The Meghalaya of my dreams

By Fr. Michael Makri, sdb

On August 28, 1963 Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered a speech “I have a dream” which called for equality and to end the discrimination in the Americas. Gandhiji wrote and spoke extensively about his dream village. ‘I have a dream, a fantasy to help me through reality …..’ is a song sung by the ABBA. However intuitively they rightly realized that it would be fulfilled. I have a dream, a dream for Meghalaya, but for sure my dream is far from being fulfilled because we are all in deep slumber.

I dream of Meghalaya having modern technology, being self reliant, sustainable and providing its residents a high quality life. But at this juncture when we will soon touch the half century mark as a full fledged state, we have not changed very much since the time of Tirot Singh’s or Kiang Nangbah. About 60% of Meghalaya’s rural population has no electricity; very poor drinking water supply and majority of rural villages have not seen a tarred road.

We cannot become the most prosperous state in India, as some of our political leaders are taking about during election (keep watching, election promises are round the corner), unless and until we seriously think about our mode of communication, roads that connects one place to another, one village to another, one district to another and bring this 60% of our rural population into the mainstream of development thereby providing a quantum jump to their quality of life.

Another way to do so is by providing adequate electricity to these areas. Adequate and uninterrupted supply of electricity for lighting, agriculture, communication, entertainment and a whole host of other activities can transform the lives of rural population and bring in tremendous wealth to these areas. Modern, high technology together with locally available resources can provide a mechanism to do so. I dream of Meghalaya with electric trains plying in full speed connecting all the district headquarters to the main city thus avoiding the traffic on the road and in few minutes we reach our destination. But when I wake up, I realized that not even an engine train track is available.

We may not be able to have super fast trains like China does, or a metro like other cities in India, or faster mode of communication like our political leaders would promise us just before the election but with mounting traffic on the road, and unavailability of spaces on the ground, its high time we think of some alternatives.

I dream of Meghalaya as a meeting spot for International tourists, as the landscaping of our state is second to none. The flora and fauna – wow! Anything you desire to see, is there before you. When I was a child, people said, “Meghalaya is the Scotland of the East.” Now that I am almost an old man, I disagree with them. It has become the ‘Sodom of the East’ because if at all there are people wanting to invest here, they are scared to death lest they are attacked, robbed, raped, no place to lay their heads on. Meghalaya is not safe anymore. And we have ourselves to blame. Can we have better and cleaner hotels, resorts, restaurants, dhabas and good roads at least in few prominent tourist spots in our State? We can’t because we are going the Sodom way of treating the people as well as the environment.

I dream of Meghalaya as a rich and well to do state. What do we lack? Uranium? We have it. Cement? We got it. Coal? We own it. Limestone? We possess it. Fruits? We have a variety of. Vegetables? Anything grows. Food crops? In abundance! Yet we depend on other states to supply us even chillies. When can we tap all these resources? Who will help us? The Government with the unlimited schemes from the central government should be able to help, guide, implement and lead us in this matter.

I dream of Meghalaya, having multiplexes with variety of facilities, super markets, malls, shopping centers with latest fashionitas and products. When I open my eyes, But it’s a distant dream!

I dream of Meghalaya as a dust free, pollution free, noise free; a new Switzerland in India and singing along with Paul Mojo ‘Country road take me home.… ‘ but the stench from the road side not mentioning the city, the honking of the vehicles and the siren of the ministers makes me realize that I am not in Switzerland, but in Meghalaya.

I dream of Meghalaya, as a paradise on earth but on waking up I realise, ‘We are a corrupt society; we have absolutely no back bone to stand on when it comes to accountability. So I prefer to remain in my dream, until this present generation is healed

Friends! When shall we wake up?

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