Ukhrul: Tangkhul Mayar Ngala Long Youth Summit held

Ukhrul: Where are we moving ahead is a common query for every Tangkhul. It is a common thirst of every individual. Shrouded with a blurred environment with no hope and many unanswered questions, the Tangkhul Mayar Ngala Long (Tangkhul Youth Council) on Wednesday organised a Youth Summit under the theme “Understanding our position: Where are we heading?” at Ukhrul Headquarters. The Summit aimed to explore the position and sow seeds of direction and vision for the betterment of Tangkhul in the coming days.

Wish of Ukhrul youth as read out during the programme stated:

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“An ideal Ukhrul to grow up as a teenager is where one feels a sense of belongingness with a dynamic and progressive spirit in all walks of life. A town with opportunities and ample resources to support and prepare us for the life of the 21st century adulthood. Also, with a peaceful environment where we feel safe and protected, where law and order are functional.

Firstly, we wish for a town with educational institutions giving quality and equitable education. We want to grow up in schools where academic excellence is pursued, but we also expect access to institutions that encourage creative pursuits like art, music, sports, etc. As the belief goes, teachers are either the breakers or makers of the school; we yearn to be taught by empathetic teachers who can impart the knowledge and technical skills required in the modern world.

Secondly, we dream of an Ukhrul with basic infrastructure like good roads, uninterrupted power supply and clean drinking water. Then, technological empowerment as we live in the digital era. An ideal town to grow up as a teenager would mean having accessible and affordable internet and digital resources to enhance our digital literacy and connectivity with the world.

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Thirdly, to add value to our lives, a town with many fun and entertainment facilities like expanding parks, gyms, eateries, malls, sports infrastructure, etc. But not to forget that we wish for an environmentally conscious town that has lots of green cover and a community that loves our animals and trees.

Fourthly, it is every teenager’s fundamental right to grow up in a town with accessible healthcare services as we are in the formative years of our physical and mental growth. As a generation confronted with the pressures of modern problems, sound mental health is as important as good physical health.

So, we wish to live in a town where we have access to mental health professionals like therapists and counsellors in hospitals, schools and community centres without any stigma attached.

Fifthly, young people like us need moral and ethical guidance to grow up as grounded and sensible adults.

Therefore, more than worshipping platforms, we want the churches and moral institutions in the town to create spaces for engaging and asking uncomfortable questions.

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Last but not the least, we want to grow up in a town with a dynamic and encouraging community and youth leaders as models of young people. Leaders with visions, creativity, truthful intentions, and practical approaches to make these ideal wishes come true.”

Attending the occasion as honoured guest, President of Tangkhul Naga Long, David K Shimray stated that “we are inseparable with our land. To protect our land everyone must contribute irrespective of their faith and region. Tangkhuls and Meitei are not blood brothers. TNL does not dismiss or disregard instances of relationship between certain families or clans of Tangkhuls and Meiteis. We cannot sell our rights for our mere personal interests and gains. Let no one force us to bow down to something which is not true and right. We might have different opinions and ideologies but our approach and goal should be one. Let us all contribute in achieving our common goal.”

David K Shimray further questioned, “Naga as a struggling nation, we have sent our representatives to carry forward and raise our issues. But where are they today? What are they fighting for?”

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The Summit panelists are Pastor of UBC, Rev. Remember Rimai, Principal OF Savio High School, Rev. Fr. Dr. TS. Dominic, President of Tangkhul Shanao Long, Thingreiphy Lungharwoshi, President of Tangkhul Scholars Association, Dr. Yuimirin Kapai, Former MLA of 44-Ukhrul, Alfred Kan-ngam Arthur and Regional Manager of IRTS, RN. Ranmung.

Rev. Remember Rimai stated that “we are a chosen tribe. The moment we depart from the ways of God, we are a lost tribe. Know your identity. Know whom you are worshipping. Never compromise your identity and faith. Let us introspect ourselves and try to bring the best reformation with God on our side,” the summit

Rev. Fr. Dr. TS. Dominic with an experience of more than 26 years as a teacher stated, “destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice. How do we grab the opportunity to change our society. Education is the passport for the future. We should prepare today for our better tomorrow. Subject to correction, we have around 3500 students in matric, around 2500 students in Class XII and around 1000 students in graduate. Only One third pass out graduate. Where are the two thirds students ?

Fr. TS. Dominic added, “Education came very early to the Tangkhuls through missionary Rev. William Pettigrew. But where is our stage now? Has education broadened our views and outlook or are we still confined with our limited understanding, knowledge and mentality?”

President of Tangkhul Shanao Long, Thingreiphy Lungharwoshi stated that “ours is a society who flourish and survive in a close relationship with nature. It seems we have destroyed the beauty of our nature through our greed and have failed miserably to protect and preserve our rich natural resources. Not only that, there is a great division in our society. Be it politics, religion or family. We need unity with commitment and dedication to overcome all these ills in our society.”

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Dr. Yuimirin Kapai stated that “Tangkhuls have suffered for a long time, is there a way to switch or swing to a more favourable place and condition? Governance plays an important role. Corruption and nepotism should be wiped out to install a fair and just society. In the absence of laws and morality, there will be unrest and lack of development in all fields. Now is the time to prepare and frame the right policies and systems.”

Alfred Kan-ngam Arthur asked the gathering “What is our reality” ? If there is no reality, there will be no heaven or hell. Culture, custom, practices and our religion are integral to our life. Anything that is correct and right, one must be able to stand up and also face the music. We must all be bold enough to stand up for our rights.” He added “Some are born to lead, some are born to follow. But in Tangkul context, we are all one. Everyone wants to be a leader. Where are we heading with this attitude? Have we become jack of all trades but master of none. We really need to understand our position so that we can decide and move forward on the right direction. Our needs vary, our understanding level is different, our knowledge is also not equal. We have different capacities and capabilities and such we have different roles and responsibilities. Only 10% youth are employable and the rest 90% is a liability to our society. This is our reality.”

RN. Ranmung stated that “Per capita income of Tangkhul stands at Rs. 20000/. Since there is low income, we are lacking purchasing power. We have treated economic matters as adhoc issues for a long time. Tangkhul lacks finance concepts or financial knowledge. We only know how to spend money. We need to have a strong determination and a roadmap to jump out from this whirlpool of economic disasters. We need to boost our local economy. We cannot depend on government schemes and contracts. We have enough land for production. There should be enough supply in the market for consumption.” He implore the young students to chart out their plan and target and work vigorously to achieve their plan and target. Review yourself and be very honest with yourselves and take up corrective measures.”

We need peace. Peace time can bring all round development. There should be no threat or fear, if we are to prosper as a progressive society. It transpires that Tangkhuls seem to have failed in navigating their future path. This juncture is more challenging for the position of youth. It appears that the community seems to have been squeezed in the tussle of power and thirst for leadership and authority. Confusion and fear seems to have gripped the minds. The TMNL, representing the youth of Tangkhuls also think that with the right leaders, there will be a solution to this dilemma. As a journey to critically assess and introspect the imbalances, the Summit is being organised to ignite the step that need to be taken forward. It is only after understanding our position that we can prepare ourselves to take a step and define our role, position and responsibility.

The TMNL Youth Summit was attended by youth leaders, church leaders and village leaders from different corners of Tangkhul region.

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