NIIT - a key hole view

I happened to come across the news and write up about the establishment of a National Institute of Technology – NIT and recently on the shifting of the proposed esteemed National Institute and I too echoed with the Chu-rachandpurians a “wow”. Me too like any small town girl, imagined with pride the idea of having a national institute and that too a technology institute.

For sometime the media carried the news of protest from various quarters upon the upgradation of the Manipur Institute to a National Institute of Technology. This requires a new site and Langol happened to be the best area the Government could think of. This would suit the urban elites and a convenient location from administration or management purview. The JAC for protection of residential areas and the JAC for preservation of wetlands in Lamphelpat was later joined by many civil society groups including, students’ groups. It was disheartening to hear that the proposed NIT construction would destroy educational establishment, religious places, ecology and displace people from their homes.
My thought drifted back on how all this started and I came across the information that the NIT was proposed in 2003, in the Lok Sabha, by the Ministry of Human Resource Development. The foundation stone was laid by the Prime Minister of India Dr Manmohan Singh during his visit in 2004. Later in consultation with the Chief Minister other development plans were also discussed, to upgrade RIIMs in par with AIIMS etc.

What I was confused about was that, the Prime Minister’ visit in 2004 November was in connection with the infamous naked protest in July by the “mothers” against the alleged killing and rape of Ms Manorama. Upon the information received in the media about the visit, the PM have promised many development project & packages and laid the foundation of the NIT. In his next visit in 2006, an allocation was made for Rs 35 crore for NIT facilities. I wonder whether the people of Manipur had asked for the Prime Minister of India to visit and sanction the NIT and development packages at that time when the State was burning? Or whether the NIT was a means to pacify the uproar over the Manorama case or for that matter the AFSPA.

On another front some sections protested while another section would gladly accept the “gift” The recent resistance as far as I am aware, might be of its few kind in the State against developmental projects. And it appears that the protesters do not mind if the NIT is constructed somewhere else, as long as it does not come under their “turf” – correct me if this is wrong.

NIT in CCpur, this remind me about the Industrial Training Institute – ITI centre for various trade and skills, situated in Saikot, about 3/4 km from the main town of Chu-rachandpur. I believe the institute building must be empty for most of the time, maybe some student visitors during exams or important dates (if there is any). The ITI is by and large not being utilized, could be not many locals from within Saikot area do not have the required qualification to apply for any course or trade, could be educated youths applying there were from the town who do not seems to have the energy to walk that far. Or could be that Saikot was not properly connected.

The recent write up in “ NIT – lets wait for its time” by V Tonsing unfold the technical aspects and viabilities. Indeed it calls for a further thought upon the establishment of a prestigious National Institute. If the Guwahati IIT expands over 700 acres of land, it would quite be tasking to look for the ‘land’ even if it were to be shifted in Churachandpur, maybe somewhere yonder Mission Compound, over Taiseng hills? Or along the National Highway 150, or in the Teddim border? generating an unending debate over where to treasure the ‘gift’.

If we are to have the NIT apart from the dream of a hi-tech education for the people, there are also other ‘blessings’ along-with that can be visualised. Definitely it will have to be away from the main town, if the destruction of human habitation are to be taken into account. This will require another battalion of military forces to protect and guard the institute from “anti social” elements. And the infrastructure would come as a superb background scene for video album and a wonderful spot to visit on weekends for leisure or picnic.

The Imphal Free Press
October 2007

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