Learning or sightseeing?

Editor,

It was highly impressive of our Chief Minister to be able to address students and representatives from major tech giants at the HAAS School of Business in Berkeley, USA  recently. But what was not so impressive is that a bunch of NPP MLAs from Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh attended a training program at Oxford University. Even though the Chief Minister clarified that the expenses for the trip were borne by the respective MLA from his or her own pocket, yet the intention of the trip left me bewildered. There have been no reports in the media about the outcome of the MLA’s sojourn in London. Let’s hope that the MLAs have been enlightened by their whirlwind tour of the U.K. A more positive outcome would have been if our MLAs spend their hard earned money visiting countries that will expand their worldviews and also help them be more productive legislators.

The world is at a stage where inequality reigns supreme. Very few rich countries today could boast of equity in their respective societies. The visible exception however is the economic situation in the Nordic countries. A country like Norway can stand tall when it comes to the question of equity. Norway is one of the richest countries in the world and it also features high in the list of countries with the most equitable distribution of income. Taking the two most widely used measure of inequality, the Gini Co efficient and the Palma ratio, Norway features in the top three countries. A Gini coefficient of zero indicates perfect equality whereas a Gini coefficient of 1 indicates perfect inequality. Norway’s Gini coefficient is 0.26 which indicates a high score when it comes to income distribution. The US’s Gini coefficient on the other hand is 0.41 which indicates that income distribution is skewed more in favor of the rich. The Palma ratio on the other hand focuses on the difference between those in the top and bottom income brackets. When it comes to the Palma ratio, Norway ranked second. And to top it all, Norway ranked 3rd in the World Happiness Report 2019.So all in all, if there is a country in the world where our respected representatives can visit and go on a learning experience, then it is definitely a country like Norway. And if our respected MLAs needs a Ted talk on incorporating manangement and business skills into modern day governance, we have a management institute par excellence in our own backyard! But then a visit to our own institution would not have been an attractive sightseeing tour!

Yours etc.,

Gary Marbaniang,

Via email

Jowai highway a death trap   

Editor,

Traveling along the national highway towards Jowai was once upon a time a good drive. But the recent torrential rain has resulted in the highway turning into a death trap for unsuspecting commuters and also a pathetic site for visitors. The Ministry of Road and Surface Transport had issued a circular that puts the onus of road construction and repair work on the contractor and the condition that if the construction of the roads are not up to the mark there is a hefty penalty leading to the contractor or company being blacklisted. The Chief Minister and his cabinet colleagues should drive down and see with their own eyes how public funds have been spent without any accountability. The state PWD department has a number of its officers who commute from Jowai to Shillong  including the Deputy Commissioner so perhaps they are feigning ignorance or just too busy with their own devices to address the problem. Isn’t this a violation of road and public safety?

Yours etc..

Dominic S. Wankhar

Shillong.

Frightening fireworks and Laxmi Puja 

Editor,

If one wants to connect Hindu culture with the senseless bursting of crackers and boisterous fun then he is absolutely wrong. There is no mention in any part of the voluminous scriptures, of fireworks blasting during the Pujas which t “upset” the harmony of peace and tranquility of others. To disturb others’ tranquility falls under the heading of vices. Preserving the sanctity of the environment, and more importantly, inner purity of mind and heart is the “prime doctrine” of SANATAN DHARMA which is popularly known as Hinduism. This Hindu culture now seemingly runs the risk of having been defined by other communities with what is not very pleasant to hear.

I’ve overheard many toxic comments against this blatant desecration of auspicious Puja celebrations. During Holi festival, many people fear to move out of their homes, particularly in the plain areas. You might be blasted with a bucketful of dirty water by pranksters from the 5th floor of the building. Is this sadism part of the Puja and Holi celebration? One is afraid, with each passing year, this festival of color of joy, though having strong spiritual significance, has only painted the very face of Hindu culture with vulgarity and depravity.

In fact peace in one’s life and the effort to help bring peace in others’ lives is essentially the fundamental basis of Hindu culture and festivals. Practically speaking, there is no devotion to God without peace.  Therefore, “Shanti” is one of the most paramount peace mantras in Sanskrit, not “Ashanti” which, of late, is the hallmark of such Hindu Puja celebrations. The profound objective behind this peace mantra even inspired one of the greatest poets of the 20th Century – TS Eliot who underlined it with the purpose of life which he brought out in his epic poem – The Wasteland. That poem finally ends with the same peace mantra — Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.

 It should not be misunderstood that Hinduism disapproves of all kinds of fun and frolic. No, it is never so.  We can have various kinds of festival enjoyments but without ever causing problems to others and to the environment. There are sufficient mentions of fun and frolic, merrymaking even in the spiritual activities — like Krishna Lila, Ram Lila…; and there exist endless nritya shashtras for healthy recreation. But they all are within the “purview of Dharma”. Ancient sages in their meditation conceived and authored a number of treatises in which we find the elaborate approaches and procedures to evolve oneself spiritually through fun-filled dances and music. There are “ragas and layas” (musical modes and rhythm), which are meant to “recharge” the mind for the meditative concentration. The objective behind being to climb up the ladders of realization of oneness and universal uniformity.

However, there is absolutely no scope or prescription for deriving pleasure or fun by causing pain and anxieties to others? How come bursting high decibel fireworks at 2 AM or 3 AM or 4 AM is Puja? In fact, it is called “adharma” or irreligion leading to self-degeneration.

Therefore, it is DIYA, as per Vedas, which symbolizes the LIGHT to dispel the darkness of ignorance, the darkness of vices, and bring forth the light of knowledge to awake the “inherent” divinity. Goddess Laxmi is the “flame” of feminine ENERGY in the infinite cosmic creation. So, indulging in earsplitting fireworks and causing continuous problem to HER creatures, and HER environment, is totally against the fundamental principles of devotion in Hinduism. Very sadly, with the blasting of the fireworks in the name of Goddess Laxmi we have invariably set off the tank of vices only.

Yours etc.,

Salil Gewali

Shillong-2

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