Exposure visit to Kwatha by Institution’s Innovation Council of MTU

Goshaimayum Chanu Sapna,
Manipur Technical University (MTU) is the first technical university of Manipur. It was established on 23rd April 2016 under “The Manipur Technical University Act, 2016” (Manipur Act No.8 of 2016). The University now has two batches of B.Tech graduates.  For smooth functioning and sustenance, it needs both hard and soft infrastructure. The University now has hard infrastructure such as a temporary campus with buildings, labs, classrooms, conference rooms, library, administration offices, and faculty’s offices. In a short span of five years, it has also established soft infrastructure like Admin Team, Information Technology Service Cell, Examination, Start-up Cell, Internship Cell, MOOC, Departments and Institution’s Innovation Council. The proper functioning of these soft infrastructure will help in achieving the vision and mission of the University efficiently and effectively. Further, Manipur Technical University, being a Higher Education Institution, has to follow the rules and regulations of Ministry of Education (MoE), Govt. of India, UGC and AICTE.
The Ministry of Education (MoE), Govt. of India has established ‘MoE’s Innovation Cell (MIC)’ to systematically foster the culture of innovation amongst all Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). The primary mandate of MIC is to encourage, inspire and nurture young students by helping them work with new ideas and transform those ideas into prototypes during their formative years. MIC has envisioned encouraging creation of ‘Institution’s Innovation Council (IICs)’ across selected HEIs. A network of these IICs will be established to promote innovation in the Institution through multitudinous modes leading to an innovation promotion eco-system in the campuses. The Institution’s Innovation Council of MTU was also kick-started with this background. IIC of MTU was established on 29th January, 2021. Since its inception, it has been organising a series of activities on webinars related to entrepreneurs and innovations as a part of Quarter I activities.
On 11th and 12th November, 2021, Institution’s Innovation Council of Manipur Technical University organised a “2 Days Study tour at Kwatha, Tengnoupal District, Manipur to determine trade and commerce related problems” as a part of the continuation of Quarter I activities of IIC, MTU.
Kwatha is located in Tengnoupal District, Manipur. There are approximately 78 households in the village and another twelve at Kwatha Khunou. Following its belief in the approach of balanced growth theory, the IIC chose Kwatha Village for its first field visit. Kwatha Village is located about 95 kms south from the capital city of Imphal. It currently faces developmental problems that make it lag behind the already developed regions of Manipur. The main objective of the study tour was to identify these problems and also to bring feasible ideas for solutions for the people of Kwatha. Further, it was to align with the ‘Go to Village’ Mission of Hon’ble Chief Minister of Manipur. IIC team comprising of seven faculty and thirty-nine students along with the staff of MTU visited Kwatha and was able to identify the general problems, more specifically trade and commerce problems, faced by its people. The faculty and students had a discussion with Takhellambam Sanjoy, General Secretary of Kwatha Welfare Youth Club, and other members of the village.
The study was able to point out that the main problem faced by the people of Kwatha is the poor road infrastructure which renders the transportation of goods and services inefficient. The second focus area was agriculture, which is the main occupation of the villagers. The problems associated with agricultural activities in Kwatha are invasion of the farms by wild animals, poor irrigational facilities, negative effects from jhum cultivation and inability to produce agricultural surplus. Since the agricultural productions are mainly for self-consumption, the main source of income is derived from the production of commercial crops like soibum (fermented bamboo shoot). However, the soibum production of the Kwatha people has not got any recognition or protection like Geographical Indication (Intellectual Property Rights). The producers are still struggling with the high cost of packaging and transportation problems.
The third major issue highlighted during the study was the underemployment of educated village members. There are very limited job opportunities for the educated people at Kwatha. After completing their graduation or higher degrees of studies, most of them become underemployed by working in agricultural activities. The villagers also face telecommunications problems and poor health and educational services. However, usage of solar energy technology was seen to aid the villagers in management of power supply and shortage, indicating that there is a scope to bring solar power for the betterment of the people of Kwatha.
It was observed during the study that during the Kwatha Festival, the villagers become self-employed and earn higher income. Despite the announcement of Kwatha to be a ‘model village’ by the former MP of Manipur on 12th January, 2018, the villagers still faced the challenge of working against unfavourable odds. Taking the example of poor road connectivity, improvement in this area would reduce transportation costs for the producers of the village and at the same time bring easy access to the market facilities and opportunities to the people.
Kwatha Village has a lot of potential in terms of tourism, commercial crops, and other activities. The concerned authorities/ organisations/ stakeholders must give special attention as well as try to bring growth and development for the people of Kwatha. According to 2011 its census population is 317 and according to the recent survey conducted by MTU, the population is around 500 in 2021. The decadal growth rate of population seems to be more than 50 percent but the absolute figure of Kwatha’s population is still very less in 2021. Considering the small size of the community, working towards their economic development should be an achievable dream. The IIC of MTU endeavours to work on feasible solutions for the village and its people based on its findings. As part of the visit, the IIC team also distributed a few essential items to the villagers.
About the author : Goshaimayum Chanu Sapna, Assistant Professor Social Media and IPR Activity Coordinator IIC, MTU