Mukul and the ensuing assembly polls
Apropos of the news item, “Congress at crossroads as Mukul weighs his options”, (ST, Sep 21, 2021), the former CM, Dr Mukul Sangma will throw a major surprise that is going to astound one and all prior to the next assembly polls. Visibly at loggerheads with Vincent H Pala, the political drama in the run-up to the 2023 assembly elections has started to unfold here and speculations are rife that Mukul may well switch sides with the saffron brigade. The re-induction of the former Home Minister, RG Lyngdoh besides other local political party leaders into the Congress fold may well seem to be in favour of Pala but that may not be enough to cut the ice in the next elections with the saffron party gearing up to form its own majority government in the state. Well, that may seem unachievable now, but in politics, as in cricket, the audience may never know how the game changes. A full-fledged BJP-led government in Meghalaya may rest much on how, also, Mukul responds to the political game plan as there is an aura of dissatisfaction when it comes to the NPP government here headed by Conrad Sangma. This first time CM has not been able to handle any issue on expected lines and many have even rated him as being one of the “disastrous CMs,” Meghalaya has ever seen. Another term for him seems unlikely at the moment but much may also depend upon how Garo Hills reacts to him in his next show. His governance, so far, has been more or less being centered on that part of the state and one may argue that this is alright since successive CMs of the state have only neglected that region. Nonetheless, I would prefer not to put my money on the re-inducted lot into the Congress.
Shillong – 4
Link PAN with Aadhar supposedly by Sep 30
The Central Govt. has recently warned that Bank clientele that fail to link their PAN (Permanent Account Number) with their Aadhar Card by the deadline of September 30, 2021 would find their life-long bank become inoperative. Furthermore, it has been reported that a penalty of no-less than rupees one thousand would be levied from defaulters post the target date. Incidentally, the Govt. has been dithering on the specific deadline from one time to another for reasons best known to it. Out of the blue, I have been informed that this date-mark of September 30 next has been re-scheduled to March 31, 2022. Such inexplicable deferment of those at the helm tells its own story!
We will recall that when Aadhar Scheme was initially launched it was spelled out that Meghalaya, Assam and erstwhile State of Jammu & Kashmir were exempted from its purview. Thus, indubitably it was a sigh of relief for the tribals of Meghalaya as they are being unshackled from the income tax net. Coincidently, it may be pertinent to reiterate that way back one of my letters entitled: “The Dark Aspects of Aadhar” (ST July 11, 2017) had figured in these columns where I had elaborately focused on how Aadhar enrolment by way of letting one’s fingerprints imprinted and scanning of iris on a mechanical devise is actually compromising our Right to Privacy of which the Hon’ble Apex Court has upheld as a Fundamental Right. To make matters worse, Aadhar enrolment, I had stated would metaphorically turn us into a dog under an electronic leash.
Hence, the assertion of Anurag Thakur, Union Minister of State for Finance that September 30 shall be the deadline for the Bank’s account holders to link their PAN and Aadhar to their respective account numbers has thrown all concerned into a welter of inexorable confusion, especially the indigenous tribals of Meghalaya who have not yet included themselves under the Aadhar regimentation. Arguably, I hope that the residents of Meghalaya are exempted from the purview of this deadline in question, provided the initial notification that Meghalaya was out of the loop of Aadhar architecture is still operative.
Jerome K Diengdoh,
Why allow public gatherings in front of Civil Hospital?
The state capital witnessed a series of demonstrations post the August 13, 2021 incident. In fact, a large number of organisations have mushroomed, each echoing the same call – suspension of the police officials involved in the alleged encounter killing of former HNLC general secretary- Cheristerfield Thangkhiew. Yes, granted that it is every citizens’ right to express themselves as long as they do not create a law and order situation and disrupt lives, however the recent sit-in at the U Kiang Nangbah statue a few meters away from the Civil Hospital saw a large gathering of people accompanied with a lot of noise with speaker after speaker delivering their speeches while those gathered there were cheering them at the top of their voices. The road alongside any hospital is normally a “NO HORN ZONE” in order to provide some quiet and tranquility to the ailing patients. If only those in the sit-in had been sensitive and considerate enough towards the patients of Civil Hospital and had taken their protests elsewhere and spared the patients from the ruckus outside the hospital it would have shown their courtesy towards those inmates. Surprisingly the Government did not prohibit the gathering around a hospital zone. Why is the Government so compliant? Henceforth, we as citizens expect the Government to prohibit such public gatherings especially at places where there is need for silence and sanctity such hospitals, schools and colleges and places of worship.
Taliban’s oppressive rule
Contrary to the expectations of a moderate government after a long period of oppression, the plans put forward by the Taliban government in Afghanistan give an indication that its policies will not be much different from that of the previous Taliban regime. As for college education, women students will be allowed to study in universities but with tough restrictions. They will have to comply with Islamic dress and code and there will be segregation between men and women. It is indeed reassuring that women are allowed to study in universities. However, the conditions attached to the grant of permission to women students indicate the hollowness of the Taliban’s talk about transformation. Women are not allowed to go to work either. It should be recalled that women demonstrators were recently assaulted in Kabul. All these indicate that the new Taliban regime is likely to implement regressive policies. Their approach to women and girls have not softened.
As for school education, girls were excluded from returning to secondary schools. The Taliban regime allowed boys and male teachers to attend the secondary school classes. There has been no mention of girls or women teachers. Even if girls are allowed to attend schools, there will be segregation by sex. In the primary schools, boys and girls are attending separate classes. Reports reveal that many boys have refrained from going to school in solidarity with Afghan school girls.
An interesting feature of the Taliban’s education policy is that female students will be taught by women and classrooms will remain separated as per the rules of the Islamic “sharia.” When required, men will be allowed to teach women, but in accordance with the “sharia.” It is ironic that education that transforms minds and promotes progressive ideas is being imparted to Afghan students in an oppressive and stifling atmosphere. It seems that the Taliban government is concerned more with the gender of the teachers than with their academic achievements. It may be recalled that the new Taliban government formed consists of only men. All these exemplify the Taliban’s male patriarchal oppression and discrimination against women. Amid great curiosity about how far the Taliban has changed, it is reassuring that education will be allowed, though there are restrictions.