Posts Tagged ‘Ten Years’

Where is Manipur in India?

Eeerr.. North..

Ok. Which are the seven sister states of India?

Eh, I guess Assam, Manipur.. Well, don’t remember them all.

Have you heard of Irom Sharmila?

Aaah, naah.. Who’s she, oops or is it he?!

Fine, leave it. Heard of Anna Hazare?

Oh, obviously. He fasted for 3 long days for India, how would I not know him?

Wow, kudos. Arey, I guess you even participated in that candle light march for him, right?

That’s thrilling! Thrilling se yaad aaya, Japan was hit hard yaar..

Oh yeah. You know man, more than 15000 people died. And the nuclear blast at Fukushima, people had to face the fear of contamination of even food and drinks.

Hmm, all these are the in things, adds a touch of glamour if you even talk about them. But ever thought about the contamination of the mindsets of the people?

“Ever heard of a lady who is on fast
for a cause since last ten years?”

Do you know, that cause is to fight against the armed forces, the section of the society that we consider the most revered? It’s about a draconian act where any damn person is brutally tortured, murdered or raped, without any particular reason. It’s about Irom Sharmila, a hero in true sense. Let’s recognize her before it’s too late. I know, this is neither glamorous nor the talked about issue, but it’s the voice of our conscience. She is posing a question that lays unanswered. We have to revert.


Manipur is one of the Indian states, of the ‘seven sisters’ province of Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland. These are among the most neglected and underdeveloped parts of India. Manipur is 22% behind the national average for infrastructural development, and the entire north-eastern region is 30% behind the rest of India. Also, its main languages, which belong to the Tibeto-Chinese family, were not recognized as Indian languages until the recent Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution.
Manipur was granted autonomy when the British left in 1947, but was merged with India two years later in a treaty that many of its 2.3 million-strong population believe was forced upon their king. This led to freedom movements, further leading to the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act 1980 – the Indian Government’s attempt to regain control.

The biggest irony of this act that was established to control the situation is that the North-East was the most peaceful area until it came within the purview of this act.


“Nothing is impossible or unreachable

In that place where truth is lucid and pure

No excuse exists for untruth

Human wrongs are punished

Not excused or ignored”

– Irom Sharmila Chanu
Irom Sharmila Chanu – a poet, a writer and an activist, was born in the state of Manipur on March 14, 1972. She is the best example of a living Gandhian, who staunchly follows a hunger strike that she resolved to on November 4, 2000. She is fighting against the Government of India to repeal the act known as AFSPA, Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, from the state of Manipur and other areas of the North-East.

• Sharmila has not taken a single morsel of food or a single drop of water since ten long years.
• To make sure that even a drop of water does not break her oath, she uses dry cotton to clean her teeth and dry spirit for her lips.

• Her body has wasted inside and her menstrual cycles have stopped.

• Sharmila has vowed not to meet or even see her mother until her wish is fulfilled.

• She has given up footwear.

• She has decided to leave her hair unoiled and uncombed until the act is repealed.


Place: Malom Village, near Imphal.

It was a dark, cold evening. The shiver and the darkness was also seen in people’s minds and hearts. Some called out for a separate state, others for autonomy while some extreme groups demanded nothing but complete independence. There was tremendous outrage and one of the insurgent groups gave a form to this rage. They attacked the paramilitary base that night, adding fuel to the armed forces’ fire.

The dark, cold evening moved on to be a numbed and cold-blooded morning. As a routine, ten people, common people, like you and me, were waiting at the Malom bus stop. The Assam Rifles of the paramilitaries pulled up and opened fire. The ten lay there, becoming the victims of an offense they had not committed, or probably didn’t even know about. No evidence, no time to think, no opportunity to react. It was a bloodthirsty revenge for the previous night’s attack.
This was not new for the region where such encounters, murders and rapes was a regular affair. The people lived constantly under the shadow of the gun. The killings would have remained just another photographs in the next day’s local newspaper, if Irom Sharmila had not decided to protest. The happening triggered her conscience and she was unnerved. She ate a meal that her mother had prepared, took her blessings and has not eaten ever since.

The turmoil was named the ‘Malom Massacre’, hardly known and rarely told!


On the third day of Sharmila’s fast, she was jailed by the police and charged with an “attempt to commit suicide.” However, such a charge allows detention in jail for just 364 days. As a result, she has never been brought to trial and is annually released and rearrested. Also, with her determination of not to take food or water, she is force-fed through a plastic tube. The tube was inserted into her nose and a liquid nutrient was inserted into her body. She has been surviving on this liquid diet and in solitary confinement as a high security prisoner for the last ten years.

• Sharmila is not even permitted to exercise or walk outside in the daylight, a right routinely granted to those convicted of the most serious crimes.

• To meet her, one needs the permission of the Chief Minister and four other senior administrative, police and jail officials of the state.
In times when violence is on the rise and we are increasingly progressing in a more aggressive world, the silent, peaceful protest of Sharmila is something that has not caught the eyes, hearts and minds of the people. For all her valiant struggle, the sad truth is that it has not really moved the Indian Government or the security forces to change their stand on the repeal of the AFSPA. The situation is still the same, but you can add a ray of hope. Spread the awareness, support Sharmila in her cause. Let us shed away the indifference.

The struggle of Sharmila does not just defend the human rights in Manipur, but it is reshaping the very foundations of democracy in India.

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On 15th January 2001, Jimmy Wales, the co-founder of Wikipedia, made the first ever edit when he typed “Hello, World!” on the front page of the site. And 10 years later, the world has said a big hello back.

Edit-It-Yourself: An untested idea went live from the platform of Wikipedia before ten years. It had no fanfare, no assurance of success, no one was aware whether people would contribute to such a project and if so, whether the information they submitted would be reliable. The scenario today is opposite though. The website is the fifth most visited internet site in the world over the last decade. The evolution of Wikipedia from an experiment to enterprise also reflects the central nature of web in our lives.

The site that everybody can edit freely and collaboratively is credited not only with having created a massive storehouse of knowledge but also democratizing the presentation of content on the Web.


Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia that has over 17 million articles in 270 languages, 3.5 million of them in English, and is used by almost 410 million unique people each month. It is supported by a non-profit organization called Wikimedia Foundation of San Francisco.

The website was launched by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger in 2001 on the domain The name is the brainchild of Larry. It is a blend of Hawaiian word ‘wiki’ meaning ‘quick’ and the word ‘encyclopedia’. The founding can be traced to a post by Sanger entitled “Let’s Make a Wiki” that was intended as a feature to Sanger and Wales’s other project, Nupedia. The feature, rooted in Open Source Thinking, grew out of proportion. Volunteers contributed voluminous number of entries, which began showing up in Google searches, furthering the site’s growth.

Wikipedia quickly gained a large following. Contributors, it turned out, were more than happy to contribute, while readers did not seem to mind that the editors were unpaid.


It is hard to imagine that a tiny, user-based project, Wikipedia completed ten successful years. “The people’s encyclopedia,” as it was described by Sue Gardner, Executive Director of Wikimedia, is starting its second decade by resolving to be more representative of the people. As it is, more than 80% of its contributors are male, the average age falls in the late 20s and the most thoroughly covered subjects involve science and technology. In 2011 and beyond, Wikipedia wants to reach out to more women, older people, experts in the arts and humanities, and less-represented geographic areas like South America, South Asia and the Arab world.

The goal, Ms. Gardner said, is to offer “the sum total of all human knowledge” in the native language of all of Wikipedia’s users. A push to improve the quality of articles is also under way, through a partnership with 16 universities. Wikipedia is also trying to get experts to contribute, and recruiting museums, which could offer better images for the site.

These efforts to increase diversity will be backed by the $16 million Wikimedia pulled in through a 50-day fundraising pledge drive at the end of 2010, nearly double the amount it raised in 2009. Advertising is not in the cards for Wikipedia, it has a budget of around $20 million for annual pledge drive this year.

Next, Wikipedia targets the goal of 1 billion users in the coming 5 years, maintaining its status as a not-for-profit organization.


Although Wikipedia allows virtually anyone to add or alter entries without oversight, the journal Nature reported in 2006 that its accuracy was close to that of Encyclopedia Britannica. Wikipedia says its quality controls stop most ‘vandals’ from posting maliciously inaccurate articles.

Wikipedia is used as a reference and works best as an introduction to a subject. Since the articles usually cite references, readers can investigate further whether the claims are actually true. The site has had its share of controversies, including the departure of Larry Sanger in 2002 and subsequent public disagreements between him and Jimmy Wales over whether he was a founder. There have been debates about how reliable Wikipedia is, also about whether it is a real research tool or if it promotes laziness among students unwilling or unable to search for primary sources to cite.

Wikipedia that was a poor man’s Britannica in its early days, has surpassed that size and scope. Wikipedia has become a battleground between authorities and activists, say experts on digital censorship. While critics have challenged Wikipedia’s accuracy and bias, others say it has democratized the concept of who has the authority to possess and author knowledge.


“Fruitful environment [including] valuing education, free speech and a culture of intellectual debate” is the reason behind Wikipedia choosing India to be their first stop in the journey of expansion. To increase the number of foreign-language articles, Wikipedia, is planning to open its first overseas office in India in the coming months. Lessons learned here will likely be adopted at other future international outposts, possibly in Egypt and Brazil.

The question pops up, why India? The large number of potential internet users, and the ‘ground support’ that exists in the form of a passionate community of Wikipedians, drive these “offshore efforts.”

A lesser-known fact is that Wikipedia is available in at least 20 Indian languages (Hindi, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil, Bishnupriya Manipuri, Bengali, Gujarati, Malayalam, Urdu, Nepali, Kannada, Sanskrit, Bhojpuri, Pali, Punjabi, Oriya, Romani, Kashmiri, Sindhi and Assamese). While there are 58,000 articles in the Hindi Wikipedia, Telugu and Marathi too have been growing steadily, clocking 47,000 and 32,000 articles respectively. The Tamil Wiki has around 26,000 articles, Bengali (22,000), Malayalam (16,000) and Kannada (9,900). Together, Wikipedia is arguably the single largest source of Indic content online. And a massive task of expanding the local language content can be best tackled collaboratively.


It is analyzed that the number of Wikipedia’s English language contributors fell from 54,000 in March 2007 to 35,000 in September 2010, but here Wikipedia may be the victim of its own success. As the website gets more inclusive, fewer articles need to be penned. But one thing is for sure, if Wikipedia ever goes away, we will not have a strong source to confirm this! However, 10 years is a remarkable achievement. To go from being a fringe idea to the center of a free culture movement is more than remarkable, it is important.

Happy Birthday, Wikipedia. Here’s to 10 more!


• The Wikipedia article on former US President George W Bush has been edited the most number of times; also, the page was viewed 4.5 million times in 2010.

• The first media report about Wikipedia appeared in the Wales on Sunday published from Cardiff, UK on August 26, 2001.

• The most Wikipedia 10th anniversary events were held in India (95 events). USA was a distant second with 52 events.

• In January 2001, there were only 25 articles on the English Wikipedia, the only version available back then.

• The three millionth article on English Wikipedia was added on 17 August, 2009. The 3.5 million articles milestone happened on 12 December, 2010.

• Gangadhar Bhadani, a banker from Ranchi, is the most prolific Indian Wikipedian with over 192,400 edits.

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