Bandhs rampant, yet Manipur schoolboy beats the odds

A state grappling with dissent of sorts, education is a major victim and yet Manipur gives hope time and again, and not just in sport.

By: Express Web Desk | Kohima | Updated: December 5, 2017 11:42 am
Manipur strike Police during the curfew in Imphal East, Manipur. (Express Photo by Deepak Shijagurumayum)

Tinkering with electronic gadgets and appliances earned him the wrath of his farmer parents who found their ward’s obsession to be a nuisance. But that obsession has now made him a star.  Thiyam Nandalal has captured the imagination of his peers and elders with ‘JON 17’, a robot made from  discarded items like disposed syringes, IV pipes, computer drives, solar lamps, a bottle, LED lamps and mobile parts. The 53cm robot controlled through a remote can be used to move light items.

A Science stream class XI student of Johnstone Higher Secondary School,  Thiyam Nandalal is the second son among six siblings of farmers Thiyam Ishorechand and Thiyam Chaobi of Bishnupur district. Thiyam got hooked to the concept of robots from watching Sci-fi films and programmes on television.

His efforts got the attention of the state education director (schools) who gave Nandalal INR 10,000 towards his project. His school has  handed him INR 5000.

Nandalal’s  aim was to make robots that can perform practical chores. His first attempt was reportedly to create a robot  that could feed poultry at his home, but he had to stall the project due to lack of necessary parts. The science and technology department of the state is now looking to send Nandalal to national science exhibitions.

Bandhs and strikes have become ingrained in the culture of Manipur and the social sector which is springboard for human capital formation pays a heavy price. Schools and colleges in the state see low attendance and working days due to bandhs, strikes and blockades. A significant section of Manipur’s populace does not have a steady income source and that adds to the woes of the state of education.

The disruption in the functioning of schools and colleges not only means less working days but also causes loss of  concentration among students. Before the yearly calendar had reached its halfway mark in 2015, Manipur witnessed 30 strikes. The Democratic Student Alliance Manipur had then staged a protest to stop frequent strikes and blockades that affect education in the state.

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