TODAY -

Manipuris in the 27th South Asian Friendship Conference, 2021

Salam Rupachandra Singh *



Punjab has produced freedom fighters like Sahid Bhagat Singh, Lala Lajpat Rai, etc., A personality named Satya Paul is from Punjab who has been indulging in social activities since early days of life till in his late nineties at the National & South Asian level.

He puts in his book "My journey of social life' that he joined a couple of great men of India like Jaya Prakash Narayan, Sant Vinoba Bhave, Lal Bahadur Shastri etc., from his young age. He has been motivated by great souls like Baba Amte, Binola Thakkar etc. Yes, people are generally guided by the acts, deeds and thinking of extraordinary people.

Satya Paul who is basically a social activist once active in the two knit India Cycle Marches launched decades back led by the giant social worker and humanitarian Baba Amte. The Marches were from Kanyakumari to Kashmir & from Arunachal Pradesh to Gujarat wherein participants from Manipur did not fail to join. He is synonymous with the organization called "servants of the people Society" i.e.,"Lok Sewak Mandal" in Hindi which has various activities in some cities, towns & villages of India.

After taking much inspiration from Baba Amte, he hatched an idea of common thought for south Asian people to which the then vice President of India- Shri Krishant Kant, Prime Minister-Atal Behari Bajapyee, IK Gujarat extended the fullest help towards his dream venture.

He met difficulty in not getting support from the Government gradually, however, he has not stopped his mission of holding South Asian Friendship Conference which was first held in the year 1990. At his ripe age also, he dares to continue for his firmly obsessed Mission.

People in their own time have found great personalities of India.we could not meet & see Sant Vinoba Bhave or Jaya Prakash Narayan in our time but could interact, mingle and associate with great personalities like, Dr. S.N. SubbaRao (Bhaiji) who recently expired at the age of 92, Baba Amteetc, who crossed the Nation with follower cyclists to enhance and affirm for Indian integrity and peace mission and Satya Paul himself, who dreams for a cordial relationship and common prosperity among the south Asian countries & being developed in mutual understanding.

Many Manipuris participated in the South Asian Friendship Conference starting from the early part of its inception and in the latest one held at Gandhi Peace Foundation, New Delhi. Five Manipuris attended the same.

Nationals from Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh along with from other states of India including from Manipur had their roles in the conference topics related to violation of human rights, status of women in Afghanistan, Bangladesh etc.

Along with the discussion, staging a cultural programme in the evening enriched the friendship programme wherein Gujarati, Kathakali, Manipuri, Odissi, Mohiniyattam dances were performed. Among the dancers Guinness world record holders were there.

The very important feature of the conference was that of publication ofa souvenir and significantly of releasing the autobiography of Shri Satya Paul. Over and above as his birthday falls on 8th November, the delegates fondly greeted him. His eighty four year old better half was also on the occasion.

The so called south Asian Fraternity Conference, as it was held changing from place to place the demand and decision taken by the delegates or organisers is that Manipur ought to hold it once as the place itself is very deserving to be visited by all.

The associates of Manipur chapter of South Asian Fraternity already tried to host a Conference in Manipur, however, due to 2nd wave of Covid-19, it could not be held in Manipur. Still the organisers/ delegates desire the next Conference to be held in Manipur in the year 2022.

A young man of 88 years old as termed by others, the energy and will power of this Punjabi National, we may know who this man is from the preface of his book One can analyse and assess. A part of the preface of him quotes:-

"I saw the Gobar gas plant and solar cooker box in the exhibition at Delhi. When I started working at Dhudike I requested Dr. Gopi Chand Bhargav, Finance Minister Punjab and Vice Chairman of Lajpat Rai birthplace Memorial Committee to get the Solar cooker box for me, and get Gobar gas plant constructed at the birth place. He helped to get both the things in 1963. Proudly showed these things to the Ministers of the Union/ state Government. But they did not show any interest. If they took proper interest to develop biogas and Solar energy, the Nation could save millions of rupees."

"I brought from Canada the bricks made out of the waste tyres of cars/trucks etc and showed them to the government department DR&D but they adopted the design and not the material. It could help to reduce the pollution. I saw how Dr Vikas Amte has produced the bricks out of the waste plastic. He has constructed the houses, which has lowered the cost. But the government did not pay any heed."

"The owner of EXCEL company produced manure out of the garbage of Bombay. Bombaites refused to use the manure. He lifted the manure to his native area—Kutch, where a grain of grass was not grown. With that manure he converted 12000 acres of land into lush green fields. The government paid no heed, but made noise for pollution generated by the garbage.I have seen scavenging/followed by washing of the roads by vehicles in China.

After my visit I wrote in the newspapers. But it was not noticed. The sweepers throw the waste after sweeping the roads into the drains, which choke the drain, We engage the staff to clean the underground drains before every rainy season. But we never think about its permanent solution.There is provision for constructing plants in every industry/ municipality to treat their waste water, but nobody implements it, and no authorities check it."

"A lot of unauthorised construction is going on every day. Nobody checks it. Even if somebody brings it to the notice of the authorities nobody pays attention. God may enthuse the patriots to wake and shackel the sleeping authorities."

Distribution of Certificates for association in SAF Conference brings forth the sharp memory of such conferences. A delegate from Orissa had announced donating a sum of Rupees One Crore for the Organisationand decisions were taken to carry on the goodwill mission of SAF in the future too.

Manipuris are Manipuris in a sense. The team ventured to introduce and feed delegates with the rice pudding of chakhao, the aromatic rice of Manipur. Presentation of Manipur Dances to the delegates and dignitaries with traditional lengyan was a part of warm hospitality of the Manipuris.

The uniqueness of Manipuri dances with costumes of Thougal Jagoi, Raas & Maibi were shown to the delegates. As the Conference was behind the spirit of Shri Satya Paul, many Punjabis who attended it amused the cultural programme with their popular Bhangra.


* Salam Rupachandra Singh wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on December 09 2021.



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