Imphal Review of Arts and Politics

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Shutting Khwairamband Keithel and Educational Institutions may be Biren Government’s Way of Preventing Public Discourses on Public Issues

The shutting down of Khwairamband Keithel and educational institutions by the State Government might be helpful in slowing down the spread of COVID-19 in Manipur but has successfully paralysed all the social, economic and political discourses among women vendors and students, long reputed for activism against any repressive initiative of the state. This directly or indirectly eases the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Nongthombam Biren Government to run the State smoothly. Shutting down of Khwairamband Keithel and educational institutions turns out to be advantageous for the Biren Government.

One important aspect affected by the shutting down of Khwairamband Nupi Keithels and educational institutions of Manipur for a longer time is the stopping of important discourses of Manipur ranging from social, economic to political issues and problems and corresponding actions to it.

Khwairamband Nupi Keithel has not only been the selling-buying centre of Manipur but also an important centre of political decisions by Manipuri women. History has it that many important decisions on various issues and problems like social, economic and political were taken and translated into actions and spread from Khwairamband Nupi Keithel.

Political pressure and action from the students of Manipur have been an inseparable part of the political process of Manipur.

Khwairamband Keithel women vendors and students of Manipur have always been a headache for every government of any political party in the state.

Now also, there are many issues and problems being faced by the state like Indo-Naga Peace Talk and Manipur’s integrity issue. Had the Khwairamband Keithel and educational institutions not been closed down, there would have been many political actions or agitations mounting pressure on the government.

While all the Covid Care Centres are closed down, thermal screenings at the Jiribam and Mao Gates have been stopped; COVID-19 testing at Imphal Airport has been discontinued; all the business centres and service sectors are allowed to conduct their business as usual in name of following SOPs, the three Khwairamband Nupi Keithels and educational institutions are still forced to remain closed.

The women vendors of Khwairamband Nupi Keithel have been demanding for the last few months of the pandemic to allow them to resume their business following Covid appropriate behaviours since the other big business and shopping establishments in and around Khwairamband Keithel are allowed to run their businesses. Even the women vendors proposed to conduct their business on roster to get more space to maintain physical distancing. Many social experts and opinion makers also proposed the same even to the extent of opening temporary markets in the Imphal Pologround.

However, all the requests and demands of the women vendors of Khwairamband Nupi Keithel fall on the deaf ears of the government.

Meanwhile the other markets in the Greater Imphal area like, Konung Mamang, Kwakeithel, Singjamei, Kongba and Lamlong etc. are allowed to open.

The shutting of the Khwairamband Keithel even when the COVID-19 Lockdown has been relaxed in many respects has hit hard daily wage earners of Manipur and affected the economy of the state since the Khwairamband Keithel is the heart of Manipur’s agrarian economy and has been shut down for almost 10 months while big businesses in and around Khwairamband Keithel dealing with goods from outside the state are allowed to run their business. Hundreds of thousands of people of the state depend on the economy generated by the Khwairamband Nupi Keithel. Many daily wage earners and their families depend on the Khwairamband Nupi Keithel.

On the other hand, the Khwairamband Nupi Keithels and educational institutions of Manipur have been shut down much before the COVID-19 Lockdown of India.

Since the closure of the educational institutions particularly schools, the present generation has been deprived of their right to education in the name of fighting COVID-19 pandemic while the children of the rich families continue their education by hiring private tutors besides online education while children of the poor families cannot do since they can’t afford smartphones or hire private tutors.

Closure of educational institutions particularly schools for more than 10 months have affected the children not only scholastically but also non-scholastically. It affects the attitudes and behaviours of the children even to the extent of socialisation of this generation. We all know that educational institutions particularly schools are not only learning centres of knowledge but also for many life skills which need to be learned in the particular biological age of children.

Even though the educational institutions of other states are open and 50 percent of the students can attend for consultations with their teachers, the Manipur Government is not issuing a proper guideline for the schools and educational institutions yet.

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