Chat with CT Lian

Chat with CT Lian
Written by Ninglun Hanghal, Columnist

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Election is not the end it is the means - says CT Lian

Over 30 young scholars and interested individuals, mostly from Churachandpur District, Manipur gathered at JNU student hall in New Delhi on November 23, Sunday afternoon for an informal chat with C.T Lian.

Many of them have not met him in person nor have heard him speak. But they were familiar and the name is not new to them. They were curious. And for most of them the gathering was a bridge, a connection with home. Some of them said it was a rare occasion and an advantage to listen to people “from the ground”. Above all, the meeting was enlightening and insightful. The issue discussions were basic, practical and contextual.

C.T.Lian is a social activist based in Lamka (Headquarter town of CCpur district). He was voted Zogam.Com Personality of the Year, titled ZOPA 2013 in March this year on completion of 10 years of; a web portal that was started in 2003, hosting articles, news, videos, poetry, discussion forum, blog etc with an aim to provide a platform and bridge the Zomis across the globe. This informal chat hosted by is one such platform to further enhance interactions and debate.

Not so young and definitely not old, in his early 40, popularly known as CT, is a self made person. A dreamer, he comes with an experience of struggling to make it big. An optimist CT, he has a unique quality to look at the brighter side of things and is someone who can laugh at himself.

Way back in the early 90s, when many of the CCpurians or Manipuris at large, had not even dreamt of making a living in cities like Delhi, Bangaluru or Mumbai, he packed his bags and set off to Gujarat for civil engineering. The journey from Lamka to Ahmedabad took him 5 complete days; a bus journey from Lamka to Guwahati then, from Guwahati to Ahmedabad by train.

The going isn’t that easy. Far from becoming an engineer or a high paid collared bureaucrat,for his basic survival,he began to earn his daily bread.

He hopped from one job to another, at times as sales man or a waiter. Most of the time he land up doing odd jobs,such as sweeping, spending the night on the floors in small rented rooms.

CT recalled how he managed to make it to London to pursue Master in Business Administration. At an interview for his Visa he recalled that by looking at his dry face, hungry eyes and background documents they did not give him the visa (normally people who were unlikely to return were denied visa, such as single youths, who do not have much assets back home). But a persistent CT waited for 3 years and he finally made it to London.

His experience of the way of life in Gujarat and London, where he learn basic ABC of entrepreneurship, physically and technically, subsequently shaped his thoughts and all the more gave him a strong urged to return back to his roots.

To start with, according to CT there is huge untapped resource pool of youth in terms of brain and energy. Taking the case of CCPur district, CT finds that out of (approx) 2 lakhs population, more than 70,000 plus youth are registered at the employment office.This he said is a serious issue. But he was optimist that these odd 70,000 energy all put together into positive use, he believe, would automatically bring a “self sustaining” and economic growth in the district.

It is not so complex or difficult, as per CT thoughts and ideas. For him Entrepreneurship development is one key way to solving various issues. Case in point, CT recalled, on one occasion at a cemetery, someone asked him how jobs could be created (as in self help), his answer was simple. Pointing to the lines of memorial stones erected, many were old and worn out, he told the person,find out and go to the relatives of these dead persons and asked them you would clean up or maintained their loved one’s memory stones, “they would definitely be willing to pay you for the work” said CT.

It would not be wrong to say that CT brought the concept of Trade Union into this district. It is a known fact that in this district,trade and business (small to large scale) at large is a non local entity. This CT feels is a challenge and also a key area for economic sustenance and progress. While he has worked out some strategies and managing small scale enterprises such as trade license and permit, CT finds that a strong and practical policies and plans should be formulated.

In a globalised world, no society can exist in isolation, and policy such as work permit or trade licenses is not anti-outsiders perspectives per se, as CT puts it, proper policies, proper systems and implementations is not only for local inhabitants but for any interested parties/individuals and further bring cordial and progressive trade relations for the benefit of all, local or non locals.

Talking about policy, CT candidly admits that policies do exist, and good ones in Paper, but the key challenge is the “delivery”. In a district like CCpur CT finds that at times he would hit the wall. It is messy and at times dangerous he confessed. We don’t know who controls whom,there are hundreds of “leaders” and presidents, and you are dictated from every corner, said CT.

The most common inhibition and apprehensions in a district like Ccpur or Manipur at large is the ‘extortion”or monetary demand from various outfits. But CT believes these groups can be “dealt” such as bringing them into confidence and understanding rather than re-active approach. Sharing his anecdotes, CT said “a certain group came to me for demand at my store/shop. I explained to them my work, showing all my accounts – registers etc, my incomes and expenditures. After a while they left me without asking for a single rupee”

There is no stopping. CT has a dream and he has to make it a reality. He has list of issues and strategies. Some of this includes, unemployment, corruption , poor economy. His key strategy is entrepreneurship in terms of initiating income generation activities.

CT is looking forward to the upcoming election to the District Council, where he will be contesting from the New Lamka West ADC. On the most common remarks that electoral politics is ultimately the end,CT asserted that for him it is one of the many means to make his dream a reality. And he believes in people’s power ,which he said would be the deciding factor “I don’t need to buy them (voters) they will come to me, and if they (voter) don’t come to me, that means I have not done enough for the society at large” said CT confidently.