Your Friday column (ST Nov 13,2020) was incisive. Hats off to you! You have the gift of the pen as you have the courage to speak out the bitter truth. A good section of people of Meghalaya do not see eye to eye with your many stand on public issues. But then, I suspect they privately admire you for what you are because you are the only one who has been championing the cause of the people without being self-centred. I doff my hat to you! I totally agree with you that Meghalaya has developed a political culture that is self- defeating. The points you made about MTDC and MeCEL are worth pondering about. Why have a Corporation if it is incapable of earning profit out of tourism? Prior to pandemic, Meghalaya had a booming tourism business. Everybody has earned a fair share of profit. Hotels, restaurants, taxi operators, small traders around the popular tourist spots, all have prospered. Then, why should MTDC be an exception? I think time has come for the common people to rise as one to call the bluff of the political class. We cannot hide the rot any more.
I wish to bring to your kind attention that our educated, qualified children who were working outside the state before the coronavirus pandemic broke out, are today in a state of penury. A qualified man, who used to earn Rs 50,000 in the metros, is today fetching only 12,000 per month. Is this fair? Is this why we fought for a separate state?
We are thankful to Mr Sanbor Shullai, MLA South Shillong, who surprised the House on November 11, the last day of the Assembly session, claiming that he had found a cure to Covid-19. He narrated his encounter with the beggars in his constituency. “How come you are not scared of corona virus?” he asked them. He then went further and said, “You never brush your teeth, nor bathe and neither you wear masks and you sleep on the roadside. Are you not afraid?” “No” they said, “There is a God.” This old age wisdom has come from no other than the poor, simple, neglected people who are considered the scum of society.
In the corona virus we have a level playing field; it respects no person whether rich or poor, educated or uneducated. But there is also mystery about it. A wife tested positive but her children and the husband who sleep and eat with her tested negative. An elderly person who has no history of contact with anyone managed to contact the virus. Two tests of the same person in a matter of five days gave two different results. How do you explain all this? Modern science tries to explain that it’s all because of the immune system of an individual. How come one has a strong immune system while another has a weak system? As humans we surrender. Only God knows everything. I’m reminded of a chemistry professor who asked the fastidious students how they can explain a black cow eating green grass and giving out white milk.
Coming back to the wise answer given by the beggars, we should acknowledge that simple minds could receive truths that learned minds cannot absorb. It is possible to be so learned that in the end we cannot see the woods for the trees. What is God like? Jesus said if you want to see the mind of God, the heart of God, the nature of God, look at me. In acknowledging the poor people of his time, who see God in Jesus, he said, “I thank you Father, Lord of heaven and earth that you have hidden these things from the wise and the clever and have revealed them to babes.(Math.11:25) It is very appropriate that Shullai ended his speech in the house by saying, “Let us pray for each other.”
Stop illegal collection from trucks
The past few weeks have seen reports about the coal issue in our beloved state. As a resident of this state, I feel I must make my opinion heard to the Government of the day. It is really strange that even in today’s day and age, there seems to be no solution to the illegal collection of toll from trucks plying on the national highways in Meghalaya, when all it requires is a single Executive Order by the government that all weighbridges or check-gates authorised by the Government or the District Councils to levy and collect fees/tolls/royalty/cess/etc. should prominently display, at the place of operation, the following information – a) reference of the legal sanction to levy/collect, b) on whom and what items are applicable for levy, c) the different rates of levy, and d) contact information of authority designated to address grievances 24/7. Over and above, the Executive Order should prohibit receipt of any payment in cash and instead accept only digital payments (where options are many). Already we have seen these two operations being made effective at the NHAI Toll Plaza at Paham-Mawlein, Ri Bhoi District and since all other weighbridges/check-gates are located on similar national highways, they should perhaps follow suit sans any privileges. Whilst the Executive Order may be in waiting, the trucks on the national highways can for the moment get an updated list with specific location of the authorised weighbridges/check-gates where compliance is required and at what sanctioned rates. We’ve seen how such pdf files or photos have gone viral on social media.
Even then, there’s always the devil that won’t be caught working on the national highways as he imposes diversions to suspicious lay-byes or halts trucks off location. For that, I’m sure many others are better placed to suggest tactful interventions.
In today’s life and with emerging technologies we need to get our work done faster and better and having a good mobile service provider with good quality calls and data network is a boon.
Through this letter, I would like to appreciate Airtel’s open network. I have been an Airtel subscriber for many years now and it has been a good experience. However, there was a time when its data network had gone from good to worse, and I was quite disappointed by this.
Then I came to know about the open network that Airtel projects or shows it’s network coverage in a particular place.
I called the open network team and raised a complaint. Their response was indeed incredible and the best and they were a delight to talk to. They told me that my data issue can only be corrected by installing a tower and they asked me for a few months time to erect a new tower, and on top of that as compensation for my problem they waived my monthly rental by Rs 100 – a move I really appreciate because it is customer- centric. Then within a month’s time my data network was restored with high speed internet of which I am so thankful to Airtel. I also have SIM cards other operators but they don’t even bother to respond and provide a resolution t my problems.
That is why Airtel really proved themselves winners in the telecom industry and outnumbered others operators’ subscriber base.
I express my gratitude to the Airtel Open Network Team for doing a great job! Kudos to them.
Dr Chanmiki Ezra Laloo,