOs or any organisation takes interest in the socio economic development of our state then many Manipuri barbers will help change the socio-economic crisis of our state in a positive way.

These local barbers are praiseworthy and they should be encouraged socially, emotionally and financially.


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