Document 432526

Khongamelei - A Manipuri orchid
Diaspora Speak
Dr Irengbam Mohendra Singh
Having read an article on
orchids in The Sangai Express
on October 12 2014, my mind
started at a gallop with a flashback to my boyhood days,
which were so incident-packed
that it made me wonder how I
had survived like the kombirei.
Flowers, working with insects that are many million
years older than humans (280
million years before Dinosaurs), have given incredible
joy to us.
Flowers have an immediate impact on happiness and
moods. Seeing flowers at home or in the wilderness triggers
happy emotions. Those of you who have seen a lonely
Khongamelei, Kombirei or Siroi lily could not have failed to
feel how it heightened feelings of life satisfaction.
An “Emotional Flower Study” published in the issue of
Evolutionary Psychology at Rutgers in America, found that
flowers have a positive effect on emotional health. The study
also explored why people who display flowers at home, place
flowers in areas of the home that are open to visitors, such
as halls, lounge and kitchen to make the home more welcoming and create a sharing atmosphere.
I also learnt with a dirty look from my wife, when many
years ago, I presented a bouquet of red roses to my practice
nurse on her birthday. Little did I know that the colour of
roses, coveted through the ages for its simple beauty and
intoxicating fragrance have different meanings. Red means “I
love you”; pink means “thank you”, yellow means “friendship” and white means for “marriage” and any beginning.
Flowers also play an important part in religious worship.
The Hindu word “puja” stands for ‘pu’ = pushpa – flowers
and ‘ja’ for water, both of which they offer to gods.
Manipur abounds in beautiful flowers, both in the valley
and the hills. Among these Orchids are special. Researchers
say that here are about 285 orchid species in Manipur. I only
know two: Khongamelei and Kwaklei.
There is no Manipuri word for orchid unless the good
MEELAL people have one hidden somewhere in the puyas.
Orchid is orchid in many languages.
In the last few years orchids have become very popular as
houseplants in the West, because of so many beautiful hybridised flowers. Commercially they generate into millions of
Apart from a display of fresh flowers in our lounge my
wife keeps an orchid that flowers all the tear round in our
bathroom. Flowers in Britain are imported daily from Holland.
Many varieties of cultivated orchids from all over the world
can be bought any day from shops.
The Thai orchid - the “Golden shower tree” that is available
here reminds me of Manipuri Khongamelei. Thais call orchid
“Ueaing” as well as orchid. It is their national flower. If you
fly by Thai Airlines the air hostess will welcome you in with
a spray of orchids saying ‘sawadeeka’. Thailand is one of the
big exporters of cut orchid flowers of more than 10,000
The name “orchid” was given by Theophrastus (Greek the father of botany in 370-285 BCE because it has two tubers
resembling human testes (testes = orchids in Greek.
I am glad to read that there has been some activity in the
cultivation and propagation of some orchid species in the
Manipur district of Senapati, with the recent distribution of
commercial hybrid saplings to a few farmers at Hennbung. It
was apparently organised by Orchid Research and development Centre under the sponsorship of Department of
Biotechnology, Government of India. And the research team
has collected 211 so far, apart from the 26 new species found
in Senapati and Ukhrul.
A recent survey by Indian agricultural scientists have
warned that certain species of orchids found in the Northeast
are now severely depleted. It is encouraging that the department of life sciences at the University of Manipur has
developed a tissue culture technique for the propagation of
approximately 1,000 rare orchid seedlings.
Orchid growing is not common in Manipur. Only wild
collections from forests are sold for the internal market. Because of this and deforestations some rare species must be in
danger of extinction.
Only four to five years ago I went to see orchids at
Khongampat Orchidarium - only to be told that it was closed.
Then my friend Khuraijam Dhirendra took me to see a few
varieties of orchids that his nephew Indrajit was growing in
his horticultural garden at Kongba. There were many orchids
pumping out beautiful robust flowers with luscious colours.
India has over 1229 species of orchids - 10 percent of
world’s orchid flora. The Northeast has the highest concen-
tration with about 700 species, of which 550 species are in
Arunachal Pradesh, 523 in Sikkim, while Meghalaya has 300
I remember orchids at the hotel in Bangkok against the
backdrop of snow-covered Kanchenjunga, where I, with my
family and my late nephew Dr Dorendra stayed.
Sikkim has a rich orchid flora. Their Cymbidium (boatshaped) orchids are the state’s heartbeat of its booming flower
trade. Sikkim Government, which has realised the commercial
prospect of orchids, has since about the year 2000 established
a research centre – The National Research Centre for Orchids
at Pakyong - 12 km from Gangtok. It is now producing new
hybrids to compete with other states such as Assam, Odisa,
Maharashtra, Kerala and Tamil Naidu.
Sikkim produces rupees two crores-worth of orchids every
year for the national and international markets. They have
devised facilities for cold chain transport by air to Delhi and
Sikkim trails just behind Arunachal Pradesh. While Sikkim
and Arunachal Pradesh are cashing on their unique orchids,
Manipur is crashing on its indigenous orchids.
The Government of Arunachal Pradesh has also established an Orchid Research and Development Station at Tipi in
West Kameng District. This is Asia’s largest Orchidarium
500 species. In the month of January every year the
Arunachal Pradesh Government organises Orchid Festival at
The orchid family has the largest family of plants on earth
with 1,000 genera and about 20,000 species. Then, there are
modern hybrids(mixed races). There are over 100,000 hybrids
and thousands are coming up each year. The classifications are
based on the shape of the flowers rather than the colours.
There are two types of orchids depending on their habitat
– natural home:
Epiphytic –plants that grow above the ground, supported
by other plants or objects. They derive their nutrients from the
air, dust, wood debris and bird droppings, and water from rain
by their hanging roots. Manipuri orchidsare of this type. They
host friendly organisms like fungi, which in return, provide
their cooked food – sugars.
Terrestrial - these grow in the ground like ordinary plants
with their roots in soil from which they get their water and
food. These are the ones that are sold as house plants. They
are simple to maintain.
There are again two varieties of orchids depending on the
mode of their growth. One is called monopodial–such as
Negotiating environmental concerns with economic priorities
Investment not expense
It is a widely accepted view that protecting the environment
constitutes a net expense to economy. Corresponding to the
global climate change (sic rising temperature), mankind’s concerns for environmental protection have grown multiple times
in the past decades. However, despite the much enhanced
knowledge and concerns for environment and its preservation, all the human efforts are still not enough to preserve a
sustainable environment. Polls conducted across the planet
showed that the public attached great value to protecting the
environment. Yet, environment is only degrading year after
year. One primary reason is mankind’s economic concerns
and prioritisation of economic agenda over environmental
concerns by almost all the countries. In spite of the ever rising
temperature, the imminent threats of melting Arctic glaciers
and subsequent rise of sea levels, all the international environmental summits including the latest one could not come up
with any effective mechanism to counter environmental degradation. Very often, environmental concerns faded into
oblivion during economic hard times, and it is a reflection of
the fact that majority of the public and most of the leadership
still believe that protecting the environment represents spending money rather than saving it. In other words, it represents
consumption rather than investment.
Economic activity, both production and consumption, relates to the environment in two fundamental ways — we draw
resources (both renewable and non-renewable) from the environment to produce goods and services, and we emit wastes
into the environment in the process of both production and
consumption. Too often we think and act as if we were not
part of nature. Rather than thinking of ourselves as nested in
nature and dependent upon it, we think of ourselves as sitting
on top of it, managing it. We think there is the human world
and the natural world, and we forget that we are ourselves,
with all our technology, part of nature. So what is the reality?
What will happen to our industrial civilization if the supply of
natural resources is constantly diminished relative to demand?
The answer is obvious. Our prosperity will be threatened.
And the solution is obvious. We must strive to obtain more
goods and services from our finite supply of non-renewable
resources, and we must protect — from both extraction and
waste impacts — the natural productivity of our forests,
fisheries, agricultural and range land, and other renewable
resources. Its obvious that our continued prosperity depends
on protecting both extractive potential and waste absorption
As we look at our interest in the world, we think in sequence
— individual, family, community, region, nation and world.
Conventional economic thinking says that prosperity is a function of competitiveness, and that competitiveness is a function
of efficiency. But when economists think of efficiency, they
usually consider only the efficiency of labour and capital.
This is outmoded. Japan and Germany produce their products with about half the energy input of American industry.
Energy represents about ten percent of the cost of production,
and so they achieve with their efficiency about a five percent
competitive advantage in world markets relative to US goods.
This advantage is certainly significant, but to it must be added
the price edge of using other natural resources more efficiently. These efficiencies benefit countries, companies, and
local communities. Using our natural resource base in a more
efficient way, and maintaining a larger supply of both nonrenewable and renewable resources relative to demand, makes
the products of a nation, a company, or a community more
competitive in the marketplace.
At the same time, we must begin to calculate into our
economic reasoning the costs imposed by wastes. When
wastes reduce the productivity of natural systems — forests,
fisheries, agricultural and range lands — they reduce our
supply of economic inputs. When wastes damage our existing
investments — acid rain eating our bridges, etc. — they
reduce our wealth. And when wastes damage our health, they
impose costs even as they add to GNP by generating demand
for health services.
A big part is our habit of treating consumption of our
stocks of non-renewable resources as pure income — and
likewise treating our unsustainable draw of renewable resources as pure income. One eminent environmentalist said:
“Valuing forest products as equal to the cost of extracting
them is like valuing our life savings by the cost of driving to
the bank to withdraw them”.
Forests, fisheries, agricultural and range lands, mineral
resources, fossil fuel resources, slow to recharge aquifers, and
other natural resources are being consumed. Yet in the national accounting system driven by GNP, we fail to calculate
net income. Our forests shrink, but we do not subtract the
Hoi Polloi & Mundanity
shrinking asset value from gross income to see if we are
realizing net income. Our topsoil is lost, but we do not
subtract its value from the value of agricultural products. And
so on, and so on, as we gradually impoverish ourselves
without even counting the costs. A single mature tree can be
worth tens of thousands of rupees. The net present worth of
a mature tree planted as a seedling today would be less that
one cent. At this worth, none will ever be planted.
Viewed from a global perspective, we must admit that there
is no realistic possibility of increasing per capita incomes and
preventing the destruction of the global environment without
halting population growth and at the same time promoting
massive economic development and economic growth.
The real question is the nature and direction of that growth
and development. Investment must be directed to those technologies which can improve living standards without
destroying the natural resource base.
Population stabilization probably depends more than anything else on increasing economic security in the developing
world. At the centre of this is improving health care and
economic opportunity for women. This requires economic
growth — the right kind of economic growth.
Protecting the living and productive natural systems in
these countries — their forests, fisheries, agricultural lands,
etc. — depends in turn on halting the slide into desperate
poverty. A starving population will strip every twig and blade
of grass to survive, and this unfortunately is the harsh reality
in Manipur. We face the prospect of utterly destroying much
of the natural world in developing countries unless a successful economic program is created.
The world needs a new detente today — one between
advocates for economic prosperity and advocates for environmental protection. Change is much in vogue in this political
year. And indeed we need change. But to get the right kind
of change we will need a massive educational effort. Our
contradictory feelings about government taxing and spending
— we want the taxing to go down but the spending on our
needs to go up — are a reflection of the fact that a large part
of government spending represents support for middle class
Over-exploitation of forest resources in Manipur
Perhaps, forest resources are the single largest source of
livelihood after agriculture for majority of the mass in
Manipur. But the sad part is, we continue to see forest
resources only as firewoods and tree trunks for obtaining
timber. The tendency to disregard or undervalue the public
benefits and externalities derived from forest ecosystems,
whilst assigning value to the private goods that can be derived
by harvesting and over-exploiting them lies at the heart of the
‘biodiversity crisis’ which is fast unfolding in Manipur as
elsewhere in different parts of the world. Ignorance, economic
compulsion and in some part greed are behind unrestrained
exploitation of forest resources. Our people must have certain
idea about the roles of forest in environmental protection viz
retention of underground water, absorption of harmful carbon
emission, balancing seasonal rainfall, prevention of landslides
et al. But we doubt how many of our people have clear idea
about total economic value of our forests. The carbon absorptive capacity of our forests has its economic value. The concept
of carbon credits and carbon trading originated from the
Kyoto Protocol of 1997. Total economic value of forest can
be assessed either directly via consumptive behaviour such as
timber or non-consumptive activities like recreation or indirectly for their functional services such as carbon storage and
sequestration and water cycle regulation. It was heartening to
learn that Manipur was the third State in India to evaluate the
value of its forest produces in scientific manner. According to
a study, the State’s forest area is worth Rs 5049.64 lakhs
annually on the average (The Sangai Express, February 23,
2011). Now one can guess the economic value of our forests
and it is much higher than the annual plan outlay of Manipur.
But the problem is, we have little idea about how to use our
forest resources judiciously and in sustainable and productive
manner. We are rather over-exploiting our forest resources,
that too at a pace much faster than the regenerative capacity
of our forests. All the negative impacts of over-exploitation
are now glaringly visible. We have witnessed flash floods last
month and now we enduring an acute drought like situation.
Having said this, we don’t expect our people would stop overexploitation of forest resources from tomorrow or next month
or next year. It is here State intervention is needed the most.
It is in human nature, immediate requirements always precede
future security. What we are doing today is sacrificing the
entire future generations for our immediate requirements which
are peanuts compared to what is in store in our forests. But
then, how can one value a treasure without knowing its
worth? So let’s start with correct assessment of the importance
of forests in environmental protection together with a comprehensive study on their huge economic value.
The writer can be reached at
[email protected] or visit
The curious case of Sarita Devi
Rajkumar Jenson
The results that every Indian have been waiting for, is
finally there. All the ifs and
buts can be put to bed, for
now at least. Boxing’s governing body AIBA has
announced that they will punish severely Sarita Devi for
refusing to accept her bronze
medal at the recently concluded Asian Games. But
why is this? Let’s turn back
the clock a bit to remind ourselves what happened.
It was September 30, 2014
and the former world amateur
lightweight boxing champion
was fighting for a place in the
gold medal bout of the 60-Kg
weight class boxing at the 17th
Asian Games in Incheon,
South Korea against home
favourite Park Ji Na. The
Manipuri girl dominated the
bout so much so that when
the final bell rang every Indian fans had the results in the
back of their mind and wore
gleaming smiles. This was
until the plot took a complete
U-turn when the judges gave
the Korean a 3-0 victory,
making everyone utterly spellbound. It was reminiscent of a
pretty cliché moment taken
straight out of a sports drama
film wherein the result goes in
favour of the undeserving
antagonist, giving the protagonist enough motivation to go
for the kill in the rematch.
Unfortunately for Sarita
that was the finale of the
movie. Aghast at the judges’
decision, she complained and
even borrowed money from
a journalist to do that. What a
shame. But what led to
AIBA’s decision is not for
this, but for the one that is to
follow. She took the role of
the script writer and added
the climax to the drama.
Refusing to accept her
bronze medal during the medals ceremony, Sarita gave it
to Park, leaving the Korean
boxer completely perplexed.
This infuriated the boxing as-
sociation leading to their decision to suspend Sarita and
other Indian officials. All
these happen at the big events
due to the emotions and enormity of the stage. Remember
Zinedine Zidane head-butting
Marco Materazzi during the
final of the 2006 FIFA World
Cup? These uncontrolled,
overwhelming emotions are
there when the stakes are
high, really high.
What she has done may
not be a sporting gesture and
it has even reached an extent
where the AIBA president
CK Wu was quoted as saying “She has damaged her
own country, India has been
damaged”. But what are the
Indian Olympic Association
and the Sports Authorities
doing? The country’s Sports
Minister said “She was saddened by the news (Sarita’s
suspension)”. Is that enough?
Will that sympathetic quote
make AIBA change their decision?
responding few questions,
why can’t they get behind
their own sportsperson?
The Mongolian boxing
team threatened to withdraw
from the games when their
boxer Tugstsogt Nyambayr
lost a controversial bout
against another South Korean
opponent and even had a sit
in protest.
Not long ago, BCCI was
taking everything in their
hands in fighting a case
against the England Cricket
Board after Ravindra Jadeja
and James Anderson’s spat.
If the cricket board can do
that, then why can’t other
sporting bodies do that?
Does the Indian Sports
authority or even the India
Government really care about
anything apart from cricket?
In such a huge country where
raw sporting talents are not
hard to find, will the authorities take everything casually
yet still get all the plaudits
when someone wins some
sporting event? Today it is
Sarita Devi, and tomorrow
someone else will come. Will
that someone be made the
scapegoat again for the decision made by the judges or
will someone be brave
enough to protest against
these decisions? If so, who
will be doing that but more
importantly, when? As a
sports enthusiast, I pray that
this happens and soon.
cymbidium that has a single main stem which grows to about
30 cm and flowers. When the season ends a new shoot grows
from the base forming its own bulb (pseudo-bulb) from which
a stem shoots up which eventually flowers. They continue to
grow year after year. Today’s orchids are mass produced in
this way in greenhouses.
The other variety is called sympodial (conjoined feet) such as Manipuri Khongamelei and Kwaklei. These have a
specialised rhizome with a lateral growth pattern in which the
apical “meristem” ie the growing tissue of the plant is terminated. It can either make an inflorescence (a cluster of flowers)
or another determinate structure. So the growth continues by
a lateral meristem which repeats the process. So the plants that
appears to be continuous, is in fact, a cluster of meristems.
What can we do in Manipur? Primarily, it is for the government to give incentives with financial grants to young
people especially in the hills, which are the natural habitat of
Manipuri orchids. They should be motivated to grow orchids
and given a bonus for large production.
Horticulture enthusiasts such as Khuraijam Indrajit in the
valley and others in Senapati and Ukhrul should be given
funds to encourage them to grow enough orchids large enough
for export. Indian orchid scientists should be invited to teach
these amateurs how to hybridise orchids and also grow them
from seeds.
Hybridising that began in 1850, is crossing plants of different flowering patterns and colours, and at the same time
crossing a bigger plant with a smaller one and so on. They
have to be crossed among the same genera (sageies) and that
also among the compatible ones (yek thoknadaba sageis).
After that, with a lot of patience you have to grow many
seedlings from the cross on to the flowering bed. You can
produce many characteristics you want. You can register your
hybrid with your or anybody’s name if you like.
The writer is based in the UK
Email: [email protected]
Website: [email protected]
Slowly I die
By Herojit Philem
The air I breath
Kills me from within
Slowly I die.
Blood being sucked perpetually
Thinner become I steadily.
Seeking for some answers
I excavate the dead memories;
Beating the heart to cry
Since the day
I breathe alone without you.
I asked and keep asking:
Why me why?
Why chosen me to be leaved?
Why you let become your prey?
Why you kill me silently and secretly?
"True and Evil"
By M. Brownanuddin Khan
Truth and evil beliefs are terms built actively,
upon thou's thought, recognisation and consideration.
A female can be beautiful and pretty,
Again Dirty, Shabby, Stupid and Ugly!!
Too depends upon thou's love, onsideration and ignorance
Activities and practices of cowards tongue! (language)
Can destroy thou's silent solitude love and belief,
Which thou's had sought, maintained and retained,
Long years and years since thou's maturity.
Many had egothly touched with wild excitement,
Every forbidden divinitys path of reality,
With dirty approaches, nasty belief and practices
Which causeth destruction to thousands existences.
With Sunlight spreading its blessing light,
With moon light guiding the path of night (hours)
Where dreamy cowards with evil practices,
Mislead many towards the path of Untroden.
Truth and reality had to be filtered from evil path,
Like sperating salt, sand and water,
For acquiring pure salt, sand and pure water,
For life to restore dignity of righteous existences.
1. The highest per capita emitter of carbon dioxide
in the world is?
2. An aquatic plant introduced from america to check
pollution turned out to be troublesome weed in indian
water bodies. The name of this invasive alien species is?
3. The Siberian crane, an endangered migratory bird
is a regular visitor of which of the following national
park/ bird sanctuaries?
4. The unexpected euption of Mount Ontake, which
is said to be a favourite hiking destination, has left dozens
dead. In which country, this eruption took place?
1. Qatar
2. Eichhornia
3. Keoladeonational park
4. Japan
Slow Mom, Fast Mom!
Little Freddie's mother was in the hospital, and he was
paying a visit to see his new brother. He wandered into
an adjoining room which was occupied by a woman with
a broken leg.
"Hello," he said. "How long have you been here?"
"Oh, about a month."
"Let me see your baby," he then asked.
"Why, I haven't a baby," the woman replied.
"Gee, you're slow," said Freddie. "My mama's been here
just two days and she's got one."
Courtesy : Santabanta