A 21st Century Dinosaur.

ST of January 17th 2016 carried two stories about two different politicians. Shibun Lyngdoh of the BJP, a newcomer and Bindo Lanong of the UDP, a veteran in Meghalaya politics. Both spoke on the same subject, about their common bete noire, the Congress party and itsperformance, but from two different perspectives. Shibun projected the profile of a young politician; eyes on the future of the state; willing to even work with his worst enemy the Congress, for the betterment of Meghalaya. “Come on everyone we’re all stakeholders in developing the future of this state” seems to be the message from this young man. Laniong on the other hand chose to oppose for oppositions sake;  to speak about sanctity of ‘Time immemorial” (only God knows what that means);  of threats from the future and of the  danger of trying to adapt to change. Frankly speaking that was why Dinosaurs became extinct- they refused and were incapable of adapting to change!
Its time we challenged this phrase “from time immemorial”. Everyone who has no vision for the future; who is scared of tomorrow; who refuses to visualise what really our grandchildren need, take refuge behind this phrase. For many of our leaders “Time Immemorial” is passed off as the pinnacle of wisdom that cannot be challenged come what may. What rubbish!  Within the topic of empowering and legislating our traditional bodies, this idiotic phrase has been used to even nullify Constitutional realities. The UDP claims that only the District Councils are authorised to empower and legislate on traditional bodies. Will the party please refer to List II ‘State List’, para 5 of the 7th Schedule? Of course it should not be read in isolation but with para 12 A of the 6th Schedule. It then makes complete sense. We are speaking here about modern grassroots institutions capable of giving service as per requirements of the times. Time Immemorial tradition is quite something else. Please don’t confuse between the two.  The issue of Govt servants as Rangbah Shnongs also needs to be reviewed. Govt Servants are paid employees and as such are not expected to participate in anti Govt agitations nor burn effigies of their pay masters, nor spit on the image of the Head of the Establishment. Not expected to take out anti Govt processions on the 28 of the month and by the 1st, stretch eager greedy hands for their monthly pay cheque. Khasis call such people haram nimok (Can’t understand why the SNSBH hasn’t kicked out such undesirable elements). This is not to deny that most Govt servants who take up voluntary work in our Dorbars perform yeoman service and are the backbone in local governance. They actually are the ones who implement Govt/MP/MLA schemes.  The Govt would be committing Hara-kiri if it debarred all Govt servants from such social service to the public. The trick would be for such Govt servants to obtain permission/written undertakings from their HOD and to observe service rules. No problems, and it makes sense. What does not make sense is making political capital from an administrative problem that the UDP might have to confront if it ever came to power. Talking about the UDP, please don’t let it stand for
“the Undiluted Dinosaurs Party”. It would be such a tragedy with all the brilliant young minds in the party.
Yours etc.,
Milliancy Nongsteng,
Via email

Why different interpretations of the Constitution?

As a lay person and past student of Political Science, I have nursed a revered belief that the Constitution of India must be duly respectedand observed in letter and spirit by each individual Indianirrespective of positional status. And, as Indians we are assured that we have the Courts of law to interpret and safeguard the essence of our Constitution whenever any doubt, dispute etc., arise in this aspect. Of late, I have found myself utterly at odds for having come across two identical cases, pertaining to our Constitution, one in Maharashtra and the other in our very own state of Meghalaya; the incidents related to the dispute over the appointment on compassionate grounds in the Govt. departments: In the first instant case, the Hon’ble Bombay High Court while hearing the writ Petition No 11987 of 2012 on December 6, 2013, had adjudicated the case in favour of the 29 year old woman, Ms. S. Kulkarni. Here, the case in point pertained to
the rejection of the woman’s application for appointment on compassionate grounds in lieu of her father who expired while in service in the department of water Resources, Govt. of Maharashtra. The latter advanced the argument that as per resolution adopted by the Govt., it stipulates that no married daughters can be admissible for appointment on compassionate factor. However, as stated, the Bombay High Court rejected outright the Govt’s contention by citing that this
amounted to discrimination in public employment, violating the mandate of Article 14, 15, 16 and 21 of the Constitution of India concerning right to equality, equal right to public employment and even right to life. Such discrimination is not expected from a welfare state the Court maintained. Hence, the appointment on compassionate grounds of that married daughter of the deceased employee was upheld by the Hon’ble Bombay High Court on “applicable policy”
Coming to Meghalaya, a parallel case occurred which involved a married daughter who applied for a Grade IV post in place of her deceased father who while working as a regular driver in the Office of Sub divisional agricultural officer, Sohra, Deptt of Agriculture, passed away in 2007. In this context, her application was rejected by the Government. Finding herself in a dire situation, the applicant had approached the Meghalaya State Legal Services Authority, Shillong to
avail free legal assistance to contest her case. The latter finding her case to be worth contesting had appointed a Legal aid Counsel to plead the case of the aggrieved woman. However, after a lapse of some months, that woman petitioner was informed that her plea for such compassionate appointment, premised on the existing government guidelines, was incontestable given that she has already married although her economic status was acceptable for compassionate appointment. Ironically, while the married daughter in Maharashtra was happily rehabilitated, here, her counterpart in Meghalaya has to end up frustrated:
Now, juxtaposing the above two co-incidental cases in Maharashtra and Meghalaya, I observe that even in these two states falling within the Indian Union there are different interpretations of the Constitution. If, as inferred to above, Articles 14, 15, 16, and 21 of the Constitution are being violated in Maharashtra, how is it not so in Meghalaya? In the light of this will the legal experts of Meghalaya throw light on the abiding interpretation or implication of our Constitution as it stands today thereby dispelling the nagging misgivings. Perhaps it may be pertinent to recall that on November 26, 2015 we have observed our National Constitution day to validate the fact that our Constitution embodies the system of laws and basic  principles that govern our country. Alas, how I wish there was a nation-wide harmonization in the interpretation of our Constitution!

Yours etc.,
Jerome Diengdoh
Shillong – 2

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