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Posts Tagged ‘Manipur’

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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Manipur State Govt firmly believes that promoting tourism into Manipur can bring about socio-economic development of the state. The Central Govt (esp. Ministry of tourism, and North Eastern Council under Ministry of Development of North Eastern Regions) has been also supporting the State Govt by providing huge funding assistance for tourism related projects. Main activity on this regard is to organise annual tourism festival titled ‘Manipur Sangai Festival’ in the month of November (21-30). sangai-loktak-articleThe expenditure for 2014 event was about Rs 2.5-3.0 crores and the cost of 2015 event may be Rs. 3.0-5.0 crores. Since large sum of public money (collected through taxes) has been spent for conducting this festival by the State Govt, it is appropriate to ask and rather be made a mandatory task for State Govt to evaluate economic appraisal of the festival project along with a social impact analysis. Such an evaluation report must be produced by the State Govt as ‘white paper’ periodically to access ‘pros and cons / impact’ of every Manipur Sangai Festival being conducted.

Any course of discussion on ‘whether current format of the festival is appropriate and what programs should be added/removed, or there is another possible way of conducting the festival in an entirely different approach’ ought to be guided by the basic principle that “Manipur Sangai Festival has been devised to promote Manipur globally for its tourism potentials and by doing so, bring about socio-economic development to the local population within Manipur State”. Also, we need to be clear with our adopted strategy on this festival – ‘Is the spending on the Manipur Sangai Festival an investment or just mere expenditure; i.e. are we creating a sustainable capacity building system for the local economy, or are we just enjoying ourselves by spending huge sum of money for few days in the name of tourism promotion?’. This article rather focuses on an alternative way of conducting the festival than being a critic to the current festival format.

There is an analogy topic that we can correlate to: ‘how Olympic Games are conducted in various countries on rotation, or how National Games are conducted in various states of India on rotation’. The host country for Olympic Games (or the host state for National Games in India) aims to make the maximum benefits from having the sports event in their country (or their state, in case of National Games) through creating new infrastructures (e.g. roads, bridges, markets, houses, water/electricity/gas supply facilities), new engagement frameworks (e.g. coordination among various ministries of the Govt for public order and utility services supply, involving public and private organizations, including students and staffs from schools/universities, sharing public support tasks with local municipal bodies), and new promotional means (e.g. extensive marketing to increase visits by tourists during the sports event and also later on for the following months/years). Thus, there are always some diverse options in every planning on where/how to spend a huge sum of money for executing a big event. Our focus for Manipur Sangai Festival also ought to think from this perspective of ‘How best is the way to spend the allocated budget for the festival (e.g. Rs. 5 Crores) into what activities for short term and long term gains to people and land of Manipur?’

The name ‘Sangai’ has been chosen to represent the annual Manipur tourism festival by the State Govt; maybe because this title has global appeal due to the relevance of endangered ‘Sangai’ species to global audience. How about we try to imagine this scenario for the sake of analysis – What if ‘we choose to conduct this Manipur tourism festival with special focus around the villages/towns where this special deer is located (i.e. those around Keibul Lamjao National Park and Loktak Lake)’!

Often, there is this query of ‘Should development come first, or should security (i.e. better law and order) come first before anything else (including tourism activities)?’ In addition to just conducting a tourism festival to promote tourism potential, Manipur State Govt has the duty to develop infrastructure and enhance living standard of villages/towns within Manipur. So, how about hitting two targets with just one arrow? – By planning the Manipur Sangai Festival around villages/towns of Keibul Lamjao and Loktak Lake; such as, by having more event venues, involving local people/organisations, delegating tasks to staffs at Govt offices (schools/colleges and other Govt departments) and administrative officials at various sub-divisions/gram-panchayats, and a series of well-created programs in those villages/towns.

The tourism festival ought to be more of people’s event rather than just being an event for ministers and higher officials of the State Govt. There is no ‘actual high risks of security’ scenario for having tourism programs and event venues in villages/towns around Loktak Lake and Keibul Lamjao, and rather it may be just a myth that there is no security outside the state capital; or, maybe it is just a sign of being laziness for ministers and higher officials of the State Govt to visit places outside the Imphal Municipal Council areas. Since the ‘Manipur Sangai Festival’ is for promoting tourism potentials of the whole state, tourism events can be still conducted at those already chosen venues of the Imphal Municipal areas; yet the central focus can be given to “villages/towns around Sangai’s home”. Such an approach will facilitate in (1) creating new businesses by private entrepreneurs in these villages/towns, (2) providing better roads and modern utility services (electricity, water, medical) which have been neglected for years, (3) exchanging of ideas and modern knowhow between people of city and villages/towns. In due course of time, we can see villages/towns (such as Thanga, Ithing, Karang, Moirang, Moirang Khunou, Kairenphabi, Kumbi, Ithai, Wangu, Nongmaikhong, Khordak, Tera Khunou, Laphupat, Phoubachao, Komlakhong, Uchiwa, Mayang Imphal, Toubul, Kwashiphai, Nachou, Bishenpur, Oinam, Nambol, Yaingangpokpi, Wangoi, Tentha, Wabagai, Hiyanglam, Ningthoukhong) developing in a faster pace on par with Imphal Municipal areas.

Various independent events being conducted in Manipur till date can be included as special programs to the list of programs in the ‘Manipur Sangai Festival’ for the benefit of local people of villages/towns around Loktak Lake and Keibul Lamjao (rather than facilitating profit earnings to few individuals who owns large restaurants or hotels or tour operators); such as Fish sales festival, Pineapple sales festival, Handicraft/Handloom product sales festival, sports festival, Save Loktak event, Save Sangai Event, Food festival. Tour routes to enjoy such variety of mini-festival events during the ‘Manipur Sangai Festival’ can be created through these villages/towns for local tourists as well as national and international tourists. Various developmental schemes of the State Govt and Central Govt can be redirected towards organizing ‘Manipur Sangai Festival’ in these villages/towns under advanced and proper coordinated planning; such as (1) development of roads and cleanliness drive by villagers/NGOs through NREGA (Mahatama Gandhi National Rural Employment Gurantee Act), (2) various development funds under Department of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, and Department of MAHUD (Municipal Administration, Housing & Urban Development), (3) enterprise support funds from central ministry of MSME (micro, small and medium enterprises) and Department of Commerce & Industry, (4) promotion of local culture under Department of Art and Culture, (5) developing of local agribusinesses under Department of Agriculture, and Department of Fisheries, (6) preserving ecology and biodiversity under Department of Forest and Environment.

If we conduct ‘Manipur Sangai Festival’ in such an approach, percentage of having more inclusive participation from public (individuals and organisations) may be higher. Benefits out of the annual tourism festival are likely to be more sustainable, and a long lasting social impact may be delivered to the local population and land within Manipur state. Thus, we need to explore other ways of conducting Tourism festivals that make the best usage of available financial and manpower resources.

About the Author:

Shanjoy Mairembam (BEng, MBA) 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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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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 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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Understanding issues around Higher Education (HE) and local enterprises in Manipur today may be started by asking two most basic questions simultaneously – ‘Why does someone need to go college/university for HE studies’ and ‘What does industry sector need to grow in terms of manpower and skills’. We ought to look at HE sector and industry growth issues under the same umbrella for analysis and not in distinctively separate dimensions. The same fixed amount of input (i.e. Time, Money and Manpower) needed to tackle those two issues separately may be used collectively under an integrated strategy to simultaneously tackle the need to support growth of more local enterprises (thereby providing jobs to local people) and the need to revive higher education in colleges/universities (thereby satisfied academics, support staffs, and students).

Govt of Manipur ought to understand ‘the underlying implicit and explicit relationships between HE institutes and Industrial firms in a state/country’. The detailed analysis (though very critical) on how operation of state govt departments in HE sector (such as Education (U), Technical Education, and Adult Education) can be improved is beyond the scope of this article. Also, what’s excluded herein is how administration of colleges by respective college management can be enhanced and how liaising with Manipur University or Central Agriculture University as affiliated bodies may be made more efficient.

The approach of designing and delivering HE services in Manipur seems to ‘start and end with Education only’, without looking beyond and considering the local environment in which HE services operate. Graduates and post-graduates with traditional degrees are produced within Manipur who may be of least relevance to local needs or lack enough course experience to cause social impact locally. Moreover, it looks like as if colleges and universities in Manipur are just created to produce few finest graduates to be then exported to other Indian and foreign cities for better jobs and follow-on studies. Thus, return on investment (ROI) in terms of social and economic impact by having 70+ colleges and two universities within Manipur currently seem below expectation on ‘continued business justification’ rating and underperforming as a public service proposition.

On the other hand, state govt departments servicing to social and business organizations (such as Commerce and Industries, Cooperation, Income-Tax) are yet to show confidence on local people about their ability to bring about visible sustainability support to local companies and growth of new startups. Unhealthy law and order issues in Manipur (cited as a result of insurgency) may likely not attract big companies from outside Manipur to open up offices within Manipur and also, locally grown-up businesses may not successfully survive for continued operation after startup.

State govt has initiated some programmes recently to provide skill-based trainings in various industry sectors to youths/students in Manipur by financially sponsoring to third-party institutes within and outside Manipur state. Such initiative does help Manipuri youths/students to get employment in companies outside Manipur. Yet, there is huge vacuum to enable local companies to grow so as to absorb such trained individuals for the benefit of local economy. Thus, this current approach of state govt seems just like a one-sided policy to invest public fund meant for Manipur state on training few local Manipuris youths/students and then exporting them as quality manpower resources to feed into the need of other cities/states in India.

So, What if, for once, we look the spectrum of Higher Education from the perspective of need by industry and local market?

Universities in most global locations (esp. in UK) are now exploring extensively on various HE concepts to serve needs of industry clients proactively – such as Work-based Learning, Bespoke Training, Contracted Research and Consultancy, Modular-based course Programmes, etc. In order to outsmart the upcoming huge competition from various private training business companies on teaching similar course offers as universities do normally, UK universities are now more inclined towards the Research and Knowledge Transfer aspect for survival and income generation while maintaining a reasonable income generation through teaching degree/post-graduate courses.

In UK, Modular-based course Programmes are highly successful because courses are delivered in block modular mode. As an example: A 5-weeks modular course of a subject paper looks like 1-week face-to-face class plus a 4-weeks (away from classroom) academic experience period to reflect the learning by self. Students are either asked to write a written exam or online test or submit a project assignment by the end of the 5th week. After successful completion of the 5-week period, academic credit is awarded for the module. The student receives the degree after completion of all the mandatory course modules (including projects). In this approach, students (from nearby the university, within the UK and foreign countries) can travel to the university campus to attend the 1-week face-to-face class and then return back home to complete the next 4-weeks academic experience period. These students are still considered to have done the course study in Full-Time mode (though in modular approach).

If one explores the business model of large ‘training business’ companies: (1) these companies pick up the demand of particular skill sets needed for companies in an industry in a geographical market, (2) they hire industry professionals and academic experts to devise course contents and structure of delivery, (3) they advertise the courses for delivery in particular date/month of a year and recruits students accordingly, (4) they hire large classrooms or offices on rent for a specific period in line with the course delivery schedule, (5) they also hire trainers/lecturers on contract to deliver the planned courses. Thus, global companies in training business get the necessary income inflow from students’ fees and the profit after deducting the payment for classrooms hire and contracted staffs. This model is likely to be successful as long as these training companies are able to provide trained students who can get job in a company after studying the course with them.

For HE delivery in Manipur, we can reuse some concepts from both UK universities’ modular course delivery approach and global training business companies’ course delivery approach. Some state govt departments (e.g. as Commerce and Industries) can identify specific industry sectors that need to be groomed for growth within Manipur for social and economic impact locally. Other state govt dept (e.g. Education (U), Technical Education) can be entrusted with the responsibility to design and develop specific courses (in degree and post-graduate levels) by hiring industry professionals and academic experts to meet the likely demands of skills needed in job profiles available in that specific industry, and also include academic aspects of reasoning and creative thinking in the course design for students. This course development can be done in consultation with competent academic governing bodies (such as UGC, AICTE) and universities (in Manipur or outside the state or abroad). State govt departments (e.g. Sericulture, Agriculture, Fisheries, Science and Technology) can provide funding incentives/vouchers to local SMEs and business owners to recruit local candidates as their employees to undertake relevant jobs in their businesses, and at the same time, allow to access those funding grants only to directly reimburse some percentage of course fee/expense of their sponsored employees who are undertaking such specially created degree/post-graduate courses in their industry sector. This approach enforces business owners to be more responsible and accountable in both business growth and HE delivery. Also, students paying fees on own to study such courses are more likely to get a job on graduation in the local market. Already available buildings of local colleges in various towns in Manipur or other state govt offices or Manipur University or Central Agricultural University can be hired in advance for delivery of the degree/post-graduate courses in a modular fashion. Also, lecturers/staffs can be hired on contract for the course deliveries from industry and academic institutions in Manipur.

This suggested approach does involve (1) developing such course programmes after agreeing on a teaching and learning pedagogy (thereby, extensive consultation among industry, academia, academic standard bodies, and govt) (2) applying Project Management and Programme Management methodologies to ‘create and dissolve’ the entire design and delivery activities as multiple projects in a programme mode (thereby, saving money and administrative headache because of not having to build new costly classrooms and incur maintenance cost for infrastructures, not to continue providing salary and maintenance cost for teaching and non-teaching staffs after the duration of course delivery, etc), (3) efficiently managing resources needed for supply and demand to higher education delivery and industry growth (thereby, matching HE delivery services to current needs of industry in a ‘pull mode than push mode’).

Thus, state govt must undertake drastic changes in the current approach of HE delivery and Enterprises support in Manipur. Also, an in-depth research by hiring competent HE-Sector strategists is essential along with consultations with all stakeholders involved in HE delivery and Business Support services.

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

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In simple words, Information Technology (IT) can refer to ‘anything that we use in modern daily-life to communicate with each other using technology globally’. Technical experts who work in various aspects of developing and supporting the IT products/services can be broadly called as IT Professionals; while business firms who work to serve people’s need using IT products/services can be collectively named as IT companies. Yet, have we really understood ‘what IT growth may mean for us in Manipur?’

Setting up of proper infrastructure in the entire country (i.e. back-bone network connectivity such as laying fiber-optic cables, installing core routers and switches) is the duty of the government for socio-economic development (by tendering projects to private firms). Interested private companies (such as Internet Service Providers) may then bid for govt licenses to do business of providing IT network services (e.g. 2G/3G spectrum allocation). In Manipur, Department of IT and Department of Science and Technology (Govt of Manipur) are entrusted with infrastructure building responsibilities. Creation of a Software Technology Park of India (STPI) at Imphal and ongoing development of an IT park at Imphal are some activities that govt of Manipur has been taking up to provide localized IT infrastructure for having offices of IT companies. In the past, BSNL has undertaken such laying fiber optic cable activities in various parts of Manipur. Also, IT infrastructure development activities are often carried out within large corporate firms whose business may or may not be within IT domains.  Network engineers and server administrators work in such IT sectors with skills of telecom/networking (e.g. Cisco certified courses, Sun certified courses). Since Manipur and other North East Indian states are yet to have proper IT infrastructures in place, IT graduates can focus to be Network engineers and server administrators while Tech-Entrepreneurs can focus on such IT industry sectors for supply/sales of network/server devices to govt offices and startup companies in Manipur. Cabling of wires/fibers and installation of network/desktop devices for setup of new offices also require support of experience IT network engineers.

On non-infrastructure oriented IT sectors, there are many IT software/hardware companies which develop products/services meant for end-user customers at home or office. Nature of products/services in a region does depend on the available IT infrastructure and social usage habit of tech-gadgets in that locality/state. There are already many distributers/Tech-Entrepreneurs in Manipur doing business for selling IT products (such as laptops, desktops, mobile phones, tablets, printers, scanners, high-end smart phones) for general consumers (end-users). In bigger business scale, Tech-Entrepreneurs can even think of sourcing components from global manufacturers (in Taiwan, Thailand, China, Malaysia, etc) and assemble in Manipur for sales distribution across NE India and neighboring countries. This is the similar business model adopted by Dell (and Indian companies such as HCL, Wipro, etc) for their company branded PC/printers/office-accessories products. IT graduates can also aim to be technicians who can fix issues on such IT products (software/hardware). Yet, it may be hard for local IT graduates from Manipur to get recruited into product development companies located in big Indian cities (such as Nokia, Samsung, Cisco) to design such tech-gadgets, since such companies used to have the recruitment norm of having only high quality Bachelor degrees in Electronics/Communications/IT from top-reputed engineering colleges in India. Interestingly, there are very few Indian companies focusing on hardware design and manufacturing of IT products due to not wishing and inability to compete (in terms of marketing and sales) with IT products of global multinational product companies; though some Indian IT companies may have the skills and experts to develop hardware products.

The IT knowledge areas wherein startup IT companies in Manipur may focus are development of end-consumer-based applications software such as mobile apps (for iPhone, iPad and other smart phones), enterprise management software (for resource utilization and check), video games/animations (for fun) and serious games (for simulation and modeling), website/intranet/ecommerce portal, etc. It’s worth to remember that ‘Responsibility for programmers/engineers is to deliver the technical aspects of the client’s requirement, whereas the owners of a startup IT company is to deliver the overall IT solution catering to business need of the client’.

On business aspects, the key hurdle in setting up startup IT companies around consumer application-based software domains will be finding clients who will offer the IT projects. Also, most Indian companies (including big ones) procure such IT projects from western countries and other developed nations (wherein society has more usage of modern gadgets and technologies/infrastructures are in place). Also, more the organizational maturity of the IT company more is the confidence to advise clients on IT solutions that serves the business problems of clients. On technical aspects, skills required for undertaking such IT projects may be experience on some programming languages, database management, web-development scripts, graphic designing, etc. Learning materials (and demo programs) are extensively available on internet for free in various websites and books can be bought by want to-be techies to develop apps and software programs by self. Most of the software programmer/developer or IT geeks in the world are often self-created masters through self experiencing rather than out of university teachings. Though having studied courses such as Bachelor of Engineering (B.E.) or Master of Computer Application (MCA) are always useful during handling IT projects, any IT graduates and techies can still be able to master the programming skills though self hands-on learning enabling them to take up such end-consumer-based applications development.

IT companies are in fact just firms providing technology solutions (products/services) enabling efficient operations for businesses in other industry companies. So, only having engineers and project managers with technical skills within the company isn’t sufficient. Running a successful IT company requires having experienced business managers to identify which industry sector and which business issues of targeted client segments – their company is going to provide solutions through their IT products/services. Ability to source IT projects and manage effective potential client engagement is also critical to survival of an IT company (just similar to other companies in other industries). Building list of project portfolio undertaken in the past and embedding organizational maturity/processes so that potential clients can rely on are also essential for sustainability of an IT company’s existence.

In addition to software development businesses, IT-Enabled Services (ITES) such as BPO (Business Process Outsourcing), KPO (Knowledge Process Outsourcing) are feasible for setup in Manipur, if provided there is uninterrupted broadband service and power supply. Such ITES projects are often sourced from western countries and other developed nations (though those projects can be from within India as well), and their business model is based on providing low-cost and 24hrs IT enabled support to clients need/business. Such ITES businesses may provide jobs/money to local employees, but they don’t create much meaningful values on local knowledge market since their project activities doesn’t involve any software or hardware development.

Thus, Graduates and Tech-Entrepreneurs in Manipur should first evaluate which industry to serve and what skill-sets are necessary to work in IT industry. Rapid IT growth in Manipur can be achieved by focusing on supporting local application-based software development IT companies that serve businesses in other industries (including e-governance projects of Manipur govt).

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

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