Wake up Meghalayans!
As a Khasi working and residing in Mumbai, Maharashtra I was delighted to read the two part article by Dominick Dauni Roising Rymbai. He has melded the idea of being Khasi and Indian so seamlessly and brought in the right examples to show that no one can lay claim to a unique identity. We are the sum total of many cultures, races and identities and we can only progress as a people if we stop the ethno-centric movement that are populist and are intended to create the political spaces for successive political aspirations since the 1980s. Once these aspirants are elected they forget all that they had promised the people who voted them. Love for the jaidbynriew then translates to love of the self and their kith and kin.
My only window to the State of Meghalaya is through The Shillong Times and I feel happy and proud that younger writers are filling up the op-ed space in this newspaper. I have enjoyed reading Albert Thyrniang’s searing pieces on issues such as the silence of the church and on other matters that affect Meghalaya and its people. It takes courage to speak out but that is the role of intellectuals. Having lived here for over twelve years, each time I travel home, I am overwhelmed by a sense of disquiet over the levels of corruption, the silence of those who should be speaking up and the compromises that the educated lot have made with the system without a care for the future of the next generation. I have also noticed that all those who can afford are sending their children to get educated outside the state and the affluent (politicians, bureaucrats and businesspersons) are sending theirs abroad to some of the best institutions. This means our own education system is failing us.
The Shillong Times should encourage this band of young writers to articulate their thoughts regularly because young minds need to read their writings and find hope and a way out of the gloomy scenario of failed governance and lack of accountability of the elected representatives both in the ruling and opposition. Let’s not forget that the Opposition today was in the ruling seat a couple of years ago, so they cannot be playing the blame game. It just doesn’t stick. Personally speaking, I couldn’t care less whether the Chief Minister is a Khasi, Jaintia or Garo. The person should lead the way and think of creating job opportunities for the burgeoning youth population. I was hoping that Conrad Sangma at the helm and with his management background and exposure to life abroad would bring in fresh ideas and better governance. But, it has been a disappointing two year plus journey. I am not too sure if the Covid situation too was handled well. I was in Shillong for nearly six months and all I could see were signs that not all is well with Meghalaya. Add to all this is the continued agitation for this that or the other. I don’t understand why a state would want to travel backwards in time and ask for the Inner Line Permit (ILP) but what is worse is that a progressive chief minister would lead that charge and ask the Centre to implement this colonial law. This actually saddens me and others who have had to leave the state to work outside.
The only hope is for many more young people to start writing and speaking their minds so that the rest of the world does not think that the only sensible people in Meghalaya are those in the KSU, HYC and other sundry groups whose pastime it has become to defend the jaidbynriew as if this ‘jaidbynriew’ is sick, disabled or mentally handicapped and incapable of looking after its own interests. In any case there are too many of such groups that have mushroomed in Meghalaya and I often wonder if they even work for a living. If they are working, would they have time to continually be on protest mode? People of Meghalaya, learn to speak up for yourselves and don’t contract others to protest on your behalf because you are actually looking like clueless morons.
Banwan Lyngdoh Tron,
Mumbai – 51
Pollution in Meghalaya aggravates
Being an enemy of environmental degradation including environmental pollution (environmental activist) through my writings in the print media (especially in newspapers and magazines) for a long time, I wish to congratulate the East Jaintia National Council (EJNC), an NGO, for bringing to the notice of the public at large through the media, especially the print media, about the horrible choking and breathlessness of the residents of Nongrim Hills village, under Sutnga Elaka, caused by inhaling the toxic fumes emitted continuously by Contalo Coke Factory set up at Nongrim Hills itself, allegedly by a coal baron, Thomas Nongtdu in 2018- 2019.
Going by media reports, the women of the village deserve to be congratulated and awarded, especially Kong Rida Bareh and Kong Tiplem Lapasam, for daring to oppose the setting up of the toxic smoke factory in larger public interest while the officials of the village, for whatever reason, went ahead by issuing an NOC to the owner of the factory. Not contented with that, the women lodged their complaints to the Doloi of Sutnga Elaka, the Deputy Commissioner of East Jaintia Hills and the owner of the factory about the health hazards caused by the factory. It was pointed out that the black toxic smoke has also polluted drinking water sources and crops. As no one seemed to care, the women asked EJCN to help them remove this life threatening problem.
It may be mentioned here that the owner has initiated steps to construct another Coke factory near the existing one and is producing and exporting coking coal. In East Jaintia this is not the only one; in fact there are many coke factories already in existence which have caused the same hazards. In Shallang belt in West Khasi Hills District, 36 to 38 coke factories constructed during 2017-2018 have been producing and exporting coke to Assam and beyond and also causing air and water pollution beyond imagination, yet the land owners, the land agents, the village durbars, the Syiems, the District Councils and the various government authorities remained unconcerned and mute to the large scale pollution of the precious environment in our state.
Much of our God- given natural environment has already been destroyed, plundered and polluted by the people of the state, mostly by the rich to further enrich themselves and to satisfy their greed, while the poor and the have- nots have long gone or remained poorer than before with no hope whatsoever.
I appeal to the people of our state to look beyond their noses. Let us respect and preserve our God given natural bounty for our own honourable survival and for the good of our present and future generation.