Wake Up Calls To The People Of Manipur
- Part 1 -

Vision Manipur 2030 *

At the very outset, we will like to stress that we have nothing against any person or organisation. Whatever we are writing are just an expression of our personal views and experiences, the difficulties and unnecessary obstacles faced by us and our friends during our formative years. It is our desperate calls to the present policy makers of our state to bring about a change. We may be different in our thinking and perception but we believe that it's worth giving a try.

Our writings and suggestions may sound immature. Whatever our effort may look like, if we are able to change even one person for the better, our purpose is served. If somebody has a better alternative, please let the public know. It is only in this way we can contribute to a better society.

We are at a time, which can be considered as the worst in the history of Manipur. Never had the state been so divided. We always use to hear from our elders that, things are going to improve one day. We have been waiting for that day, but instead the situation is getting worst by the day. Things that were unthinkable in Manipur a decade ago are happening today. Supari killers, killing for money etc is no longer alien to us.

We want to ask the people of Manipur. IS THIS WHAT WE WANT? IS THIS WHAT WE WANT TO HAND OVER TO OUR SONS AND DAUGHTERS? WILL THE FUTURE GENERATION FORGIVE US WHEN THEY COME TO KNOW HOW FAR THE REST OF THE WORLD HAS GONE AHEAD? WILL WE HAVE THEIR RESPECT? Is not it the responsibility of the present generation, to clear the path for the next generation, so that they can easily walk through, but in the present scenario, it seems that we are laying thorns for them instead. There is a saying, 'the darkest hour of the day is just before dawn'.

Is not the dark hour long enough? The dawn will only come when we collectively willed for it. We are already late. If we don't wake up now, we will be missing the bus entirely. Don't expect people from outside the state to sweep our lawn for us. It is for us to do. You and I are the ones who should be making Manipur a better place to live in. We can achieve this by changing our attitude and conduct in life. So, let us start now, let's start with the man in the mirror.

PROBLEM IDENTIFICATION AND SUGGESTED SOLUTION: The problem in Manipur is multi prong, however the main problem is unemployment compounded by an uncertain future. But how does a small state like Manipur with only about 23 lakhs population and 60 MLAs managed itself to come to such a situation. For that, let us look back 40 years from now.

HOW THE DOWNWARD SPIRAL OF MANIPUR BEGAN: In the early days, most of the school were Manipuri medium government schools. Job inside the state does not require people to be well verse in English or Hindi. There was less number of educated people with more job opportunities to choose from. With time, the number of educated people grew at a rate much faster than the ability of the state government to create jobs and ultimately, jobs become saturated. With limited knowledge in English and Hindi, the prospect of getting a respectable job outside of the state was also bleak, so people have to depend only on the state government job. With less number of jobs and more applicants, people started taking desperate measures to somehow get a job. We became selfish towards one another as we look at each other as potential rival.

Our love for one another became limited only till our gates and not beyond. Desperations for getting a government job and uncertainties of the future with, no possible alternatives, provided the perfect menu for the authorities to exploit the situation for personal gains, and, they did so to the hilt. At the same time, the officials also realised that they are not going to be in that position forever. They don't have faith in the very system they are running. They started favouring their wards for a job while they are in a position to do so, or they started amassing as much wealth as possible through corrupt means to ensure a better future for their sons and daughters.

As jobs were bought with money and not by merit, there were no reasons to study hard, but only a degree. Copying in exam was the easiest way to get a degree. Even parents were encouraging their wards to copy during exam. We end building a state full of literately illiterate. Corruption slowly became a part and parcel of our day today life. The general public's faith in the government slowly faded. People started looking at the government as an institution where one uses ones authority and power for personal gains.

The moral value of the general public eroded. They started taking money for vote, giving way for people with money who look at the governance as a business opportunity. The general public also started looting the state in their own small ways, unauthorised electric connection, non payment of electric bills, water bills, telephone bills etc become rampant. The rationalisation was, if those in authority/government are indulging in corruption at their level, why can't we at our level, little realising the implications, it will have on the future generations. Things that started 30 to 40 years ago are affecting us now.

FACTS: Our State does not have the natural resources, nor are we located in a favourable location to establish industries and create job opportunities for its ever increasing educated youth. How are we going to solve this problem?

SOLUTION: The only solution we can think of is to develop our HUMAN RESOURCES and look beyond the boundaries of the state. We need to equip our children with enough talent and knowledge so that they become competitive enough for getting central government jobs at all level, in sizeable numbers thereby, relieving the state government of the pressure. Imagine a situation where hundreds of our children started cracking central PMT, IIT entrance test etc, where the state does not have to spend a single penny for their higher studies.

I dream of a day, when eromba is served in the mess of all the premiere institutes of learning in the country. These suggestions are not so easy, but I can't think of a better alternative. Look at the South Indian states, though politically not as dominant as the North, roughly about 60-70% of all the seats of premier educational institute in the country are filled up by them. You will find idli, dosa in every mess. The balance of power is slowly shifting towards the south because today, India's economy depends on knowledge and knowledge lies in the Southern states.


NATURAL: Manipur is surrounded on all sides with mountains and hills. During summer, the sun rises at around 5 in the morning and sets around 6 in the evening. In Delhi, the Sun rises at around the same time but sets around 8:30 pm. A child in Manipur has around 13 hours to study in natural lights where as a child in Delhi has around 15 hours, a disadvantage of 2 hours every day. We can cope with this easily if we have enough electricity.

ELECTRICITY: A child in Delhi has 24hrs electricity. He can use it for studying at night till whatever time he wants, say maybe till 11pm.This is possible only because their people pay the electricity bills regularly whereas, a child in Manipur has 2 hrs of electricity from sun set till before going to bed (10pm) and that also on alternate days, a deficit of 4 to6 hrs every day. I hope we can imagine the gravity of the situation. We are putting our children in the back seat even before the competition starts.

SOLUTION: The state can provide us enough electricity for the task at hand only when, we stop stealing and pay our bills regularly so that the Government can clear their dept. Even neighbouring states are in a much better position. It is time for us to realise that, anything that is wrong however small it might be will have a repercussion in the future.

GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS: The introductory medium of teaching in the government schools are in Manipuri whereas, the country and the world runs in English. After matriculation, except Manipuri literature, every book is in English. By denying English we are clipping the wings of our children before they could even fly. We can't see the logic of our policy makers (Sometimes we feel whether it was done deliberately by those in power so that, their sons and daughters who studies in private English school face less competition from the children of those who can't afford to send their wards to English medium private school).

When we discuss the medium of education with our friends, they usually bring up China and Japan. Here we want to point out that China and Japan has enough resources to create job opportunities for their population without having to rely on English but, that is not the case in India. Now even China have realised the added advantage of learning English looking at the opportunities, India and Philippines are getting from job outsourcing and computer software development industries and also, for its business expansion.

SOLUTION: The introductory medium of every school in the state should be in English. Manipuri can be introduced at a class like what is being done in private schools. By doing so, we are arming our children with the very basic weapon with which they can face the challenges once outside of Manipur (English is a difficult language to master. Some of us have studied in English medium school but still, we are far from mastering it as you can judge from the grammatical errors in this very letter. By introducing at an early stage, we will be able to understand it much better, otherwise, we will end up translating," ei kok yamna ngoure" into," my head is very mad".

Academically also, I have a friend who is very brilliant and hardworking. He studied in a Manipuri medium school. After matriculation, he took science. He could not understand much of what is being taught in class and what's being written in the books. In order to cope with that, he use to by heart Shitaljit's Anglo Manipuri dictionary. Precious time was wasted in just understanding English at the most crucial period in one's life. Today, looking back, he used to tell me, "I don't want to remember those days, it was a nightmare. It gives me goose pimples"). The pronunciation of what is being taught in class should be either like the British or American English as far as possible so that one does not have to learn spoken English when an opportunity comes along. As English is not our mother tongue, speaking in English does not come to us naturally so conversation in English during school hour should be encouraged.

PRESERVING OUR CULTURE AND LANGUAGE:- When I suggest of English as the introductory medium of teaching in schools, many, who are responsible for preserving our mother tongue may feel threatened. They may feel that by doing so, slowly the importance of our language will be lost. Let us look at the pros and cons of the situation. I am just suggesting of giving more time in the language in which we are going to face the challenges from outside. Look at West Bengal, once called the intellectual capital of India, people used to say, 'what West Bengal thinks today, the rest of India thinks tomorrow'.

With the introduction of Bengali as the main medium of study, the state has gradually lost its status. Now it's completely the opposite. Now people say, 'what the rest of India thinks today, West Bengal thinks tomorrow'. Other state like Karnataka, have their own language and culture too but, they know that without English, their people will not be fit even for a clerical job in the central government. We should also realise that no other language has the knowledge and information pool compare to English language. Every work of relevance from all over the world has been translated in English. One has to realise that in today's world, one has to learn what is happening in the world outside.

There are certain ways to preserve our mother tongue. For example, for any state government job entrance examination, we can have a basic essay or paragraph writing in our mother tongue. This will give due weightage to our mother tongue. Such benefits from learning our mother tongue, not only from the cultural and emotional perspectives, will help prevent students from ignoring it during their schooling.

We can also have government sponsored literary competitions in our mother tongue with good price money; something like the INCENTIVE STATE SPORTS AWARD every year (rewards and recognition will go a long way, at least for those who pursue our mother tongue with enthusiasm). We can also have cultural month or week either in the spring or late autumn and coincide it with something like, 'VISIT MANIPUR MONTH'. During this month we can have cultural programs, competitions etc. This will allows us to stay connected with our tradition and also provides us with an opportunity to show our rich cultural heritage in a wholesome manner to visitor during this period.

It is not the responsibility of the poor and the weak alone to carry on preserving our culture and mother tongue and deny them a life of opportunities which only the English language can provide. It should be a collective responsibility of all of us as a whole.

MORAL SCIENCE, as a subject, should be given due weightage till matriculation so that a uniform moral value develops inside each and every one of us without much religious flavour, more so in a state like Manipur specially among us Meiteis, who is going through a crisis of religious identity. (It is better for the state to be run by honest fools than by genius crooks, who manipulate the system at every opportunity to meet their mean ends).

TEACHERS should be given the highest social status in the state. At least selection of teacher should be free and fair so that, motivated people with good teacher like quality are selected. Teaching should not be considered just as a job in the normal sense. It should be considered as a mission. It is the teachers, who became role models for students besides the parents. It is the teacher who has a major role in shaping the future.

Teacher's training course like B Ed should have a curriculum on how to inculcate polite manners and discipline to children at a tender age in school (just like stewards/air hostess are train on polite mannerism) because the sophistication with which parents raise their children in our state are very varied (some of us are lucky enough to have visited a few countries. Everywhere we go, we find people to be very polite in their manners and the way they speak. It does not cost a penny to inculcate such kind of mannerism in our children. It will go a long way in the overall development of Manipur. The British were able to build the biggest empire known to mankind because of their discipline. We don't have to elaborate much on, how a Manipur police commando talks to you).

Private tuition by teachers employed in government school should not be a problem to others if he is doing so in his free time (the rationale being, no one have a problem if a teacher is running a grocery store during his free time after school. It should not be a problem to others if he wants to take tuition during his free time. One should be given the liberty to utilise ones free time as per ones choice and charge a reasonable fee for the service he provides). On the part of the teacher, he should be in school for the time he is being paid for by the government and he should be teaching what he is supposed to teach in a calendar year. He should not have any favouritism among those who take tuition from him and those who do not. The sole reason for tuition should only be for increasing the knowledge of the students, arming them for the challenges he is going to face from the rest of country.

SCHOOL TIMINGS: When Shri. Dinko Singh won the Asian games gold medal, I dreamt of becoming famous like him. I joined the boxing class at Khuman lampak in the morning which was from 6:30 to 9:00am. As I was studying also, I had to come back at around 7:30 so as not to miss my school. It was a situation where I could not give justice to the sport I love without affecting my studies. Ultimately, I had to give up boxing. Such stories are a common happening in our experience.

In Manipur, the school timings are usually from 9:30am to 3:00pm. We get around 2 -1/2 hrs in the morning and 2 hr in the evening. The time we get at a stretch before and after school is too short for any activities like sports and other extracurricular activities when we pursue it seriously without affecting the school timings. We all know that it is not possible for everyone to become doctors, engineers, scientists or intellectuals. Every one of us has got our own area of interest and talent and so enough time should be given to nurture such talents without affecting our studies.


School timings could be from 6am to 12:30pm. With this, we will have around 5 to 6 hours at a stretch in the afternoon. We can utilise this hours for other activities for our developments without affecting our studies. Every sport centres, cultural centres etc should open during the afternoon hours (Even though sportsman from our state are good as a player to start with, they are unable to become officials, coach at national and international level because of the inability to read and write English properly and, to some extent, inability to speak Hindi. Education is a must for any field).


In Manipur, I have not come across a year where a school calendar is completed without any disturbance. It is the duty of each and every one of us to ensure that our children's educational calendar is not being disturbed. The only reason why the young address the old with love and respect is because it is the older generation which lays down their path, tell them of their experiences and guide them so that they don't make the same mistakes they made. It is our responsibility to ensure a bright future for them. They are not the ones who brought us the present situation. It's the older generation yesterday and us today.

They are not the one who cast their votes. It's us. Why punish them for things which they are not responsible. Today we are young and strong, it is our generation who is running the show now but a day will come when we will be weak and the baton has to be passed onto the next generation. Believe me, if we snatch away their future, they will not forgive us tomorrow. I don't have any love lost for the previous generation who handed us the present situation in our hands. It is from them we grew up copying how to waste our time with a fishing line by the river side the whole day, drinking almost every evening, not to go to office whenever possible, to take bribe whenever possible etc. That's the past.

Now is our time. We need to be role models ourselves and show the younger generations only the good things to copy from us (it take thousands of years for human just to invent a cigarette and discover how to smoke but, just a second to learn it from someone who already knows it). Let's hand over the next generation, a better future, a society free from corruption, where everyone gets equal opportunity to live an ideal and respectable life with dignity according to ones capabilities and effort.

To be continued...

PS: We are a group of medical and engineering graduates in our 20s and early 30s. At present, we are struggling to further our career outside of our state. This gave us a chance to compare ourselves with the rest of the country. It is our confession that, we are not very talented or gifted. We asked ourselves, what would have happened if those among us, who are gifted and much more talented than us, could have achieved with proper guidance and support. At the rate at which other states are progressing, there is a sense of desperation and the urgencies inside us that make us write and share our views with the general public. Our article is long as we tried to encompass so many subjects with suggested solutions. As newspaper is the only means of connecting us with the general public en masse, we pray that you will help us in conveying our views through your esteem newspaper.

We would like you to hide our identities if you publish our article because of the following reasons:
1. Our effort is not for any form of personal gain.
2. We consider ourselves still not good enough to be role models for others.
3. We are still very young and have not yet earn that much of respect nor have we done anything extraordinary that people of our state may start listening to us. So, it is better in a way to remain anonymous.

Thanking you in anticipation.
Yours sincerely,
A Group of Struggling Medical and Engineering Graduates

* Vision Manipur 2030 contributes to regularly. They are a Group of Struggling Medical and Engineering Graduates and can be contacted at visionmanipur2030(at)gmail(dot)com
This article was webcasted at on 11th April 2010.

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