The fraudulent complex

Editor,

We live at a time when there are many impostors amongst the political class. While their actions may not literally reflect such a character but they have definitely taken all of us for a ride with their false persona. People of Meghalaya at the moment are a disenchanted lot, not for lack of leaders but because we have too many leaders. What we really lack are personalities that befit a public representative, in the actual sense of the word.

Everything around us in in disarray; there is no vision to take the state forward, let alone the character required to achieve that. A few days ago, as I was driving with my wife in tow, we struck a casual conversation as we reached Polo, which was otherwise a quiet journey all along, but the thoughts that triggered this conversation started from the time we came across the unfinished Crowborough building. Then as we circled around Jail road, the sight of the failed Marriot project couldn’t escape us and finally the proposed times square like MUDA building in Polo. She said, “Why are all government projects in limbo?” I could not answer her in my capacity but somehow managed to just laugh it off for the rest of our journey home. That question stuck with me for a long time after that.

What is wrong with the present crop of politicians? Is it related to how they have been groomed by past leaders or is it just a matter of perspectives alone? How else does one explain their actions when elected leaders of the State still behave more like leaders of a particular party? They seem to have forgotten they actually represent the whole state of Meghalaya. Even more stark is the behaviour of the Rajya Sabha MP who is now becoming more vocal about state politics when he should have reserved that noise for the “Council of States!”
The ignominy of corruption and scam headlines that have wreaked havoc to the public exchequer, have shocked us ever since the Power Department was caught on the wrong foot. Having educated and learned leaders in the top echelons of government, one believed that things would improve if not in development but at least in providing the very basic needs of the common man.

But far from it, we now witness a far more complex situation from this educated lot. No one is questioning, simply because those with the voice are leading a comfortable lifestyle but the ones that have to bear the brunt are the voiceless. Yes, it is wrong to put all the blame on the present dispensation; they have also inherited the misdeeds of past governments. But to push everything under the carpet and point only to previous governments’ mistakes too, is wrong. The fact that you are in government today is because people expect better from you. Why else why would they give you an opportunity if your delivery in governance is no different from those of past governments?

There are those who did show more mettle though. The funeral of (L) S.K.Sunn reflected the legacy he has left behind as far as his constituency is concerned. But how do we measure the accomplishments of this government at the helm? There is not much to talk about what the present government has delivered thus far, apart from regular social media posts. But perhaps they still have another two years to come up with something concrete and viable for people to remember .

There has always been an outcry for good leaders to enter the political scene, but the present crop of politicians have dragged this career option to such a level that even those with good intentions shun politics. The youth of today do not have a state political icon to look up to, except that politics today has taught them that it is a quick-fix business opportunity to become rich. No wonder there is lack of quality at the moment. As a seasoned politician once mentioned, if only the present political class would realign their priorities right viz. the state, the constituency, the party and the self, in that order, maybe our state wouldn’t have been at this crossroad.

The need of the hour for Meghalaya is not so much a business manager but just a simple leader who would do the right things and restore the confidence of the people. As Peter Drucker says, “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.

Yours etc.,

Lawrence Pherliam Sumer,

Via email

In support of farm mechanisation

Editor,

I read with interest an article in The Shillong Times dated Sept 14, 2021 on high cost of agricultural labour and the consequent impact it has on the cost of cultivation making it non-remunerative for the farmers of the State written by Mr KN Kumar, Chairman of Meghalaya Farmers’ Commission. He has pointed out that during the peak agriculture season, labour is not available in the State in adequate numbers. There could be many reasons for non-availability of agriculture labourers adequately during the peak season. Let us leave it at that for the time being. What is interesting to note here is that the farm mechanisation policy in the State as pointed out by him and rightly so, is mostly limited to distribution of power tillers.

Considering the hilly terrain, preference of farmers in the State, is for power tillers rather than medium or large sized farm machineries like tractors because power tillers are easier to handle, transport and operate in the hills. It is also suitable for small and fragmented land holdings. The land holding pattern in Meghalaya shows that majority of the farmers own lands less than 2 ha. Small and marginal holdings account for 75% of the total number of holdings in the State. That being the case, power tillers are preferred by the majority of the farmers in the State. This does not mean, we should neglect the needs and aspirations of the big farmers, however small, their numbers are. Having said that, there is a need for farm machineries and components of farm machineries/equipment required to increase the farm output and reduce the costs of cultivation, to be carefully chosen and made available to the farmers in time and adequately to the extent possible.

Looking at the farm machineries we have now in the State as mentioned by the writer (reproduced here for easy reference-139 power tillers, 8 tractors, 46 power paddy reapers and 3 excavators) are grossly inadequate. The State’s farm power availability is a meagre 0.8938 Kw/ha. On the other hand, agricultural labourers constitute only 16.7% of the total workers’ population in the State as per 2011 census, far below the national average of 41%, which is going to decline in the coming years due to non-remunerative agriculture, thereby leading to migration of workforce to towns/cities in search of better job opportunities. It is, therefore, imperative to increase farm mechanisation to tide over the shortage of labour and improve efficiency in agricultural operations.

Available data indicates that 70% of Meghalaya’s population depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. However, the contribution of this sector to the State’s economy is low at 16% (2017-18) of the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP). Low investments in agriculture over time leading to less capital formation in the sector has stagnated the pace of agricultural productivity in the State. Therefore, there is an urgent need for increasing investments in agriculture since the growth of other sectors and of the overall economy rests on the performance of agriculture.

Yours etc;

F.R Marak

Tura

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