Sunday, June 23, 2024
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Why no holiday for Nongkrem Dance?

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Editor,

 It is sad that the Ri- Bhoi District does not give a holiday on the occasion of The Nongkrem Dance. Why is it so? In the past few years the Ri Bhoi foundation day and the Unitarian Day are the two holidays declared by the Deputy Commissioner. Since 2010 we all know that Unitarian Day is now a state holiday, so why not declare Nongkrem Dance as a holiday too so that all those who want to attend this very important festival for the Khasi community can do so without taking leave from their workplace and students do not miss their classes?

Yours etc

IG Wanswett,

Via email

 Get serious about tourism!

 Editor,

Can Meghalaya really be considered a tourist destination? We have rich culture, scenic beauty, great climate yes, but so too do most other states in India. Consider this – a tourism destination where Sundays are “closed”, one where basic infrastructure in its greatest attractions e.g Cherrapunjee is missing, one where the arterial roads resemble dirt tracks, a city where a “service mindset” is wholly absent, is hardly going to be one’s favourite go-to place for people outside the state. With so much potential at hand, Meghalaya could have become one of the top tourism destinations in India. Instead it is resigned to cater to a mere handful of tourists, mostly from Assam and West Bengal. If KSU’s proposal of an Inner Line Permit is implemented, the tourism sector will virtually shut down. After all, which tourist would want to deal with the hassles of getting an ILP when they can very well replace Meghalaya with some other attractive choice (maybe Assam) on their itinerary?

Many have expressed concerns about the demographic change and of protecting the indigenous culture of Meghalaya. These are valid concerns, and I share them to some extent. But tourism should not be confused with infiltration or a migration problem. Neither is tourism going to dilute our culture. These are completely separate issues and should be kept apart. Tourism should be looked upon primarily from a REVENUE standpoint. The local population benefits when tourists spend money, and the economy grows. Now all this will only happen if tourists come at all. They won’t, if the facilities are bad or the locals are hostile or if there are hurdles in getting into the state, (courtesy PWD roads and ILP). To cite an example, the tourist footfall in Nagaland, Arunachal and Mizoram (which are all equally beautiful places) is hardly worth talking about. This is because of the problems associated with the ILP, bad infrastructure and/or the unrest prevailing there. The whole point is, if the economy of our state is to grow and provide employment and avenues for our youth, tourism must be considered a serious proposition.

Several examples from across the globe show that societies cannot remain insulated in this artificial manner without damaging itself permanently and irreversibly. At this point, the economic loss already suffered by the state due to corruption and lost opportunities (like tourism) is huge. There are very few jobs to go around and hardly any other means for making a decent living for young people in our state. Those who can afford it send their children to good schools and colleges outside the state and abroad. Most of our talented youngsters look for job opportunities in other places. How can we therefore continue to isolate and insulate ourselves for fear of being marginalized? Are we saying that we are willing to remain in an economically deprived condition forever? There should be more debates and brainstorming to find a BETTER SOLUTION to tackling the problem of demographic change. Let us not allow politicians and organizations with vested interests to cloud our thinking. It would also be wise to keep in mind that what goes around can very well come around. What if other states like Maharashtra, Karnataka, Assam, etc decide to impose similar restrictions on the people of Meghalaya? Where would we be then? These are of course hypothetical questions but we must think through them too. They could well become a reality.

Our tourism sector is practically defunct. The very existence of the tourism department in Meghalaya can be questioned. Just a couple of cultural festivals a year won’t help, unless there is aggressive promotion by the Meghalaya Tourism Dept all over the country at regular intervals. Reversing some of the bad policies and decisions outlined above would certainly help uplift tourism to a large extent and thereby bring in more revenue to the State. We have to stop thinking along conventional lines and start thinking out of the box if we are to achieve something!

Yours etc.,

Daisy Kharkongor,

Shillong-3

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