The Peoples Chronicle

The Peoples Chronicle

A Reflection on the Objectivity of the Sangai Festival of Manipur - 2

Salam Rajesh


Last week this column had put in some thoughts on the broad objectivity of organizing the Sangai Festival extravaganza in the State, and its merits and shortcomings. The purpose of organizing the festival is noble in the sense that it promises wide opportunity for enterprising youths and organizations based in the State, with ample scope of reaching out to nations in South East Asia for business and other prospects including cultural exchanges and tourism promotion. Whereas, as we reflected earlier the objectivity of organizing the festival has more or less deviated from its original track, so to say.

One point of reflection on this argument is the manner in which the organizers, in specific the State’s Department of Tourism, had more or less neglected the media – both the electronic and the print establishments, either purposely or by sheer oversight. The State sponsored festival, projected as an event of international stature with foreign teams being invited to take part in the several events of the festival, has not been effectively highlighted or featured in the local and regional newspapers. Barring two media establishments in the State, this time around there practically has been no press releases or advertisements a week before to give emphasis on the events and other interesting features of the festival.

As this writer noticed, or observed in field, there was perhaps a sense of confused organization of the festival on the part of the State administration, in particular the relevant tourism office. There perhaps was a gap in communication with the Principal Secretary (Tourism) and his subordinates, which was reflected in the way how the relevant officers were pulled up by the State’s Chief Minister on the eve of the festival for having neglected the press and the media. The media organizations, responsibility shouldered by the Editors’ Guild, had petitioned the Chief Minister that in the event of the organizers showing partiality to a few print and media organizations for the festival and neglecting the rest, there would be a total boycott of the festival by the media organizations and the press based in the State.

The question is not on the argument that somebody is left out or somebody is in, whereas it is on the credibility on the part of the organizers in having successfully organized the festival without a hitch. There is no need in reminding the organizers that there is something called a “Press Preview” of any festival or a major event at least a week before the event is launched. This time around, there was neither a press preview nor public advertisements on the local newspapers and the media focusing on the important features of the festival. For some reason or the other, the organizers perhaps considered it unworthy to rope in the local press.

If we recollect correctly, there was a blackout of the State sponsored Kut Festival that was held at the 1st Manipur Rifles Ground on November 1 earlier this year in the local newspapers and the media for the reason that the organizers of the event had shown partiality to a few select media establishments and having neglected the rest of the press corps. This writer failed to understand the thinking process of the event managers, referring here to both the Kut Festival and the Sangai Festival of this year, as to why they would not prefer wide coverage of their events in all of the newspapers and electronic media based in the State and also those functioning regionally. What is the logic of sidelining the press, and being satisfied with a few reports in just two or three newspapers? It certainly comes down to the level of being satisfied with only a few newspaper reports to submit for the “utilization certificate”.

Swing around and have a look at how the identification cards for the press have been handled by the department for the Sangai Festival. As this writer observed first hand, there was no provision for a media cell to handle or manage the activities related with the press for this major event. There was no system to identify or scrutinize the amount of cards to be issued for the press, and the manner in which the press was required to cover all of the events for the festival. How were the organizers planning to manage with the number of newspaper reporters coming in to cover the events and what was the level of facilities being provided by the organizers for the press? Nothing was clear. It was up to the press themselves to manage at their own discrepancies. At the same time, with security for the festival being tightened up this time, the cards being issued for the press had no proper identification to readily identify the press corps from the rest of the other card holders. For instance, the press normally use vibrant red and black colour combination to identify the pressmen from a distance. The festival organizers issued subdued colours, blue and orange marred by too much graphic, for the press.

The role of the press and media in focusing issues of a given place and time is relatively important, considering the wide mass base coverage that it has and the reach it has. It is basically for this reason that organizers of any major event give priority to the press and media for realising their objective in having organized their events. A prior run of the event’s features a week before the actual date of the event helps in creating awareness of the program to the public, and thus creates a rapport between the organizers and the expected visitors. A truly successful event largely depends on the amount of pre and post event coverage in the press and the media. Having said this, it was difficult to understand why the State administration had repeatedly sought to neglect the press and the media in State sponsored events.

The press and media organisations based in Manipur have a regional and national presence, with even representatives functioning in different regional and national media organizations. With internet connectivity, major events in the State are being uploaded fast enough via Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and other applications. The opening function of the Sangai Festival or the highlights of the festival can go worldwide immediately on live telecast of the event. That is the pace of electronic media today. The organizers of the festival certainly would be aware of this, but somewhere along the line they have deliberately chosen to ignore the potentiality of the local press and media. Had it not been for the timely intervention of the Honourable Chief Minister in the matter, perhaps there could have been a total blackout of the festival in the local press and media. As the saying goes, all well that ends well.


National seminar discusses ways to tap Manipur’s tourism potential

Affirming that maintaining law and order remains top agenda of the Government of Manipur, Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh called upon the people for continuous support and cooperation in the government’s endeavour for restoring peace and in accelerating infrastructure development in the state.

Stating that development of the tourism sector in Manipur would be a reality when tourists feel safe and secure in the state, he also stressed on the need for compatible infrastructure to attract tourists along with ensuring development of transport and communication system.

Hinting that rail connectivity in Manipur is vital for development of the tourism industry, the CM speaking as the chief guest at the ‘national seminar on tourism development and familiarisation trip’, Friday, said the Union Railway Ministry is keen to extend the Silchar-Imphal rail network up-to Kalemyo in Myanmar by 2020.

Affirming to promote the tourism industry through emphasis on maintaining law and order and development of transport and communication networks, O Ibobi citing improvement in the state’s law and order for increasing number of arrival of tourists in the state also confided that a number of tourism-related projects are being undertaken to draw tourists.

Applauding initiative of Manipur Tourism Forum for organising the seminar, he also expressed confidence that deliberation by subject experts will provide further impetus to the government’s endeavour to promote tourism.

Speaking at the occasion, Parliamentary Secretary for Tourism M Prithviraj highlighted that state government’s focus towards development in the tourism sector is to join the global race in tapping potential of tourism industry, considered one of the most profitable ventures with least investment.

Inauguration programme of the seminar held at Sangai Hall of Hotel Imphal was presided over by Forum president Dr Th Dhabali while M Prithviraj along with IATO executive director Gaur Kanjilal and PK Dong of Sikkim were the guests of honour.

The first technical session of the seminar held under the chairmanship of Prof N Mohendro had N Ibungochoubi, Dr RK Nimai and Prof W Nabakumar deliberating on varied issues as the resource persons while Principal Secretary (Tourism) Rajesh Kumar, Additional Chief Secretary O Nabakishore and Prof Amar Yumnam were the resource persons of the second session held with Dr Ch Ibohal as the chairman.

The final session with Rajesh Kumar as the chairman featured presentations by PK Dong, IIT Gwalior’s Dr Nimit Choudhury and West Bengal Health Tourism Founder Dr Raj Basu as the resource persons.


Myanmar bureaucrat sees closer ties with India

Construing that NDA Government’s ‘Act East’ concept testifies India’s fresh initiative to reach out to the ASEAN countries for economic development in the region, Consulate General of Myanmar to India Than We said that assistance by the central government in infrastructure development of Myanmar would be helpful in promoting healthy people-to-people relationships between Manipur and the international neighbour.

Speaking as the chief guest during a reception programme hosted by Indo-Myanmar Fraternal Alliance on Saturday, Than We highlighted that with people of Myanmar looking forward to Manipur as tourism and health-care destination improvement in the transport system in the region would benefit people on both sides of the boundary.

Along with Myanmar inching towards democracy and the NDA government in Delhi changing its perception from ‘Look East Policy’ to ‘Act East’ relationships between the two countries will witness sea change in the next few years, said the Consulate General speaking at the reception programme held at the Kwakeithel office of the Alliance.

Than We, part of the Myanmarese delegation at the on-going Manipur Sangai Festival, noted that the annual tourism event will have positive impact in not only drawing international tourists to the state but has the potential to spur economic development in the region as well as between the neighbouring countries if authorities of both India and Myanmar explore means to relax restrictions currently imposed on entry into these countries and subsequently implement the same at the earliest.

Suggesting that familiarising Myanmarese with Manipuri vocabulary would be helpful in the further promotion of people-to-people relationships, he confided that official process is already being initiated by the Myanmar Government for ‘visa-on-arrival’ facility for people from Manipur intending to visit Myanmar. Currently Manipuri visitors need special permit to enter the international neighbour, he informed.

Speaking at the occasion, Alliance president RK Shivchandra expressed hope that the central government will initiate relevant measures to ensure its perception from Look East Policy to Act East policy actually materialises and promotes healthy socio-economic relationships between the people of Manipur and Myanmar.

Regretting that for the past many decades, the central government has been ignoring economic potential from strengthening trade and commerce ties with the ASEAN countries, he said taking into account changes in all spheres of life consequent to globalisation those at the helm of affairs in New Delhi should accord top priority in restoring the historical relationship Manipur shares with Myanmar.

Apart from other officials of the Myanmar government, a number of state entrepreneurs also attended the event.


PM Modi to attend Sangai festival closing ceremony

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be attending the closing ceremony of Sangai festival of Manipur on November 30.

The confirmation of Modi’s presence at the annual tourism event was delivered by the Prime Minister’s Office to Manipur government which on its part has already taken up measures to ensure the visit is successful in every way.

Sources available to The People’s Chronicle informed, an emergency meeting chaired by CM O Ibobi Singh and which was attended by his Council of Ministers was held at CM’s Secretariat. Sources added Modi will be staying in Imphal for a day and then head for the Hornbill festival in Nagaland the next day.

Modi’s visit to the state will be his first after he assumed the office of Prime Minister. Accordingly, the state government will be working tirelessly to ensure the stay is comfortable to the most. The government will also take the opportunity to apprise the Prime Minister on several shortcomings/issues faced by the state.


MPTC leaders need to unite, says Dr Y Radheshyam

The internal conflict between leaders of Manipur Pradesh Trinamool Congress (MPTC) needs to be solved and unity brought first by strengthening the party and winning hearts of the public, exclaimed Dr Yumnam Radheshyam who contested in the Hiyanglam by-election as MPTC candidate.

Addressing media persons at Mantripukhri, Saturday, Dr Y Radheshyam said All India Trinamool Congress spokesperson Derek O’Brien recently arriving here to monitor situation of the party and urging party leaders to unite once and for all, is the right approach. “If his appeal is not acknowledged by party leaders, faith of the people on the party will gradually decline. We need party leaders who understand the saying “United We Stand, Divided We Fall”.


CM assures wage board implementation

Non-implementation of wage board recommendation would be contempt of court ruling: IJU Prez

All Manipur Working Journalists’ Union (AMWJU), Saturday hosted the National Executive Meeting of the Indian Journalists Union (IJU) at the Banquet Hall of 1st Manipur Rifles with Chief Minister O Ibobi as chief guest.

Speaking at the occasion, Chief Minister Ibobi said that the government, in response to the demands of the AMWJU, has already constituted a Tripartite Committee, in line with the recommendation of the Majithia Wage Board, for working journalists and other newspaper employees. “It has been notified through Gazette already. The Committee will classify and provide foolproof action plan in accordance with Majithia Wage Board. The government is fully committed to implement the same for the welfare of the journalist fraternity in the State”, said Ibobi.

Stating that the government is taking positive measures for the welfare of the working journalists of the state, Ibobi said, “My Government has doubled the Journalist Pension Fund pursued by AMWJU. We have already raised the grant towards Pension Fund to Rs 5 lakh from Rs 2 lakh this year in order to facilitate implementation of the pension scheme.”

“Inspite of our financial constraints, my Government has already agreed to set up Press Academy as demanded by AMWJU to produce and uplift the quality of journalism in the State,” the CM said.

He further said that the government has accepted the proposal of setting up a Press Housing Colony and already identified the land area for the colony in the heart of the city.

Besides, the government would also be helping AMWJU to raise Journalist Corpus Fund, so that the contingency need of working journalists of the State can be met, especially in case of medical emergency and for children’s education, he said.

Specifically addressing journalist from other parts of the country who have come for the IJU convention, Ibobi said, “Manipur is the gateway to South East Asia and what better time can it be for the mainstream media to witness the rich cultural integrity we uphold. Manipur Sangai Festival which was inaugurated yesterday will be able to give you a glimpse of our culture, hospitality, tourism and economic potential. Manipur has all the potential to become a catalyst in the economic growth in this Asian Century, where India is going to play a vital role through our laid down Look East Policy which we also now, intend to make it ‘Act East’ Policy.”

 “I hope the deliberation of this Imphal session of National Executive Council meeting of IJU is fruitful and bring in more interest and understanding about the people of Manipur and North East,” the CM added.

IJU National President SN Sinha, who presided over the meet, said that good journalism will add meaning to democracy. Stating that IJU is looking forward for the development and welfare of the journalists in Manipur, he urged the authority in the state to implement Majithia Wage Board recommendation at the earliest. Since the Supreme Court had already given its ruling making the implementation of the recommendation mandatory, it would be contempt of the apex court ruling to stall its implementation. He also expressed hope that the tripartite committee formed by the government would do its best in implementing the Wage Board recommendation in the state at the earliest.

Social Welfare Minister Ak Mirabai, IJU Secretary General Amar Devulapalli and AMWJU President Wangkhemcha Shamjai were also present on the occasion as guests of honour. Cultural programmes and a technical session of NEC were among the main highlights of the meet.


Manipur Polo kicks off with grand opening

Great great grand daughter of ‘Father of Modern Polo’ among the dignitaries

The 8th Manipur Polo International 2014 kick started, Saturday, at Mapal kangjeibung, the oldest Polo ground in the world on Saturday, under the aegis of Manipur Horse Riding and Polo Association with Chief Minister O Ibobi as the chief guest.

Speaking on the occasion, Chief Minister O Ibobi stated that after the game of Polo initially came into existence during the time of King Kangba in Manipur with an aim to build unity and show off one’s strength, the game gradually spread to other parts of the globe. Ever since, the game is being played throughout the world.

The Chief Minister also pointed out the need to acknowledge and pay homage to Lt Joseph Sherer who started the movement of “Modern Polo” and is known as the “Father of Modern Polo”.

The CM further stated that the teams from outside the country participating in the Manipur Polo International has not arrived here just for the love of Polo and to take part in the tournament but also to promote the game of Polo to the outside world. With the participation of various countries in the polo tournament held in the state, the Manipur Polo tournament has been able to achieve international status.

He also informed that the modern game of polo, known as “Sagol Kangjei” in Manipur, is now played throughout the world, and that the world has accepted that the game “originated from Manipur.”

He said that the Manipur Government has been taking steps to preserve the Manipuri “ponies” for which it has established Pony Sanctuary at Heingang in Imphal West. In addition to this, the state government has also set up a Pony Breeding farm at Lamphel while appealing to the general public to provide cooperation in the endeavour taken up by the state government for the promotion of Polo game and to protect the Manipur Ponies.

The 8th Manipur Polo International which will be held from November 22 to 29 is being participated by teams from Poland, Thailand, United Sates, South Africa, England, Mongolia and France in addition to team India (A) and team India (B). The players of Team India (B) are being represented by the players of Manipur only.

The inaugural function was also attended by Chairman of Hill Areas Committee Dr Chaltolien Amo; Lok Sabha MP, Dr Th Meinya; Parliamentary Secretary, YAS and Tourism, MLA M Prithviraj; MLA O Landhoni and Susan Ailsa Letitia Booth, great great grand daughter of Lt Joseph Ford Sherer, from London as guests of honour. Chief Minister of Chin State, Myanmar, Yu Hong Ngai and Panna Lal Das, General Manager, SBI Network-II, Guwahati were also present as special guests.

Panna Lal Das, General Manager, SBI Network-II, Guwahati contributed Rs 12 lakh for the polo tournament during the function.

Sean O’Sullivan guided South Africa to 7-4 victory over France in the opening match of the 8th Manipur Polo International with the first hat-trick of the competition at Imphal Pologround on Saturday.

After providing the breakthrough in the opening chukker, Sullivan kept the score board ticking with one score each in the third and final sessions as John Eustale (2) and Justin Snaith and Cameron Chubb added to the team’s tally.

For France, Matias Busquet scored two with Sebastian Decomnaer and Robulfa Busquet contributing one each.

The tournament is being held as a part of Manipur Sangai Festival.

Sunday sees three matches as USA and Mangolia are the first to take the pitch followed by France taking on Thailand, while Manipur (India B) play Poland later.


2005 Dhaula Kuan gangrape

HC reduces sentence of lone convict

The Delhi High Court has reduced from 14 to 12 years the jail term awarded to the lone convict in the sensational Dhaula Kuan gangrape case in which a Delhi University student was assaulted in a moving car in 2005.

Justice Pratibha Rani, however, maintained the sentence and fine of Rs 20,000 awarded to convict Ajit Singh Katiyar for the other offences of IPC, including abduction, criminal intimidation and administering of an intoxicant, that were committed by him.

"Reverting to the facts of the present case and the submissions made by the counsel for the appellant (Katiyar), I find that while sentencing appellant to 14 years imprisonment for committing the offence punishable under Section 376(2)(g) (gangrape) IPC, the trial court did not specify any act of cruelty attributed to the appellant which required him to be awarded a sentence of 14 years.

"Accordingly, while maintaining the conviction of Katiyar for committing the offence punishable under Sections 376(2)(g) IPC and 366/328/506-I/34 (abduction, administering intoxicant, criminal intimidation and common intention) of the IPC, the substantive sentence awarded to him for committing the offence punishable under Section 376(2)(g) of IPC is reduced from 14 years to 12 years...," the judge said.

The High Court decision came on Katiyar's appeal against the trial court's December 2009 order convicting and sentencing him to 14 years in jail for abducting a 20-year-old Delhi University student from Mizoram and raping her in the moving car along with three other occupants of the vehicle by taking turns. Two of them had raped her twice. The victim was abducted on May 8, 2005, when she was walking back home after buying food from a roadside eatery along with a friend and was raped by the four accused in a car near Dhaula Kuan in South Delhi.

The police has till date failed to arrest the three co-accused -- Danda, Jat and Tappe. They also could not trace the car used in the abduction and rape. The friend of the victim managed to escape from the spot.


Council appeals for road development

Pointing out that restriction imposed on vehicular movement along the main road for the on-going Manipur Sangai Festival has resulted in motorists taking narrow residential streets and by-lanes of Hatta Golapati, in Imphal East, United Golapati Development Council has appealed to the state government to undertake road development/repairing works in the residential pockets.

Briefing media-persons at its Hatta Golapati office on Saturday, Council’s deputy secretary Md Azim said road diversion affected in view of the annual tourism festival has significantly increased volume of traffic on the Minuthong Golapati-Checkon, UJB Hatta Golapati-New Nambulane and Fairland-Checkon by-lanes/local streets.

With these narrow roads already in dilapidated conditions owing to prolonged negligence by the government, increase in vehicular movement has been further aggravating the condition with the locals having to endure noise and air pollution, Azim said.


Council appeals for road development

Pointing out that restriction imposed on vehicular movement along the main road for the on-going Manipur Sangai Festival has resulted in motorists taking narrow residential streets and by-lanes of Hatta Golapati, in Imphal East, United Golapati Development Council has appealed to the state government to undertake road development/repairing works in the residential pockets.

Briefing media-persons at its Hatta Golapati office on Saturday, Council’s deputy secretary Md Azim said road diversion affected in view of the annual tourism festival has significantly increased volume of traffic on the Minuthong Golapati-Checkon, UJB Hatta Golapati-New Nambulane and Fairland-Checkon by-lanes/local streets.

With these narrow roads already in dilapidated conditions owing to prolonged negligence by the government, increase in vehicular movement has been further aggravating the condition with the locals having to endure noise and air pollution, Azim said.