Imphal Review of Arts and Politics

Classic Group of Hotels
Tourists spots like Khuga are predicted to have very few visitors for quite some time

Finding an Alternative Means of Livelihood is the Only Way Forward for People Working in Tour and Travel Sectors in Manipur

The ongoing violent conflict in the state of Manipur since May 3, 2023 has not ended till now. It has affected the lives of people in many ways. It has paralysed the economy of the state as many sectors including travel, tourism, agriculture, education, banking and small-scale industries etc. have stopped functioning. This has negative impact on the lives of people residing in the state. The continued imposition of curfew with intermitent relaxations to curtail the law-and-order situations in the state, the gunfights in the periphery areas, all have led to shutdown of many industries thereby leaving people jobless. The big problem arises is whether they will be able to sustain their livelihoods without any earning.

Kongkham Irabot Singh from Uripok Achom Leikai in Imphal West who is a part of the tour and travel service provider for a star hotel in Imphal narrated that he has lost his customers because of the ongoing violent conflict in Manipur. He remains idle at home thinking about to find an alternative job for livelihood. The idea of selling his vehicles even popped up in his mind to meet the daily needs.

Before the violent conflict, Irabot could earn Rupees 40,000 to 50,000 per month through which he could run his family smoothly. Now he hasn’t been earning a penny for the last six months. He is broken now. He is not able to find any other alternative jobs to continue his living as he is not mastery in other fields.  Even to start a new business is not possible for Irabot as it requires a big capital which he cannot afford at this situation. There are not appropriate words to express his trouble at this juncture of time. Now his family is running with the limited earning by his son.  He also lamented that if the turmoil situation continues in the state there are no way of earning and no hope for the future. He appeals the authorities concerned to put all efforts to stop the violence as early as possible and bring normalcy in the state so that everyone could lead a happy and prosperous life.

Another person, Ahanthem Norendro of Ahallup Makha Leikai in Imphal East of 34 years narrated that he got married on May 24, 2023. He arranged his marriage with his savings and with some amount borrowed from friends and relatives. Before the violent conflict starts, he could earn more with more tourists of both national and international for events like G20, Femina Miss India Grand Finale in the state. Norendro had taken a loan from a bank before COVID-19 pandemic to buy his new car for his profession. Still now he could not recover the loan, even he has to pay the fine to the bank. To run his family he even used all the money he saved in his piggy bank. To make his livelihood he started rearing some poultry. Even his mother starts learning weaving to support the family. He is eagerly waiting for the moment where normalcy and peace restored in the state so that he could make a sound earning for running his family.

During this turmoil period he could not find any alternative jobs, so he remains sitting at home. Rather than driving he did not have other skills so it makes difficult for him to switch on to a new profession for the time being, expressed by Thoidingjam Kritibijoy of Kongba Kshetri Leikai in Imphal East who have been working for five years in a star hotel at Imphal as a tourist transport service provider. Now it’s difficult for him to pay for Marup (a traditional form of saving) without any earning. When he asked for other jobs, he could not find any vacancy. He also narrated that he missed his tourist friends who frequently visit the place as they are no more visiting the state because of the vioent conflict situation. Now, he is running his family with some savings he had in his hand and his wife has started learning weaving to support his family.

According to the statistical data on domestic and foreign tourists compiled by the State Tourism Department, 48,905 tourists visited Manipur in the year 2021; 143,840 tourists in 2022 and 45,148 tourists till April 2023. From May onwards there is a massive decline in the numbers as June 2023 records only 919 and 1427 in July 2023. The data indicates that due to the prevailing situation in the state few numbers of both domestic and foreign tourists visited the state which is a great loss in the tourism sector.

In this regard, Professor Chinglen Maisnam, Department of Economics of Manipur University opined that the prevailing situation in the state have a great impact on the country’s GDP especially for the State of Manipur. Many have lost their jobs; some got only 50 to 70 percent of their pay. Even the banning of internet services, economic blockade, curfew, bandh etc. have created a big threat in the economic activities in the state which leads to the economic collapse. He emphasized to focus more on government schemes like PMNREGA for both rural and urban so that they could have a means of livelihood. If the people could find a means of livelihood in this turmoil situation they could feel a little bit of relieve. Any form of agitation should not affect the economic activities of the state. He appeals the authorities concerned to bring peace and normalcy in the state at the earliest so the state is not lacking behind others as compared to other states.

The pertinent question here is – when will the conflict come to end? Everyone is eagerly waiting for peace and normalcy in the state. When the mind is without fear, every activities turn to be fruitful, but in the present violent situation where the mind is filled with full of fear, tension and unrest could there be any positive result. War never brings any good result to humankind, so everyone let removes the toxicity of war from our body and mind. Let us create Manipur a conflict free and peaceful co-existing state and let’s work together for a better and developed Manipur. Let us save our Manipur.

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