Integrating with the World Markets: Perspective for Lamka
You might be finding the above topic amusing. Well, so do I. Should we start talking about integrating with the world markets when we are at such a backward, remote, and unknown and the most interior part of the world? Perhaps! I know that almost all expletive adjectives of English language could be used to describe our place. But that does not intimidate me. Yes; it may rather look naïve or almost stupid to dwell on this topic as of now. It may be. But we must have the vision to move forward in the path of progress and prosperity. Only then development and progress will come about as in personal life.
Sometime during early this year, I propose to make a small extension in the first floor of my existing house for one bed room so that an extra bed room is available for rest whenever I come home. To do that, I needed to buy some wooden beams to support the roof. Since my requirement was limited, I approached my neighbor’s the shop opposite my house who is selling beams/planks. On enquiring the price, I found the rates were exorbitantly high. When I was about to bargain, my younger brother intervened and said, ‘Don’t bargain. If you see from where these trees have been felled, dragged out, sawed and brought to this town, your will be willing to pay more than what he is asking for’. (The good thing about our family is that there will always one member who would be supporting the opposite of the family).Meekly I bought at whatever rates he asked for.
Human greed, ambition and curiosity are the greatest motivating forces to create and achieve something in the world’s civilization. It was the human greed and ambition in the sixteenth to eighteenth century that made the European nations to explore around the world and exploit other countries and the people to enrich themselves, and of course for national pride as well. They discovered earthly wealth of precious stones, metals; diamonds, oil etc and took them home by fair or foul means. Even today if diamond or gold is struck within the district of Churachandpur, we shall get immediately integrated with the world markets. Unfortunately, this does not happen or is yet to happen. Therefore, as of now we do not have the pull factor to integrate ourselves or our land to the larger world markets. Then what options are available or what could be done to integrate with the world market so as to enrich our land and the people?
Before going further on this issue, we need to define and clearly understand what exactly ‘market’ is. For a layman like me, a market is nothing but the place where your products or services are consumed or bought by people. If that’s so, markets basically represent the places where people consume various products and services to meet their needs and requirements. Therefore, in a small scale, the town of Lamka is a market for our people from the interior villages as they are able to sell their items in exchange for money which could be used by them for other essential needs. This logic takes us to the bigger city of Imphal as the larger market for the people of Lamka and other places. This market will expand on to other cities and places in India and ultimately to the international markets. The question is how we integrate ourselves with these centers of consumption of goods and services.
To my understanding, the only option available is the push factor. We shall have pushed ourselves hard to reach out and get integrated with the world markets. This is because we do not have the pull factor like gold, diamond or oil production. The integration has to be at different levels. We can’t reach out directly with the international markets in Europe, American or other parts of Asia Continent. The first step is to reach out and integrate to the markets within the state of Manipur. To do this, the immediate step is the quality of our products and services have to be uncompromising. They have to be better than others. Then it should be combined with competitive pricing, cheaper than that of our competitors. Unfortunately, as of now we do not have any original product to be sold to others. To my knowledge, there are two bread makers at present: Tunnu Bakery and Hatneu Bakery. Recently Esty’s Brick Field (in Lingsiphai) with Japanese technology have come up. These examples and others, if any should start thinking and targeting the markets outside the district by improving their quality along with competitive pricing.
Another area is the service sector. With relatively good quality education upto higher school level, the town or the district produces a good number of educated youths who are able to get jobs and services both in Govt and private sector. This is another area which needs well focused attention as not only for financial remittances through these employed youths to come back to the our native place but also new ideas and views would be flowing back to the district. The town or the district shall get integrated better intellectually through these employed youths outside the state or even country.
Coming back to the material aspects of marketing, one of the basic points for integration is improving communication. I remember my childhood days in the village. The abundant fruits of different varieties, beyond unscientific consumption by village youngsters, were simply falling from the trees and getting rotten or consumed by domestic animals. I used to think about the possibility of selling those fruits in the market for badly needed cash by the villagers to buy salt and other domestic needs. But that’s not so simple. A few years back, I revisited my native village. I realized that even today, even if those fruits are still abundantly available there is no possibility of taking them to the town or city for sale. The road communication is too bad and difficult. It’s not going to give worthwhile economic returns.
The world is changing fast. Only the most efficient and the best are expected to survive in this competitive world. After long demand and expectations, the railway line to Manipur is in the offing. Sooner or later, the train is going to reach Imphal. This will naturally bring in good as well as not so good things. The good things, amongst others would be that the heavy items like machineries, equipment etc will be able reach our place soon. Financially capable or enterprising people would be able to start bigger business scales for more efficient production of certain goods. But other districts of the state would still be beyond the reach of these benefits. Economic powers shall continue to be concentrated in Imphal valley, the capital of Manipur. Due to physical gap of transportation and communication, the economic gap between Imphal and other districts shall also continue. In that context, amongst the hill districts, southern Manipur Churachandpur district should be the easiest place for direct contact/ connection.
Therefore, in my view, even before the railways line is officially connected, it is high time to project the need for Metro Connection between Imphal airport and Mata/ Khuga dam . Once this comes into being, it will immediately boost the economic potential of the district of Churachandpur. People would realize what could be produced and sold not only in Manipur but also other parts of India, even abroad. The traveling time between Imphal and Lamka should be hardly fifteen minutes. This will transform the outlook of the people and how outsiders (potential tourists) will perceive the district as well. To my understanding, this will be the major step towards integrating our place, Lamka, with the world markets in all aspects: be it in goods or services.
Should we start looking, talking and acting in that direction of this vision?
– (o) –