Learn from history to avoid mistakes
The editorial “Crisis of governance” and the special article “Fragility and stabilization of terror” (ST August 2021) are timely and appropriate. Both the editorial as well as the special article by Maitshaphrang Khongwir have dealt with the current crisis in parts of Shillong Urban Agglomeration in totality and have factually brought out the facts and both are a rational assessment of the situation and failure of governance of the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance led by the National Peoples’ Party under the leadership of Conrad K Sangma. It is a shame for the MDA government not to be able to control law and order only in 11 percent of the Shillong Urban Agglomeration area where only 11% of the population of the city resides. As a result it has caused unnecessary inconvenience to the rest of 89% of the population of the city. The government lost control because it was busy pursuing other matters. As the editorial aptly put it “Crisis of governance is visible in the deterioration of moral standards in the political and administrative system. It happens when there is all-pervasive nepotism, corruption, misappropriation of state funds, absence of transparency and accountability in public administration, lack of respect for the rule of law and the complete lack of ethical behavior in public life. When the political system has lost public confidence and when the institutions that constitute the core of democratic governance structure are imperiled, we have crisis of governance.”
Last time I had mentioned that due to insensible lockdowns, business opportunities lost were to the tune of Rs 11,000 crore. This time for five days from August 13, the loss of business opportunities in the two commercial hubs of the city, namely Iewduh and Khyndai Lad works out to Rs 45 crore due to the illogical curfew while data for other areas of Shillong Urban Agglomeration are not available. Who will pay for this loss? Certainly not the Government of Meghalaya but the taxpayers!
The Government has failed to learn from history about insurgency in the last two decades. According to South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), of the 610 terror attacks in Meghalaya in the last 2 decades (2000 to 2021) the fatalities were 30% civilians, 12 % security forces, 55% terrorist/insurgents/extremists and 3% were non-specified fatalities. The number of killings is 79.35 % in Garo Hills, 16% in Khasi Hills, 5% in Jaintia Hills and 2% in Ri Bhoi. Out of 610 fatalities 79% were in Garo Hills, 14% in Khasi Hills, 5% in Jaintia Hills and only 1% in Ri Bhoi. From 2018 to 2021(13th August) out of 9 fatalities 33% were civilians, 22% security forces and 45% were terrorists/insurgents/extremists. Of these fatalities 78% were in Garo Hills and 22% were in Khasi Hills. It is time the MDA government learns what history tells us and takes appropriate action to secure its citizens
V K Lyngdoh,
Palm oil plantations at what cost?
I write in response to the approval and implementation of the National Mission on Edible Oils. This mission plans to introduce, promote and assist in the cultivation and production of Palm Oil in the states of the North East and the Andaman and Nicobar islands. Palm oil is an extremely valuable product. It is used in almost everything that we use in today’s modern world. However, the cost of its production, both monetary and environmentally, does not justify the means to this end.
It is a hugely destructive plant. The best example of destruction and chaos of this plantation is Indonesia which produces almost 80% of the world’s palm oil. There the forests and bio-diversity has been completely destroyed to make way for these plantations. The home of the Orang-utans, the closest relatives of us humans have been destroyed and they are now living in crowded reservations and animal shelters. Palm oil cultivations are also hugely water dependent.The natives of the islands are also suffering with constant droughts, forest fires, man and animal conflict, decreased income levels and lower standards of living.
Do we want this to be the fate of our people? While huge corporations like Patanjali make profits by exploiting our native land, we the people will be left with nothing. While they drain the resources of native lands, we are left to suffer the consequences of drought and water shortage. It must be mentioned that people of Meghalaya still lack potable water in their households and our rivers are being polluted at a terrible rate including the picturesque Umngot river which would also be “dammed”.
Not to be unduly suspicious but why has the Union Government (led by the “supreme leader”) awarded the Patanjali Group (led by Baba Ramdev) such a valuable contract? Why is this mission being implemented only in the North East and the Andaman and Nicobar islands where a majority of the population is indigenous and aboriginal? And why is this being announced when the region is under violent clashes and still reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic? Is anyone going to oppose this? Are we going to offer up the region to these destructive forces?
The Chief Minister of Meghalaya seems to be quite ecstatic with this proposal. Only time will tell if the State and the region will choose greed, destruction and death or sustainable development and the protection of indigenous wildlife and human life.