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Manipur entrepreneurs stare at uncertain future amidst violence

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IMPHAL, July 3 (PTI): With Manipur witnessing violence for over two months, the business community in the state is bleeding red with economic activities almost coming to a standstill.

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A number of entrepreneurs in the state said on Monday that irrespective of the communities, all sections of the people and their economic activities have been affected by the violence that began on May 3.

Corporate leaders who had returned to Manipur after serving long stints at global MNCs outside the Northeast are now questioning their own decisions of investing time and money in their home state.

“The impact has been huge. Almost everyone, irrespective of the communities, has been affected. Before May 3, life was pretty normal. For the last couple of years, we were on a path of progress. Businesses were flourishing, people were progressing on day-to-day lives as we were recovering from the COVID-19 impact.

“Then this (ethnic clashes) happened. Now our lives have changed, and the way people do business has changed. In fact, it has sent us quite a few years back,” Addble Solutions Pvt Ltd founder Yaikhomba Ningthemcha told PTI.

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Talking about the impact on the business community, he said that the sector was suffering.

“Apart from all the normal transactions stopping, businesses relying on the internet have come to a standstill. We need the internet for paying back our loans. Consumers are not able to pay us. Filing of GST has been affected as we are not able to file it on time because there is no internet,” Ningthemcha said.

Ningthemcha was working at a multi-national company in Bengaluru for more than 15 years and returned to his hometown in 2018 to start his own business. Addble Solutions is a cloud-based IT firm that provides B2B digital commerce platforms to companies.

“We were ramping up in 2019-20, when the pandemic came in. Post COVID-19, we were servicing a lot of retail and F&B businesses in Manipur. We are the first from the Northeast to be a part of the Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC).

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“We are now questioning ourselves if it was the right decision to come back and start a business in Manipur. Our intention was to uplift our state and bring in the brighter side. That’s why I came back,” he said.

N Sundeep Meitei, a stockbroker from Sangaithel village in Imphal West district, said that businesses have gone down completely.

“There is no transportation, there is no internet. Without the internet, how can we transfer the money? Without transportation, there cannot be any infrastructure development. That means, the progress is zero,” he said.

Stating that the deadly clashes and mistrust among communities have caused long-lasting damage to industries, Sundeep said that it is also affecting the lives of common people.

“Those who are in hospital, elderly and minor patients, are not getting money. Their treatment is affected. This is a very painful situation here. I am not talking about one community. Even though I am a Meitei, the violence is affecting every community in Manipur,” he said.

Clashes broke out in Manipur after a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ was organised in the hill districts on May 3 to protest against the Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status. So far, more than 100 have died and several hundred were injured, besides thousands taking shelters in relief camps.

Meiteis account for about 53 per cent of Manipur’s population and live mostly in the Imphal Valley. Tribal Nagas and Kukis constitute another 40 per cent of the population and reside in the hill districts.

 

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