Friday, March 1, 2024

Meghalaya’s pre-election scams

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Now that elections are round the corner, skeletons are bound to tumble out of different cupboards. Most scams will be unearthed by political rivals who want to crucify their opponents. Others who know for a fact that an MLA is indulging in corruption will use the Right to Information (RTI) to unearth corruption. Late Dr FA Khonglam, Meghalaya’s former chief minister lost his Sohra seat due to the RTI revelations which showed that he or his henchmen forged hundreds of signatures of alleged recipients of money for CGI sheets. The beneficiaries were non-existent. The Block Development Officer at the time succumbed to pressures from the MLA and allowed the scam to carry on. When the scam was detected the BDO was suspended for a while but later reinstated and is now holding an important position. Although Khonglam lost the 2008 election he never had to repay the money defrauded. And that is precisely the problem with the RTI. Unless there is strong public pressure the corrupt will escape punishment.

What’s scandalous about the teachers’ recruitment scam is that it directly affects elementary school students who are at an impressionable age. The idea that qualified teachers are passed over for less qualified ones only because they enjoy political patronage is a sacrilege. Every teacher who is appointed has a tenure of at least 30 years. Think of the harm that these mercenaries will inflict on young minds since they would not even have the motivation to teach. Increasingly, those who enter the teaching profession do so for the salary only. They lack the passion and motivation that a teacher with a calling for the profession has. This is what has taken education to a new low in Meghalaya. There are schools in rural areas where teacher absenteeism is very high. Students are sent back home from school at the whims ands fancies of teachers. These teachers must be political appointees. But they do harm to several generations of students. It is time to nip in the bud such horrific scams which have the propensity to affect the future generation adversely.

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