News Wrap


A new parliamentary legislation, drafted by the Union Ministry of Human Resources Development, abolishes the University Grants Commission altogether. Its fund distributing role will be taken over by the Union Ministry itself, while its supervisory role will be implemented by a newly created Higher Education Commission of India. Academics are to be marginalised in decision-making relating to academic matters. The commission comprises of a Chairperson, a Deputy Chairperson, 12 members of whom two will be Professors, two Vice-Chancellors, one Industrialist, and the rest officials, from the Central Government, from regulatory bodies of education, and from accreditation bodies. Of the 12 members, only two would be functioning academics. Therefore, matters relating to higher educaiton, will now be decided largely by non-academics. Public supervision of drawl of public funds can only be parliamentary supervision, not ministry supervision. Earlier public supervision was confined to general oversight. The proposed Higher Education Commission will "lay down standards of Teaching, Assessment and Research".

The Guns of Manipur
On 01 March 2018, it was discovered that 56.9 mm calibre pistols purchased by the state goverments of Manipur on 11 September 2014 for use by the state's police force, and 59 magazines were allegedly pilfered between September 2016 and early 2017, from the state armoury. They were part of the 570 pistols puchased by the state government. Two sitting MLAs, one from Congress and another, a defector to the BJP are said to be involved. Following an FIR being registered, five individuals were taken into custody, including a Kuki militant and two Manipur Rifles personnel. Four police officers, including a superintendent of police from Kamjong district, a sub-divisional police officer, a commanding officer of the 3rd India Reserve Batallion and an additional superintendent of police were placed under suspension. The weapons might have been used for extra judicial killings. In the first week of June 2018, the National Investigation Agency began to investigate the case. On 31 July 2018, the NIA team found one of the missing pistols and a suitcase full of gold biscuits, each wieghing about a kilogram, in the palatial residence of incumbent Congress MLA from Saikul, Yamthoung Haokip, at Mantri-pukri. The United Kuki Liberation Front based in Chandel district, and the Kuki Revolutionary Army, based in Kangpokli district, are signatories to the Suspension of Operations with Manipur state, and the Union Government.

Subsuquent arrests included David Hangshing, Chairman of KRA, from whom six 9 mm pistols were recovered from a place 20 km from Imphal, in the Imphal East district. Nine 9 mm pistols from the missing lot were recovered from the residence of Sason Haokip, Chairman of UKLF. Yamthong Haokip is now under arrest. During the early 1990s, he forged forest documents to show that wild cloves grew in the jungles of Chandal district. Then he imported shiploads of cloves from Madagascar in the Arabian sea, had them docked at the Akyab port of Myanmar, and transported overland up to Moreh, on the Indo-Myanmar border. Apart from looting guns from Manipur Rifles personel, none of the numerous Kuki rebel groups numbering more than a dozen have ever attacked Central Security Forces, and none of them are banned by the Government of India. The NSCN (I-M) holds sway over the Naga voters in Manipur. The numerous Kuki rebel groups rule the Kuki electorate.

China in Kazakhistan
Chinese farmers with over twenty years of vegetables farming experience, are showing Kazakh farmers how to grow vegetables in a green house and sharing know-how at the China-Kazakhistan Modern Agriculture Innovation Park in Turgen, a village in the Almaty region of Kazaghistan. Green house grown tomatoes, cucumbers and bell peppers are being produced at the Innovation Park in Turgen. Best seeds are introduced from China that can survive the chilly winters of Kazakhistan. Planting patterns are being improved, by building trellises in tomato fields, to support the plant's sprawling vines and heavy fruit. State owned Yangling Modern Agriculture Demostration Park Development and Construction Co Ltd runs the agriculture innovation park. It is building three greenhouses in addition to experimenting with the introduction of 45 varieties of crops from China to Kazakhistan. The crops including wheat, corn and soyabeans are classified into six types. Agricultural technicians from Yangling district of Xianyang, Shaanxi province, choose seeds from certain areas of China that have a similar climate and soil conditions to Kazakhistan's. The administrative commission of the Yangling agricultural high tech industries demostration zone signed an agreement with the International Fund Integration of Kazakhistan in May 2015, to build the 200-hectare modern agricultural innovation park in Turgen.

Vol. 51, No.26, Dec 30, 2018 - Jan 5, 2019