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I am writing in response to the letter, ‘Misplaced Arguments Against Casino’ (ST July 24) simply because I was rather taken aback by the views expressed by NK Sharma.
Although I know little about the thoh tim economy I feel I know enough not to speak of Casinos and thoh tim in the same breath. I am sure many would agree that the two are not exactly in the same ‘league’ – for want of a better word – as I do not wish to suggest that gambling at Casinos is sport, while at least thoh tim does have its origin in archery which is a traditional sport.
Somehow it is difficult, maybe even ludicrous,to imagine that those who frequent casinos would even think of gambling on the skill of archers.We all know that gambling at a casino is for those who have money, and more to spare. How people choose to spend their money and how they obtain their adrenaline kicks is entirely up to them, but what does concern me about the possible introduction of casinos in Meghalaya is that it will only be another way of accentuating that divide between the rich and the poor. If they have not seen and heard enough already, the have-nots will once again be told that certain pleasures, certain experiences are not for them. Although just staying alive may well leave them little time to ponder a change of scene. Perhaps those lower in the hierarchy of ‘haves’ will be the ones left restless. Either way the outlook is not good.
Then to pretend that gambling is not addictive or harmful is totally disingenuous. Sharma’s answer– ‘It can’t be more than a handful’ – to his own question: ‘How many local people have been financially ruined by their gambling instincts?’inspires little confidence. Even if only ‘a handful are financially ruined by their gambling instincts’, that is still a handful too many. Each one is a human life not just a nameless number in some study speculative or otherwise. Anyone who has observed or experienced addiction of any kind will testify to the emotional toll this takes on both the addict and the family. It is not as benign as Sharma would like us to believe.
Sharma meanwhile leaves us in no doubt as to which side he is on. The following sentence dripping with gleeful disdain says it all: ‘For all I know, the likes of Pariat will not have the good fortune of trying their luck at the proposed casino!’ Anyone familiar with Pariat’s work will know that ‘the likes of Pariat’ would not want to touch a casino with the longest of barge poles. So for Sharma to contemplate that Pariat would even want to visit a casino is pointless conjecture. However what is more surprising is that while Pariat is disparaged, Sharma glosses over the exploits of coal barons. I can’t see how an exemption from paying income tax would in any way deter them from using their ‘extra income’ in casinos. It is part of their flamboyant lifestyle.
Wherever you look the Covid19 crisis has exposed the deep divisions in society and devastated economies worldwide. At this point in time when the poor are struggling to get by, the idea of generating employment and income through a casino attracting the affluent and wealthy tourist (who now may or may not come), is insensitive. It can only encourage the mistaken belief that the pastimes of the rich always seem to take precedence over the welfare of the poor.
Apropos the report in your esteemed daily (ST Aug 5, 2020) regarding the containment of certain houses located in Malki due to detection of Covid19 positive cases, I would like to clarify that the report is false and baseless. As a matter of fact, the containment was declared by the District Administration as a measure of precaution due to contact of a member of the said households with a potential high risk person. The erroneous report published in your paper has created unfounded fears and panic among the residents of Malki i and in Shillong as a whole. It has also adversely affected the reputation and livelihoods of those persons named in your report.
As a concerned and affected citizen, I therefore request your daily to henceforth check facts before naming people in your reports.
Dapda A Warjri
(Editor replies: The notification was given to us by the Deputy Commissioner’s office and we reported accordingly. So did other newspapers).
As India struggles to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, revive the flagging economy and solve Chinese incursions into its territory, it needs to deal with another issue – changing of political maps by Pakistan and Nepal. Borders have been a sensitive issue since India became independent in 1947. Successive governments avoided addressing the border issue. In spite of the challenges, India had managed to maintain good relations with the neighbouring countries. India, however, has lost that image today.
Close on the heels of Nepal’s issuance of a map showing Indian territory in Nepal, Pakistan has released a territorially misleading map that included the former princely states of Junagadh (Gujarat) and J&K. In May, Nepal had claimed about 335 sq.km of the entire Kalapani region as its own – a region recognised by both Kathmandu and New Delhi as “disputed”. Recently, Pakistan went a step further and claimed not just the areas that are disputed with India as their own, they also included Junagadh in Gujarat in their new map. Some may dismiss it as a trick played by the neighbouring countries. However, it must be acknowledged that such cartographic wars lead to conflicts between India and the neighbouring countries. When India scrapped Article 370 and released a new political map showing J&K as two union territories- J&K and Ladakh, it was seen as a unilateral act by our neighbours.
India must tactfully deal with the issue by promoting some of the regional set-ups such as the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC). India must not surrender its territories to China by neglecting regional alliance. Unless Modi government injects new life in SAARC, the government may look weak. Instead of prioritising SAARC and BIMSTEC, Modi government chose to prioritise Indo-Pacific and Quadrilateral security dialogue.
In fact, changing political maps has no significance unless it is recognised by the UN. However, it creates problems when Google Maps show altered areas on maps because it is followed by billions of users. India must establish a sustained dialogue with its neighbours. It must ensure that the next SAARC summit is held urgently. This will help thaw India’s relations with its neighbours.