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Mising socio-cultural seminar focuses on internal transformation

By Fr. Tarcisius T & Fr. K.A. Thomas
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Dimapur, Nov. 8. The 13th annual socio-cultural seminar for Misings started off at Life Plus, Jorhat, on October 28, 2011, at 6.00 pm. The annual seminar is an effort at internal transformation by the Institution for Culture And Rural development (I-CARD) based at Jorhat.
Young Mising boys and girls, trained to become servant leaders of villages, were at their best on stage during the inauguration, with their prayer dance, traditional songs and street play presentation. The participants were welcomed to the annual event by Mr. Manoj Kumar Mili, teacher, Boys Higher Secondary and Multipurpose Vocational School, Jorhat. He praised the efforts of I-CARD at promoting the total welfare  of the Mising tribal community. Fr. Thomas, Director of I-CARD asked the teachers to take responsibility for the backward status of the Mising community.  He said ''I dream of a society where the teachers have name and worth.''
The keynote address was delivered by Mr. Jogesh Changmai, assistant professor and head, Department of Education, DCB College, Jorhat. In a well prepared presentation, Mr. Jogesh analysed the education scenario in rural Assam besides making the audience visualize a progressive society.
The first session of the seminar started at 8.00 pm. Ms Usharani (Kumbang) Pegu of Jonai, in her paper on 'the education of girls in Mising society,' proved beyond doubt that girls are a neglected section of the community. She supported her statements with data from Jonai in the Dhemaji district. The guests were entertained by the staff of I-CARD with a gumrag cultural dance of Jonai tradition.  
The second day started with a welcome song by the Karsang Takar leadership trainees. The main topic of the seminar ''Education of Misings for a Better Society'' was divided by the organizers into ten subtopics: Mising society and education: education scenario and its role in the development of  Misings;  Factors affecting the education of Mising children: lack of role models, quality and apathy of teachers, parental guidance; Education of the girl child and its impact in the development of Mising community; Need for motivation and mentoring of Mising children;  Professional education and advanced studies in the Mising community and the need for career guidance; Role and responsibilities of the educated Misings in improving the educational scenario of the tribe; Government initiatives/schemes vis-a-vis school education in Mising villages; Problems of dropouts and non-starters in Mising society; Development of Mising language and the effect of multiple languages on the society; and Role of private schools in Mising areas, and the community's response to the same.

29 papers were presented at the seminar. Being an exercise in internal transformation of Misings, only Mising intellectuals were invited to the seminar.  The most distinguished participant was Mr. Nahendra Padun, known as agom migom (Mising language sovereign), the one-time secretary to Assam Sahitya Sabha. His interventions added value to the seminar because of his prolific knowledge about all aspects of Misings. Other well known speakers were: Mr. Pabitra Pegu, District Cultural Officer, Jonai,  Mr. Deepak Doley, secretary of Mising Agom K�bang, Mr. Durga Regon from Jonai, Dr. Basanta Ram Yein, agricultural research scientist, Dr. Neeta (Lagachung) Taye,  English lecturer and head of the department at CKB College, Jorhat, and Ms. Usha Rani  (Kumbang) Pegu, Takam Mising Mime K�bang (Mising Women's Association) president. Five of the speakers were first time visitors to I-CARD.

The I-CARD seminar of 2011 was even more special because of the presence of Ms. Gili from Israel. She has been researching about Misings in different parts of Assam, and is at present doing her internship with Impact NE in Majuli.

One additional feature of the seminars in recent years is the presence of younger faces. These individuals have either registered or are in the process of doing their doctorate theses. Presenting papers at seminars wins them points in their professional life. This has had its good influence too. The younger ones are more scientific in their approach, and present their papers with references after much research, while the older participants often tend to confine themselves to their own experience and wisdom. The seminars, as in previous years, have been wonderfully coordinated by Miss Pulina Kaman MA.

October 30, being Mising Agom Long� (language day), all the participants of the seminar joined a ritual to honour the language and culture of Misings. The trained youth sang two songs honouring the tribe, Fr. Thomas, director of I-CARD, gave his opinions about the attitude of Mising leaders towards promoting the language and culture, and Prof. Nahendra Padun, a founder member of the Mising language society, briefed the audience about the history of the development of Mising language, and about the beginnings of Mising Agom K�bang (Mising Language Society).  Together with Prof. Tabu Taid, Nahendra Padun played a key role in the movement for promoting Mising language.  The seminar participants gathered in the bamboo hut for a one hour discussion about ethnique 12, ''Jorhat's Own Annual Tourism Festival'' to be held on January 06-08, 2012.  All were convinced that such events will help external image building and internal transformation of the community.

I-CARD is a Mising hub, the one stop resource centre about Misings. The beautiful cultural campus is fast becoming an attraction to national and international tourists. In the valedictory address, Mr. Nahendra Padun praised the efforts of Fr. K.A. Thomas, who leads I-CARD, towards the development of the tribe. ''He brings Mising people together'', said Mr. Durga Regon of Jonai. Fr. Thomas spoke of I-CARD's future dream to have an ayurvedic hospital, a transformation theatre company and a Mising museum. He invited all well wishers to support the development of Life Plus campus.
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