Archive for October, 2010

Kut Festival – Time to Romance Tradition And Flirt With Modernity

October 31, 2010

kut festivalImphal, Oct 31 : Kut fever has gripped among the Chin-Kuki-Mizo group.

The day falls on Novermber 1.It is one of the most anticipated calendar days for the Kuki-Chin-Mizo group of Manipur and elsewhere.

One of the few occasions, KUT (as it is called) symbolises happiness and health, hard work and toil, peace and brotherhood, abundance and hope.

On this day, all roads in Manipur zeros in at the epicentre(s) for a day-long jamboree of cultural extravaganza.

Diaspora and locals, wherever they may be, come together in bonhomie on this day to celebrate and rejoice in God’s bountiful providence.

Given the increasing tendency of modern society to fragmentation and disintegration, Kut may be seen to be a local reincarnate of the hippie-days bohemian musical fete ” Woodstock “.

Young and old, kings and paupers, strong and weak are united in the spirit of ancestral unity.

Traditionally, locally brewed beers were exchanged within a village marking an end to agricultural drudgery consequent to plentiful harvest.

The day officially announces the beginning of leisure and game.

Cut to modern days, the festival has been laced with festoons and fanfare with the showcasing of tradition within the modern context.

The festival is in this sense, a link between the gapping hole of tradition and modernity.

For the people of Chin-Kuki-Mizo, it is a time to retrospect about the past and look forward to the future with optimistic zeal.

Diaspora of Kuki-Chin-Mizo takes time out to reunite with their roots despite the mad search for global identity.

For those unable to make a connection to their forefathers’ blood-drench soil of Manipur, they still make an effort by organising Kut wherever they may be roaming.

The principal highlight of the spectacular event, understandably, is the ostentatious display of traditional attire and dance forms of Kuki-Chin-Mizo fraternal tribes.

It is a day-long carnival divided into two action-packed halves.

If one were to take a historical and civilizational comparison of the separation of the day into two halves, it would appear to show the inevitable transition of the society from traditional to modern.

The first half of the day witnesses a display of customary and folk extravaganza interspersed with crooning sensation taking the audience to a dizzying heights of awe inspiration.

Many VVIPs are a major fixture of the first half of the day.

The later half of the day attracts a huge fan following with Miss Kut pageantry and Rock bands lined up to enthral young crowds of discernible taste.

Interestingly, the festival is celebrated in different parts of Manipur, from the State level down to village levels.

Towns like Moreh, which is located on the Indian side of the Indo-Myanmar international border, and villages like Saikul’s Gangpijang, steeped in its engagement with tradition and culture, have been attracting enormous admirers from every nook and crannies of the state.

Over the years, the state level event has unofficially become synonymous with multicultural and multi-community affairs.

Participation from other communities of the state in convincing numbers has lent itself a global facet.

As far as the state is concerned, it has long recognised the importance of the event and has declared November 1 a state holiday.

This post-harvest festival gives the participants reasons to dress up in their best from the wardrobe.

An abiding feature in their clothes is, for boys either a scarf or a tie with traditional motif on it, and for a girl it normally is traditional wraparounds.

Between the fête on November 1, if cry of “li li li li…li, Ho!” fills the air, rest assured that it is not a war cry.

Join in the chorus and invoke God for the manifold providence and bountiful harvest of the year.

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Shillong Chamber Choir to Perform For Obama

October 31, 2010

Shillong Chamber ChoirShillong, Oct 31 : After holding the nation spellbound with Western chorals and Hindi classics on a TV reality show, the Shillong Chamber Choir will now have a very special audience – US President Barack Obama.

The young group of singers from Shillong, dubbed as the ‘Rock capital of India’, is scheduled to perform for the US President and his wife Michelle at President Pratibha Patil’s presidential banquet at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on November 8.

“We have been invited by the Government of India through the Ministry of External Affairs. The invitation came much before we won the reality show,” said Damon Lyndem, bass singer and media coordinator for the Choir, which had won ‘India’s Got Talent – Khoj 2 on Colors TV earlier this month.

‘To God be the Glory’ and ‘Deep River’ are among the probable numbers to be performed by the Choir before President Obama and First Lady Michelle.

“We have been asked to perform jazz and spiritual numbers. But of course, we would like to showcase our own culture, and so there will be Khasi opera. It’s a big thing. We hope to do justice,” Lyndem said.

Rashtrapati Bhavan sources in New Delhi have confirmed the group’s participation.

Twenty members of the Choir, including fifteen singers and conductor Neil Nongkynrieh, will leave for Delhi on November 6.

The Choir’s repertoire includes works of Western classical greats like Handel, Bach, Gershwin and Mozart, besides Queen hits and Khasi folk songs.

The Shillong Chamber Choir had made their debut performance at a city hotel in January 2001, with Neil Nongkynrih as their maestro and mentor.

The group of 25 soloists first came to limelight after bagging three gold medals at the World Choir Games 2010 in China.

NEHU Students Press For V-C’s Ouster

October 31, 2010

nehuShillong, Oct 31 : Students of Meghalaya’s North Eastern Hill University (NEHU) will resume their indefinite agitation from Monday to pressurise the Central government to remove of AN Rai as Vice Chancellor and appoint a local academician instead, a student leader said today.

“As a mark of protest against the adamant attitude of the Central government to our demand to remove Rai from the post of Vice Chancellor, we have decided to resume our indefinite shutdown at NEHU from Monday,” Meghalaya Tribal Students’ Coordination Committee (MTSCC) chairman Kynpham Kharlyngdoh told IANS.

The students coordination committee, under the banner of NEHU Students’ Union (NEHUSU) and MTSCC, wants a tribesman Vice Chancellor to head the varsity, one of the country’s premier Central universities.

Late Barrister Pakem was the only local Vice Chancellor since the university’s inception in 1973.

On October 20, students, who were protesting for over a month, set Octover 29 as the deadline for removal of Rai from the post when a three-member team of the Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry led by HRD Ministry Secretary Vibha Puri Das visited Shillong to assess the resentment over Rai’s appointment.

The team studied the student protests. Rai, a former Vice Chancellor of Mizoram University, was appointed for the NEHU by President Pratibha Patil after Pramod Tandon completed his tenure September 12.

Union HRD Additional Secretary (higher education) Sunil Kumar, who was also a member of the team that visited the State, said a report was submitted to HRD Minister Kapil Sibal October 28.

“All our findings and views expressed by the Governor, the State government and stakeholders of the NEHU have been compiled in our report which is in the hands of the minister now,” Kumar said over phone from New Delhi. He said the minister will take a final decision to resolve the issue.

Rai said: “Stepping down is not an option. I am here as the Vice Chancellor on the appointment of the President of India and I am honouring it. If the students are against me, they should approach the authorities concerned.

“I am ready to sort any grievances relating to the university,” he added.

Earlier, the Meghalaya government asked the HRD Ministry team to appoint a local academician as the NEHU Vice Chancellor.

“David Syiemlieh (a tribal Khasi and an eminent historian) is the best person to lead the university. He is an impeccable academician with requisite qualifications and has enough experience in administration of the university,” Deputy Chief Minister BM Lanong said.

Syiemlieh, a member of Indian Council of Historical Research, is currently the controller of examinations in the university.

Thousands Run to Mark Victims of Assam Bombings

October 31, 2010

assam bombingGuwahati, Oct 31 : More than 30,000 people, including Bollywood actors, yesterday joined an anti-terror run to commemorate 100 people who died in bombings two years ago in the northeast Indian state of Assam.

The two-mile run in Gauhati was a mark of protest against violence in a region plagued by insurgency, and Bollywood actor Zarine Khan said it was “a movement against terrorism”.

The five blasts on October 30, 2008 killed 100 civilians and injured 300. They were blamed on a group demanding Bodo tribal independence.

Nagas Share Their Struggle, Concerns

October 31, 2010

Naga Journey for PeaceBangalore, Oct 31 : Voices from the distant hills of Nagaland are echoing in Bangalore. The Naga community and leaders held a vibrant festival of Naga arts and crafts and cultural performances at the `at the Bishop Cotton Boys School on Saturday.

The performance was followed by a panel discussion on `Indo-Naga peace process __ difficulties and prospects’ by Naga leaders who came from Kohima.

President Naga Ho Ho, Kevilotuo, shared the six decades of Naga struggle with the audience. He recollected the initial 16 point-agreement that created the state of Nagaland and said the Nagas were then divided into the four North Eastern states. In 1964, there was a ceasefire with the Indian government, but problems continued.

“In 1997, there was a ceasefire again. It’s been 13 years since then and we still haven’t reached a negotiation. The Indian government has to be sincere about the peace talks that we are having. The Naga journey is one of self determination and fight for independence. Our movement is for an independent nation but that doesn’t mean that we cannot have peace,” he said.

Speaking about the unique cultural identity and different topography of Nagaland, he added that their uniqueness has to be recognized. “Nagaland is a nation in the making and we want our message to reach all parts of India. India is a friend and we have now come to tell our story to the south of India. I am hopeful that we will achieve a resolution,” he added.

President, Naga Students Federation, Metsekaoya Yhobo, said they had given several representations to the government of India and had met the Prime Minister too. “India has been insincere in dealing with our problems. The desire of the young Nagas is to work together for a resolution,” he said.

Beware of Those Shameless Indians

October 31, 2010

By RSN Singh

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The Maoists, who have unequivocally declared their resolve to capture power through violence, and the Kashmiri separatists came together on one platform in India’s capital ‘New Delhi’.

Some of the faces that represented them were Geelani and Arundhati Roy respectively. Such open acts of sedition can only happen in India.

The forging of alliance between pro-Pak elements in Kashmir, the Maoists, insurgent groups in the Northeast, Chinese agencies, and some Church organisations is well established by the intelligence agencies. But what is most intriguing is the support they receive from a segment of the mainstream media.

This is evident from the posturing of some of the media personalities and so-called intellectuals during debates on television. Such is the backing, infiltration and leverage of some international organisation that the government can do nothing against these elements and is in fact beholden to them.

Therefore, I can only appeal to the people of this country to save themselves from the evil designs of these shameless Indians.

How do these these shameless Indians operate?

A patient suffering from painful disease goes to a doctor. The doctor correctly diagnoses the ailment and chalks out an effective treatment plan. But even as the patient embarks on his way to recovery, another person, who has stakes in property after the death of the patient, comes in the garb of a well-wisher and convinces the patient that the doctor cannot be trusted. The patient discontinues the treatment and ultimately fades away into the trap of death.

One hopes that ‘Operation Green Hunt’ does not meet the same fate.

A constituency without responsibility

There is a constituency in India which does not allow any line of treatment to ‘security ailments’ that afflict the country after they are correctly diagnosed. As a result, some of these ailments have acquired cancerous proportions.

This is the constituency of some shameless activists and protagonists of criminals and terrorists, who thrive on the psychological reality that in India, the lifespan of shock and outrage that follows a terrorist incident is short.

This is the constituency without any responsibility. Their contribution to the nation is zilch. They have never found solutions to problems, but are adept at creating them. Their business is to derail and dissuade the state and its apparatus from taking any decision that may contribute the progress and well-being of India.

Let’s look at another analogy to illustrate the attitude of this constituency of professional activists towards their ‘accidental’ country, India.

A couple, whose child was not performing well in school began to harbor doubt about the teacher. After much analysis, they realised that the teacher was not to be blamed. Even after working on the child, the results were the same. They again found a scapegoat in the teacher.

The other successful students, however, sang paeans to the teacher. This rattled the parents and they vowed to demolish the teacher’s sincerity and reputation.

This exactly is the make, motive and modus operandi of these shameless activists. For those who have made activism the means of their bread and butter, particularly the latter, it is the larger good that disconcerts them.

When a terrorist strike takes place, these activists and commentators talk about the ‘resilience of the people’, and very grudgingly appreciate the sacrifices of the security forces.

Remember Kargil? The overwhelming sense of concern for wounded and dead soldiers was mainly motivated by TRP rather than any genuine feeling. Otherwise, how can the same set of commentators and activists accuse the Indian Army of rape and unbridled violence in insurgency areas, and support the cause of removing the Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA).

Whenever a terrorist attack takes place, this shameless variety of activists and protagonists go into hibernation. Some of whom, who still get intercepted, avoid discussion on television by saying “I condemn violence” by any side — as if they are doing a favour by condemning it, and as if the force applied by legitimate forces is the same as violence by illegitimate outfits.

Some members of this ilk are compelled to speak words of sympathy about the victims of terror. They bide their time and resurface when the dust has settled. They then begin to question the veracity of the very act of terror. Some suggested that Karkare was not killed by terrorists! Other suggested that SIMI was a charitable organisation! Some of them also suggest that the Maoists are ‘Gandhians with Guns’, whatever that means.

Remember the protagonists of militancy in Punjab and Sri Lanka – some of them have gone into oblivion and some have reinvented themselves.

26/11 and the rich

There are some apologists, who defend the position that the attack on Hotel Taj, attracted so much attention because the rich were targeted – as if the attack was pointedly and carefully made on rich India by a thoughtful and benevolent bunch of terrorists from Pakistan. As if there are only rich guests in a five star hotel and no employees. Had they expressed similar views during or in immediate aftermath of the attack, they would have met devastating response from then angry Indians.

If Azmal Kasab had not been caught alive, these shameless activists would have surely raised doubts about the fact that the attacks originated from Pakistan. Pakistan has read and understood this constituency of the shameless activists and commentators, and their disproportionate influence in India. Some of them have surreptitiously worked their way into the highest policy making circles. Accordingly, a fidgety Pakistan has now been emboldened to adopt an aggressive posture with regard to 26/11 attack.

Take the case of the attack on Indian parliament in December 2001. An individual who was absolved by the courts on technical ground was portrayed, as victim of state conspiracy by the same shameless bunch of activists. Most of them knew pretty well about his key role in the attack. They are more than aware that the constraints of judiciary in absolving a person of any criminal charge due to lack of legally appropriate evidence does not actually mean that the person is innocent.

There are any number of judgements, wherein the judges have categorically stated that much against their personal conviction about the involvement or complicity of the accused in a crime, they have to absolve the individual due to imperatives and constraints of law.

After the passage of a suitably-considered gap between two terrorist attacks, some platforms, in their desperate bid to dilute the resolve of the nation, stage-manage debates on terrorist incidents – Making such issues “debatable” requires some genius.

It is here that the shameless variety of activists come handy, and they emerge out of hibernation. The subjects of debate can be as preposterous as: Is China a threat to India?, Did China attack India in 1962?, Is terrorism exported from Pakistan? Is the Kashmir insurgency a proxy-war by Pakistan?, Do Maoists indulge in terrorism?, Should security forces continue to be deployed in Kashmir?

The shameless activists will come up with theories that Pakistan and China have no hand in fomenting trouble in India! There is no proof that China has supplied missile and nuclear arsenal to Pakistan! The strategic encirclement of India by Pakistan is a myth! Karkare was not killed by terrorists! There was no element of local facilitation in the 26/11 attacks!

So what if Musharraf scripted Kargil, his intention with regard to India was benign! So what if the Maoists behead ‘informers’ and security personnel, they are basically peace loving people!

These shameless Indians have vested interest in poverty. That they are funded by inimical powers to India is well-known. They laud the progressive policies of their benefactors like China, but find all the time to agitate and block the same policies and programmes in India.

Is it a ploy by the adversaries of India, particularly China, to derail India’s economic development?

With the proliferation of the media, and increased role and influence of these shameless activists and commentators, the level of development in China started weighing overwhelmingly in favour of the latter, and is contributing much to its aggressive posture. Therefore, patriotic Indians need to be beware of these shameless Indians.

RSN Singh is a former military intelligence officer who later served in the Research and Analysis Wing, or R&AW. The author of two books: Asian Strategic and Military Perspective and Military Factor in Pakistan, he is also Associate Editor, Indian Defence Review.

Centre Committed to Development of Northeast : Roy

October 31, 2010

Union Minister of State for Urban Development Saugata RoyGuwahati, Oct 31 : The cities of the Northeast India hold tremendous potential as engines of social and economic growth and the Centre is committed to development of the region, Union Minister of State for Urban Development Saugata Roy said.

Roy, who was addressing North Eastern Urban Infracon-10 here, said the overall central assistance allocated for the region during 2009-10 was close to Rs 15,000 crore.

“But the rapid growth of urban population puts a huge strain on the physical infrastructure.

Overcrowding, paucity of affordable housing, bottlenecks in urban transport and concerns on public safety are the primary challenges to the government,” he said.

Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission was launched to tackle these problems and develop the cities.

Besides, the N E region Urban Develpment programme is being implemented with technical and financial assistance from Asian Development Bank.

Lamenting that the region is the least developed, Roy said the predominance of agriculture and low level income has compounded the situation.

Everest Gets 3G Mobile Internet

October 31, 2010

mount everest 3GNepali mobile network operator Ncell has installed the first 3G base station at the base camp of Mount Everest, giving visitors, climbers and people living in the Khumbu Valley the ability to make calls and wirelessly connect to the Internet .

To test out the new facility, Ncell also made the world’s highest video call at 17,388 feet.

So far, visitors of Mount Everest had to depend on satellite phones to make calls, but now they can do so through a standard GSM, 3G-enabled network. “The coverage of the network will reach up to the peak of the Everest,” Ncell Nepal chief Pasi Koistinen said to reporters in Kathmandu on Thursday.

Ncell is a joint venture between private investors and Sweden-based telecom TeliaSonera. Ncell’s network currently covers less than one-third of Nepal’s population, but TeliaSonera said it planned to invest $100 million in the next year to extend coverage to more than 90% of the country’s population.

“This achievement is as mighty as the altitude as 3G high speed internet will bring faster, more affordable telecommunication services to the people living in the Khumbu Valley, trekkers, and climbers alike,” said TeliaSonera CEO Lars Nyberg.

Normal Life Affected in Former NC Hills Following Bandh

October 29, 2010

Haflong BandhHaflong, Oct 29 : In Assam, normal life has been partly affected in the Dima Hasao Hills district following a 24-hour district bandh today.

Shops, markets, business establishments, educational and financial institutions remained closed in the district headquarters Haflong and its neighbouring areas.

Attendance in government offices is also thin while vehicles remained off the roads. However, the bandh fails to evoke any response in Maibong, Mahur, Umrangsho and other Dimasa community dominated areas of the district.

AIR Silchar correspondent reports that so far the bandh is peaceful with no untoward incidents have been reported from any parts of the district. Security across the district has been beefed up to prevent any trouble.

The call for the bandh is given jointly by the North Cachar Hills Indigenous Students’ Forum and North Cachar Hills Indigenous Women Forum from five this morning in protest against the bomb blast on Silchar bound Barak Valley Express Passenger train near Haflong rail station on Wednesday by the suspected extremists in which at least ten passengers were injured.

Meanwhile, the direct train services between Tripura, Manipur, Mizoram and Barak Valley of Assam with the rest of the country have been resumed from today.

Running of trains on Silchar- Lumding section of Northeast frontier rail were suspended from Wednesday evening after the bomb blast damaged about 88 metres of rail tracks.

Forced to Down Shutters, Manipur Goes Without Dailies

October 29, 2010

journalist Protest in ManipurImphal, Oct 29 : Manipur journalists staged a rally in Imphal on Thursday to denounce militant threats that forced media houses to suspend publication a day earlier despite CM Okram Ibobi Singh’s security assurances.

Armed militants visited offices of some local dailies and threatened editors against publishing statements of a rival, breakaway group on Tuesday evening.

The local newspapers had published a statement of the breakaway group claiming responsibility for killing a man sometime back.

Under All Manipur Working Journalists’ Union (AMWJU)’s banner, the scribes staged the rally and marched to the CM’s office carrying placards reading “respect freedom of press” and “might is right in animal planet”. They submitted a memorandum to Ibobi and demonstrated at Imphal’s Keishampat junction.

The journalists asked Okram, who also holds the home portfolio, to ensure security for media offices and “create an environment where mediapersons could function without any disturbance and interference”.

AMWJU spokesperson, A Mobi, said the CM assured security for the journalists. “We’ll soon convene a meeting to decide whether to continue our agitation,” he said.

Manipur minister Y Erabot; assembly deputy speaker, Th Lokeshwar, and a number of civil society groups joined the scribes in solidarity.

Around 10 journalists, including editors, have been killed in the state in the last few years. Though none of the perpetrators have been booked so far, the CBI is investigating a young Imphal-based journalist’s 2008 killing.