On Casinos in Meghalaya


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.

Yours etc.,

Janet Hujon,

Via email

Misleading report


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.

Yours etc.,

Dapda A Warjri

Shillong -1

(Editor replies: The notification was given to us by the Deputy Commissioner’s office and we reported accordingly. So did other newspapers).


India’s predicament


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.

Yours  etc.,

Venu GS, 

Via  email

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