NSU site and undue communal overtones

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The NDA Government led by BJP finally tabled National Sports University (NSU) Bill 2017 in the Lok Sabha on August 10.

Although the project has been delayed for quite a long time, it has finally taken a step forward.

NSU is a prized trophy collectively won by the consistent, excellent performance of State players at National and international championships over the years.

It was not won by the previous Congress Government or the incumbent BJP-led Government or any political party.

It is a trophy won by the sweat and toil of players who hail from the State.

The aims and objectives of NSU Bill 2017 say that NSU would be the first full-fledged university in India of international standards.

The focus of the university would be on multi-disciplinary studies and it would have functionally related schools with stress on applicability based on the latest researches on sports sciences, sports medicine and sports technology.

NSU is also empowered to establish outlying campuses throughout the country and outside India.

As per reports, NSU and its outlying campuses will evolve as centres of excellence of various sports disciplines.

These are what the Government of India claims or expects from NSU.

The Government of India has already signed a memorandum of understanding with two Australian universities namely; University of Canberra and Victoria University.

It all sounds so sweet and promising and it is exactly what is required for sports persons of the State and the country at large.

Manipuri players excel in every National level championship and occasionally in international tournaments too with minimum support from the Government and sub-standard or non-existent modern infrastructure/facilities.

State players can certainly excel and win medals at the most competitive international sporting events provided they have access to modern infrastructure and training facilities. These are what is promised or expected from the NSU.

However, this ambitious project is mired in controversies from the very beginning. There is no controversy over NSU per se. It is selection of its site.

First, it was Yaithibi Loukon in Thoubal district. The State Government’s decision to set up NSU at Yaithibi Loukon was met with stiff opposition on the ground that it is agricultural land.

Now, the new Government has chosen Haraothel for NSU and fencing work has already started. The new site is again not free of controversies.

These controversies are rooted in contestations over certain portion of the NSU site between Koutruk, Senjam Chirang and Senjam Khunou on one side and L Tangnuam (Haraothel) on the other.

Let these villages negotiate, reconcile and bring an understanding among them, if possible, and if not, let them fight in Court.

There is no need to paint the issue with communal colour.

No doubt, big and responsible civil society organisations/student bodies can intervene but they should not take sides.

Lending their weight to either of the contesting parties would only make the matter worse.

They may intervene, if they must, toward finding a negotiated settlement.

The project of NSU and its site should not be used as another premise for ethno-centric politics.

Haraothel has never been a bone of contention between the hill people and plain people.

Now, why should one project it as one?

If the Government has done anything wrong regarding selection of site, acquisition and allotment of land, the Government alone should be held responsible.

Blaming a group of people or a particular community for something done by the Government is nothing but barking at the wrong tree.

The Government too should follow due procedures of land acquisition and allotment in transparent and accountable manner.

NSU will be a prized asset for all the people of Manipur cutting across community lines and one should keep all hues of ethno-centric politics away from this project.

Yes, the rightful land owners should be compensated but the whole matter should be confined within the contesting villages.

There is no need to paint any communal colour to the issue. Do we?

Source: The Sangai Express

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