ESC for PG Courses, a reminiscence of certain abnormal cases in MU

Prof N Irabanta Singh
Contd from previous issue
Another excellent type of question setting is to give the students a passage to read and then give them several questions testing the comprehensive of what they have read. Passages may be taken from text books at the next higher level e.g. M.A/ M.Sc text books for B.A/B.Scexams and edited to make them useable or passage from research articles may also be used. Such passages and questions are often the best means for measuring the skills of analysis, synthesis and judgment. There are two important rules for writing short answer test questions viz.,(i) Is the knowledge and ability required by the question important or just an irrelevant detail, (ii) the best questions are those which are of average difficulty i.e. those which can be solved correctly by 50% of the students. Thus, the difference between the good student and the poor student lies in the number of questions of average difficulty which he/she can answer. The methods for improving the traditional questions are really the same as for writing good short-answer questions. The above noted 2(two) abnormal cases were due to vagueness of questions set by the setters. Indeed whose tests were inadequate. Recommendation and Conclusion
In “New Frontiers of Education” (1972) vol.2:50-57, Dr. Walker Hill published his article entitled “Examinations – some practical points”. He pointed out “in setting question papers, the Teacher even the eminent Professor is amateur”. However, even the amateur may improve his/her work, given a few leads. Specialized training is valuable, but even without it much can be done. Examination reforms only three things viz., (i) intelligence, (ii) skill and (iii) courage. If intelligence and courage – the courage to try something new – are there; the skill can be developed, even out of personal experience only. It can be concluded that even tests of modest quality can contribute appreciably to educational and appraisal enterprises. Otherwise, it would be better not to test at all if we test our students with vague Question papers.

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ESC for PG Courses, MU–Reminiscence of certain abnormal cases

Prof N Irabanta Singh
Introduction
While serving Manipur University, Canchipur as Dean, School of Life Sciences (28/01/2012 to 27/01/2015), the present writer also served as Chairman, Examination Standing Committee for PG courses (vide office order no. 1621 dated 11th March, 2013). In this article, he expresses his own views on the reminiscence of certain abnormal cases in question setting which were redressed for saving career of students.
Case Study 1
Name of course: M.Sc. Life Sciences
History: It was a common paper (Botany and Zoology streams) for IV semester. About 80 students appeared for the said paper. After evaluation, the concerned Question setter cum examiner submitted the mark slip to the Head Examiner cum HOD/Life Sciences, MU for onward submission to the Controller of Examinations. The said Head Examiner simply signed and forwarded the mark slip to the Controller of Examinations. The COE/MU detected that only 2 or 3 students out of 80 students could secure pass mark, rest of the students secured 1 or 2 mark(s) even though they answer all questions. The matter was brought to the notice of the Chairman, Examination Standing Committee for PG courses. The Chairman, ultimately conveyed a meeting of the ESC for redressing the problem. The questions paper set by the faculty member, Life Sciences Department, MU was scrutinized by the members critically. It was detected that the Questions set were very vague. The answer script written by the students need further re-evaluation. So, the ESC resolved to re-evaluate each and every answer script. Accordingly, the decision of the ESCwas put up to the Vice-Chancellor for his approval. The honourable V.C approved the proposal. Accordingly a new examiner on the concerned subject was appointed. He was also requested to re-evaluate the answer scripts. After re-evaluation of all the answer scripts it came out with the finding that 90 % of the students secured pass mark and above. The markslip submitted by the second examiner was made valid. Thus, the matter was settled peacefully.
Case Study 2
Name of the course: LL.B.
History: It was a question paper for LL.B. second year. About 100 students appeared for the said paper. The examination result was already announced by the Controller of Examinations, M.U. with due approval from the Chairman, Examination Standing Committee for PG courses. One of the students from the Government Law College secured 7th position. Mark sheets were even issued. But a complaint was lodged by a group of students from the said college that the position holder secured less than 40 marks in the subject. As per LL.B. regulation, every student should secure at least 40 marks in a paper then he/she will be declared qualified. The matter was brought to the notice of the Chairman/ESC. Accordingly, he advised the COE/MU to convey an emergency meeting of the committee with Head Examiner cum Principal of the Government Law College as invitee. After critical examination of the mark toposheet of the Second year LL.B. exam, it was detected that the 7th position holder secured less than 40 marks which is invalid. It was also detected that about 20 students out of 100 students could secure passmark in the said paper. The question paper was also examined critically by the committee members. It was found that the questions were vague. Accordingly, ESC resolved to repeat the same paper within one month with a fresh question set by another person and examined by him. Re-examination was held and 90 % of the students secure pass mark. Thus, the problem was redressed.
Discussion
Writing examination questions should be a continuous activity. The trouble with many examiners is that they are thrown together, in a few minutes with little thought- often just before or after approaching question setting deadline. Good questions are not written in this way. Really discriminating examination takes a great deal of thought and work. Ideas come as one is reading or preparing a lecture.
To be contd

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A note on conservation, preservation and processing of wild edible plants and indigenous fruits of Manipur

Prof N Irabanta Singh
Introduction
By tradition, the indigenous people of Manipur consumed a large variety of wild plants as vegetables, fruits, etc. (J. Eco. Tax. Bot., 6(3): 1985:699-703). Some of these communities also used wild plants in their own traditional way (J. Eco. Tax. Bot., 13(1): 1988:113-119). Traditional vegetables like other horticultural crops experience losses between harvest and consumption. The magnitude of post-harvest losses in fresh fruits and vegetables is estimated 5 to 25% in developed countries and 20-50%in developing countries depending upon commodity (Rader, 2000).
Methodology
Wild edible plant parts as well as indigenous fruits sold in the markets of Manipur valley (Kwairamband, Singjamei, Khurai, Kongba, Lilong, Thoubal, Kakching, Nambol, Bishnupur, etc) and Hills (Churachandpur, Senapati, Ukhrul, etc) districts were collected and identified with the help of published literatures. These wild edible plants are classified into three groups, viz, I. Fruit and seed edible plants, II. Stem, tuber and rhizome edible plants and III. More than one plant parts edible plants.
Observation
I. Fruit and seed edible plants : It includes Heirikothong (Artocarpus takoocha Roxb. Family Moraceae); Heiree (Calamus caesius Blume Family Palmaceae); Nonggang hei (Baccaurea sapida Muell. Arg. Family Euphorbiaceae); Nobab (Citrus decumana Linn Family Rutaceae); Heireet (Ficus cunia Ham Family Moraceae); Heijugak (Juglans regia Linn Family Juglandaceae); Chorphon (Elaeocarpus floribundus Blume Family Tiliaceae); Mangge (Tamarindus indica Linn. Family Leguminosae); Heijang (Citrus mediea Linn. Family Rutaceae); Heibong (Ficus glomerata Roxb. Family Moraceae); Heitup (Pyrus sylvatica Linn. Family Teliaceae); Karol (Momordica cochinchinensis Spreng Family Cucurbitaceae); Thangjing (Euryale ferox Salib. Family Nymphaeaceae); Heikak/yelli (Trapa bispinosa Roxb. = T. nutans Linn Family Trapaceae); Heibi (Vanguirea spinosa Roxb. Family Rubiaceae); Heimang (Rhus semialata Murr. Family Anacardiaceae); Mukthrubi (Zanthoxylum alatum Roxb. Family Rulaceae); Heinaujom (Averrhoa carambola Linn. Family Geraniaceae); Yongchak (Parkia roxburghii G-Don Family Leguminosae); Mojam hei (Tetrastigma muricatum Planch. Family vitaceae), etc.
II. Stem, tuber and rhizome edible plants : It includes Saneibi wa (Bambusa arundinacea Linn. Family Gramineae); Ha (Dioscorea alata Linn. Family Dioscoreaceae); Loklei (Hedychium coronarium Koen. Family Scitaminaceae); Pulei (Alpinia allughas Rosc. Family Scitamineae); Koukha (Sagitaria sagitifolia Linn. Family Alismetaceae); Kaothum (Cyperus esculentus Linn. Family Cyperaceae); Kanghu (Alpinia galanga Linn. Family Scitamineae),etc.
III. More than one plant parts edible plants : It includes Chuchu-rangmei (Sesbania grandiflora Pers. Family Luguminosae, edible parts – tender twigs and pod); Silot sougree (Hibiscus sabdariffa Family Malvaceae, edible parts – leaves and flowers as vegetables); Pakhang leiton (Euphorbia hirta Linn. Family Euphorbiaceae, edible parts – young twigs and inflorescence); Yerumkeirum (Stellaria media Linn. Family Caryophyllaceae, edible parts – young twigs); Uthum (Wendrandia paniculata DC. Family Rubeaceae, edible parts, tender twigs); Ananba (Corchorus capsularis L. Family Tiliaceae edible parts – leaves and young shoots); Awa phadigom (Eryngium foetidum L. Family Umbelliferae, edible parts whole body); Tokningkhok (Houttunia cordata Thunb. Family Piperaceae, edible parts – whole body including roots except flowers); Sougree (Hisbiscus cannabinus L. Family Malvaceae, edible parts – leaves); Ekaithabi (Neptunia prostrata Lour. Family Leguminosae, edible parts – young twigs including tender leaves); Ushingsha (Cinnamonum zeylanicum P. Family Lauraceae, edible parts – barks as spice); Oo-hawaimaton (Crotataria junceae Linn. Family Leguminosae, edible parts – young twigs and even inflorescence for Singju); Mayangba (Ocinum canum Sinn. Family Labiatae, edible parts – young twigs, inflorescence including flower and fruits); Khongnangbot (Ficus benghalensis L. Family Moraceae, edible parts young buds and leaves); Yellang (Polygonum orientalis L. Family Polygonaceae, edible parts – tender leaves); Kollamani (Ipomea repens Roth. Family Convolvulaceae, edible parts – all parts); Monsaobi (Chenopodium album L. Family Chenopodiaceae, edible parts – all parts except root); Ising kundo (Jussiaea repens L. Family, Onagraceae edible parts – twigs as vegetables); Leibak kundo (Portulaceae oleracea Linn. Family Portukcaceae, edible parts – young twigs); Nongmangkha (Adhatoda vasica Nees. Family Acanthaceae, Edible parts leaves as vegetables); Chengkruk (Amaranthus tristis L. Family Amaranthaceae, edible parts – leaves as vegetables); Tejpat (Cinnamomum tamata Nees. Family Lauraceae, edible parts – leaves as spice); Palangshak (Spinavia oleracea L. Family Chanapodiaceae, edible parts leaves as vegetables); Chingonglei Angouba (Leucaena glauca L. Family Momosaceae, edible parts – young fruits and tender twigs as vegetables); Tharo (Nymphaea pubescens Willd. Family Nymphaeceae edible parts – singju/salad); Yendang (Cycas pectinata Griff. Family Cycadaceae, edible parts – tender leaves as vegetables); Yempat (Plantago major L. Family Plantagenacea, edible parts – all parts except root); Ishing yensang (Marsilea quadrifolia Linn. Family Salvinkceae edible parts – tender leaves and stem); Lilha maton (Piperomia pellucida Linn. Family Piperaceae, edible parts – twigs as vegetables); Komprek (Telanthera phyllazeroides Family Amaranthaceae, edible parts – all parts except root as salad); etc.
Discussion
Conservation : It is the protection, preservation, management of wild life on natural resources such as forests and water. Through the conservation of biodiversity and the survival of many species and habitats which are threatened due to human activities can be ensured. Conservation can broadly be divided into two types viz., (i) in situ conservation and (ii) ex situ conservation. In situ conservation is on site conservation or the conservation of genetic resources in natural population of plant or animal species such as forest genetic resources in natural population of tree species. In situ conservation is done by declaring an area as protected e.g. Sirui lily (Lilium macklini) in Ukhrul district, Manipur. Ex situ conservation is the preservation of components of biological diversity outside their natural habitats. Such stratagies include establishment of botanical gardens and other conservation stands like gene bank, seed bank, seedling bank, tissue culture bank, cryopreservation (preservation at very low temperature -1960 C in liquid nitrogen), etc.
Preservation : The natural value of indigenous vegetables is highest when they are fresh and has been reported to be superior to exotic vegetables like cabbage (Chweya, 1997) on a per weight basis. Once the vegetables are harvested they get subjected to a series of physical and biochemical changes that causes loss of nutritional value, flavor, taste and start rotting or spoilage. Several methods of vegetables – preservation are available and these include sun drying, solar drying, canning, vacuum packing, etc. drying is one of the longest established methods of food preservation and one which occupy naturally with seeds (Kumar et al, 2010). Silot sougree (Hisbiscus sabdariffa Linn. Family Malvaceae) can be preserved in the dry form and can regain its taste when cooked after proper soaking in the water.
Indigenous fruits are those which are native to Manipur. Indigenous trees such as Heitup (Pyrus sylvatica L.), Heirikothong (Artocarpus lakoocha Roxb.), etc are mostly found wild. A wide variety of indigenous fruit trees are valuable to the diets and incomes of local communities, particularly during the time of potential household insecurity. These fruits also provide a valued source of vitamins and minerals, but often they are underutilized. Despite the benefits reaped from indigenous fruit trees, their products are often undervalued or little known among urban and international markets. Preserving the genetic diversity of indigenous fruits also means ensuring their sustainability. Fruits are most obvious products of indigenous fruit trees. But they have many other uses as well. Sun drying of fruits such as fig, can offer a good source of vitamins and minerals all the year round.
Processing
Traditionally vegetables are processed during summer season when they are plenty and then used during winter and dry season. With the advances in modern technology, environmental control and storage facilities dried vegetables can be stored for longer periods and can be made available all round the year. For example, among stem tuber and rhizome edible plants, Saneibi wa (Bambusa arundinacea Linn.) after processing can be used as fermented bamboo shoot and can be kept for use as vegetable round the year.
Storing fruits is a skill work having whether storing fruits for sale at the market or eat at home. The process of adding value to fruits is important for a number of reasons. The processing of fruits into Jam and Juice is a good way of storing them and releasing them as a source of vitamins and minerals for longer period. For example, Chorphol (Elaeocarpus floribundus Blume) can be processed as Jam and Heitup (Pyrus sylvatica Linn.) can be made as pickle. Also, adding value to the produce of trees means that local communities are more likely to nurture them for their benefits, rather than destroying them for their timber.
Conclusion and Recommendation
Vegetables should be dried on clean firm surfaces like black plastics, etc, raised from the ground to improve hygiene and drying efficiency. Fruits and vegetables have to be specially prepared before they can be preserved. It can even be worthwhile to start a small preserving business. Indigenous fruits can offer a very good source of income especially if they are processed. Harvesting in the cooler part of the day or night is recommended because the vegetables and fruits will be having relatively less field heat.

[The writer is former Professor (Higher Academic Grade)/Life Sciences, and former Dean, School of Life Sciences, Manipur University, Canchipur, and can be contacted at irabanta

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International academic exposures – reminiscence of some funny experiences

Prof N Irabanta Singh
Contd from previous issue
The present writer left India on 25th August, 1990 from Delhi Airport by Air India flight for Frankfurt airport (German), then from there to Stockholm airport by Scandnavian airline reaching there late night. He spent the night at the airport. Next morning, on 26th August, 2009 the writer left Stockholm airport to the city by bus (1 hour drive) and rush to underground metrostation and got down to a station mentioned in the guide toposheet. After getting down from the train, the writer came up overground and stood on the footpath and monitored the toposheet supplied to him by the organizer of the conference to locate the youth hostel where he was to lodge for six night 26-31st August, 1990. He was really confused to locate the youth hostel. After standing with the toposheet for about forty five minutes one passer-by lady approached to the writer and saluted “Good morning, can I help you?” The writer immediately replied “Yes, please”. He told the lady that he was coming from India for attending the 4th International Conference on Aerobiology but will be lodged in a youth hostel located around here. The lady took the writer to the youth hostel which was about 300 meters distance from the place where he was standing. After reaching the youth hostel, the writer reported to a lady receptionist. The lady completed all formalities of the hostel but permitted to occupy the room after 4.00 pm (local time). It was Sunday, all shops were closed. He was stranded up to 4.00 pm but could locate a playground in the nearby locality. At the corner of the playground luckily one Deli shop (Pan Dukan type) was found open from where the writer bought one bread and one litre pasteurized milk (Amul taja type). With this food stuff, the spent the day up to 4.00 pm. After 4 pm, the writer occupied the room and met an Indian delegate, Dr Srikant Kulkarni from the Karnataka Agricultural University, Dharward. They stayed together in the same room for five nights (26-31st August, 1990). Next morning (26th August, 1990), inauguration ceremony and scientific sessions were held in a big hotel. In the Scientific session, the writer presented orally a paper entitled “Aerobiology and Epidemiology of rust disease in broad bean in Manipur”. The writer returned to India on 1st September, 1990.
III. The 6th International Weed Science Congress at Hangzhou, China
It was organized by the International Weed Science Society. The present writer and his wife (N Ibempishak Devi) left Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi on 15th June, 2012 (late night) for Hongkong International Airport. And reached there on 16th June, 2012 around 8.00 am (local time) and left Hongkong International Airport around 5 pm (local time) for Hangzhou airport (China) and reached there around 9 pm (local time). After reaching Hangzhou airport, they (the writer and his wife) managed to shift to exist by wheel chair which helped them to go to shortcut route to reach the exist gate. One lady (airport transit staff) helped them in the process. Prior to departure from India, the writer managed from the Congress organizer to get a label slip written in Chinese language “Take us to New Century Grand Hotel, Hangzhou”. By showing that slip, the cap driver took them to the said hotel. They stayed in that hotel for 7 (seven) nights and also presented his paper entitled “Invasion of Parthenium hysterophorus L in North East India and its management” in the conference hall of the hotel. During holiday (Sunday) they visited Sanghai city, China from the New Century Grand Hotel, Hangzhou which was about 6 hours drive by car. They spent about three hours at Sanghai city for shopping and site seeing. While returning to Hangzhou from Sanghai city (4pm local time), they stopped at a big station (around 7.00 pm local time) for buying some eatable and tea. The cap driver bought some boiled food item wrapped with bamboo leaves. He told by body language to buy the said stuff for us too. The writer inquired to the cap driver “what stuff made it from?” Through body language, the cap driver sounded “grunt grunt”. We recognized it must have been made from pork. Being vegetarian by food habit, we (writer and his wife) refused to take that stuff but selected another item (Maggi) and soaked in hot water but really relished. We reached hotel around 10.00 pm (local time) and spent the night in that hotel. On 23rd June 2012 morning, we left New Century Grand Hotel for Hangzhou airport. From there we left Hangzhou airport for Hong Kong International airport. We stayed 23rd June 2012 night in Hong Kong at a Chinese hotel and next day evening left Hong Kong International Airport for India. We reached Indira Gandhi International airport on 25 June 2012 early morning (3 am Delhi time) and took Delhi – Imphal flight by 11.00 am and reached Imphal airport by 3.00 pm.
Conclusion
The reminiscence for those funny experience during his International academic exposures will remain forever.
(Concluded)
[The writer is former Professor (Higher Academic Grade)/Life Sciences, and former Dean, School of Life Sciences, Manipur University, Canchipur, and can be contacted at irabanta.singh@gmail.com]

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International academic exposures – reminiscence of some funny experiences

Prof N Irabanta Singh
Introduction
While serving Manipur University, Canchipur as its faculty member, Life Sciences Department (1984-2015), the present writer got three chances for the International Academic exposures. In this article, he writes reminiscence of some funny experience during his journey to the International academic exposures.
I.    Indo-USSR Cultural Exchange Programme of the UGC, New Delhi (1987-1988)
The University Grant Commission had nominated him (Dr. N. Irabanta Singh) under item No. 1 (one) of the Indo-USSR Cultural Exchange Programme for visit to USSR for a period of 2 (two) weeks during the first quarter of April, 1989 to work at the All-Union Institute of Plant Protection, Leningrad, USSR. The commission paid his travel from his place to duty (Manipur University) to Moscow and back. The host authority provided him hospitality and internal travel as per the provisions of the cultural exchange programme. Accordingly he (Dr. N. Irabanta Singh) left Delhi Airport (Now, Indira Gandhi International Airport Delhi) on 10th April, 1989 (Friday) for Moscow Airport. It was a non-stop flight from Delhi to Moscow which took about 7.00 hours to reach Moscow airport. The writer reached Moscow airport around 7.30 pm (Indian time). It took about 45 minutes to locate his luggage. So, it was 8.00 pm (Indian time) when he came out of the airport gate and waited for about one hour for the interpreter(s) to pick him up from the airport. The present writer disparately lookout for anybody who come forward to pick him up. After standing for one hour at the gate of the airport he could locate a lady holding a Paper plate Card labelled “Academy of Science”. He approaches to the lady and introduces himself to her that he is Dr. N. Irabanta Singh from India coming to All-Union Institute of Plant Protection, Leningrad. In the meantime, another smart lady also turned up and joined the previous lady. One of the ladies remarked “we had been waiting for you for the last two hours. Since your name is ended with Singh, we were looking for a person with head gear/turban”. Later the two smart ladies took him for one hour drive and reached guest house of the Academy of Science, Moscow. They lodged the writer in a room locate at the 28th floor of the guest house. By the time they left him in the room, it was 11.30 pm (Indian Standard Time). It was Friday and the restaurant of the Academy had already closed by 8 pm. The writer spend that night without food. Next day morning (Saturday), he took breakfast in one of the floors of the Academy’s guest house. The menu were plain bread, cheese, omelette and red tea. The same type of menu were supplied for lunch and dinner. On Saturday around 10 pm (Moscow time) one of the ladies came to pick him up from the room and took him to the train station. The train departed Moscow railway station around 11.30 pm (Moscow time) for the Leningrad railway station.  The train compartment was partitioned for two passengers. The co-passenger in his (Dr N Irabanta Singh) compartment was a Russian. After the train departed from the station the fellow passenger inquired to the writer who he is? (in Russian Language). The writer showed his passport and told to the co-passenger that he is an Indian. The fellow passenger further inquired about the writer’s profession. The present writer drew plant leaf and told him that he is a plant doctor. The writer asked the fellow passenger, “What about you?”  He puts his both second fingers into his ears and both palm on his chest and told in Russian that he is human doctor. Both of them travelled comfortably the whole night. Next morning around 7.00 am the train reached Leningrad railway station. When he gets out of the train compartment, a tall young man was waiting for him. He told to the present writer that he will work for writer as interpreter for two (2) weeks. He took the present writer in a big hotel having restaurant and lodged him in that hotel for about two weeks. Next day morning (Monday) around 8.00 am (Leningrad time), the interpreter came to take the writer in a car to the All-Union Institute of Plant Protection, Leningrad. It was on hour drive from the hotel. So, during two weeks period, the writer visited 20 laboratories. On 21st April, 1989, the writer delivered a lecture on the topic entitled “Aerobiology and crop diseases in Manipur”. On 24th April, 1989 the writer returned to India.
II.    Fourth International Conference on Aerobiology (27-31 August, 1990) at Stockholm, Sweden
The conference was hosted by Dr Siwert Nilsson, President, International Aerobiology Association, in collaboration with Palynology Laboratory, Swedish Museum of Natural History, Stockholm.
(To be contd)

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Thangjing – A potential aquatic cash crop in Manipur

Prof N Irabanta Singh

Contd from previous issue
Nutritional and medicinal importance
The edible parts of Thangjing seeds contains 12.8% moisture, 9.7% protein, 0.1% fat, 76.9% carbohydrates, 0.5% mineral matters and 1.45 iron, besides a good proportion of sugar, ascorbic acid and phenol (Nath and Chakraborty, 1985).
Medicinally, it is also very important to have remedy for several human ailments; culinary, digestive, renal and reproductive problems. The seeds are used for the treatment of stomachache, articular pain, seminal loss, diabetes, spleen and gonorrhoea diseases. The puffs are easily digestible and good for human health because of its low fat content (Jha and Barat, 2003).
Economics of Thangjing plantation
A farmer in Imphal East district, planted Thangjing in his .32acre paddy field. After 70 days of plantation he could harvest the Thangjing fruits. In one month, a maximum of 5 (five) Thangjing fruits are harvested by him from a single plant. The sales price of Thangjing fruit at the farmer’s field is Rs. 15 per fruit. As such, a sum of Rs. 75 (Rs. 15 x5 = 75) can be earned from a plant in a month. As there are 300 plants he earns a sum of Rs. 22,500/- (Rs. 75 x 300) per month. The productivity period are three months. So, during 3 months (August to October) he earns Rs. 67,500 (Rs. 22,500 x 3) from his .32 acre paddy field [Source: M. Ibomcha Singh, Thangjing farmer, Kongba Uchekon Khunou, Imphal East District].
Discussion
Thangjing is also known as Makhana in other states (Bihar, Orissa, West Bengal and Assam) of India. It is either eaten as raw puff or blended with vegetables, dal, etc. The seeds are edible after being processed and highly nutritious. It is considered as one of the superior food qualities, which is reflected in its high amino acid index (89% to 93%) and arginine + lysine/proline ratio (4.74 – 7.6) (Nath and Chakraborty, 1985). Calorific value (3.62 kcal/gm) is also remarkable as compared to staple foods (Anonymous, The wealth of India, 1952). It has a prominent place in Indian dietary chart with medicinal values for respiratory, circulatory, digestive, renal and reproductive diseases (Mandal et al, 2010).
In regards to economic of Makhana in Bihar state 13,000 ha are utilized for its cultivation and 90,000 tons nuts are being harvested from those areas per year. One hundred kilogram of fruits can produce about 35 kg of seeds. It is also reported that about 36,000 tons processed seeds are marketed every year (Choudhury et al, 2003). Whereas in Imphal East district, Manipur a sum of Rs. 67,500/- could be earned by a farmer from his 0.32 acre paddy field in 3 months (August to October) in the cultivation of Thangjing. As such, Thangjing cultivation can fetch more revenue to low income group in Manipur.
Conclusion
Thangjing is one of the prominent nutritious aquatic crops in Manipur for imminent climate change and to enhance water bodies productivity. Its cultivation can fetch more revenue to the poor income groups. But it requires sincere efforts including dissemination of traditional knowledge as well as awareness to cultivate Thangjing.
Concluded

[The writer is former Professor (Higher Academic Grade)/Life Sciences, and former Dean, School of Life Sciences, Manipur University, Canchipur, and can be contacted at irabanta.singh@gmail.com]

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Thangjing – A potential aquatic cash crop in Manipur

Prof N Irabanta Singh
Introduction
Thangjing (popularly known as black diamond or fox nut or gorgon nut) is botanically known as Euryle ferox Salisb and belongs to the family Euryalaceae (Nymphaeceae). It a monotypic genus that is having only one species. It is considered as an aquatic cash crop in Manipur. The hobby of the present writer is to buy vegetables daily from the markets of Imphal specially Khwairamband bazar.  He buys any new vegetables items at any cost. Thangjing is one of them he buys starting from early June/July onwards. The vendors sales Thangjing at the rate of Rs. 30 per Thangjing fruit or Rs. 50 for 2 Thangjing fruits. In this article the writer made an attempt to describe about the potential of Thangjing cultivation for socio-economic development in Manipur.
Distribution
The plant is considered as a native of South-East Asia and China but distributed to every part of the world. In general, its distribution is extremely limited to tropical and sub-tropical region of South-East and East Asia and known to exist in Japan, Korea, Russia, North America, Nepal, Bangladesh and some states of India. In India, it grows abundantly in some districts of Bihar, West Bengal, Assam and Manipur.
Cultivation
Thangjing is known as a cash crop of Ox-bow lakes, depressed land, swamps, paddy fields, ponds, etc. The seedlings are raised naturally from the seeds. If the cultivation in deep water paddy field sites, 2/3 times loosening of soil are required followed by water filling then left for one month. Naturally raised Thangjing seedlings having 4-5 leaves after attaining kitchen dish size are ready for transplantation to the sites (ditches) already earmarked for the plantation. The transplanted plants are inserted in straight line at a distance of 6’ (six feet). Just before plantation, mud from the earmarked ditches are removed about 6″ (six inches). Unwanted plants in between the rows and adjacent rows are removed at the rate of six feet distance. New leaves appeared from the 20 days old transplanted Thangjing plants. Care is taken to remove unwanted plants appeared near the Thangjing plantation. While the plants are still young insects like aphids eat up the leaves of the Thangjing which can be controlled with the help of organic insecticides. Sometimes due to strong wind currents Thangjing leaves might be overturned but one has to keep it okayed by replacing leaves in the original place. After 65/70 days of plantation, Thangjing fruits are ready for first harvest. Subsequent harvest could be made after every 10/12 days of harvest. For plantation in the pond, if the pond is continuously used for Thangjing plantation year after year, scarcely any external application of fertilizer or manure is needed. Hence, an ecosystem is established in which decayed mineralized organic matter from previous crop support by the subsequent crop.
Morphological structure
Thangjing has thick fibrous root comprising of 4-6 clusters, each consisting of about 15 rootlets. It is a perennial and growing from a short, thick erect rhizome. Leaves show heterophylous growth. Leaves are about four different types appearing in the chronological order of sinuate, hastate, sagittate and orbicular types. The first three sets of leaves are not prickly but the last set of leaves is prickly. The orbicular leaves by their perpetual growth attained larger heavy orbicular, corrugated structure with spines (Singh, 2003).
The number of day to initiate flowering ranges from 145-156 days, number of effective fruits per plant ranges from 8-15; fruit diameter ranges from 4-8 inches; number of seeds per fruit ranges from 20-200; seed yield per fruit ranges from 15-150g; diameter of seed ranges from 0.4-1.5 cm; weight of 100 seeds ranges from 40-130g; seed yield per plant ranges from 150-1600g (Mishra et al, 2003).
Edible parts
The seeds of Thangjing are most important edible part. The fresh seeds are lumpy and surrounded by streaked bright red arils. The arils are taken raw along with iromba (chutney) or Thangjing metpa. After 3-4 days, the aril of fresh seeds get decomposed and they turned into black colour. Seeds are bold enough and having a hard outer covering. The diameter varies from 0.5 to 1.5 cm. The edible part of the seed is its periderm which is white and starchy in nature. In Manipur, the periderm portion is taken as raw or after boiling for iromba or after cooking with Nakuppi (Allium tuberosum) (Chinese chives).
(To be contd)

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Natural flower (cut & loose) vs artificial flower business in Imphal

In Manipur, different religious and social functions are performed throughout the year both in the Hills and Valley. In such functions, the uses of flowers (cut and loose) have become a mandatory. As a result, the business of natural flower (cut & loose) in the markets of Imphal is gaining ground during the last one decade or so. On the other hand, artificial flowers (made in China) in the form of bouquets, pots, cut, loose, etc. are also having good business in the markets of Imphal. Through this article, the writer appealed to the educated unemployed youths of the state to take up floriculture (cut and loose) as entrepreneurship for sustainable economic development.
Current status of traditional flower cultivation
The present area under open field cultivation for loose flowers covers 86 ha. (including aquatic cultivation of lotus and water lily). The species grown in open conditions are varieties of Jasmine, Gardenia, Pagoda, Aster, Lotus, Water lily, Champaca, Marigold, Hedychium, Oleander, Gladiolus, Dahlia, ground orchids, terrestrial orchids, Rhododendron, Begonia, Geranium, Ixora, Japanese honey suckle, varieties of lilies, Hydrangea, Tuberose, China rose, garden roses, Kaempheria, Chrysanthemum, Dianthus, Magnolia, Cocks comb, Bougainvillea, Impatiens, Sunflower, etc. Whereas the field cultivation of cut flowers covers 30.8 ha. Among the cut flowers – Dendrobium ranks number one in production followed by hybrid rose, Antherium, Gerbera, Tuberose, mainly from the units promoted by the Department of Horticulture & Soil conservation, Manipur. The cut flower (Rose, Gerbera, Antherium, Dendrobium) are sold in the markets of Imphal by the Vendors.
Marketing opportunity of natural flowers
Protected cultivation of cut flower production covers hardly 10 ha with species grown viz., Antherium, Hybrid Rose, Oriental lilium, Carnation, Gerbera, Tuberose, Dendrobium, Astromeria, Leather leaf and other bulbous flowers. During 2011-12, the production of cut flower in the Manipur state has raised 7.10 lakh in numbers from 6.11 lakh and 6.51 lakh in the number during 208-09 and 2009-10 respectively (Department of Horticulture & Soil conservation, Manipur).
Marketing of cut flowers in Imphal markets is very unorganized at present. A few large flower merchants generally buy most of the produce and distribute them to local retail outlets. The retail vendors sales in the open road sides with different flowers spread over on the floor.
The business of loose flower in Imphal city and other markets in the State is entering with quick and profitable return which evolves chain of employment. The peak period for demand persist during the period August to November. The loose flower production is about 35.5 MT/year against the actual domestic requirement of about 80-90 MT/year.
Natural flower bouquets
The green foliage that is either cultivated or naturally available in Manipur can be used as fillers in the bouquet decoration. A mixture of foliage, mostly green cut flowers always make a good presentable bouquet. Such vast scope with diverse climatic condition as prevalent in the state is quite suitable for foliage and has been established with performances of leather leave (foliage) while cultivation under protected structures. The production of leather leave fern (green foliage) apart from Aparagus and other local species can be one of the successful flori-business item of Manipur.
Artificial flower
The making of artificial flower is believed to have been started by the Chinese who mastered the skills of working as well as creating elaborate floral replicas but they (the Chinese) were not responsible for turning silkflower making into a business (china-bauxite.com). Artificial flower are made in a wide variety of materials depending on the materials in which the manufacturer is reacting. The polyester has become the fabric of choice by flower makers and purchasers because of lower cost, ability of the fabric to accept dyes, glues and durability. Plastic is also the materials used most often for the stems, berries and other parts of the flowers for the market that includes picks – small clusters of artificial flowers on short plastic wire stems that can be inserted into forms to make quick inexpensive floral decoration and bulk sales of longer stems of flowers that are less expensive. Artificial flowers are made of paper, cotton, parchment, latex, rubber, sateen (for large, bold coloured flowers and arrangements) and dried materials including flowers and plant parts, berries, features and fruits (Made how vol 5. Artificial flower).
Discussion
The origin of the innovative idea is usually practical experience within one’s own business followed at some distance by colleagues, etc. For green house horticulture business colleagues are the main origin.
Innovations are classified into four types – viz, (i) product (17%), (ii) process (71%), (iii) market (9%) and (iv) organizational innovations (3%). In green house ornamental plant cultivation score very high (and the highest) for process innovations. Arable farming and mixed business also have a relatively large share in product innovations and, to a lesser extent, market innovations (Deumick et al, 2008).
The most important reasons for innovations are obtaining a higher income, improving quality, cost saving, rationalization of labour and legislation and regulations. The factor of cost reduction (energy) is mainly present in green house horticulture (ornamental plant cultivation) (Deumick et al, 2008).
The production technology flowers under protected environment of green house needs to be standardized. There is hardly any post-harvest management of flowers for the domestic market, has increased the appreciation of quality produce and its demand for good quality flowers is increasing.
The availability of natural resources like favourable climatic conditions permit production and availability of a large variety of flower crops in Manipur round the year. Being a new concept in the agri-business, it tooks some time for scientific commercial flower production to take roots, but with the appreciation of its potential as an economically viable diversification option, its growth is slowly stabilizing. From the government side also, it has to recognize floriculture as an important segment for development of initiatives.
The future of artificial flower is like to imitate its long past. People like to be surrounded by beautiful representation from nature, but they also want the convenience of low-maintenance, everlasting flowers.
Conclusion and recommendation
The average price of different loose flowers (marigold, jasmine, etc) could be increased depending upon the transportation cost. The value of cut flower export to other cities of India has to be increased with more production units coming into operation. Moreover, the potential for cut flowers production development depends upon the availability of natural resources like favourable climate.
It is also recommended for less purchase of artificial flowers at the local level for promotion of locally available dry cut flowers.
[The writer is former Professor (Higher Academic Grade)/Life Sciences, and former Dean, School of Life Sciences, Manipur University, Canchipur, and can be contacted at irabanta.singh@gmail.com]

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Chicken centre culture (live and dressed) in Imphal — recycling of wasted chicken feathers —

Introduction
Food habit refers to the way in which different people select, cook, serve and eat food that are available to them. In other words, food habits are disciplinary measures to eat a certain food or foods repeatedly every day. This usually coincides with diet and food disorder (answer.com). There has been a dramatic change in the food habit of the inhabitant of the Imphal city (young and middle aged group irrespective of sex) during the last 4/5 decades. The present writer was a student of DM college (present DM college of Science) (1965-1969). He used to go to college by bicycle from his home which is 4 km away from the college towards the south eastern side. During the holidays, he and his friends used to roam around different places of Imphal city and suburbs by bicycle. He could remember that there were very limited chicken centre (live) in the Imphal city, e.g. Khwairamband Bazar (Yen Yonpham) (Imphal West), Hapta Pangal (Yen Yonpham) (Imphal East), etc. During 1968-69 academic session, his intimate friends and himself regularly enjoyed rice-fish meals from two hotels viz., (i) M/S Sharma Hotel located at the BT road and (ii) M/S Usha Hotel located at the Paona Bazar in Khwairamband bazar after getting their monthly merit scholarship awarded by the Education Department, Government of Manipur. No chicken curry-rice item was available in the hotels in those days. But nowadays the food habit of the inhabitants of the Imphal city has been changed completely. They (especially the menfolk) are more habituated to the chicken-rice based food habit than the fish-rice meals. At present, OK Hotel, situated near Imphal City traffic Police station, Thangal bazar, is of the most preferred chicken-rice hotels in the Khwairamband bazar. Moreover, chicken centres (live and dressed) are coming up like a mushroom growth at every market places of Imphal city. In this article, the writer made an attempt for possible recycling of wasted chicken feathers for the manufacture of plastic cup, plates, etc.
Composition of feathers
Feathers are made up of principally by the tough and chemically stable protein, Keratin and can lend strength while reducing weight in the mixture of plastic chemically known as composites.
Methodology
The chicken feather fibres can be used as a Principal ingredient making up to 50% of the mass composite. As such, the plastic require less of the materials such as polyethylene and polypropylene that are derived from petroleum products. For detailed methodology one can follow “Microcrystalline keratin from feathers to composite products” (Schmidt, WF in Proc. Material Research Symposium, 2002)
Discussion
The idea of using wasted chicken feathers for the production of eco-friendly plastic is an innovative process. The best part is that this inexpensive source is available in plenty in Imphal city due to fast growing of Chicken Centre Culture (live and dressed). As compared to other biological sources like plant proteins and modified starch, keratin based plastic offer greater strength and are tear resistant. Unlike most petroleum based thermoplastics, feathers based plastics doesn’t depend on any fossil fuels (Int. J. Phar. Sc. Res Rev, 27(2): 2014: 373-375). If wasted chicken feathers are used as composite materials, no polyethylene or polypropylene are needed. This bio-plastic can thus be used for making cups, plates, etc.
Justification and conclusion
Using wasted materials from poultry farming such as chicken feathers to make more environmentally friendly plastic is a good idea. So, using biomaterials whether it is for commodity products or even structural applications, it is worth for pursuing this intervention as recycling of wasted chicken feathers in the Imphal city.
Thus, the bioplastic made from wasted chicken feathers is harder and exhibiting good flexibility resulting in the increase in tensile strength.
[The writer is former professor (Higher Academic Grade)/Life Sciences, and former Dean, School of Life Sciences, Manipur University, Canchipur, MU and can be contacted at irabanta.singh@gmail.com]

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