Of pride and poverty

Editor,

Clint Borgen said, “Poverty is relatively cheap to address and incredibly expensive to ignore.” Meghalaya is entering into its 50th year of being a full-fledged Indian state; it is very much an occasion to celebrate with pride for the Khasis, Jaintias and Garos. But what has it achieved so far in terms of development and poverty alleviation?
A recent report by NITI Aayog revealed that Meghalaya is among the 5 poorest states in India with 32.67% of the population living under poverty. No doubt the anniversary is an event for celebration to commemorate the hard work of our forefathers but what must be focused on is the status of livelihoods of the state’s citizens. Employment generation, modern education, skill upgradation, etc. are areas which need to be looked into with prudence.
With our Hon’ PM as the chief guest for the celebration we are hoping that the talks among the officials will be more about the plight of the people and planning for the prosperity of the state in the future rather than just about the anniversary milestone.

Yours etc.,

Kevin M Shangpliang

Shillong

Meghalaya regressing

Editor

The NITI Ayog’s all India ranking of states taking into account various parameters has been out in public domain. This time too Meghalaya has been adjudged as the 5th poorest state in India. This is a surprise but it unfortunately reflects back to another report on August 2021 that Meghalaya was ranked at 7th for being the worst performer in 16 indices taken across the North Eastern states. India is remarkable not only for its size – but its diversity. Take a look at these multi-dimensional poverty figures – based on health, education, and standard of living – released by the government think-tank NITI Aayog last week. States like ours being clubbed with Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh almost match up to standards of Sub-Saharan Africa. This should not surprise those who have done a socio-economic comparative study over the past years. However, the state does not even have a human capital development research index, not to speak of other sectors. There is no proper housing development policy to address homeless residents. There is no attempt to address the plight of landless farmers through a pragmatic policy. There is lack of employment opportunities outside the government sector. Added to that is the skewed land holding pattern that dissuades prospective investors who can create jobs and train others in the chosen industry. Until and unless the politics of mutual appeasement ends we will never be able to see any change even after another 50 years. We need a government that has a set of priorities and takes tough decisions on important issues.

Yours etc..

Dominic Stadlin Wankhar

Shillong

Politics of convenience

Editor,

For the past two weeks we had read letters after letters crying aloud about ethnicity entering the domain of sports in the abode of clouds. Now with climate change, it has lost that title but it still the most peaceful state in the sub-continent with communities of all kinds living in harmony.
That notwithstanding there were sad times as well. The Khasi- Bengali skirmish followed by the Nepali-Khasi conflict are grim reminders of a dark past. Many of our teachers are now settled in West Bengal. The Nepalis had to leave rearing of cattle that supply milk to the Meghalaya Dairy. However, things have slowly moved on with no ill feelings towards one another. And let us pray that this climate of goodwill continues. But the writing is on the wall of sports being hijacked by the ethnic concept that exhibits it’s ugly face like in the same manner that Black footballers in Europe or the Indian cricketeer of Yorkshire or our bowler Shamim felt the brunt simply because of colour or race or religion. And the saddest part is that politicians play the card of electoral convenience in all parts of the globe, though it is their responsibility to address the above issues.
That it should involve sports which as a matter of fact unites or embraces all peoples is very sad indeed. This racist mindset has percolated into politics too as seen from the reaction of some. In that midnight coup in which 12 MLAs of the Congress joined the TMC. And more painful is the fact that a few (not all) had forgotten the services of these MLAs for their people. These are leaders who had exposed the incompetence of this MDA Government backed by hook or crook by regional parties that are diverse before election and unite before government formation.

Yours etc.,

Geoffrey S Lyngdoh Mawnai

Shillong 14

Need to scale up vaccine production

Editor,

In the light of the emerging new variant of coronavirus Omicron found in South Africa that has been designated as a “Variant of Concern “ by the WHO, Prime Minister Narendra Modi directed a review of plans to ease international travel restrictions. Many countries have suspended flights with African countries. Meanwhile the new virus variant has spread to more countries. The variant has shaken the smugness of the developed world. In the wake of the emerging new virus variant, Indian scientists have raised alarm.
African countries need support to control it so that it does not spread in the world. The new variant is concerning as it has as many as 32 mutations. It can escape immunity and it has increased transmissibility. Thus the variant has serious public health implications. Its emergence is a serious setback in the battle against the disease and it is a dent in the economic recovery. Given the gravity of the situation, international travellers from risk countries must be subjected to rigorous screening and testing. Their contacts must be closely tracked.
There is a wide chasm between the vaccinated and unvaccinated people across the world. This gap causes rise of variants. The developed world must put in efforts to bridge this gap. The developed world must help the poorer world by supplying sufficient number of vaccines. Vaccine production and availability must be scaled up.
As for India, it cannot afford yet another episode of health and economic crisis. It must get rid of its complacency about the disease. Over 100 crore vaccinations are a great achievement. On the other hand, much remains to be done in the fight against the pandemic. Given that the potency of the vaccines weakens over time, India needs to introduce booster shots. Further, there must be proper centre -state consultations on the status of the pandemic control. More importantly, the public must recognise the gravity of the situation and follow covid appropriate behaviour. Indifference to covid protocol means endangering one’s own life and the lives of others. If we are not cautious and alert, we will have to pay a heavy price for our folly.

Yours etc.,

Venu GS,

Kollam

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