Developed By: iNFOTYKE
A recent news report in local dailies of protests by parents whose children are studying in Step by Step School, over the sudden increase of school fees and conducting an examination for admission, which later was mutually settled is a cause of concern. This is not a one-off incident. It happens in many schools but it is out off the media view because most parents would not like to create a ruckus for the sake of their children’s future. Having said that, the State Government has to take into consideration the need to mainstream and regulate the school fees especially in private schools and prohibit them from subjecting kids seeking admission into nursery up to class 3 or 4 which to admission tests which goes against the spirit of the Constitution that harps on the ‘Right to Equality’ and Right to Education. Both are intrinsically linked. There are talented and good students from the rural areas who long for admission into good schools but most of the time they cannot gain access to these schools because of the high capitation fees put up by many schools irrespective whether they are government run, private or missionary institutions. Majority of such schools are more interested in business rather than imparting quality education and also allowing an equal playing field for others. Therefore, through this column I hope that these relevant issues are taken up by the Education Minister, Lakmen Rymbui and his Cabinet colleagues in right earnest in the interests of the marginalized and the society at large.
Whither State Planning Board
It is rather disappointing when one reads the news report about the State Planning Board(SPB) asking officials to go lenient on rules and to “go easy” on sawmills and stone crushers (ST 30th August 2018). The reasons for restricting the operations of sawmills in the state are well known and if such instructions of the SPB are carried out then it will have a calamitous effect on the environment in the long run and Environmentalists especially should be far-sighted enough to envisage this.
Loss of livelihoods appears to be the main reason behind such an instruction just as the NGT ban on coal mining is also attributed for such a loss. Those at the lowest rung of involvement in any activity would certainly feel the brunt more by any sudden loss of livelihood, though with time most must have adjusted to alternative means of livelihood. The lack of concrete study to assess the quantitative loss of livelihoods in relation to the steady shift towards alternative means gives no authentic insight into the actual ground reality and therefore any conclusions arrived at on the continued effect of livelihood loss could have been made out of arbitrary assessments. Conversely while the bans or restrictions could be attributed to livelihood losses. the loss of established livelihoods when such bans were not imposed especially when coal mining ran freely, could be significant enough to if determined .The SPB would do well to make a recommendation to the State Government to make a comprehensive study on this for arriving at a realistic and rational conclusion rather than relying on one sided vague appraisals .
On matters relating to livelihoods, particularly of the chunk of the population in the state that is concentrated in the rural areas, the SPB perhaps need to bring out a comprehensive plan so that developmental efforts or individual initiatives balance well with proper natural resource management such that both livelihoods and these natural resources are sustained for perpetuity. Undoubtedly agriculture is still the primary means of livelihood of the majority of the rural community and may continue to be so . The sudden emphasis of the Government to shift towards organic farming in the state seems to have however, thrown the farmers out of gear and how it impacts farmer is still vague and incomprehensible. Likewise it is not known if the many irrigation projects taken up so far have promoted double or triple cropping in a year such that the farmer’s income can increase and to ensure food security in the state. Is the subsistence form of agriculture like jhummimg is still prevalent or has it been improved enough to make it sustainable? Will setting up the Directorate of Food Processing over and above the existing Directorate of Horticulture improve livelihoods through horticultural crop production? Will the various Missions the government propagates to improve livelihoods of the rural community yield the desired results judging from what is experienced or could there be rethinking? These are some of the many issues which the SPB could perhaps look into in as far as the livelihoods of the rural community is concerned. The livelihood issues of the urban community is another assignment altogether.
Interestingly, the SPB has jumped in on the Wah Umkhrah issue as some others had done. The problems related to this issue are already well known since long. What is expected more from the SPB, however, is for it to recommend plans and strategies based on ground realities to protect other more important rivers in the state since the situation is alarming as is already well known.
Ultimately, the SPB by its very name is supposed to be the highest planning body in the state and therefore it has an obligatory role to make appropriate recommendations on wide ranging matters to the Government to follow up. It might be an intricate, painstaking effort and time consuming to bring out such recommendations but then that is perhaps what is expected for any planning body to do.
K L Tariang,
Crinoline Pool affairs
The Crinoline Swimming Pool seems to be out of depth (pun not intended). The pool has been intentionally kept empty for the last seven weeks for reasons best known to the Chief Engineer of the Sports Department. There appears to be a tussle between him and the Meghalaya Swimming Association, and this has been going on for years. Genuine swimmers are the casualty. One fails to understand why the pool is kept empty. The swimmers should be allowed to swim and the problems between the two parties should be sorted out in their own time. This is a classic case of cutting the nose to spite the face.
I request the Chief Minister and the Sports Minister to take note of this issue and resolve it on an urgent basis, for the swimming season will remain for another month or so. Sadly this ego tussle shows no signs of getting resolved anytime soon.