Indigenous faith & conversion

Editor,
The indigenous faiths wherever they are, have their concepts of rituals, worship and religious regimen. They remain confined to their systems and do not propagate their beliefs on others who are not adhering to their indigenous concept of religion. The fear of numbers and perhaps the spiritual supremacy of the indigenous faith overwhelms the new religions and that is why they indulge in calling the indigenous people, animist, idol worshippers and such other derogatory terms. They make their own adherents intolerant and shun them.
For the first time two articles appeared in the Shillong Times dated 4th July 2020 by Albert Thyrniang and another by HH Mohrmen on 3rd August 2020.
The answer is in the national census register. After every ten years the population of the adherents of Niamtre or even Seng Khasi in the State dwindles rapidly. This does not come as a surprise if one considers the fact that the main goal of Christian denominations is to convert the “unbelievers” to their fold. Almost all Churches set up their missions or send missionaries/evangelists to villages where there is still a large population of people who still follow indigenous religion to convert them.
This is the story of the indigenous religion except in some places where they still have strong influence. The sad state of affairs was aptly described by Albert Thyrniang in the article in the Shillong Times titled ‘is it possible to turn back the clock’ (ST July 4th 2020). In reminiscenses about his childhood in the village where he grew up while also giving him some idea how demography of a village changes as a result of conversion.
What is the reason for this fear psychosis when they are today in larger numbers in Meghalaya? More than 80% of the entire population are afraid because in their heart of heart they understand what they have tried to practice was basically to demean something which was noble and rich wrote Thyrniang about Columbus.
He sent thousands of peaceful Tainos to Spain to be sold. Many perished en route. One estimate says within 60 years after Columbus landed in the New World only a few hundred may have survived of the 2,50,000 Taino natives.
Critics say the cruel invader was responsible for genocide of up to 90% of native population under his rule. Even after such a heinous record he is accorded federal holiday in October.
Colonists of the Americas subdued the natives and robbed them of their land and resources. Wealth was shipped to respective countries in Europe. We have to accept that Christianity and Colonialism are closely associated. The Church was seen as the ‘religious arm’ of European colonial powers. Kings and rulers of these countries were Christians and the Church clearly had no objection to the savagery committed. In fact, missionary expeditions followed Colonisation to spread Christianity to America, Africa and to a lesser extent Asia. While Christianity spread “in some area, almost all of the colony’s population were removed from their traditional belief systems and were converted to Christianity which the Colonizers used as a reason to destroy other faiths, enslave the natives, and exploit the lands and seas,” summarises a popular online website.
What is significant to observe here is that the identity, the culture, social and religious expression of the slaves brought from Africa to America and Europe were completely erased. They were even stripped of their surnames. So we see Blacks bearing the names Jones, Brown, Smith, etc. the indigenous concept knowing very well that the concepts propounded by the foreign missionaries are neither offering solace, happiness nor satisfactory because it is based on fear and there is no in- depth spiritualism in what they taught. Just by going to a temple, mosque, or church one would not find satisfaction unless it offers something more than prayers only.
One can see the discrimination today between tribals and non-tribals, between this caste and that caste because what is being taught in the churches is to adhere to a particular concept of religion and not to their motherland. This alienates the new converts from the mainstream. What is not yours i.e. what is acquired can never be yours. Any acquired concept can only be something borrowed but never yours.

Yours etc.,
Bhagwati Prasad Goenka,
Via email

District Councils in the docks

Editor,
It is astonishing to read about the politics and mud-slinging that is happening in the current dispensation led by the NPP and it’s coalition partners against the BJP. It is also surprising that the present coalition is feigning ignorance on the non-payment of salaries to JHADC employees for close to 6 months. As they say politics makes strange bedfellows as displayed in the JHADC with the Congress and BJP in the opposition benches against the ruling EC led by NPP and UDP. How far can things be allowed to degenerate in the autonomous councils? Though the DCA portfolio is held by the PDF, which is a member of the present MDA Government, yet no attempts have been made by the ruling EC in the JHADC to seek clarification on non-release of funds etc. Governance and accountability seem to be of least concern in all the Councils.
Yours etc..
Dominic Stadlin Wankhar
Shillong

Umpling Bridge –A bridge too far

Editor,
After the demolition of the Umpling bridge a lot of inconvenience is caused to the residents of Umpling. One has to pay double or more, the taxi fare to Rynjah and beyond. Many residents feel that the bridge could have been widened without breaking it down. It may be mentioned that one elderly person lost his life recently while walking on an ill constructed temporary wooden bridge. The aged and the elderly fear using the bridge especially during the rains. What is shocking is that the residents were not even consulted by the local authorities before breaking down the bridge. Till date there is absolutely no activity whatsoever, in constructing a new bridge. One wonders how many years it will take before a new bridge comes up.
It is suggested that the project for constructing a new bridge be awarded to a reputed and reliable organisation that can pre-fabricate several parts and components and complete the bridge in the shortest time possible.
Yours etc.,
Albert Andrew Nongrum &
Felix Ranee,
Via email

MDA Govt report card unsatisfactory

Editor,
The MDA Government has nothing to show for its achievements in two and a half years. The Them Mawlong problem remains unsolved. There is no progress on the border talks as has happened with previous governments. We are forced to believe that the Government of Meghalaya is not interested in solving the border problem with Assam. This has put the residents of those border areas in extreme hardship. I wonder if we will ever elect a Government that can wrest a settlement from Assam.
The Education Minister has listed a few aspirational objectives such as opening up the Engineering College by 2021. We look forward to the fruition of this project as this and the Medical College are projects that have been long pending. We also expect this Government to give a push to the railway project and also connect Meghalaya by air to the rest of the country.
Yours etc.,
Pynkhraw Lyngdoh,
Bangalore

Coordination between constitutional institutions

Editor,
The Governor of Rajasthan Kalraj Mishra has expressed his thoughts that coordination between the Governor and the state government ensures netter round-the-clock development of the state. The statement truly deserves applause and is the right move towards good governance. We have seen differences arising between Governors and the state governments in some states. This situation affects the progress of states. The need of the hour is that all constitutional institutions should work in coordination and ensure the prosperity of the state and nation.
Yours etc.,
Amit Singh Kushwaha,
Satna (M.P.)

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