Kangabam Ningthemjao, another Manipuri Andrew Carnegie

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Like the philosophy of the millionaire steel industrialist Scottish-American Andrew Carnegie who donated almost all his fortunes for the cause of public welfare, Manipur’s brick industrialist, Kangabam Ningthemjao Singh wishes to earn lots of wealth and dedicate it for the upliftment of the poor and needy.

“I believe a state which has so many jobless youths and poor people will not be able to compete with other states in development. Weak economic condition is one of the factors of the prevailing crimes and deteriorated law and order problems in Manipur. There are about 7 lakh unemployed youths whose names are registered in different employment exchanges, and it is a matter of fear. When the question of survival of the fittest comes, this jumbo sized jobless youth force have to manage life by hook or by crook thereby leading to many crimes such as thievery, kidnapping, looting and so on. Economic development is a must to be taken up in the state to uplift the living standard of the poor and needy.

For this, there is need for coming forward of many entrepreneurs who can provide jobs to jobless and poor people. When the people of the state become economically sound, law and order problem will be solved to some extent”, observed Ningthemjao.

In a recent interview with Manipur Times, Kangabam Ningthemjao Singh, Proprietor of KNS brick field said that he has worked as a Senior Assistant in Power Grid Corporation of India (PGCI) for 31 years. He came across many jobless youths and needy people at his locality when he finally settled there after taking voluntary retirement from his job.

He spent quite long time away from home in places like Guwahati, Nagaon and NC hills during his service.  After retirement, he chalked out a plan to set up a brick industry thinking that it would be more favourable and convenient to provide jobs to the jobless in his area. Economic upliftment is the main objective behind setting up the brick industry.

KNS Brick field located at Khanarok Chingjil foothill, Imphal East covering an area of 2.5 acres and just about 11 km south east of Imphal along Imphal Waithou Road is among the top brick fields in Manipur, which produces high quality bricks with a production capacity of 12,000 bricks a day.

It was set up in the month of April 2009. Presently, the brick industry is providing jobs to about 70 workers. One Accountant, one Sales Manager and four Supervisors are looking after the daily management of the industry.

65-year-old Kangabam Ningthemjao Singh s/o late Jugeshor hailing from Khanarok village, Imphal East set up the present brick industry with a loan amount of Rs. 95 lakh from the North Eastern Regional Finance Corporation (NERFC) and with some amount borrowed from his friends.

While working as an entrepreneur, Kangabam Ningthemjao Singh never ignores the social welfare activities. The profit earned from his industry is not concentrated only for his personal gain. He is providing pensions and financial assistance to many old aged people, widows and others who are completely helpless under a Trust founded in the name of his late father. About 27 elderly people selected from Keirao Bitra village, Langdum village, Khanarok village, Chanam Sandrok village and Thiyam Konjil village are provided pension of Rs. 50 per month.

The beneficiaries are recommended by the local clubs, not directly selected by the Trust itself. Moreover, the local clubs located at these villages are provided daily newspaper copies free of cost under his financial assistance. He contributes at his best level when any development activities are taken up in his locality. The initiative of this entrepreneur having such a motive of dedication for a good cause deserves appreciation and need to be encouraged.

“Real meaning of life doesn’t lie with only hoarding of massive wealth. We must earn and dedicate it in the hour of need for a good social cause. Life is an exciting business, the more exciting when it is lived for others,” maintained Ningthemjao.

Ningthemjao studied in Langdum High School and passed matriculation under Board of Secondary Education Manipur in 1974 from Irilbung High School. After having passed matriculation, he learnt electrical engineering in ITI, Nagaon, Assam for two years.

Recalling his hardship days of the time gone by, he said that his late father Jugeshor who was a school teacher contested general election and got defeated. Almost all the property of his family was sold out to fight the election and the family suffered heavy bankruptcy. Unable to bear bankruptcy, his father left home and did not come back home for years. To maintain the family, he worked as a labourer. He earned money by digging ponds, canals as a day labourer. He worked in the pineapple farm of his grandfather. While doing so, he could not continue his study for four years. When the family condition got improved to some extent, he continued his further study and could pass matriculation from Irilbing High School.  With the scholarship received, he could manage his study in ITI, Nagaon.

Besides the present brick industry, Ningthemjao dreams to set up a packaged drinking water manufacturing plant and a dairy farm at his village to help provide more jobs to his local men.

Despite Manipur’s brick quality is better than others and high demand from outside, it cannot be exported because of transportation problem. Brick industrialists in Manipur would be able to earn a lot of revenue when the transport system is improved.

“We can’t export our products to outside as the transport charges are too high. When the train service arrives in Manipur, our products will be exported outside. However, it is not possible to export for the time being. At present, our products mainly confine in the state.”

Regarding the welfare of the employees of his firm, he said that a fair price shop will be opened at his firm. Generally the working hour of the firm is eight hours a day. A nurse is inducted for medical treatment of the workers.

In his firm, a half truck load of firewood is consumed a day for heating the raw muddy bricks. A truck load of firewood costs about Rs. 30,000 to 32,000. Coal is also used as fuel.

Giving her feedback about the brick industry, one Lembi, a woman worker in the brick industry told that since the inception of this industry, they have been benefitted a lot. The earning from the industry is helpful to their living.

The current rate of bricks available in KNS brick field (as on May, 2013)

Particular                               Quantity                                     Rate per 1000

Mc/Mn 1st class                        1000                                       Rs. 11,000

Mc/Mn 2nd class Bricks            1000                                       Rs. 10,500

Mc/Mn 3rd class Bricks             1000                                       Rs. 9000

Mc/Mn Petty class bricks         1000                                       Rs. 10,000

Mc/Mn jamatatingba                1000                                       Rs. 10300

Mc/Mn jamat 2nd class              1000                                     Rs. 10000

Mc/Mn 1st class Reject             1000                                      Rs. 10500

Broken bricks per bullock cart        one                                   Rs. 1000

Transportation chageone                                                          Rs. 2200         

Labour charge per 3000 pcs           one                                    Rs. 700

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