On Page Number 9
Seram Neken *
Housie took a responsible role in grooming famous sports-persons, in preparing a number of play-fields, in building local clubs and libraries in Manipur. It was once considered a righteous mechanism to achieving social good. People who participated in Housie draws were respected and regarded as dedicated donors of the organizing agency. Today, a number of people or organizations with vested interests have turned it into a big gamble. The noble purpose of Housie has been maligned.
The Voiceless Speaks
A friend called me up in the morning on Sunday last. Referring to a leading Manipuri Daily, he persisted me to see the page number nine of the paper and write something on what it reflected. Almost ninety percent of the particular page of the newspaper was filled with display advertisements for Bumper and Mega Bumper Housie in the state. How widespread the Housie is in today's Manipur is clearly reflected in the page. With the extensive holding of Housie games in the name of charity, a large number of registered associations or Unions have cropped up in the nook and corner of Manipur, particularly in Imphal city.
There was a time people of Manipur were completely mad in the so called last-digit lottery. Nowadays, Housie has taken its position in Imphal city. Mega Bumper, Bumper, mini-bumper and mini draws of all sorts attract the gamblers of all hues in almost all localities. From costly vehicles like Verna, Swift and I20 to two wheelers such as Access and Dio, there are no dearth of house full, second house full, lines, star and quick five prizes. Many organizations and their members have become crazy in conducting Housie draws in the name of Fund Drive.
In principle, Housie is a very noble tool for driving funds for philanthropic and charitable purposes. In the past, Housie took the greatest role in grooming a number of sports-persons, in preparing numerous playgrounds and club buildings. Local clubs, district level or state level organizations conducted Housie draws for driving funds for particular purposes. Tickets were sold to noble donors with humble requests.
The persons who participated in Housie draws were respected and considered as dedicated donors of the organizing agency. In this, the intention of Housie organizer was wholly philanthropic and that of housie participant was charity. Housie was not known as means to earn personal profit. It is not really a business in the real sense of the term.
However, nowadays many associations are now maligning the true benefits of Housie draw by utilizing it for personal profit earning. A myriad of registered associations and organizations have cropped up to organize Housie Bumper draws in Imphal for earning money. Many young people have been attracted towards this public gambling, thereby spoiling their properties and families.
Housie draws have been manipulated as a business by some people. Many Housie enthusiasts of the city are indulging in this business almost regularly without taking care for their daily works and their income.
Years back, last digit lottery had spoiled people of all hues and professions ranging from salaried class to Ricksaw pullers and from school students to vendor women. Lottery fans mortgaged their belongings and even sold out their family properties to book tickets. Now such lottery is no more in Imphal. Later, online tricks such as TVI Express, Unipay, Visarev, Jinex International, Forex achievements and a lot more scams led many to desperation. Now comes the Housie mania.
Advertisements for Bumper Housie draws are flooding local newspapers almost daily. Ticket prices range from hundreds to a few thousands while prizes include Verna, Swift, Alto, I20 and I10 cars. Those who join such gambling draws are so mad in this business that they are always seen wherever there is a Housie Draw.
Besides creating traffic congestion and disturbing the night, frequent Housie draws at public places invite crimes. On paper, the state administration bans Housie draws. Earlier, there were instances of banning Housie games at some places. But the measures are not taken durably and effectively.
As Housie has been widely misused by people for gambling, then State Home department needs to put a proper check on it. Law considers running of gambling houses, assisting in the operation of a gambling house, visiting a gambling house, financing gambling and being in possession of gambling devices a crime. If Housie is considered as a form of lottery, the Central Lotteries (Regulation) Act has to regulate it.
It is high time the state government took effective action to regulate the organization of Housie for social and charitable purposes. Except for specific genuinely charitable purposes, the government may prohibit such public gambling. Timely intervention of the government is highly required to save the young people from indulging in public gambling which in turn affect their properties and family life.
VOICE OF THE WEEK
If the government agencies remain adamant in regulating the organization of Housie games with the law of the land, social and civil society bodies will be compelled to take up the cudgel for public good. It will be another headache to the maintenance of law and order. The government should not create room for such chaos.
* Seram Neken wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao [English Edition]
This article was posted on December 24, 2013.
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