Ever smiling Prof Gangmumei

Free Thinker *

 Funeral service of Professor Gangmumei Kamei at Namching, Keithelmanbi   :: 06 January 2017
Funeral service of Professor Gangmumei Kamei at Namching, Keithelmanbi on 06 January 2017 :: pix - Agui Kamei

It is indeed a great loss for the country particularly for the State of Manipur when Prof Gangmumei Kamei passes away. He was not only an outstanding teacher of history but also an excellent guide and guru to many people.

I was not a student of Prof Gangmumei but certainly I was one of those who had the rare privilege to interact and argue with him on many crucial issues of the people on many occasions. My last interaction with him (NEC Member) was in the month of June last year in his NEC (North Eastern Council) office in Shillong.

That time he was not keeping very well and his daughter was taking care of him. Over a cup a green-tea we had a brief conversation. One gentleman was also present along with his daughter. As usual I started with my pet topic 'lifting the prohibition in the State' and do big business with our local brew like the Goa-Feni or the Sikkim-rum.

He simply smiled and said "there are many issues to be settled before doing that and the state government and all stake holders must be convinced. "I told him that, " Sir, in the name of health we are discarding wealth, and we all know 'dry' is never 'dry' in the state; it is a hollow exercise wasting huge revenue and business opportunities."

He again smiled and said, "we must convince the people and the leaders ". Another issue I raised was about the equitable distribution of NEC fund among the member States (Eight States).

In response, he made it very clear that the funds are allocated according to the projects; those states having more projects will get more funds; but we always try to sanction projects in all the states in a fairly balanced manner. I was not convinced because only two or three states are having maximum projects.

He simply smiled and said, "you have a valid point but I am a new member and let me look into that ". Finally, when I raked up the Naga issue, he simply smiled and said let the dialogue continue.

Time is the best panacea for all, he hinted and I agreed. After losing Election on BJP ticket for the Outer Manipur Parliamentary Constituency and before he was inducted as the member of NEC Prof Gangmumei was in Delhi Manipur Bhavan as he was recovering from a major stroke. I went to him and simply wished him for a speedy recuperation.

He held my hand and uttered, "we must meet often". He was very fond of discourses, discussions, debates, dialogues etc. particularly with those who think differently. In the early 90's when I started writing in local dailies, once I expressed a very strong feeling against a protracted blockade.

If I recall correctly the caption given to that write-up was "whether we are heading towards a civil war". Perhaps Prof Gangmumei was deeply annoyed to go through the highly provocative article from a young budding columnist. I got a message through Dr. MC (Now Prof) that Prof Gangmumei wanted to see me.

By chance I met Prof Gangmumei in the University Campus. Dr. MC introduced me to him. That was my first meeting and encounter with him. In no time, he told me with a smile that "intelligentsia must be more responsible while expressing our views because the common people are generally guided by our views". I knew what he was saying. Before I could respond and explain he left as he had to attend a Federal Party meeting.

Again, I met him with one of his PhD students now a minster in the present dispensation. Prof Gangmumei told us that all the ethnic communities are so closely intertwined in the past and it is very must reflected in our oral tradition and Lai-Haraoba. Actually, my friend was doing research on Lai-Haraoba.

Prof Gangmumei was absolutely right when he maintained that "today we are divided because of petty politics, intruded religions and hegemony- complex". When Prof Gangmumei was Education minister I met him in his office for the appointment of a very poor but brilliant boy as primary teacher; that time a recruitment drive was going on.

He said with a smile "if the boy is deserving he will be selected, I prefer merit to money." He did not disappoint me. Today I don't know why the perception of our leaders have changed. Now it seems money is given top-most priority. There is nothing wrong if we pay merit (and quality) primacy along with other considerations.

Corruption with a prudent purpose and a vision should be ingrained in our body politics. Because no one can wipe out corruption completely. Then, why can't corruption co-exist with merit?

It is a great personal lost because Prof Gangmumei was one whom I could poke my nose pertaining to intricate issues of the region and the state. Most of the time he refused to agree with me.

Honestly speaking I shall be missing a great erudite who often snubbed me of course with a smile.

* Free Thinker wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on January 16, 2017.

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