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I attended the VAB consultation called by TUR on May 26, 2015 and took back a few observations, which I hope you will allow me to share here. In light of the recent gender question with regards to women’s participation in the Dorbar, women as headpersons, Angela Rangad’s defense was quite solid and she was succinct and sharp as opposed to the loud speakers whose only argument was based on emotions and abstract notions. Emotions cannot protect us in the House of the Law. They can be used very effectively to smear, ridicule and mock in front of a crowd but it means nothing in the legal sense. However, that is exactly what I saw that day. I began thinking about it and I wondered: would the attacks on Angela Rangad have been different if she had been a man? I wager that they would have been. I was also in the crowd on May 29, at Dinam Hall for the live TV debate, and I felt that the censuring of Kyrsoibor Pyrtuh’s arguments was minimal (perhaps also because he is a pastor) while it sounded out very loudly whenever Rangad spoke. I contend that this is exactly the sort of women these “masculinists” dread and detest. She knows her stuff, paces her arguments well and, though a little emotional, is a formidable opponent, fit to take on any “shipai jong ka Jaidbynriew”. When such people look at a woman like that, they are staring into the future, and they don’t like what they see. These are of course my own personal reflections and subject to criticism.
Going back to the 26th, the other highlight of the day was the arguments put forth by Fabian Lyngdoh, ex chairman of the KHADC. A little background is essential here. Mr Lyngdoh (Iapngar) is from Ri Bhoi. As such he is acquainted with a different type of society i.e. a rural multi-culturalism. Many parts of Ri Bhoi are still like this. Unlike in Shillong, where our relationships with people from other races are centered on professionalism and/or exchange of money, with little actual “contact”, it is not the case there. People in these areas have, for the most part, successfully established a tolerant, pluralistic society. They are years ahead of us in that sense. I realize it sounds too good to be true and of course animosities arise. However, their success is perhaps because they interact with each other; live in the same villages; share the same water sources, forests etc. Their relationships are living, breathing ones borne out of years of participation. This “living together” is in fact the harder topic within the VAB battle, I personally feel.
The gender question is the most hotly debated (and important) issue; but it is not where the real fight lies. Public consensus was tilting towards the inclusion of women in the villages in spite of the, oft times, ridiculous arguments against it. However, the real test will be the attitude, stance the VAB will have towards minorities and “micro-minority” (quoting Lyngdoh) communities. Our progressiveness or barbarism shall be seen in that. Will we impose a “Khasi only policy” on tribes who have been here for hundreds of years, who have been closely connected to us? What about non-tribals and the VAB? I have not seen a single non-tribal write about this nor heard even a single comment inside a chai- dukan or street. Surely they have opinions as well. Whether ‘for’ or ‘against’ is a different thing but surely they realize that this affects them as well? It would be disastrous if this lob-sides.
Haste makes Waste
Apropos the article appearing in your daily, under the caption “A Second Chance” written by Toki Blah, I agree with the author a hundred percent. The Hon’ble High Court by its ruling has given us a chance to reform the Dorbar Shnong and we should take this opportunity to do so and wisely. There is no denying that in Meghalaya the Dorbar Shnong are the only grass root institutions serving the interest of the communities since time immemorial. But does it need to evolve. Yes it does. Presently it appears that there are two schools of thought on the subject of empowering the Dorbar Shnong. One school supports the VAB of the ADCs the other though not entirely opposing it, feels that the VAB should not be rushed through and that more discussions and consultations are required. But what is abundantly clear is that both support the urgent need to recognize and empower the Dorbar Shnong.
Yes, we can demand from the Government to speed up the process of legislation to recognize and empower the Dorbar Shnong but we should not dictate on what it should approve or disapprove. Let the Government of the day, which we have elected, take a call on what is best for all of us for this issue is a complex one, especially in the urban areas of the State. We have been given a second chance, let us not waste it. Haste will definitely make waste.
I also appeal to the CEM of the KHADC to introduce the definition of Rangbah in the Village Administration Bill. As and when this Bill is given assent to by the Hon’ble Governor of Meghalaya, the Dorbar and the Rangbah Shnong will be given recognition and empowerment. In the Bill the meaning of the word “DORBAR” and “SHNONG” are clearly defined. Perhaps the word ” RANGBAH” also needs to be defined. If ” RANGBAH” is inclusive of both male and female adult persons then let it be defined as such.
Clearing the misconceptions
Many have written letters to the editor criticising Balajied Kharshandi’s letter (Long Live Our Leaders ST May 16, 2015). I, however, would like to congratulate the author on the brilliantly written letter. My view on the said letter is that the author was clearly using ‘ “Sarcasm” at its best to drive home the point that the so called NGOs in our state are nothing but a ” No Good, Power Hungry, Selfish, Corrupt, Opportunist, Crooks and Goons” who if they had it their way would take our State and Society back to the dark ages. To all those who criticise Balajied’ s letter, I urge them to have a second look and examine the brilliantly written piece..
Shillong – 1