Weekly Mao Market at Imphal
More than just selling
This is something much more than a question of some folks coming all the way down to Imphal to sell their wares and it is in recognition of this that the Coordination Committee of Mao-Imphal Market came into being after some people of Nagaland obstructed traders from Mao to sell their produces in the neighbouring State back in 2015. Five years down the line and Mao Market has been opened at different locations in Imphal and elsewhere on a weekly basis since then. Unfortunate it is that the State Government has still not been able to work out the modalities to open more market places where womenfolk from the hill districts can come and comfortably sell their produces here in Imphal. The Tribal Market opened at New Lambulane is no doubt a good idea but questions still remain if it has been able to meet the demands of a larger clientele. At the moment, a number of women from the hills come down to sell their produces by the roadside at Lamlong Keithel with no permanent structure. Same is the case with the small market opened at Khoyathong where womenfolk from Mao come and sell their produces atop the concrete put up on Naga river. There must be other locations too, but the significance of different voluntary organisations coming together to form the Co-ordination Committee of Mao-Imphal Market should not be lost on anyone. As noted earlier here, it is much more than giving space to some women vendors to come and sell their produces here but is also about social interaction which then can go a long way in fostering the feeling of oneness.
This is the core beauty of the Mao Market which has now come to stay with it being opened at different points of Imphal and elsewhere in the valley on a weekly basis. The number of buyers thronging the weekly Mao Market should more than tell the story of how much the produces from there are relished in Imphal. Economic activity fostering better ties between the different communities, particularly between the Meiteis and the people of Mao and this is one sure way of promoting more people to people contact and Mao folks who are not very fluent in Meiteilon must have surely become more and more familiar with the language and this can go a long way in backing the idea of Manipur. Apart from this, here is also a case of the buyer and the seller being both happy and contented with the transaction and this is where the role of those behind the Mao-Imphal Market needs to be acknowledged. The distance between Imphal and Mao is big at 102.3 or so kilometres and the journey by bus taking approximately more than 3 hours. Simple Arithmetic then says that Mao traders will have to spend at least 6 hours in the to and fro journey and this is where the Government will need to step in and ensure that the road connecting Imphal and Mao is kept in good shape. The distance must have probably been one of the major factors for the Mao folks to initially proceed to Kohima to sell their produces as it is so much nearer with the distance standing at just 33.5 or so kilometres and the time to cover this distance is just a little over one hour. Let the weekly Mao-Imphal Market be the beginning for trade is one sure way of ensuring better people to people contact.