Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The seeds of NIT, JNIMS

First, the opening of the National Institute of Technology and second the realisation of Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences, the first and only medical institute under the State Government and Chief Minister O Ibobi is once again on a honeymoon trip with fate. We say fate, because, the NIT and JNIMS have come to see the light of the day, not because of any extraordinary efforts by the SPF Government, but because of the universally accepted acknowledgement that “nobody can stop an idea, whose time has come.” In other words, these two institutions have come up because of the demand of the time and the strategic position that Manipur occupies on the map of India. After decades of misconception and misgovernance that bordered more on the discriminatory and the more disagreeable patronising stance, Delhi seems to have come around to the idea that it would be politically suicidal to view Manipur as just another frontier to ensure the security of the Nation, where the answer to everything was sought through the barrel of the guns and controversial Acts like the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. Though late, this realisation means that Delhi has come to terms with the fact that it can no longer afford to continue with its archaic approach and the only way to counter the threat perception, real or imaginary, from a country like China, is to look eastward and see how it can have a greater say in the region. The much talked about and the highly ambitious Trans-Asian Highway, that aims to connect India with South East Asian countries, rests on the strategic position that Manipur occupies and this is one of the major factors why a paradigm shift on the part of Delhi became necessary. In short, in the eyes of Delhi, infrastructure development in Manipur is a must for the Trans-Asian Highway to come to fruition and among others, the Jiri to Tupul and Tupul to Imphal railway line, under construction right now, is in perfect sync with the recently developed vision of India. The successful opening of the NIT and the JNIMS is but a part of the major transformation that is being witnessed across the world and since Delhi can no longer afford to be in denial mode it had to change its perception towards the North East and learn to look beyond the Brahmaputra or get itself exorcised from the “chicken neck” syndrome. This is not to deny Chief Minister O Ibobi his moment of glory under the Sun and at the risk of being seen as buttering the Chief Minister, we would go as far as stating that the NIT and JNIMS were two of his pet projects. Just recall the number of times he visited the then JN Hospital to see it journey through the many phases and hurdles to ultimately become the JNIMS. One may also recall the resolute stand of the Chief Minister in going ahead with the NIT project, despite the staunch opposition from certain quarters. And mind you, the opposition to its location at Langol had solid merits. Or maybe should we say that the Chief Minister too was compelled by the need of the time and the enforced changed perception of Delhi towards Manipur and the North East to toe the line scripted by the Congress High Command ?
No doubt, the opening of the two institutes will go a long way in serving the interest of the State and her people and it is also in line with the need felt by the country's political leadership to come up with as many IITs and IIMs as possible. In this age of cut throat competition, where there is no room for mediocrity, thorough professionals are the need of the hour, whether it is in engineering, medical or in human resource management or sound financial knowledge, which is a must in the corporate sector, and the two newly opened institutes should hopefully go a long way in producing professionals of high quality. This is where the policy and programme of the Government will gain significance. As Health Minister Ph Parijat noted, there is still a lot to be done at JNIMS, for there is always the possibility of revoking the green signal given by the Medical Council of India (before it was dissolved, following the bribery scandal) if JNIMS does not fulfil the demands of the time. We are sure the same yardstick too will apply in the case of the NIT with the All India Council of Technical Education, keeping a hawk’s eye. This means that the job of the Government has just begun and it has still a lot to do, if the setting up of the said institutions is to give any benefits to the people of Manipur in particular and the North East in general, especially in the backdrop of India looking beyond the border with Myanmar and to get a footing in the affairs of South East Asia. The words of Governor Gurbachan Jagat at the inaugural function of JNIMS, rang loud with wisdom and foresight, especially when he commented on the need for the Government to start looking for ways in which the services of those who pass out from these institutes can be harnessed to its optimum level. That the Governor stressed on the need to start this now is a tacit reminder to the Government to stop its culture of procastination and get things done on time. As things stand today, there are a number of engineering graduates from different institutes, who are yet to land a worthy job in the State, since the Engineering Departments of the State Government are already bursting at its seams and in the absence of major engineering firms, such as say Gammon India or Bharat Earth Movers Ltd etc. No doubt the successful opening of the NIT and JNIMS is a feather in the hat of the Congress led SPF Government, but lest it lulls them into believing that they can remain satisfied by just patting each other on the back, let's remind them that the work has just begun. The two institutions are also a reflection of the standing testimony of Delhi's changed perception towards Manipur and the North East, in the face of the fast changing power equation in South East Asia, with China now replacing Japan as the second biggest economy in the world after the US. Sources:-

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