Apropos the letter “New faces, new expectations” by Jeremiah Syngkli (ST Oct 5), is timely. The change of guard rekindles hopes of better performance be it in MPSC or the state cabinet. I think the letter’s first part talks about the general expectations of the public at large. But can we really expect the Commission to suddenly pull a rabbit out of the hat? No magic wand can do the trick. Yes, the newly appointed Chairperson and the members will be morally obligated to deliver what the author suggests: “raise it to the standard that meets with approval in the public eye.”
While I cannot prejudge how effective the reconstituted MPSC will prove to be, I can certainly point out some of the challenges that would come their way—both internally and externally. Let me point at what might be encountered by the new team internally. First and foremost is the lack of integrity of the underlings and subordinate staff. There is a lackadaisical attitude in the office establishment. They must rise above their comfort zones and extend a helping hand. I know for a fact, that the attitude of the staff sometimes is a cause of concern. The way questions are leaked from inside is a case in point. There has to be strict vigil in the office and if need be an officer be deputed for reporting suspicious activities in the confidential section.
There are black sheep who would fall for a few bucks or out of affection simply try to help somebody dear. Everybody should know that by one such irresponsible act they are going to do incalculable harm to the future of so many others who have merit and deserve the post they may be vying for, but do not know how to manipulate their way through.
Among the external challenges, I know for a fact that candidates in their fierce desire to grab a post would go any lengths. They befriend the staff of the MPSC and solicit their help in all possible manner. Besides, there are candidates who are capable of influencing the Board members. And then, there is the suspicion of members themselves playing hanky- panky. There are unbelievable stories about the questions being asked at the viva voce. When a Member at the interview Board has made up his/her mind for helping a particular candidate, unashamedly there would be a simple and easy question. Otherwise, the interview would be replete with silly and irrelevant questions because the interview is a formality since the chosen ones have already made it to the approved list beforehand.
The letter writer has already mentioned the other scourge—string pulling by the influential and the powerful, mostly ministers and legislators. This has been the biggest drawback of MPSC. How they will go about their job in the next few years will be watched with great interest. After all, in having a fair MPSC we have big stakes in ensuring that our children do not fall victim to internal machinations. We wish the new team luck!
Shillong – 3
On evolution of Dorbar Shnong
The article, “Evolution of Dorbar Shnong in Shillong Region,” by Aristotle Lyngdoh (ST Oct 6, 2020) makes for very interesting reading. This is the first time that someone has contested the claims of ‘traditionalism’ and pointed out that the Dorbar Shnong is not more than 200 years old and is a replica of the Dorbar Hima which has more claims to being traditional. Such write-ups are important for a society to come off its shell and to move ahead with the times. Today most Dorbar Shnong follow a constitution which they have put together as a code of conduct. Aristotle Lyngdoh has pointed to the need for the Dorbar Shnong to be accountable so that it earns credibility.
Most importantly, Lyngdoh questions if the Dorbar Shnong should continue to function in an ad-hoc manner and be subject to criticisms and to court rulings simply because it is outside the ambit of the Indian Constitution. Perhaps it is high time for those heading different Dorbar Shnong to also sit together and discuss these emerging realities. They should themselves decide whether they want to be under the District Councils or under the State Government.
In this Pandemic the Dorbar Shnong have been working in a coordinated manner with the various district administrations. The Dorbars have been able to deliver services to the people in their respective jurisdictions. This arrangement made life so much easier for people in every locality. What is making it difficult for Dorbar Shnong to function effectively is the lack of funds. Most Dorbar rely on the annual collection from the residents to carry out minor repair and maintenance works. If they become part of the government they will be funded for carrying out various developmental activities such as starting a garbage composting unit in every Dorbar, wherever space is available. This can become a livelihood for many young people. Right now all the solid organic and inorganic waste is dumped into out only landfill at Marten. Now Marten has reached breaking point. Its important to democratize garbage collection and treatment. This is just one of the many things that the Dorbar Shnong can do to add to good governance.
One other important point that has not been mentioned by Lyngdoh is that the different officer bearers cannot continue to work pro-bono. They have to be remunerated for their effort in running the affairs of the shnong. As of today they have no funds and the Rangbah Shnong and his team have also never felt the need to be compensated. But this is a modern system and we cannot have people working only part time. A full time worker must be paid for the service rendered. The Dorbar Shnong needs to mull over this point too. A time will come when a Dorbar Shnong cannot function only on certain days but has to be available to its people every day. Also a time will come when retired people may not be around to run the show as Rangbah Shnong and only a full time worker is available. What then?
Every institution must brainstorm on how to evolve and meet the challenges of the future otherwise it will not be able to survive . I am glad that Lyngdoh also brought in the gender factor. For a very long time ‘tradition’ was the excuse for not allowing women to hold office of Rangbah Shnong, even when there are capable women to do so. This is no longer tenable in a world where gender equity has become the new norm. And don’t forget this is a matrilineal society!