May I first express my deepest condolences to the family of the bereaved (Ms Dana Sangma’s and also Richard Loitam’s). The very tragic death of these two young and talented youths from the ‘Northeast’ is a collective dishonour. The grief and anguish is shared irrefutably by the entire country, not only the “region”. It bears upon the collective conscience of the entire country and the moral liability is on each one of us. The speech-making, therefore, that attributes the cause of such deaths as being founded upon the perpetual “sense of discrimination” and “racial bias”, that people of the “region” experience in “other” parts of the country, requires more sensible consideration.
The absence of any substantive application of rule of law and effective access to justice by common citizens is a case of growing and serious concern. Ordinary folks from all over the country, not just from the ‘northeast’ “region”, have difficulties in seeking redress to the infringement of their rights and countless forms of injustices. Even letters to the editor in this newspaper have represented the experiences of a number of cases (who do not belong to this region) where lack of proper application of the rule of law vitiated access to justice. By invoking the perceived sense of marginality and implicit bias, founded upon racial difference and regional prejudice, we will not be able to enrich the substantive impartiality and certainty of law.
The insistent appeal to the pervasiveness of racialised discrimination of people, especially students, from “northeast” in the “mainland”, may assist in the construction of an artificial homogeneity of the “region” but needlessly exaggerates the “fear of small numbers”. Our collective inability to overcome this sense of eternal victimhood would only corrode the developing self-assurance and proud confidence that people from the “region” have come to collectively draw upon and manifest in recent years, especially in their growing visibility in the “mainland”. The competence and ability of the people from “northeast” has received social appreciation and institutional recognition even as they share vulnerabilities like many fellow citizens. Therefore, the steadfast desire to invoke marginality, prejudice and racism as the defining codes of their relationship with other citizens of an assumed “mainland” is simply a politicized fallacy that many people from the region appreciate, but fail to overcome due to the short-term advantages it offers. It will perhaps do no good if we continue to invoke “regional” bias as the basis for acts of brazen criminality.
And Chief Ministers should know this only too well.
Through your esteemed daily, I would like to highlight the pathetic services of BSNL in Shillong. I have a Data One broadband connection that is out of order for almost 10 days. Despite repeated calls to the BSNL service centre and exchange, the problem is yet to be rectified. The personnel at the exchange do not have basic courtesy to even reply politely, and the phone was hung up on my face on at least 5 occasions before I could even complete what I had to say. And this was from my landline phone. About mobile connectivity, the less said the better. Calls get dropped and I have to dial a minimum of half a dozen times to get through. And “connection error” is the most common occurrence while making a call from BSNL mobile. Its’ high time that BSNL authorities take notice and pull up their socks. My indignation is caused by the fact that I have been a faithful BSNL customer for more than a decade now and use 3 land lines including 2 broadband connections and also 2 mobile phones. But maybe its’ time to migrate to a different network and service provider. That is probably what BSNL wants!
Dr Neelanjan Roy,
The proposal to extend perquisites and privileges to former Speakers of Lok Sabha will open a Pandora’s Box. This will open the floodgates with demands from other former functionaries down the line including former MPs and MLAs. Political parties cutting across their ideological differences and rivalries are likely to support the proposal as Indian political parties are having an enviable record of joining hands on matters of mutual interest and issues of ‘national importance’. Perks and privileges are provided to people holding high offices to facilitate better functioning and not as a status symbol. Politicians after enjoying the perks and privileges while in office should learn to live like ordinary citizens once they retire from the post. Gone are the days when politics was considered a saga of social service and the general perception today is that politics is a lucrative business for earning quick returns. The amazing gap between the declared wealth of some politicians between two elections is a testimony to this point. Government is already spending colossal amount for perks, privileges and security of the former functionaries. Need of the hour is to gradually reduce such perks and privileges, especially expenditure on security so that the money saved could be utilized for the upliftment of the suppressed, oppressed and depressed class of society. It is hoped that former functionaries will forego the perks and privileges in the greater national interest and regain the lost glory of politics as a saga of social service. Amassing higher perks and privileges is an aristocratic mindset not conducive to the largest democracy of the world.
E M Adithyan,