By Lunminthang Haokip
12 April 2012
The Hosts: 36 Kuki Civil and Police Officers of Manipur put their heads together to conceive a novel idea. They decided to host an event to felicitate the 9 recently elected MLAs from Churachandpur and Sadar Hills of Manipur state along with the 3 newly-inducted IAS Officers belonging to their fold. At a time when post-election heart-burns and Party conflicts had almost belittled original kinship and traditional ties of the politicos, the move to bring them together under one roof was well-taken by all concerned. The hosts were represented by Pu W.L Hangshing, IAS, Principal Secretary (PHED/MOBC & SC), Government of Manipur as the convener. The hosted dignitaries were:
1. Pu Phungzathang Tonsing – Minister (Health and Family Welfare) – CCP A/C
2. Pu T.N Haokip – MLA Saikot A/C
3. Pu Ngamthang Haokip – MLA Saitu A/C
4. Pu Chaltonlien Amo – Chairman, Hill Area Committee – Tipaimukh A/C
5. Pu T. Manga Vaiphei – MLA Henglep A/C
6. Pu Ginsuanhau – MLA Singhat A/C
7. Pu Pu Vungzagin Valte – MLA Thanlon A/C
8. Pu Yamthong Haokip – MLA Saikul A/C
9. Pi Nemcha Kipgen – MLA Kangpokpi A/C
Inducted IAS Officers:
1. Pi Limneikim Singson – IAS
2. Pu Lunminthang Haokip – IAS
3. Pu Minlianthang Vaiphei – IAS
The Warm-Up: The Convener, Pu W.L Hangshing and Pu T. Sitlhou, Commissioner MI/CADA) greeted the guests at the lobby of Classic Hotel, Imphal at the dot of 7 p.m. As members of the bureaucratic fraternity and the invitees gathered at the top-floor conference hall of Imphal’s only 3-star hotel, the compere, C.(Mang) Kipgen, Staff Officer to Chief Secretary, Government of Manipur invited the Convener to give a welcome address. In his speech, Pu Hangshing stressed that the felicitation bash was an initial effort to
bring about better bonhomie between the political Masters who give orders and the Executive functionaries (forming the steel-frame of Administration) of a community that shares a common dialect.
Presentation Of Shawls: Retired PCCF, Pu S. Singsit who had re-tyred himself as the Chairman of MPSC, sought the help of members of the hosting fraternity like Pu Paolunthang Vaiphei, IAS, Commissioner (Co-Operation), Pu P. Doungel, IPS, Director (MPTC), Pu L.K. Haokip, IPS, IGP(AP/Ops), Dr. Khaizalian, IFS, CCF(T&P-2), Pu D.D Haoki IFS, CCF(Dev), and Pi Roui Kullai, IFS, DFO (Central Forest Divn)to assist him in presentation of ethnically-patterned Thadou, Vaiphei, Paite, Zou and Hmar shawls to the invitees. The former PCCF also added that bureaucrats can only put up files for approval to the concerned Ministers. But approval can only come from Ministers themselves. There lies the supremacy of the Legislature.
Musical Cheer: The otherwise officialese event was saved from formality-ridden boredom by a couple of Gospel song items presented with vocal vigour by the pride of Sadar Hills, Tin Tin Kipgen. A popular singer in her own circle and a prominent member of the famous Thadou Baptist Association Choir, who also runs a School at Keithelmanbi village, Tin Tin who I nick-named as T2K, enthralled the gathering with my own GGG number, Go Gospel. Her soulful rendition complimented the message to come later in the evening from Rev. Stephen Touthang.
The Grand Speech: On behalf of the elected MLAs, Pu Phungzathang Tonsing was invited to speak. The Health Minister began in English and later, native wisdom made him switch over to Paite. He was visibly impressed by the initiative of Policy-taking State Civil Servants to arrange the meeting with Policy-Makers and emphasized the need to have a forum like the one he was invited to, that evening, where crucial issues could be addressed. Admitting the fact that relationships have improved, of late,the veteran Congressman who was a serious contender for the post of Deputy CM, Manipur, in the recent past, wondered as to why Chikimi (Chin-Kuki-Mizo) kindred who can communicate in their own dialect without any difficulty should remain divided and estranged as we are as of now.
Tongue-In-Check: As a social observer, and a pen-pusher, I was tempted to say, “Sir, England and USA are two nations divided by a common language. Understanding one another’s dialect had become the nemesis to our unity due to the simple truth that we know who is saying what on whom and when”, but awareness of my obscure position made me hold back the impulse. Credit should also be given to Mrs Limneikim Singson whose brief address on behalf of the home-grown IAS officers sounded formal without being pompous, articulate without being meticulous.
A Word From Former Minister: Pu T.N Haokip needs no introduction in Manipur. Launching his political career as a Student Union activist in the early 1980s of the last century, unrivaled political acumen saw the Legislator from Saikot A/C through many upheavals to make him a significant political player to reckon with even in the second decade of the 21st century. Offered the mike, the veteran game-changer delivered his speech with ease as a duck takes to water. Sincerely appreciating bureaucratic efforts to bridge cordiality links with the Law-makers of the land, Pu T.N, in good humour, congratulated in advance, the lucky dignitary among his colleagues who attended the event, who would be made a Minister in the State Cabinet soon.
The Sermon: Rev Stephen Touthang of City Church, Imphal was invited to invoke blessings for the invitees. The Worship leader-cum-preacher had created a spiritual impact among the white-collar brotherhood in the state capital vicinity with his bold messages. Towards the close of the felicitation bash, the Evangelist, using Romans 13:1 (“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers, For there is no power but of God; the powers that be are ordained of God”) as his text, waxed eloquent on how God expects authorities on earth to serve His people in doing good and resisting evil.
Rev. Stephen hit the bull’s eye in instilling a sense of spiritual responsibility to the dignitaries present who, basically and after all, were and are active stake-holders in their respective local Churches. A blessing prayer concluded the exhortation that ended in a chorus of Amen.
Lighter Moments: An old hand at taking witty digs with perfect timing, Pu W.L Hangshing lived up to his reputation that night. In the course of his welcome address, the MLA from Saikul A/C, Pu Yamthong Haokip entered the Conference Hall. Pu Hangshing did not miss the opportunity to throw in an un-intended pun in announcing the arrival of “the Robert Bruce” of the pack, much to the amusement of his audience. The wisecrack, in turn, made me realize that I and my colleague (Johnies-come- lately) Pu Minlianthang Vaiphei too qualified to be dubbed the “Robert Bruces” of IAS – 2010 batch. Had we been selected in the MCS Interview we faced in 1982, we would have been Commissioners (we may never be) by now.
A Event Well-Managed: In the midst of mismanaged events elsewhere, the April 12 Classic Hotel affair stood out. That the entire elite class of Kut-community lapped up the proceedings of the path-breaking brotherly get-together with an enthusiasm usually reserved for religion helped in delivery of a spirited vote-of-thanks on the part of of Pu L.M Khaute, IPS, ADGP (AP & Training). The presence of the Khaute kids, Mrs Limneikim’s son and spouses and daughters of the members of the hosts lit up the ambience to give the aura of an informal social happening. All said and done, in the management, there was no mismatch of role to player.
The writer is an Indian Administrative Service officer.