05 March 2015

Imphal-Mandalay Bus Service Talks On

New Delhi, Mar 5 : India is in discussion with Myanmar to start a bus service between Imphal and Mandalay and a joint technical survey was carried out in January to finalise the route alignment, Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh informed Lok Sabha today.

“Government of India is in discussion with Government of Myanmar for starting cross border bus service between Imphal in Manipur and Mandalay in Myanmar. A Joint Technical Survey was carried out in January, 2015 for finalising the route alignment for the bus service,” Singh said in a written reply.

He also said India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan are exploring the possibility of signing a sub-regional agreement on movement of motor vehicles.

“Two rounds of negotiations have taken place,” he said, adding that the agreement would enhance connectivity, facilitate easy movement of passenger and goods vehicles and enhance cross border transportation.

Singh said the leaders of SAARC, in the Declarations issued at the conclusion of Summit Meetings, called for realisation of the ideal of the South Asian Economic Union.

He said a study has also been commissioned by SAARC and Asian Development Bank (ADB) to suggest ways and means for the achievement of the South Asian Economic Union.
04 March 2015

Delhi Worst City To Live in For Northeast People

New Delhi, Mar 4 :  At least 29 cases have been registered by people belonging to the Northeast living in the National Capital in the first two months of the year, even as Delhi has emerged as the worst city for the people hailing from the region to live in, as the year 2014 saw registration of 286 such cases.

Last year was particularly worse for the North Easterners as criminal incidents targeting them have witnessed over 200 per cent growth. In 2013 only 72 cases were registered and the year before that 55 such cases were registered by the police. However, the number of such cases was relatively low in metros like Bengaluru and neighbouring Gurgaon.

“In order to contain recurrence of such incidents, the government has directed the security infrastructure to take stringent measures,” said Minister of State for Home Affairs, Kiren Rijiju in reply to a Lok Sabha question.

The Right Spirit

talk, art, art exhibition, painting exhibition, Mizoram, Vanlalhriata, liquor
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(Above) Vanlalhriata; his paintings

By Adam Halliday
It’s an unusual way to greet the end of prohibition — with an exhibition. With over 40 watercolour paintings , Mizoram-based artist Vanlalhriata’s solo show “Liquor” depicts personal experiences and public perceptions through the motif of a transparent bottle.

He ends his 11-year hiatus with this, though his break is much shorter than the 19-year prohibition that was lifted last year with the introduction of a new law. It will facilitate the selling of a limited amount of alcohol each month to those who have applied and got permits, but has not begun in earnest yet as legal liquor outlets have not yet been opened.

“Everyone is familiar with alcoholism. Most families have someone who drinks, or know of close neighbours or friends,” says Vanlalhriata.

The exhibition, which began February 24 at Aizawl Art Gallery showcases contemporary themes. In some canvases, the heads of men and women behind the silhouette of the bottle morph into pigs, donkeys and wolves. One shows a crashed car within a bottle while another has a bottle that tears a thatched hut into half.

In some frames, traditional local rice beer or Zu appears to fetch money and fame, but then, the artist concedes, Zu is allowed on special occasions by the new law, though its sale will be regulated. “I try to be as objective as possible about alcohol, but it doesn’t lead to many good things except maybe some camaraderie and deep sleep, that too only in moderation,” says the 35-year-old artist.

A part-time graphic artist for Doordarshan, Vanlalhriata’s works, in water colours and acrylics on canvas, have been exhibited in Aizawl, besides Delhi, Kolkata and Guwahati. His previous shows have mostly focused on realistic scenes depicting the pre-modern life of Mizos.

Most of his paintings in the “Liquor” exhibition, which closes on Saturday, are associated with the negative effects of alcohol, which is not an uncommon sentiment in the state. Prohibition and the lifting of it are contentious issues despite more than 40,000 people having applied for liquor permits, as of now.

Mizoram: Bru Leaders Given 6 Months For Repatriation Process

Aizawl, Mar 4 : The Mizoram government on Tuesday told leaders of the seven Bru relief camps in Tripura that a final repatriation process for the 35,000-odd inmates will be completed within six months, commencing as soon as the Centre makes financial allocations.

Bru leader Bruno Msha, meanwhile, said they do not oppose the plans entirely, but they remain worried over the security and availability of residential as well as farm land for the 35,000-odd Bru tribals who remain in the camps once they return home to Mizoram.

The Bru leaders reiterated to the government’s demands that the Brus be rehabilitated in grouped villages with central forces stationed nearby.

The Mizoram government’s representatives led by Additional Secretary for Home Lalbiakzama and Mamit district Deputy Commissioner Vanlalngaihsaka as well as officials from Tripura met with the Bru leaders in Kanchanpur, North Tripura.

The officials told the 20-odd Bru leaders who attended the meeting of the plans approved recently by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

The MHA, Mizoram and Tripura had in a meeting on January 30 agreed that attempts would be made to repatriate the displaced Brus to Mizoram within six months, and all who refuse to return home within this time would be struck off Mizoram’s electoral rolls and further aid to them will be stopped.

Members of the Bru tribe had fled Mizoram en-masse in 1997 following ethnic violence between them and the majority Mizos. That violence had been sparked off by the killing of a Mizo official by a Bru militant group demanding more autonomy for the tribe.

Another round of violence was sparked off by the killing of a Mizo youth by a little known Bru militant outfit in 2009, a murder the Mizoram government says was part of a conspiracy to derail a planned repatriation process which many Bru leaders opposed.

The repatriation process however commenced in 2010, and as many as 1,700 Bru families made up of almost 9,000 people have since returned home to Mizoram (among them was the family of Elvis Chorkhy, who was a prominent Bru leader in the relief camp. His return to Mizoram has since led to a split in the Bru leadership).

But tens of thousands more remain in the squalid relief camps where they live on government hand-outs.

Bru leaders in the camps have always opposed the repatriation process, saying the rehabilitation package is too less and that their tribesmen who return should be grouped into large villages and given a certain amount of agricultural land as well as security.

Besides alleging that some among the 1,700 families made up of almost 9000 people have found it difficult to find proper places to build houses as well as farmland, they have also complained that the Tripura government has made life difficult in the camps as it is eager to see them return home to Mizoram.

The Mizoram government has steadfastly maintained that a single, large piece of land such as that the Bru leaders are demanding is simply not available but that residential as well as farmland is being provided to them, and that other demands such as enhancement of the rehabilitation package is up to the Centre.

Swine Flu in Mizoram: Mizoram Officials Screening People Entering Through NH54

Aizawl, Mar 4 : The Mizoram government has began screening of people entering the state through National Highway-54 near the Mizoram-Assam border town of Vairengte to detect people infected with H1N1 virus, a senior health official said today.

The screening began yesterday, Nodal Officer of the state Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP), Dr Pachuau Lalmalsawma said.

‘If needed, we would also conduct screening of people entering Mizoram from the Myanmar border village of Zokhawthar and other important entry points, like in 2009,’ he said.

Though the routine screening of people for H1N1 infections commenced from February 23 at the lone Lengpui Airport near Aizawl, no fresh swine flu case was detected till date, he said.

Except for the woman who was found to have been infected after staying for a brief period in Delhi, he said four samples had been sent to the National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases (NICED), Kolkata, earlier, of which only was was found positive.
03 March 2015

Vistara to begin operations to Northeast from April 2

Vistara to begin operations to Northeast from April

Vistara, the Tata-Singapore Airlines joint venture carrier, on Tuesday announced plans to launch services from April to Guwahati and Bagdogra in the Northeast, targeting more high-density traffic airports in the country.

The announcement comes close on the heels of the private airline entering south-India with the launch of air services to Hyderabad from the national capital.

The latest full-service airline, after state-run Air India and private carrier Jet Airways, Vistara currently operates across five domestic airports - New Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Goa and Hyderabad, which are all high-density traffic airports for one reason or the other.

Vistara will operate daily services from April 2 connecting Delhi with Guwahati and Bagdogra, the airline said in a release on Tuesday. After a brief stop-over at Guwahati, the flight will proceed to Bagdogra, a gateway airport to several tourist destinations in the Northeast, the airline said.

"The addition of this route reaffirms our commitment to promote regional connectivity. We are very happy to expand our operations to both Guhawati and Bagdogra," the release quoted Vistara chief executive, Phee Teik Yeoh, as saying.

The Tata-Singapore Airlines joint venture launched its services on January 9 2015 with flight services to Mumbai and Ahmedabad from its base in the national capital. The airline currently has five Airbus A320 planes in its fleet and plans to induct one more by April.

Vistara, which has 51 per cent holding of the Tata Group with the rest lying with Singapore Airlines, also plans to fly international. However, the current regulations allow only those domestic carriers to fly abroad which have completed five years of local operations and have a fleet of 20 aircraft.

The government, while proposing to do away with this rule, has sought to link overseas operations with a policy on mandatory operations on regional and remote routes. While Vistara along with new budget airline AirAsia India wants the government to do away with such norms, the established players are opposing any such move on the grounds that domestic connectivity would suffer if the norms were abolished.

If the rules are done away with, an airline, after becoming eligible for flying overseas markets, will deploy a larger part of its capacity on the international and trunk domestic routes, leaving the regional connectivity to suffer, Federation of Indian Airlines had recently said in its submission to the Civil Aviation Ministry.

These (proposed) guideline will have a devastating effect on the growth and development of emerging India, the state governments and the aviation industry, it had said.

Mizoram Students Demand Resignation of Chief Minister

http://t2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTG5_ud-uZfZLp33xzaLZ1j-AGbfZwOKC0IwEzClWOQlrzfyqzYzQAizawl, Mar 3 : Thousands of students took part in a rally at Aizawl on Monday to protest against the Mizoram government’s inability to disburse its share of scholarships that many school and college students across the state are entitled to. They also demanded ouster of the Congress government and resignation of five-time CM Lal Thanhawla.

Student leaders said they have been forced to take to the streets because the state government has been unable to give a specific time-frame in which it will disburse its share of scholarship money — 25% of pre-matric minority scholarships for the 2013-14 period and 10% of post-matric tribal scholarships for the 2014-15 period, which together amount to almost Rs 1,300 lakhs.

The former scholarship is disbursed by the Minority Affairs Ministry, the latter by the Tribal Affairs Ministry.

The state government has, meanwhile, said it was intimated only recently by the Tribal Affairs Ministry that the state has to chip in 10% of the post-matric tribal scholarship (one of two scholarship schemes addressed by the mass rally) as the state’s share even as the it was earlier funded 100% by the Centre. The government admitted it did not immediately have the necessary funds, but that it will disburse its share within the month of March itself.

Leaders of the thousands of lively, mostly undergraduate students who took part in the rally said they were merely demanding what was rightfully theirs, but that they were also peeved at Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla, who said at a students’ conference on Saturday that the full scholarship cannot be had through mass rallies and that students are not attending institutes of learning for scholarships.

Lal Thanhawla had also told delegates at the first annual meet of student unions from different Aizawl colleges that students ought to study for their future livelihoods and that he was impressed by many poor students who earn their way through college. He also took a swipe at student leaders saying “there are some who are leaders for future political gain.”

The students who rallied in Aizawl on Monday shouted slogans aimed at the CM and his remarks, and also called for the CM’s resignation saying “he looks down upon students” and “addresses us in an uncivil manner.”

The rally was called last Friday by the Mizo Students’ Union, one of two main student unions in Mizoram, with the cooperation of various colleges’ internal student unions.

MSU president P C Lalrinhlua said students “can no longer trust the government” because it’s various statements issued over the weekend made conflicting statements about when the state would disburse its share of the scholarships.

The rally saw several thousand college students converging at Vanapa Hall, located in the heart of Aizawl, from both north and south as they shouted slogans and carried placards.

The protest march was peaceful, but student leaders have threatened more strikes or even a bandh if their demands are not met in the following weeks.

Social media has been rife with arguments for and against the students’ rally as well, with some supporting it and criticising the government for the financial constraints it is currently in, while others allege most students are likely not eligible for the scholarships, which is given based on parents’ incomes.

The government has also said it has to “disburse the scholarships even to students who officials personally know are unlikely to be eligible for it because they all have income certificates issued by Deputy Commissioners’ offices.”
02 March 2015

Deal Signed On Grape Sale From Mizoram

Aizawl, Mar 2 : Mizoram’s Champhai Grape Growers’ Society (CGGS) and Radiant Manufacturers Limited have signed a deal in Guwahati recently in which the Guwahati-based winemaking company agreed to buy 3.6 lakh litres of concentrated grape juice from the CGGS annually.

Lalremsiama, Sub Divisional Horticulture Officer and Managing Director of the CGGS said that the agreement was inked on behalf of the Radiant Manufacturer Limited by its Director Roshan Chand and three representatives of the CGGS.

The Radiant Manufacturers Ltd, which used to procure concentrated grape juice from Goa, would now buy from Champhai.

The grape growers, which established its own winery at Tlangsam village in Champhai district, were worried that their sales would plummet after the new liquor law replacing the stringent dry law was in place in Mizoram for the first time in 17 years.

Thangseia, general secretary of the CGGS opined that disposing around 15,000 quintals of grape expected to be produced this year would be a difficult task after the change of the State Government’s liquor policy and the deal with the Guwahati-based wine-making company was a welcome step.

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