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smart-cityStarting from the basic principle is always sensible for any strategic planning process, as it helps to come up with directional guidance on how to approach issues when there’s chaotic abundance of info and wish lists to action on. What does it mean when we say the term ‘Smart City’? Before trying to find answers, it’s recommended to ask further follow-on questions to seek clarity on the topic; such as ‘whose the Smart City is for?’, ‘how much budget is for and given by whom to be spent by when?’, ‘Is the scope of the project only on infrastructure development, or extend to realignment of public/private administrative support services?’, ‘Is the focus of overall exercise only on new constructions to offer new services, or extends to restructuring of available resources for cost saving and effectiveness?’, ‘what priority problems and wish lists are to be addressed within the scope as compared to aiming for everything?’. Collating a list of such strategic questions ought to be the first step to define scope for ‘Smart City’ project and then creating a table of checklist to guide the overall activities of finding appropriate operationally implementable solutions. If we imagine nothing exist in the first place, we can see ‘people’ and ‘means of transport’ as the base ingredients in any geographical location. In short, ‘Smart City’ project maybe considered as means to facilitate the flow of people and vehicles in the city.

From the infrastructural and people’s commuting aspect, ‘Imphal Municipal Region (IMR)’ is the only city zone in the entire Manipur state wherein the majority of travel and resource utilization seem to be occurring. So, it may make sense to aim to transform IMR into a smart city, by considering how people from other towns/villages commute/correlate to IMR for their ease of access and convenience. Public Transport System (PTS) ought to be the first priority theme in this smart city project in two levels of focus – (1) for within the city commuting, (2) for connectivity to other connected towns/villages. Through this ‘Smart City project for Imphal’, we can also enable growth and development opportunities in other towns/villages; thereby delivering a better ‘value of money’ impact. PTS may be considered as the motherboard wherein all the other projects are plugged into making the entire device-setup alive and functioning appropriately. Accordingly, allocation of fund in the ‘Imphal Smart City’ project budget ought to be ‘60% to PTS and 40% to individual mini-projects’ as a rule of thumb.

 

After having conducted a population count in each zone within the Imphal Municipal area and also devising a simulated commuting model for a weekly-slot throughout a year cycle, we can come up with a reasonable understanding of how the Imphal city is functioning on a holistic view. We can identify what private / public service facility already exists at which spot on the map of Imphal city; such as hospitals, schools/colleges, Govt offices, police stations, fire services, markets, airport, upcoming train station, courts, public venues. State government ought to form a company or corporation to operate a public transport service meant ‘for within the IMR’. This initiative will enable (1) reduction in use of small private vehicles within the city limits, (2) reduction in pollution and noise limits, (3) ease of access to every corners of the city and 24×7 means of travel within the city limits through PTS. Feasibility study of how the ‘commuting model’ may look like for ‘within the city’ may be conducted by hiring specialist town planners and also referring to other small and large cities in the world. Due-attention to the nature of commercial transport services within the PTS needs to be understood too; such as routes of goods carrying trucks, crossover on the ‘transport services to carry goods’ meant for the purpose of large-scale business and individual family usages.

 

Progress of a city will be known ‘not by the number of private vehicles run by individuals in the city, but by the number of individuals using public transport services’. After having evaluated on the simulated commuting computer model, road networks within the Imphal city need to be reorganized; such as – (1) effective usage of ‘semi-low-floor’ buses funded earlier under JnNURN fund from central Govt, (2) effective traffic flow routes for various types of vehicles within the City, with priority focus to emergency services and ‘individual shoppers and sellers at Imphal markets’, (3) congestion/emission charge levied to private vehicles within the Imphal market areas, (4) 24×7 transport facilities to every spots within the city map and thereby creating appropriate traffic control-light systems, bus stands and terminals, solar-powered lighting on public roads, emergency phone-booth and medical care spots on the routes, waste disposal bins and toilets on the routes, (5) mandatory process in place to plan any route diversion / roadblocks prior to any upcoming Govt/public events or after any sudden accidents/constructions on the route, and thereby appropriate advertisement of roadblocks (on social media, newspapers, city-travel apps).

 

To be precise, Imphal City is more important to ‘people living in other villages/towns’ of Manipur than those living within the Imphal Municipal Region (IMR); and the main reason being non-availability / defunct nature of modern means of livelihood elsewhere within Manipur State. Many individuals from other towns/villages commute to IMR for accessing almost every aspect of modern means of livelihood (e.g. hospitals, schools/college, Govt offices, and markets). On the ‘Smart City project for Imphal’, the planners ought to consider how best can the drop-in and drop-out points wherein ‘people, vehicles and access demand for modern livelihood services from other villages/towns connected to IMR’ can be addressed effectively. Priority focus of state Govt needs to be more on improving road infrastructure in other village/towns, so that people can at least commute to IMR daily. State Govt ought to create another dedicated company or corporation to deal with transport services ‘in and out of Imphal city’; since purpose and needs of such transport services are distinctively different from that of ‘within Imphal city’ focus. Private parties (i.e. owners and associations of buses, taxis, auto rickshaw) must be partnered for delivery of this portion of public transport system on a 24×7 basis, since state Govt may not have sufficient manpower and financial resources to provide transport services to the last-mile connectivity concept (outside the IMR limits).

 

Making the best appropriate usage of available fund in the most simplified approach for larger benefit of people in Manipur is the most reasonable idea on ‘Imphal Smart City’ project. Also, how other funding schemes (of state and central governments) can be channelized to this project can be evaluated. Just trying to copy solutions used in other cities of the world (on this concept of ‘smart city’) will make less sense for us, unless we start to focus first on the basic needs for our local scenarios first. The demography and income/knowledge level of people living in Manipur is different from other cities of the world, and we have our own ways of living and making a living. We should aim to avoid new failure cases of various large scale infrastructural projects in Manipur state (e.g. similar to ‘Flyover construction at Imphal City’). Before reinventing new wheels, let’s check what/how we can make use of the available resources in a more effective and efficient ways. Also, let’s aim first to invest the new fund for smart city project to streamline the already available service delivery systems, and then, let’s recreate something totally new, only in case of a genuine need to overhaul the system/structure portion on its entirety. Thus, let’s think of the people first and make the city, rather than aiming to create the city first and fit the people later.

 

About the Author:

Shanjoy Mairembam (BEng, MBA, LLM) is a Business Strategy Consultant based at Leicester (UK). He supports mentoring of young entrepreneurs in ‘conceptualization of ideas into business case’, and offers role of a ‘Business Doctor’ to local NGOs/SMEs in Manipur.

For further info, visit http://www.shanmaiconsulting.com; E-mail: shanjoym (at) gmail (dot) com

 

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Realities of life start to bite us when we are around 25-35yrs of age. We begin to look at our lives with more seriousness about the past and the future. By now, we acknowledge two facts – (1) Money (through a salaried job or an earning source) is crucial for living. Having a good philosophy for humanity and a non-income earning hobby aren’t enough in life. (2) Our parents are not young anymore and we need to offer our support at their old age. This is more important because, we need act as role models to our kids (or future kids) by showing care and love for parents. Thus, we are struck by the most challenging dilemma around 25-35yrs of age – ‘shall I return back to Manipur, but how?’returning_home_airport_01In search of opportunities to study in prestigious colleges/universities and work in jobs after our studies, we have left Manipur during our teenage period. By the age of 22-35yrs, we are working in a relevant professional career and residing at a developed city of India outside Manipur state or in a foreign country. Also, we are likely to been married by then and have already started a small family with own kids.

One popular option used by most non-resident Manipuris to return back to Manipur (irrespective of current profession or years of job experiences) is to try for Manipur Civil Services Combined Competitive (MCSCC) exam conducted by Manipur Public Service Commission (MPSC). It’s not sure whether most MCSCC exam aspirants actually know what type of work or life style one has to live once selected in that exam and begin to serve in various administrative departments of the Manipur government. Also, it’s not sure what happens to those years of work experiences, technical skills acquired and professional education undertaken in the past by those non-resident Manipuris after becoming high ranking administrative officers. Maybe, MCSCC exam is the most targeted choice because of the status of MCS/MPS officials in society and the income earning possibilities within the state among available jobs.

Another popular option used by non-resident Manipuris (with an average academic, especially among boys) is to try for a job in Manipur Police services (such as Assistant Sub-Inspector, Sub-Inspector, Indian Reserve Battalion Sepoy, Commando Sepoy). Prior job experiences and graduation degree of individuals are also less relevant while applying to the services of Police. What most educated Manipuris living outside Manipur expect when shifting to Manipur is a reasonable salary from a job (or an income source) and maintaining a reasonable social status within Manipur. Also, most non-resident Manipuris love to aim for the job of a teacher in school or a lecturer in college in Manipur. Thus, many non-resident Manipuris depends on government provided jobs to return back to Manipur and many of us haven’t yet tried to explore about any other options to come back to Manipur.

Some of the reasons why most non-resident Manipuris could not realize their wish to return back to Manipur are – (1) non-availability of directly similar jobs in their professions in Manipur, (2) availability of few jobs in some relevant professions, but needing to bribe officials and ministers to get those jobs, (3) being too late in one’s age to shift to Manipur (because of having grownup kids who were already adjusted to the outside social environments, or inability to just leave the jobs as monthly salaries fulfilled family maintenance, or their parents had already died and no close relatives lived in Manipur now), (4) not earned enough money and not gained appropriate business acumen with risk-taking attitude to start businesses in Manipur.

Some of the possible opportunities in Manipur that non-resident Manipuris can try to shift back to Manipur are – (1) starting a business in tourism/hospitality sector (such as running a restaurant, hotel accommodation, travel transport services, cultural tour programs), (2) starting a locally relevant agro-business (such as rearing of pigs/chickens, egg production, milk production, cultivation of pineapple, sales of dried fruits, potato farming), (3) starting a trading business on off-the-shelf goods (such as electronic items, bedding-clothing items, woods and furniture), (4) starting an advertising and marketing agency (such as sales and promotion of local products, non-news related publication and design activities, general website design activities), (5) starting advisory services (such as educational consultants to admit students from Manipur to various colleges in other Indian states, income-tax/business setup services to local enterprises, export-import setup services to local entrepreneurs, investment in stocks and real estates located in other cities of India, funding grant application to various government and private bodies for projects of local enterprises). The other possibility is to try to expand the business one already owns in other cities of India or abroad to Manipur, or to try to expand new offices in Manipur for the company wherein one currently works at senior management position in other cities of India or abroad.

The key challenge to returning back to Manipur by most non-resident Manipuris is that they haven’t acquired relevant skills, life experiences and risk taking willpower to venture into the career opportunities feasible within Manipur. Also, they may not have enough cash to invest the required start-up fund and most importantly, they may not have known appropriate advisory contacts to support them during the transition phase from ‘where they are currently living’ to ‘within Manipur’. One must motivate self to learn transferable skills while at work in various jobs at other cities of India; such as (1) business acumen on how to deal with finances and resources, (2) people management below and above the current job position, (3) relationship building with peers and non-peers, (4) calculated risk taking and self-starting attitude, (5) networking with relevant professionals and individuals in the interested industry/social domain, (6) awareness on government policies and funding supports in interest areas, (7) self simulation of draft ideas by making occasional visits in Manipur and execution of prototype projects, (8) learning to work in teams to achieve personal project objectives, and yet led by self. Its worth to remind ourselves that – ‘Employees tend to remain lifelong as employees or salaried persons, while entrepreneurs of own businesses tend to aim big to grow as one wishes and leave behind the businesses/wealth-earnings to their family on retirement’. In most state/central government jobs within Manipur, one may find self being stuck for life apart from just waiting for the monthly salary. Also possibly, he/she may not like the work environment and job roles, but, there is no other alternative job to quit and thereby no other means of livelihood.

If a non-resident Manipuri wishes to return back to Manipur someday, one should start saving money from early stage of life and start planning how one can invest own time/money in Manipur. As an example: by building homes at our respective town/village in Manipur in a way that some rooms/floors can be let out to tourists for a short stay, we can even earn some income and also contribute to tourism growth to the local town/village. Thus, if we are ready to write MCSCC exam and become MCS/MPS officer after having done entirely different jobs for years in industry and completed highly technical academic studies in the past, why not we dare to dream even bigger like creating own business firms by using the intelligent brain, life experiences, and willpower we’ve got. Earlier the actual realistic planning on ‘how to return back to Manipur’, higher is the success rate of returning; otherwise the person is daydreaming and wasting own time/effort.

About the Author:

Shanjoy Mairembam (BEng, MBA) is a Business Strategy Consultant based at London (UK). He supports mentoring of young entrepreneurs in ‘conceptualization of ideas into business case’, and offers role of a ‘Business Doctor’ to local NGOs/SMEs in Manipur.

For further info, visit http://www.shanmaiconsulting.com; E-mail: shanjoym (at) gmail (dot) com

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How serious is unemployment issue in Manipur state now and how this issue relates to Higher Education (HE) institutions in the state? Also, at what level in the ‘priority list to tackle first’, the state govt considers these two issues; thereby deciding the financial budget allocation and timely execution through a strategic planning approach? HE_unemployment_01We may need to review all available policies, support systems and prevailing operating scenarios of HE institutes and SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) within Manipur state in order to come up with a rather holistic integrated support system. Current socio-economic chaos in Manipur state may be transformed into opportunities if we are able to find means to create employment for youth in relevant industry sectors, and knowledge transfer from HE institutions to youth and local enterprises by enabling them to lead the society.

Currently, HE policy of state govt seems to focus entirely on (1) building and refurbishing physical infrastructure, (2) hiring and supervising academic staffs, (3) scholarships for students to study outside Manipur (rather than capacity building within the state). Also, state govt seems to focus on another parallel educational policy i.e. imparting vocational school (10th or 12th) level training to youths of Manipur either by sending the students outside Manipur or allowing training companies from outside Manipur to deliver short-term courses for local students within the state. State govt has thus started pumping in more funds to the above areas and hopes to bring about quality as well as quantitative improvements within Manipur. But, the interesting question is ‘Is this current approach really working towards improving HE sector within Manipur?’, or ‘what are the impacts achieved so far toward local economy and graduate employability?’, and ‘is there anything else that state govt missed to consider in the current HE policy?’

Most HE sector issues reported in the local media are of institutional related – such as regularization of ad-hoc lecturers in colleges, mismanagement of scholarship funds meant for students, lack of classrooms and equipments to support teaching, cases of students and academics indulging in malpractices in examinations, lack of principals and qualified lecturers in specific colleges, non attendance of staffs in colleges, less or no students getting admitted to study in various degree courses at specific colleges, etc. Yet, none has seriously looked into the issue of employability for graduates out of colleges and universities within Manipur, and the scarcity of non-govt jobs availability within Manipur.

The HE sector policy of govt rather ought to aim at providing 3 key priority needs at each individual college within Manipur – (1) Infrastructure development for creating ‘Centres of Excellence’ oriented to specifically chosen domain knowledge of local/global relevance, (2) Administrative support staffs having expertise in running HE institutions at world class level, (3) Professional support staffs having expertise in career grooming and local enterprise development support for graduates. State govt’s funding budget in the above three areas may be 50-75% of the overall HE sector allocation. This approach may help in turning around the brain drain scenario of Manipur state i.e. Manipuri students going outside the state to study degree courses and high quality Manipuri professionals leaving the state to teach/work in HE institutions of other states. Thus, chance for quality as well as quantity improvement in HE sector can be seen within Manipur state.

Govt’s policy of introducing vocational school level (10th or 12th std) training courses seems to give conflicting message to the students, as it hints as if the degree level courses provided in various colleges within Manipur are useless to the local job environment. Also, most parents may not wish their wards to choose vocational school level course as compared to degree level courses. A vocational student may learn skills to get a low-level job (though maybe of highly advanced technology) within Manipur or outside the state, but career growth for such vocational students is bound to be of low level in any organizational hierarchy. It’s because they are of skill-based training rather than domain knowledge-based learning unlike in the case of graduate courses.

The graduate courses currently opened in various colleges within Manipur are of traditional nature which is about learning basic science, or arts, or commerce. The applicability of such traditional degree course to the needs of current industry jobs elsewhere or any relevant jobs within local Manipur environment is very hard to find. Either course contents of degree courses ought to be adapted to application oriented learning modules, or new local industry relevant degree courses need to be introduced freshly to all the colleges within Manipur. Again, if govt is trying to retrain youths especially college graduates after having studied 3yrs at one of the colleges in Manipur into another school level vocational training courses, then, it will mean that college students have not only wasted three years of their lifetime in colleges but also govt has wasted crores of Indian Rupee in running ‘white elephant’ colleges in Manipur.

Graduate related issues of HE sector are also relevant to the local enterprises within Manipur, because high technology intensive industrial growth will define availability of jobs which is of graduate level (rather than school level or vocational skills level). State govt needs to consider availability of skilled manpower and capable enterprises in each relevant industry sector before forming growth supporting industrial policies in those sectors. HE sector not only provides skilled manpower for the industry, but also, creates research outputs that support industrial applications and products through R&D activities of academics and scientist in HE institutions. Thus, industrial policies of govt correlates strongly with the HE sector policies. Such strong relationship between academics in HE institutions and industry companies are visible in most developed countries (UK, Germany, France, USA, etc).

Relevant state govt department may create funding pots for SMEs that provides funding support to allow employees to study graduate level professional courses and training programmes in HE institutions within Manipur. Each HE institutions may be encouraged to create a centre of excellence via funding from relevant state govt department to help SMEs in that industry sector. Thus, such approach will brings about enterprise oriented HE policies and creation of more jobs in the local economy because of active participation of SMEs in HE policy formation.

We are yet to fill the gap in policies governing supporting HE sector and growth of SMEs in various industry sectors within Manipur. Hence, in spite of funding heavily on HE sector, Manipuri students are leaving after school education to study outside the state. Also, we can’t see any visible industrial growth in various sectors in spite of heavy funding by the state govt, since we don’t have the requisite industrial manpower locally and professionally working mindset culture in the local enterprises. Thus, it is the right time we tackle both the issues of youth employability and industrial growth by creating an integrated support system within Manipur.

About the Author:

Shanjoy Mairembam (BEng, MBA) is a Business Strategy Consultant based at London (UK). He supports mentoring of young entrepreneurs in ‘conceptualization of ideas into business case’, and offers role of a ‘Business Doctor’ to local NGOs/SMEs in Manipur.

For further info, visit http://www.shanmaiconsulting.com; E-mail: shanjoym (at) gmail (dot) com

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Availability of govt jobs has almost dried up in Manipur state. Getting recruited into govt jobs are also extremely tough requiring bribing and having contacts with govt ministers/officials. If one compares the amount likely to incur to get a govt job with the amount one will get as salary in the lifespan of that job, it’s mostly obvious that one will be running into debt for the sake of getting a govt job. Young graduates have almost no industry jobs to work within Manipur except leaving outside Manipur to look for job. So, the question is – ‘isn’t there any other career option for young graduates in Manipur?’

owning_business_01

There is the saying – ‘Where there is problem, there is the opportunity waiting to be unlocked’. It’s now left to self how one approaches the problem. Another interesting saying is – ‘When you got nothing to lose, why not take the chance?’ So, how about planning to own a business as one graduates and becomes the ‘Boss of own life and other employees’.

Anyone who just passed 12th standard (i.e. 17th/18th yrs of age) is already sufficient to be in the world of business. By that age and qualification, one has got the basic education (reading, writing, calculation, social common sense, world we live in) and also, the physical and mental strengths to lead. May be what’s still missing for running/owning a business is the will power and extra guidance/tips on that business setup.

The ultimate formula for a business is based on the simple mathematics equation of ‘Profit or Loss = Selling Price – Cost Incurred’. By considering how to maneuver the parameters on right hand side of the equation, the result on the left hand can be impacted accordingly. To understand concept of a business; try to imagine how a local shop operates, how a school functions, how a rickshaw driver works, how elderly women at Keithel (i.e. Photpham Phambi) make a living, etc.

If a ‘Business’ is to be demystified, it can be viewed as activities happening in three aspects;

(1) Legal/Financial Accounting – A business needs to be a legal entity thereby requiring a registration to operate and show financial statements annually for Income Tax filing. The govt lays down regulations (including tax benefits and supports) for doing business in that industry sector and the region where it operates.

(2) Continued Justification of a Business Case – The logic behind purpose of doing business has to be appropriate at any instant of time throughout lifespan of the business. A business can’t continue to run if incurring losses beyond permissible limit of operation, or business has failed to achieve minimum targets as expected by promoters or shareholders.

(3) Sales-Production-Procurement logic – Any business goes with this concept of ‘get something’, ‘add value on that something’, and then ‘sell off that modified something by making some benefits (e.g. money)’.

While studying a degree course in a college within Manipur, a youth can focus on how to setup a business before graduating. The college may have few basic ingredients that may be helpful to the business setup – such as access to library, buildings, high bandwidth internet, academic staffs, like-minded friends, local communities, industry professionals and govt officials, etc. Also, the similar resources in Manipur University, Central Agricultural University and other higher education institutes in Manipur can be utilized for own business setup support. There are development grants provided by various govt ministries in each district which youths can apply for business setup. Also, youths can avail training support provided by state govt departments (e.g. Manipur Skill Development Society) and central govt departments (e.g. ministry of DoNER) from time to time.

What’s worth reminding herein is ‘Life is not a SPRINT, but a MARATHON’. Graduating from a college is not just the end of life or start of a career. Also, ‘What’s the difference of doing and not doing a degree course in Manipur?’ in the sense that ‘Will someone give the graduate a job in Manipur after graduation?’ Time of youth is to try to find out the purpose of life and what one is best at doing things. One may always fall back on parents to restart a life/career again till age of 20-25th yrs. All the big businesses and organizations we treasure today (e.g. Facebook, Microsoft, Apple) are built by youths in the age of 15yrs-30yrs. So, why not try and take the chance when feasible. Get a business mentor today and start thinking now.

About the Author:

Shanjoy Mairembam (BEng, MBA) is a Business Strategy Consultant based at London (UK). He supports mentoring of young entrepreneurs in ‘conceptualization of ideas into business case’, and offers role of a ‘Business Doctor’ to local NGOs/SMEs in Manipur.

For further info, visit http://www.shanmaiconsulting.com; E-mail: shanjoym (at) gmail (dot) com

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Manipur State Govt has tried to build new infrastructure projects at many tourist spots and organize tourism festivals in the recent years for tourism promotion. Yet, common people seem still confused what exactly Manipur tourism is all about. So, basic queries arise – ‘Why tourism?’, ‘Do we really need it?’, ‘What’s the gain/loss?’, ‘Who are the real stakeholders?’, ‘What role by whom for how long?’, and ‘what’s tourism in business sense?’ Thus, looking again with a fresh mind about promoting tourism in Manipur and growth of businesses connected to tourism may be useful.

manipur-road-mapThe foremost essential focus that state govt ought to do in tourism promotion (even before investing in any infrastructure building projects) seems to be about ‘Building a good network of motorable roads connecting every village/town within Manipur’. Once motorable roads are built, intra-state and inter-state commutation will be easier; thereby allowing people themselves to participate in tourism related activities by default. Second focus ought to be ‘Sensitization of local public on how tourism works and who can play what role to get maximum benefits for public themselves’.

On social aspect, tourism is to do with movement of people i.e. temporary migration, while on business aspect, tourism is to do with visiting people buying goods/services from local people during their stay. In true sense, tourism is just all about people and state govt seems to miss this key ‘understanding’.

Most appropriate slogan on Manipur tourism seems to be ‘Govt provides Motorable Roads and People take care of Tourism’. Once a network of motorable roads connecting every village in Manipur state is in place, people will automatically take care of tourism related businesses. So, state govt’s main focus on tourism promotion ought to be ‘Motorable Roads’. The add-on priority of State govt on tourism promotion may instead focus on collecting statistics of tourist visitors (such as places visited, tourist traffic, reason of interest/visit, days/hours stayed, money spent per person, demographic survey of tourist inflow, and issues found during tourist visit, etc). This statistics info is crucial not just for tourism aspect but also for controlling social migration and illegal immigration issues. Some genuine support that state govt can do in Manipur for tourists are installation of readable signposts on travel roads, creation of tour-route guide maps, distributing illustrated pamphlets showing entertainments and activities that can be done while visiting a place, stationing tourist support centres at various locations with info, and opening a call centre support for tourist emergencies, etc.

Taking an example to understand potential stakeholders in Manipur tourism:

Visiting Manipur by air is the best choice of many (foreign/national) tourists. Imphal Airport thus becomes the first thing a tourist is likely to see. Hence tourist friendly environment needs to be created within airport (e.g. direction signboards, promotion messages, Do’s and Don’ts guides on social ethics, courtesy from airport staffs, take-away tourist fliers at easily accessible locations, foreign exchange store, shopping and gift stores, emergency doctors/clinic, etc). Just outside the airport exit, a tourist expects friendly travel operators who will not cheat and safely take him/her to nearby hospitable hotel or paying guest houses. In between airport exit and nearby hotel/accommodation location, a tourist may have expected roads on the route to be of motorable condition with proper signboard, and local people (including houses/buildings) of welcoming attitude.

At the hotel or paying guest house, a tourist may not get own foreign food/snacks, but will at least expect local food and cuisines being served in high hygienic conditions. Tourists will appreciate the hotel more, if extra tourist guide info is provided in addition to delivering excellent customer service. A tourist will expect customer friendly staffs, proper sanitary waste bins and toilet services, and other relevant entertainment services while visiting a tourist spot or an ecological garden. Business owners of that tourist spot (or garden/park) may do their best to enhance the customer experience, because inflow number of tourists impacts their business. But, we often seem to miss to acknowledge who is going to take care of providing hospitality to tourist in the route gap between a hotel and a tourist spot. That missing gap is what local people on the route ought to take in-charge of; thereby also giving job and benefit to themselves by providing add-on product/service for visiting tourists. New recreational spots and small shopping stores can be created on the route in between any tourist spots and nearby reputed star hotels within Manipur. Best effort has to be made to create many cycle-drive and foot-walk routes in most village/town (nearby popular tourist spots) so that tourist visitors can roam around and spend time/money in the process while interacting with local businesses and people on those routes. This approach will bring about inclusive growth within Manipur by allowing small businesses and local people to earn by serving tourist visitors in addition to earning by those large businesses and star hotels.

During popular festivals at a particular location conducted on specific dates in a year, students of local schools/colleges can be availed to support visiting tourists voluntarily or under paid service. Proper coordination for festival support to tourists can be made between festival organizers and management of educational institutions. This approach will also enables students to experience management skills and help own personality development. These educated students can support visiting tourists in English or other foreign languages as tour guides. Pamphlets showcasing attractions on a particular Leikai/Zone may be created by local clubs (or tour operators) for the benefits of businesses and people in that Leikai/Zone. Local ‘Leikai Mandap’ and community halls can be redecorated occasionally for exhibitions and tourist events; thereby allowing ‘Leikai clubs’ to participate in maintaining Leikai roads/streets and also welcoming visiting tourists altogether during the big festival. Also, individual houses and properties (if interested) can be allowed to adapt for businesses providing some benefits to visiting tourists. Rickshaws and horse-carts can be reused rather in a fashionable way for shorter travel within village/town routes by tourists.

State govt has to start delegating more (i.e. give work/opportunity with responsibility and accountability) to non-govt entities and local businesses on tourism related activities within Manipur. Necessary support for finance and resources (on demand) should be made available to social and private bodies working in the area of tourism and hospitality services. State govt (or delegated authorizes) may also act as auditors or benchmarking bodies to check quality specification and conformance by tour operators and businesses in tourism sector – such as hygiene level, business operations under valid licenses, maintenance of registry for foreign nationals and outside-state visitors at hotels, customer support ethics, extra care support for disable visitors, upholding diversity in work-force, maintaining dignity for children and women, etc.

State govt should provide an integrated tourism framework (i.e. a basic diagram) that explains in a simplified manner how various stakeholders are interacting to each other on day-to-day basis within Manipur state. This approach will allow local people, business owners, tour operators, and govt officials to work alongside towards tourism promotion and tourism related business growth. Rather than conducting only one big festival at Imphal municipal area per year by state govt (incurring heavy cost in crores rupee), many smaller festivals and events throughout seasons in a year ought to been conducted by local people and businesses (with support from state govt) in their respective locations within Manipur state. State govt also need to keep in check about the side-effects (i.e. implications) of tourism related activities in Manipur due to inflow of large volume of tourist visitors – such as air population due to excessive exhaust from motor vehicles, noise population due to festivals, resource scarcity due to over-consumption, road traffic chaos due to extra tourist vehicles, cultural and social influence from tourists, etc. Accordingly, new policies and support services need to be established to tackle tourism induced problems by state govt, and people should be sensitized on these topics periodically.

Thus, involving local people into tourism planning and making local people to take ownership of tourism related activities across villages/towns of Manipur is one of the best ways toward achieving the comment of ‘Nice People, Nice Place’ from tourist visitors. Giving ‘an amazing experience’ from the moment a tourist lands in Manipur and letting to return back home after spending few memorable moments in Manipur should be our focus on how tourism promotion activities and growth related projects ought to be.

About the Author:

Shanjoy Mairembam (BEng, MBA) is a Business Strategy Consultant based at London (UK). He supports mentoring of young entrepreneurs in ‘conceptualization of ideas into business case’, and offers role of a ‘Business Doctor’ to local NGOs/SMEs in Manipur.

For further info, visit http://www.shanmaiconsulting.com; E-mail: shanjoym (at) gmail (dot) com

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Thousands of working Manipuri professionals (within Manipur state, across Indian cities and foreign countries) wishes to contribute for a better Manipur, but they are mostly not sure how/what to do amidst complexities in govt administration and social chaos in Manipur. State govt can effectively benefit in terms of both financial and voluntary (knowledge/experience) contributions from high caliber Manipuris, if a systematic contribution management framework is developed at the state level with global usability focus. Any individual Manipuri professional willing to share his/her expertise and experiences must be able to do so in a simple and straight forward process towards improving public service deliveries. Thus, the Manipur State Innovation Council (headed by the Chief Minister) and the state planning department ought to consider adapting the current working model towards an integrated and comprehensive Innovation Management structure that can impact every village/town in the state with contribution of Manipuri People (i.e. professionals) residing across the globe.

 Innovation Management in Manipur State

  To create and sustain innovations systematically within Manipur State, we needs –

(1) Local Knowledge-based Institutions enabled to support innovators and sustain innovations

(2) Network of professionals to provide a platform (esp. web-enabled) for ‘Great Minds’ to interact and engage, i.e. sustaining an interactive professionals’ database

(3) Aligning govt ministries (esp. finance support and officials) to support innovations and innovators in their respective sectors

(4) A facilitation centre (esp. created in a Public-Private partnership model) to coordinate all branches of innovation support and execute centre’s administrative activities for public support

(5) Annual face-to-face Networking and Group Discussion Event to bring together Manipuris (esp. professionals across the globe) and govt officials to build trust and relationships

(6) A business oriented forum to lobby or discuss business issues and govt policies that impact specific business sectors in the overall industry

Thus, the key building blocks for a Manipur specific Innovation Management framework may comprises (1) Academic and research institutions, (2) Govt departments, (3) A centralized innovation support centre, (4) virtualized knowledge exchange networks, (5) A business representatives’ forum. And the key activities required within the framework may comprise of (1) Conducting an annual semi-professional global summit, (2) Organizing webinars on topics relevant to Manipuris by inviting distinguished industry professionals on the panel, (3) Allowing students to undertake internship projects in various govt departments (4) Allowing professionals to contribute their work experiences through guest speech or tendered consultancy project, (5) Liaising with Manipuris in foreign countries and outside the state to promote Manipur tourism.

The KEN-Manipur initiative (started by few Overseas Manipuris after the Pravashi Bharatiya Divas 2011 in coordination with few dedicated state govt officials and local academic institutions) is aimed towards building an online database of high caliber Manipuri professionals (residing across the globe) per knowledge/industry sector as ‘Knowledge Exchange Networks’ and each network being supported by relevant departments in the state govt as well as local academic and innovation institutions within Manipur. State govt needs to embed this KEN-Manipur initiative within the state innovation council so that every Manipuri (who may belong or have originated in the past from any village/town within Manipur) can contribute and interact in the virtual web-platform under professional conduct comfortably without feeling discriminated or alienated by focusing on the topic rather than person/ethnicity. Also, relevant govt departments can send out press releases, tender notice, consultation invite on policy formulation, and internship/short projects on the KEN-Manipur website periodically. Interestingly, most social associations and professional discussion forums in Manipur are found being restricted to few individuals only on the basis of ethnicity, religion, birth-place, etc (thereby with own vested self-interest) and there seems no cross-sectors knowledge sharing mechanism connecting each other. Moreover, overall development in every village/town in Manipur may be feasible at a faster speed with active contribution from Global Manipuri professionals in addition to support provided by state govt officials. Knowledge Transfer Networks (KTNs) of UK Govt is one such example of KEN-Manipur initiative used elsewhere.

An annual Global Manipuris Summit (GMS) is the need of the hour to inspire Manipuris residing across the globe to visit Manipur once a year and create a bonding relationship with local Manipuris as well as state govt officials. The summit may be conducted as a semi-professional event by having theme-based workshop/seminar programs, and cultural programs. The benefits of such summit are (1) cause a mindset change impact among various local Manipuris (currently being segregated on ethnic/religious interests instead of humanity) towards a socio-economic development focus, (2) share working knowledge and life experiences received elsewhere by global Manipuris relevant to the local people, (3) contribute to growth of tourism and hospitality sectors in Manipur by the visit of thousands of non-resident Manipuris, (4) receive foreign direct investments (FDI) and professional expertise contributions to various socio-economic projects within Manipur. Also, unlike annual Manipur Sangai Festival, Global Manipuris Summit is likely to bring in extra revenue to the state govt as well as local tourist/hospitality businesses with the inflow of Non-resident Manipuris. Pravashi Bharatiya Divas of Central Indian Govt is one such example of Global Manipuris Summit conducted elsewhere.

A dedicated facilitation centre (e.g. Global Manipuris Facilitation Centre – GMFC) needs to be established in a Public-Private Partnership model to provide important administrative supports to coordinate KEN-Manipur activities (online as well as conducting of monthly local knowledge exchange event), to organize annual Global Manipuris Summit, to liaise with the industry partners for business engagement by global Manipuris as well as govt officials, and to link with the academic and innovation institutions within Manipur. With opening of Moreh as international trade gateway to South East Asian Countries, many visa/legal permission related issues that may impact overseas Manipuris (and local Manipuris) are often going to come up waiting for quick resolution. Such a centre can support redirection of genuine queries from Manipuris to relevant state/central ministries for quick action. Overseas Indian Facilitation Centre (OIFC) of Central Indian Govt (created by partnership between Confederation of Indian Industries – CII and Ministry of Indian Overseas Affairs – MIOA) is one such example of Global Manipuris Facilitation Centre created elsewhere.

A new comprehensive business forum (e.g. Manipur Social and Business Enterprises Network – MSBEN) functioning under global professional ethics and represented by most business enterprises within Manipur is essential to complement any possible collective benefit to industry sectors in Manipur by coordinating with both state govt ministries and other local bodies. Currently available business forums in Manipur lack global perspective and are fragmented to only few industry sectors. The new business forum ought to cater to only Manipur specific businesses yet covering businesses run by Manipuris in other global locations in order to enable building global supply chain of Manipuri business owners. Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) is one example of such business forum.

Schools, colleges, training centres, and universities within Manipur may be transformed into innovation houses wherein not just students and staffs in those institutions indulge in creating new innovations but also local businesses and social bodies can gain business support services and avail innovation support resources for their benefits. Innovation also refers to bringing mindset change (i.e. way of thinking) in addition to creating new technology products/ideas. There can be a centralized (and web-based) innovation support centre having policy documents, and high value staffs; while few chosen or most academic/research institutions can have trained staffs (being delegated or newly recruited) to provide support for enterprise development and business activities. Some of the specialized innovation institutions may be asked to take ownership of conducting monthly/periodic KEN-Manipur workshops by inviting/receiving Manipuri professionals (who may be returning to Manipur state for holiday break), and video/presentations of such useful discussions may be uploaded in KEN-Manipur website for future access. This approach of institutional ownership also enables respective institutions to build strong ties with industry and professionals for the benefit of their staffs, students and alumni. In addition, these institutions can avail access to thousands of highly qualified Manipuri professionals via the database of KEN-Manipur. Innovation vouchers and Capacity Building funds may be made available centrally and be allowed for individual institutions to bid for project sanctions.

Most State Govt departments tend to work in-silo and people (esp. the intended target consumers of each department) often don’t receive govt dept’s announcement of relevant information on time. Most plans under each department (as created by state planning department) fail to reach success at a reasonable level of completion mostly due to implementation issues and bottlenecks during rolled out phase of the plans. Thus, there is a need for collective overseeing of innovation support services provided in each state govt department. Each department may delegate officials to contribute in relevant networks of KEN-Manipur by sensing ongoing discussions in particular networks and by promoting activities/policies/funding info available in their department for usage by professionals and local businesses. Also, there is feasibility to cross sell opportunities (tenders/projects) by govt department to networks relevant to another department within KEN-Manipur (thereby leading to effective usage of govt money).

One key hurdle to be overcome for enabling non-resident Manipuris and local Manipuris (including state govt officials) to engage effectively is the need for acclimatization by both parties to a mid-way work culture suitable to both i.e. adjustment of attitudes/egos. There needs to be orientation programs such as ‘Train the Trainer’ – to help industry professionals to learn working culture (ethics and attitudes) prevalent in Manipur state before they even start their personal contribution, ‘Openness and Team-work training’ – to help state govt officials to adjust their working style to corporate environment by understanding how industry professionals work.

If the state govt has the will to initiate implementing the above recommendations with funding from either state govt or Union Ministry of DoNER (or elsewhere), Manipuri professionals working across the globe can start contributing easily in a simple process towards socio-economic development of every village/town in Manipur. Also, current social unrest in Manipur due to mistrust among communities may go away faster in due course with mindset of local people getting changed because of knowledge inflow from non-resident Manipuris on a peer-to-peer contact basis.

 

About the Author:

Shanjoy Mairembam (BEng, MBA) is a Business Strategy Consultant based at London (UK). He supports mentoring of young entrepreneurs in ‘conceptualization of ideas into business case’, and offers role of a ‘Business Doctor’ to local NGOs/SMEs in Manipur.

For further info, visit http://www.shanmaiconsulting.com; E-mail: shanjoym (at) gmail (dot) com

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 Everyone is wondering ‘Why so many complex issues one after another?’, and ‘when everything will be alright in Manipur?’ Reading concepts from sociology and public administration literatures (with specific emphasis on Manipur rather than Indian Union) can help us to enable Manipur state transformed back into a peaceful and prosperous land. ‘Poorly planned transition from traditional kingship model (i.e. rule by a king) to democratic Westminster model (i.e. representative MLAs/MPs supported by civil servants such as IAS, IPS) as way of public governance seems to be the source of all these chaos in current Manipur’. Transition, itself, is neither good nor bad; but rather it was too quick and inadequate change management programs for people during the transition phase were not seriously taken into consideration. Moreover, the then Manipur merging into Indian Union has added another new dimension to the transition complexities.

Manipur-constituencies_01

Institutional Failures:

If we have a quick glance at Manipur map showing assembly constituencies (spreading across entire villages in Manipur), we may feel as if there seems a well-balanced democratic representation from all ethnic groups and regions within Manipur. There ought not to be so many pending issues in Manipur (including demand of autonomies and homelands). So, what exactly went wrong with the transition phase as well as merging of Manipur into Indian Union. The answer seems rather simple than difficult – ‘Institutional failure of democratic and innovational systems within Manipur is the root cause of entire chaos in current Manipur State’.

Mindsets of people in Manipur (born and lived during 1891 to 1971) are yet to come out of the norms and way of thinking during Kingship of Meitei kings in then Manipur country. Lack of rapid expansion of educational and innovation institutions in villages/towns in order to catch up with impact of changes in public governance approach has indeed led to current chaos. Religious preaching by missionaries (with own vested interests) to various ethnic groups within Manipur has also seriously increased complexity of issues in Manipur. People have failed to recognize that ‘Religions are less to do with Spirituality, but rather are just political forums just like a social association’. When one follows a religion, they follow the culture, thinking and norms practiced in those foreign lands instead of local traditional values. Christianity followers will look toward West, Islam followers towards Arab, while Hinduism followers will look towards Hindi Mainland India. If there does exist GOD (supernatural almighty), isn’t it to do with SELF and HIM only? How is that prayer to our forefathers and traditional customs in Manipur not considered as a form of spirituality? Though we may lack in many concepts of GOD/spirituality as compared to other religions, what we indeed practice is about humanity instead of political forum (i.e. religion). Reading books and practices of religions are indeed good for enhancing societal knowledge and another perspective of thinking. Yet, we (as people of Manipur) ought to prevent mixing religion to our communities and state institutions.

Penetration by Christian missionaries in hill regions prior to setup of democratic and innovational institutions has highly intoxicated mindset of tribal groups with religious preaching as compared to modern scientific/logical mindset. Representations of tribal groups are supposed to be done by tribal leaders or village chiefs; instead church leaders (with one-sided myopic perspective of world as per their religious boundaries) are coming out to represent tribal ethnic groups. Among Meitei group, many have just started to come out from being blind followers of Vaishnavism and started to reason self with the inflow of education (scientific way of thinking). Spread of Hindi language and Hinduism in Manipur (and North East India) seems like tactics to bring NE Indian states within the current Indian Nationalism concept [created by Hindi Mainland India]. Growth of Muslim population in Manipur with influx immigrants from Bangladesh and Myanmar brings in non-local way of thinking creating fallout to the very existence of Manipur state as it is. In the past centuries, colonization of nations happened after spread of religious missionaries to foreign nations.

Societal Issues:

Prior to merging with Indian Union in 1949, public governance of then Manipur country starts and ends with the King. Though it may be a Meitei king and majority population was of Meitei group, there were also many other tribal ethnics groups. In the past 2000yrs+ civilization, there were mechanisms under the rule of King to include different ethnic groups into Meitei group by inserting them into one of 7-Meitei clans under a surname or exclude a current ethnic group by out-casting from 7-meitei clans. In fact, current Meitei group under a 7-clans structure is found to be final outcome of assimilation of different ethnic tribal groups spanning across centuries. Similar example that can be cited is the recent effort to form a ‘Naga group’ by clubbing many different small tribal groups. If we wish to know further on cultures and tradition of various tribal groups in the then Manipur country (including current Meitei group), we’ve to explore other ancient civilizations existed in current landmass of Manipur state such as the then ‘Moirang Kingdom’. In Moirang Kingdom era, the earliest Meitei sect is found to comprise only few smaller tribal groups unlike the current Meitei group. Only after downfall of Moirang Kingdom in 17th century, there came to exist only one kingdom of Meiteis with capital at Imphal (in various names such as Kathee/Kathey/Munnipoor). Thus, there was some control on social composition under the King’s reign. It is a fact beyond doubt that all tribes and Meitei group in current Manipur have common ancestors. But since 1950 (merging into Indian Republic), no insertion into or removal of ethnic tribes out of Meitei group is further taken care of (with the loss of kingship governance model). Complexity in Manipur’s society got increased further by inflow of new ethnic/religious groups from Indian Union into Manipur. Also, rule of law (for societal governance) starts following constitution of Indian Union rather than Manipur specific requirements and people are yet to adapt completely to the transition.

Insurgency Issues:

Underground militant groups along with their overground support organizations seem just fighting for own vested interests of power/control over people. Bargaining vested interests by these groups will only lead to the scenario of drowning themselves together and dying along with all civilian ethnic people within current Manipur state. Under current social complexities (in 2013), it seems to hint that time has already slipped for Meitei nationalism (as promoted by Meitei militant groups since 1964) to reclaim the ancient Meitei country by just emphasizing on the merger of Manipur kingdom into Indian Union in 1949 and story of Anglo-Manipur War of 1891. Meitei militant groups need to broaden their thinking by understanding that Manipur’s ancient history and culture isn’t only about current Meitei group, but also for various tribal groups which are not yet inserted into Meitei group. Thus, their vision of Meitei country (under the banner of ‘Manipur’ brand) isn’t likely to be a reality; because every ethnic group (under the Indian Union) has got their desire to lead and not follow other ethnic groups.

Resurgence of Naga militant groups in current Manipur state around 1980 by trying to regroup different smaller tribes into Naga nationalism seem just only a reactionary measure to mistreatment in the past to those Naga militant leaders at Imphal city by few Meiteis (who were born and still living with kingship era mentality i.e. attitude existed prior to merger of Manipur state to Indian Union in 1949). Kuki militant groups trying to create Kuki nationalism seems another reactionary measure to Naga group’s ethnic cleaning in 1990s. Also, appearance of other tribal militant groups seems reactionary measures to Kuki and Naga militant groups for their survival and dominance within current Manipur state. Emergence of Muslim militant groups in Manipur may be also because of religious fundamentalists among Muslim community by copying militancy activities happening in other parts of India and abroad by Muslims.

A Way Out from Socio-Economic-Politico Issues:

Individuals (from all ethnic groups) born after 1970s (i.e. after statehood of Manipur state within Indian Union) are likely to be of different mindset (far away from ideologies prevalent in those Meitei kingship era), exposed to global thinking (by understanding diversities in different countries), inspired with knowledge (of scientific logical thought process toward humanity), and majority living as working professionals (in various part of India and abroad). Those non-resident groups of Manipur people are the best bet to bring socio-economic-political transformation in Manipur, because they are experts in own professional careers and think reasonably on logical ways. Amidst current complex mistrusts among ethnic and religious communities in Manipur, the biggest onus to bring change in Manipur state lies with the state govt; since majority of Manipur’s population still consider govt as the only impartial form of public governance.

Manipur State govt needs to facilitate sharing of knowledge and experiences among Manipuris (i.e. those non-resident people and local people) under a systematic approach to support and maneuver the impact. Govt ought to organize ‘Global Manipuris Summit’ annually similar to ‘Pravashi Bharatiya Divas’ (conducted by central Indian govt) to bring global Manipuris together again for sake of Manipur state. Also, ‘KEN-Manipur’ ought to be created by state govt to systematically support virtual Knowledge Exchange Networks per industry/knowledge sector wherein professionals of Manipur origin (from all ethnic groups across the globe) can share experiences and knowledge thereby making a huge socio-economic-political impact to the future of every village/town in Manipur. Thus, Manipur State govt has to initiate creating a mechanism for people to people interaction supporting activities of Govt’s public services and also facilitate people’s willful contribution on logical/humanity terms (instead of vested religious or ethnic or political contribution by a party).

Thus, we (the people of current Manipur) have to create a common vision for future Manipur State and the purpose of existence of Manipur in the future, if Manipur and Manipuris are to remain existing on Earth

 

About the Author:

Shanjoy Mairembam (BEng, MBA) is a Business Strategy Consultant based at London (UK). He supports mentoring of young entrepreneurs in ‘conceptualization of ideas into business case’, and offers role of a ‘Business Doctor’ to local NGOs/SMEs in Manipur.

For further info, visit http://www.shanmaiconsulting.com; E-mail: shanjoym (at) gmail (dot) com

 

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