Understanding racism


As one born and brought up in Shillong and a keen follower of the goings-on in that city, through The Shillong Times, I am writing this email to inform your readers of a free (virtual) extra-curricular educational effort (via Zoom) — a lecture-discussion series titled, “Race, Racism, Anti-Racism” presented by faculty members of Purdue University Northwest. As this is a virtual event, it is accessible by anybody (with Zoom) in the world. Given the time difference, if these events are too late for your readers, they are welcome to listen to the YouTube postings posted after each event.

In the first event on Jan 26, 12:30 – 1:45 pm CST (meaning 12-1:15 am Jan 27, Shillong time) Dr. Artz will be speaking to local  Black Lives Matters (BLM) activists. Any of your readers who wish to learn more about BLM activists are welcome to participate in this Zoom event. Mr. Nongrum is welcome to ask questions of the BLM activists.

Your readers are cordially invited to attend the entire Spring 2021 portion of this race series.

(1) For information, see https://www.pnw.edu/pnw-race-racism-anti-racism-series/

This website includes the Spring 2021 program, plus all media coverage and almost all YouTube postings of our Fall 2020 portion of this series.

(2) To register, use this link: https://purdue.ca1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_4VLhUdiqWNIkIrX?_ga=2.157412094.576916532.1610055729-2098541414.1587673563

Thank you.

Yours etc.,

Deepa Majumdar,

Via email


Illegal Immigrants


Immigrants who entered illegally have already made all the documents to prove themselves to be Indian citizens. Meghalaya shares 443 km of international border with Bangladesh, whereas Assam shares 263 km. In Meghalaya, the border is very much porous as a large number of rivers flow to Bangladesh. Naturally, there had been large numbers of illegal migration to the Meghalaya side from Bangladesh, many of whom then moved to Assam. If we travel along the border areas, we hardly find indigenous tribal populations within 5 to 10 km radius of the border. In the Garo Hills side, hillocks after hillocks were occupied every year by people of doubtful citizenship. All these lands belong to tribal owners, who are perhaps collecting rent from these settlers. The custodians of these lands, the District Councils, who maintain all the land documents are hardly doing anything to check this influx, as the employees do not get their salaries for years together.

These settlers acquire all their documents like voter ID, Aadhaar, ration cards within a year or two.

In this scenario, what purpose will be served by setting up check gates on the Indian side of the state or by implementing ILP? If it is for restricting genuine Indian citizens, then it is logical. But it can never check illegal immigrants. Since they require no documents to go anywhere and settle, they will never pass through the gates with the exception of some Nepalese citizens, who also now prefer South India to North East.

Yours etc.,

Dr. T K Barman

Via email

BSS money laundering case


Through these columns, I would like to know if any headway has been made into the money laundering case allegedly facilitated by former Bharat Sevashram Sangha (BSS), Jail Road, Secretary, Swami Damodarananda (aka Amit Maharaj). This is the question many bhakts of BSS are asking today. They want to know what has happened to the case and whether their donations which were purportedly diverted by the disgraced and now expelled Damodarananda can be retrieved. This criminal act which was reported by the media had shaken the faith of many in this city and also donors from abroad. When the donation of devotees’ to an organization are siphoned off and utilized for personal use by a revered monk, as revealed in the media, then they have every right to questions the wrongdoings. In fact, such public donations sustain organizations like BSS.

The General Secretary, BSS Headquarters in Kolkata, Swami Biswatmananda then had gone on record to say that his organization would file a lawsuit against the accused monk in order to recover the stolen money from BSS’s Shillong kitty. Has that lawsuit been filed? Well, those in the know say no such lawsuit was filed. So why was the lawsuit not filed for recovery of the money defrauded? When you head a philanthropic organization with branches across the globe then your words count and you just cannot be claiming to file suit and not do it. What are we lay devotees supposed to make of your inaction? I have learnt that the matter is with the state CID, which many accuse of moving slower than the snail’s pace, following a complaint into the matter by the current BSS, Jail Road, Secretary, Swami Purnabratananda.

The job was well cut out for Swami Biswatmananda to try and recover the amount by following up on the court case. That would have instilled hope and faith in the minds of the faith-shaken devotees. But that seems to have not sunk in yet as the Swami seems to be content with the expulsion of the accused monk. We are left to wonder if the  accused – who may have thought he was irrepressible – is ever brought to justice and the laundered crores recovered.

Yours etc.
BC Paul
Shillong – 4

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