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Apropos Fr. Michael Makri sdb’s letter, “20 years only: If we don’t progress we regress” (ST, Tura Edition, June 7, 2012) some would say that the young author of four books including ‘Ka Paju Ki Bhoi’ got a little carried away. Some may say he should have been more sober while expressing disappointment with the performance of our public representatives. We need not bash them – the way team Anna does. However, I for one would like to see the bigger picture. If Ri Bhoi district with its head quarters in Nongpoh is nearest (in reference to Meghalaya) to Guwahati – the Gate Way of the North East, has not made much progress then what about the rest? What about Jaintia Hills, West Khasi Hills, East Garo Hills, West Garo Hills and South Garo Hills? The answer is obvious!
It is for everyone to see that development in Meghalaya is urban centric. You need not be a social scientist to say that Shillong gets the lion’s share of development. You need not do any research to observe that development starts in Shillong and then it filters down to as far as it can reach. It is like the circles of waves in the water when a stone is thrown. The epi-center of development is in the state capital. The farther you go from it the less the development. If you go to the border areas you won’t see any of it. The waves have disappeared!
This capital/urban centric model is even followed by different religious societies in the church. Shillong is in fact packed with educational institutions run by religious orders. They have excellent infrastructure. Some of them are kingdoms unto themselves. They are posh; so posh that some feel ill at ease inside those ‘mansions’. Do we find any of them outside Shillong? Have the concerned authorities made efforts to create one in the rural areas? Perhaps, these institutions are also egocentric. Lest I stray too far let me come back to the point!
Not that one is jealous of the Scotland of the East, but it is true. You see good roads only there. Good educational institutions are only there. Only there you will find good hospitals. It also seems that government offices are situated only there (even tidy work like getting scholarship forms and submitting them one has to travel from say, Baghmara (approximately 450 kms) to the state capital). It is only in Shillong that all the homes are electrified. Only there that water is supplied sufficiently if not non-stop.
This urban centric attitude and mentality has to change if Meghalaya is to progress. The leadership in this change rests with the government first and foremost because whether we like it or not it is the government which is the greatest agent of development. It has to evolve and implement policies which are rural centric. It has to literally neglect the city and concentrate on the villages for a sustainable development of the whole state. Remember Shillong is not Meghalaya!
Village – Mendal
East Garo Hills.
NCP’s future in Meghalaya
With the Nationalist Congress Party coming down heavily on Mr. P.A. Sangma for placing himself for the post of President of India, it is hard to see how NCP in Meghalaya can identify itself with its parent party. Undoubtedly Mr. Sangma is a fit candidate for contesting the Presidential election and he should not withdraw his candidature fearing for his daughter’s future in the Union Cabinet. If necessary, NCP in Meghalaya can emerge with a separate identity. One can also feel that NCP President Mr Pawar whose silent aspiration is to become the Prime Minister of India, is treating his party colleague shabbily, to please Sonia Gandhi.
Lawlessness in Garo Hills
There is total lawlessness in Garo Hills. Some extremists are collecting money from shopkeepers and business houses everyday. In turn these shopkeepers are increasing the prices of essential commodities. Even barbers are now charging Rs 30 for a simple hair cut. We the common people face immense problems as we cannot cope up with inflation caused by mindless and selfish people. The extortionists who claim they are fighting for their people are actually collecting money directly or indirectly from us. How long can we continue to live with this problem? Who bring these extortionists to justice; only the Almighty knows! Governance seems to have collapsed in Garo Hills while goondas rule the roost. But I would like to remind you that we are all accountable to God as the Scripture says : Ecclesiastes 12:14 For God shall bring every work into judgment with every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil. I pray that the day of deliverance comes sooner than later.
It is shocking to read of the exploitation of thousands of children in the coal mines of Meghalaya. The accusation that this is being done by mining companies in connivance with local officials makes it an appalling case of human rights abuse which needs to be taken up by the international community. The steps taken by the Indian government are wholly inadequate and have come far too late in the day. A thorough investigation must be done by an impartial agency so that the children can be rehabilitated and the guilty punished.
Why the interest in Langpih?
I am surprised that none of the local dailies including The Shillong Times mention the real reason behind the Langpih border dispute with Assam. Politicians and NGOs have tried to paint it with a pseudo patriotic brush, while the government has attempted to project it as a border dispute only. But neither your paper nor any other English daily questions the reason for the sudden spurt of interest of both state government in acquiring this area. The real reason for all this aggressive posturing is reports of potentially large Uranium deposits to be found in the Langpih area. Strange how this vital piece of information is omitted from all reports.