Jobs for the unemployed

Retd Colonel I S Chanam *

Providing jobs and creating means of livelihood for the unemployed mass are enormous challenges the government need to resolve. The problem is not only for our state but for other states too. However, it is more acute in Manipur as there are no industries or factories in the state to employ large number of people.

A few jobs that the government did offer in the past carried a large price tag for each job. One major reason for the offshoot of many 'insurgency' groups in the state is due to pervading and extensive unemployment.

Self- employment is one option, in fact, a very good option to reduce the pressure of 'unemployment'. Before new jobs are created, before skill development trainings are planned and executed, one area where the government can create an ' inexpensive and effective means' of enabling livelihood earning for a large number of people is, by constructing marketsheds in abundance wherever there are suitable spaces.

There are two groups of 'entrepreneurs' who need market sheds. They have already identified their field of activities. They are large in numbers. One group is the street vendors, selling vegetables, fishes and other items. They have spread all over Khwairamband Bazar.

It covers both sides of Alu Gali, either side of overbridge, below the overbridge, Nagamapal, part of Thangal Bazar besides the foot of Ima Keithel. Second group of people is educated youths who brought merchandise from Moreh and outside Manipur and sell the goods at open spaces along the road.

These two groups of people suffer harassment, unintentionally, driven by other considerations, from police and concerned authorities controlling the market place. Instead of chasing them like small time criminals, they must be helped to carry on their businesses. They are self-employed people. They are feeding the stomachs of several thousands of dependents without help from the government. They are the voters who elected the Government. They deserve respect and dignity.

Does the big Khwairamband Bazar have enough market sheds? No there is no adequate sheds. The market sheds constructed by the British, which were dismantled to erect the present Ima Martket, had enough space till 1950s. Thereafter the population in Imphal valley has multiplied. The number of 'Unemployed' has soared. The space in the market place is inadequate.

Whereas, on the Naga Mapal road, wholesaler women, who brought vegetables and fruits from Jiribam, Tamenglong, Mayang Imphal and Mao etc in hired trucks, are in tussle with the policemen while trying to unload the goods. Negotiation takes place feverishly between the wholesalers and the policemen on duty for a space to unload the goods.

Till the policemen allow the wholesaler to unload, sale of the vegetables and the fruits to retailers will remain held up. Early unloading and selling off the goods to retail seller vendors who will buy and carry away the goods for sell within the main Khwairamband Bazar and at far off markets elsewhere in the valley, is an urgent matter for the wholesaler. If not unloaded early and sold off, the goods will have to be sold the next day.

Carrying the unsold goods by coolies and storing them in rented godowns in the periphery of the bazar will cause extra expenses to the wholesaler and consequent loss. May be, often, the wholesalers will have to grease the palms of the authorities instead of incurring bigger losses. Is this not an act of harassment to those self-employed entrepreneurs? The wholesalers, who have created their own jobs without any help from the government, deserve special and respectful treatment and facility.

A big open space between Alu Gali in Thangal Bazar and Family welfare office, functions as a busy market place for vegetables. In the name of 'cleanliness and smart city', the authority must not evict it. In looks it is pitiable. The poor vendors have put in their best architectural skills and put up sheds by using bamboo poles and plastic sheets.

During rains it is muddy and slushy. But each and every item is available there. The look of this particular market place reflects utter neglect and lack of dedication on the part of whoever had been responsible for creating and maintaining market place. It is providing self -employment to over 500 families and feeding over 2500 hungry stomachs.

A similar scene exists at Tera Bazar where the vendors constructed ad-hoc sheds to protect from sun and rain. The same scene exists also at Lamlong Bazar where the line of vendors extends very long on both sides of Ukhrul road.

In Punjab, vegetables and all farm products are brought in trucks and tractor-drawn wagons, in huge quantities to the market place from remote farms. The items are unloaded in large heaps for each and every wholesaler, in a huge open building. They call this unloading and stocking place as 'Mandi". The space is big enough to accommodate one and all. No harassment from anyone.

From the 'Mandi' retailers buy the products for sale to the public. The BJP government in the state is making efforts for 'Development'. First basic development is needed in reducing poverty and hunger. One big avenue to reduce poverty and hunger is to generate facilities for these self- employed people, that is, the street vendors and the youths undertaking various enterprises.

One step that the state can take up without difficulties is to create extensive market sheds wherein whoever wants to sell any goods, finds a place to do so, in dignity and free from harassment. There are sufficient spaces to create these market sheds. One has to look around and identify the places. A number of narrow width sheds can be erected.

Along with adequate market sheds, some 'Mandis' should be constructed in the main market to unload wholesale merchandise where from goods will be sold to retailers as it is done in Punjab. These markets sheds be constructed in different zones to avoid overcrowding.

The market shed recently constructed between Johnstone Higher Secondary School and BT Park is stylish and meets the needs of vendors as well as customers. It does not reduce the looks of the city. Such constructions will cost very much less unlike that of Ima Market. The expenditure will be within easy reach of the government.

The present conditions under which market is being run all over the vacant places within Khwairamband Bazar, needs immediate and positive attention of the government, without causing inconvenience and harassment to the vendors.

* Retd Colonel I S Chanam wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on July 18, 2017.

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