20 November 2014

A Heady Mix of Northeast Football, Food & Music

By Siddharth Saxena

New Delhi, Nov 20 : This must be the season of Northeastern cultural assertion in the Capital. And not a moment too soon.

Close on the heels of the much attended North East Festival 2014, comes the North-East Tamchon football tournament, a little-known but yet strangely popular annual ritual here, the eighth edition of which kicked off earlier this week.

For the regular Northeasterner seeking some sense of identity away from home, football has often shown the way.

The antidote that delivers them from the discrimination and suspicion, sometimes violent, that confronts them on a daily basis on the 'mainland' as they call it, the sport can whip up a spontaneous sense of belonging which even their love for music possibly cannot match.

For starters, football remains faithful to old world idea of being easy to set up; it is cheaper and a less of a logis tical and organisational headache than a rock concert, swear the organisers. It was this premise that made the Tangkhul Naga Society Delhi, the event organisers, choose football over music when they first felt a need for a platform to showcase Northeastern identity in the Capital way back in 2006. Crucially, the event is named after RN Tamchon, ACP, Delhi Police who served between 2000-2003 and was looked upon by the community in the Capital.

The concept, no doubt, was also inspired by the scenes that unfolded at the 2004 Nationals hosted by Delhi, where a hitherto indifferent Capital got a first-hand taste of what Northeastern fanaticism and love for football was like. Students, salesmen and office-goers by the thousands would throng to the Ambedkar Stadium to see Manipur play, screaming their support and playing their music in the stands. Such an outpouring of support from the region had never been previously seen in the Capital and it gave rise to the distinct possibility of a group's identity and belonging that had not been manifest in this fashion through a sport.

Somewhere, the Tamchon tournament continues to do the same. The idea of inviting non-league teams representing communities and tribes from the region states caught on. Last season, a good 20,000 strong crowd turned up to see Hmar FC a Mizo-Manipur combine win the title and the organisers hope a greater number will turn out at the Nov 29 final this time.

For now, they have put a cap on requests for participation to 16 teams because the size of the event is getting out of hand.

With a shoestring budget of Rs 18 lakh, the society which organises the event purely through volunteers, fears that any more would get out of hand.

At this year's opening ceremony, a good couple of thousand had already taken the stands in the late November afternoon, breathlessly expectant of the events to follow.

Almost as if on cue, food stalls cropped up in the second tier of the Stadium momos by the bucketful, brimful containers of drippingly tempting pork curry, fried fish and an assortment of evening snacks were whipped up by smiling matronly women who knew what they had to do.

And if there's football and food, how could full-throated singing be far away. Schoolgirl Chonchon Varah belted out a hair-raising rendition of Whitney Houston's One Moment in Time, before a five-tribe choir group gave us the tournament's theme song.

"This is what we do," sighed organising secretary Kharingpam Chahing, clearly wanting to chat more on the issue of race, discrimination, integration, safety... and football. He needn't have bothered. The impromptu festival scenes at the stadium was evidence enough.

25 Mizoram Gazetted Officers Have Vigilance Cases Against Them

Aizawl, Nov 20 : Mizoram Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla on Wednesday said there are 25 gazetted officers working in the state government who have vigilance case against them.

Replying to a question from Lalrinawma of the Mizo National Front (MNF) in the Assembly, Lal Thanhawla said those having vigilance cases included a chief engineer of the public works department, director of a department, two executive engineers, two doctors and one state police service officer.

He also said 3,655 gazetted officers have submitted property returns to the state Vigilance Department. 

Smokie To Perform in Kohima

By H. Chishi

Kohima, Nov 20
: Once again the stage is set for world famous English band Smokie and Amercian guitarist Vinnie Moore to rock Kohima.

Smokie — a household name and all-time favourite band — will perform on December 3 at Indira Gandhi Stadium hockey ground and Vinnie Moore of legendary US rock band UFO will perform during the Hornbill International Rock contest on December 4 coinciding with the 10-day festival from December 1.

Smokie will also rock Shillong on December 5. The Living next door to Alice band will also visit the Hornbill Festival at Naga Heritage village, Kisama, on December 4 before departing for Shillong.

The band is on a worldwide tour and will perform in more than 50 venues next year.

Several hundreds of fans of Smokie and UFO from the neighbouring states of Manipur and Assam are also expected visit Kohima.

Smokie guys will belt out their all time favourites, Living next door to Alice, Lay back in the arms of someone, Don’t play your rock and roll, Babe it’s upto you, among others.

Moore will also be one of the judges of the Hornbill International Rock contest where several bands from the country and abroad will perform.

Before leaving Moore will also conduct a guitar workshop in Dimapur for Naga music lovers. “True rock legends are characterised by the fact that they not only have added several classics to the rock history, but that their musically output, after many years, still takes place at a constantly high level and there is always something new and fresh coming up. UFO meet all this criteria,” Moore said.

“I will definitely watch the performance of Smokie,” said a fan K.P. Angami.

The organisers of the show are making all effort to stage a well-mannered concert adding that security would be tight during the performances by Smokie and Vinnie Moore.

Blockade by Bodo Delays Trains in Assam

By Samudra Gupta Kashyap

Guwahati, Nov 20 : Several trains including the 12423 Dibrugarh-New Delhi Rajdhani Express were delayed following a sudden blockade of railway tracks by the Bodo People’s Coordination Peace Initiative of Bodoland Territorial Autonomous Districts at the Kokrajhar railway station today. The agitationists were demanding immediate release of NDFB founder and chairman Ranjan Daimary alias DR Nabla who is currently lodged in a jail here.

Northeast Frontier Railway sources said while the New Delhi-bound Rajdhani Express was delayed by about 40 minutes, three other major trains – 12345 Howrah-Guwahati Saraighat Express, 15909 Tinsukia-Lalgarh Avadh-Assam Express and 15471 Alipurduar-Kamakhya Inter-City Express – were delayed by more than four hours.

Other important trains that were disrupted included the Gaya-Kamakhya Express, Dibrugarh-Kolkata Express, Poorvottar Sampark Kranti Express, Guwahati-Trivandrum Express and Kamrup Express, NF Railway sources said. The blockade that began suddenly at 5 M today was however withdrawn at 9:45 AM.

This was the second consecutive day that trains were disrupted in Assam. As many as five trains were disrupted and delayed yesterday after the All Assam Tea Tribes Association resorted to a railway blockade for nearly three hours at Sarupathar station in Golaghat district.

The agitators were demanding adequate security for people living on the Assam-Nagaland border. Trains that were delayed included Dibrugarh-Rangiya Express, Jorhat-Guwahati Jan-Shatabdi Express and Lumding-Tinsukia Express.
19 November 2014

Mizoram Starts League For Basketball

Aizawl, Nov 19 : Just six months after a home-grown professional football league propelled Mizoram to the Santosh Trophy title, a similar platform is being used to try and popularise basketball.

The Mizoram Basketball Association (MBBA) signed an agreement on Tuesday with Zonet Cable TV Pvt Ltd to put in place a professionally-managed league that will start by mid-February, with club and player registrations to be completed within this year.

Under the agreement signed by MBBA president Chalrosanga and Zonet Director Vanneihtluanga, Zonet will invest Rs 20 lakh for the first five years to organize the Mizoram Super League, while the MBBA will handle technical aspects and foot any extra financial undertakings.

Lalnunpuia spearheaded the hugely popular Mizoram Premier League – the two-year old football league organized in association with the Mizoram Football Association.

He is also one of the brains behind the MSL. He said that the first season will open in mid-February and take place over 10 weeks. Like the MPL, the MSL will follow strict criteria for competing clubs, including financial contracts with all players and allowing clubs to recruit foreign players as well as players from other Indian states.

Mizoram Govt Depts Keeps Rs 535.23 Cr in Civil Deposit: Finance minister

Aizawl, Nov 19 : Mizoram government's 23 departments kept Rs 535.23 crore in civil deposit due to different reasons, state finance minister Lalsawta informed the Assembly today.

Replying to a query from Vanlalzawma of the opposition Mizo National Front (MNF), Lalsawta said that government departments were compelled to keep fund in the Civil Deposit, known in the Mizoram government employees' term as 'K-Deposit' mainly due to works yet to be done or completed after release of the fund earmarked for the works.

"It is against the provisions of the General Financial Rules for departments to keep huge cash," he said, adding that such money has to be kept in the K-Deposit and Advances under the Public Account without interests.

Lalsawta, in a written reply to a question from Lalruatkima of the MNF said that the state government availed Ways and Means for 57 times and Special Ways and Means for 61 times during 2012-2013 to 2014-2015.

He said that the government availed ways and means advance for 30 times and special ways and means advance for 20 times during the current fiscal.
18 November 2014

Northeast Festival in Delhi Sends Out Message Of National Integration

New Delhi, Nov 18 : 'Insurgence to Resurgence' was the theme of the second edition of the "Northeast Festival - Connecting People, Celebrating life" at the Indira Gandhi National Center for Arts in New Delhi.

The four-day long cultural extravaganza was organised by Trend MMS, with support from eight north-eastern states, Union Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of DoNER and the Northeast Community, Delhi.

Sportspersons from the north east, who won medals at the recent Commonwealth and Asian Games were felicitated at the inaugural session.

Leaders, policy makers and various stakeholders came together for discussion sessions on critical issues including tourism, employment, business opportunities and investment in IT sector in north east.

Shyamkanu Mahanta, the organiser- in- chief, said the main motive is to connect with rest of the country.

"This is a comprehensive package. First part is to communicate Delhi and rest of the country about north-east. Second part is showcasing the talents. We have MTV covering our musicians. So, we want to give a platform because they don't get platforms like this," Mahanta said.

"We have got paintings from Aizwal. They have never gone out. For the first time, the artists are getting a scope at Indira Gandhi Center, considered to be the best art destination in the country. So, they are getting a good market. We wanted to give this platform to our talents and create hype around the north-east. We are an integral part of India, we need to be known and we are trying to communicate," he added.

Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju on his part said that such events should strengthen our position.

"When we meet for such occasions, something positive should come out of such events. So those who are participating in cultural events, food events, discussions, seminars, workshops, these all should cumulatively lead us to strengthen our position," he said.

Colorful performances of ethnic dances like Sukhta Lam of the Kuki-Chin-Mizo tribes from Manipur attracted the visitors.

The festival also included an art and photography exhibition that showcased the works of various Northeastern artists.

A huge draw at the festival was the food court that offered the locals a chance to sample traditional northeastern delicacies.

The products on display at the various handloom and handicraft stalls from the different north-eastern states were also much appreciated.

"This is very nice. I come from far away from Rohini. I came because I thought this will be very colorful and nice and I am particularly interested in the dresses the people wear here. They are very nice," said Thakar, a local.

"I really enjoy north-east food especially food from Nagaland. There are places in Green Park like Nagaland's Kitchen and Rosang cafe and we always go there to have pork ribs and akhouni and stuff," added another local Prateek.

Fashion designers from the region put together a vibrant show showcasing the traditional weaving patterns, rich colorful fabrics and jewelry worn by the numerous tribes of the north-east.

Actress Rajni Basumatary, boxer Shiva Thapa, former Mr. India Mahadev Deka and singer Rewben Mashangva made special appearances on the ramp.

"When a mega event like this northeast festival happens in Delhi, lots of people come to know many things about the Northeast region, not just about sports, but also about music, culture and traditions and many more things. This is the biggest platform for us to show our talents and also to let all Indians know that we do exist as well," said Shiva Thappa, a boxer.

The audience was later treated to a wide range of musical performances by popular bands like Minutes of Decay, Mayukh Hazarika and the Brahmaputra Balladeers and Frisky Pints.

Tetseo Sisters, a popular female band from Nagaland, sang their famous folk songs in Chokri dialect.

During their performance, they used age-old Naga string instrument Tati and Bamhum.

Father of Naga Folk Blues, Guru Rewben Mashangva from Manipur, had the audience rocking to his catchy tunes.

Mashangva said the people will get to know more about the north east through such events.

"This is a very good platform for us, for youngsters and the north east people to get together here .The government needs to sponsor more and more such events every year so that the mainland

India and Northeast people will unite again and again here. It's a platform for our north-east people. From every corner, we have brought here our talents, skills, costumes and fashion," he said.

Such festivals are essential to facilitate better understanding and bridge the gap between the north-east and the other parts. They also help in promoting the tourism and business potential of the region, besides highlighting the multifarious culture.

Mizoram Govt Plans To Privatise 15 Tourist Facilities

Aizawl, Nov 18 : Mizoram government has been planning to privatise 15 tourist facilities, including tourist lodges located in different parts of the state, Tourism Minister John Rotluangliana said in the Assembly today.

Replying to a query from Lalruatkima and Lalrinawma of the opposition Mizo national Front (MNF), Rotluangliana said that tender was already floated for privatisation of the tourist facilities.

He said that 42 Tourist Lodges/Highway Restaurants were being looked after by the state government of which 15 were proposed to be privatised.

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