Thursday, February 22, 2024

Turbulence in the State

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By Ananya S Guha

Now over two and a half months it is unrest that captivates the state of Meghalaya, and the newspapers emblazon themselves with this fact. What however is being done to mitigate this unrest is anybody’s guess. For over forty years Meghalaya has lived fortuitously, that there has been around the same number of governments bear testimony, to an unrest itself, silent unspeakable. What have our leaders done is another question. Profligacy, waste, corruption are other sensitive issues. Who can we blame- leaders, ourselves, the intelligentsia?

 The third ‘ victim ‘ of the ILP Movement today stunningly hits  the news- a pall of gloom some where. Unfortunately whether it is with death or an assault, or arson, it is always the question of them and us. The two never meet. The plethora of suggestions, which centres around dialogue and talks is only at best elusive, at worst a chimera, dreams riddled with doubts, suspicion and fears.  So in these forty years what has been achieved? Nothing the cynics say.

 At the base of all things is a genesis- fear. This has been acknowledged by some leaders as well. What can be one to attenuate these stark fears? How do we distinguish between real and perhaps imagined ones? The example of Tripura, lurks like an admonition, a ghost  at prey. The laws protecting tribal rights become redundant in this context, in this time of allaying fears. In the meantime society continues to be polarized, something which is not only detrimental to the state, but something which is accepted with nonchalance. Who will mitigate fears, who will do the act of persuasion? We are dependent on a political will, but every year when agitations such as the present one rules the roost, the political voice steadfastly avoids the truth. One way of  solubility is responding to violence by counter attacks. But this may not be the right way of looking at things, always. When law becomes a mockery, then law fails.

 What other issues need to be addressed? What about poverty, education and health care? The schools in the rural areas are besotted with such paltry conditions, that as per the version of developmental organizations such as ADB, they need a more fundamental way of rejuvenation, rebuild them, re construct them ! Such are the pathetic state of affairs- the existence of ghost schools, An educated class grows, this is fine, but so does a corrupt class, and class borders define the points of a corrupt class and the poor. There does not seem to be a middle light or path. And this is the beginning of recalcitrance, nay insurgence.

 We must analyse causes, to study effects, a cause effect theory posited, will tell why all this ails our state. And then we will see that the outward manifestations are only the cause for inner turmoil. True the fears mentioned above are a base cause, but much of it has to do with within, and failure of a leadership or polity machinery. The tragedy is that divisiveness continues with unabated elan – the them and the us. Two wrongs never make a right, who will believe this?

 The ILP issue is symptomatic of a society which is fearful, threatened by obliteration. The signs that lead to such insecurity are small intangible happenings everyday spread over the last five to six decades. Whenever I tell my ‘ non tribal ‘ compatriots that two wrongs can never make a right, this is pooh- poohed with gusto, and I am even reminded that there is something called reverse parochialism! The point is that of intransigence from all ways. In the midst the torturous reality is that good people suffer. For the blemishes of individuals, we cannot tarnish an entire community. That is also very wrong, that is an insidious way of hiding the truth and making false pretensions, using the heinous fact to hide real feelings. As long as we continue to hide behind our real feelings, the corrosiveness of hatred will continue to impinge upon our minds.

 It is also difficult for a government to control emotions. At the heart of it lies a Failure, the failure to address poverty, the failure to improve development and connectivity in the state, the failure of education, which is at the heart of all problems. And then we talk of another connectivity, the more exotic one – the internet. Unless basic problems are redressed we cannot go for any technological benefit of an inclusive and coordinated society. Those who drop out of school, can easily resort to paths of violence. Why O why don’t our leaders understand this unpatented truth?

 Our state suffers from multiple wounds. Let us accept this paradigm of uncertainty. It is in this twilight zone that individual relationships can build up a fractured society. Anger can only be momentary, what is needed is understanding a sad truth, understanding a divided society, and trying to discover what went wrong where.

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