The Silence of the Doomed
A young lady, to be more specific, one of the dynamic faculty members of Martin Luther Christian University, gave a quote that really stunned me. It was a quote from the King James Bible, Proverbs Chapter 29 verse 18 which is so appropriate, so apt , so fitting with the times we live in, especially in relation to Good Governance by our Rulers (in Meghalaya’s case, elected MLAs and representatives that form the Government of the day and Lawmakers that constitute the Legislative Assembly).Yes many of us too are asking, “Where is the vision for Meghalaya?”. At present there appears to be none. Politically active youngsters and the various groups they belong to seem more concerned at sealing off Meghalaya from the rest of the world. That is the limited vision these young people have. A vision driven by fear and trepidation of the outside world. Then come the politicians and the institutions they belong to (Read Political parties , both National and Regional). They exist Devoid of any vision for the state and its people. Their eyesight is simply focused on “How to come to power. Period !” It has resulted in dummies and worse in thieves and looters of the exchequer, that has smeared the reputation of the state with all types of scams and rip-off scandals.
The wonder, no a better word would be bewilderment and amazement, is at the lack of public reaction from the electorate, especially the intelligentsia of Meghalaya on the perverse style of functioning of our political system. Political integrity and quality has degenerated to a level Meghalaya’s founding fathers had never dreamt of. Politics has been turned from a noble profession of providing good governance to a legalised form of swindling people’s money. I say this with all the authority I have! Why have our indigenous traditional institutions that profess to uphold our value systems remained quiet and silent? There is the Church, a powerful institution that could have addressed the ills that afflict society, but has chosen to remained mute and voiceless to the chaos that afflicts our society. The time to speak out has arrived. The word of God exemplified in the verses from the Proverbs quoted above, gives the Church and its clergy the authority to speak out on the lack of vision; lack of principles; absence of ethics in the political system that governs us today. If we continue to keep silent, we will perish. It is as simple as that. Does this simple fact require any further clarification? I think not.
Excuses galore by MDA Govt
The weak excuses elicited by the MDA Government vis a vis the traffic nightmare in Shillong is pathetic to state the least. The Government has actually thrown up its hands for being unable to come to grips with the challenges of traffic in Shillong. Citizens buy vehicles, because there’s not a reliable public transport system in Shillong and non-existent ones in other towns of Meghalaya. Street lighting is totally absent in Shillong and other urban centres of Meghalaya. Being in one’s own car is a safety precaution.
In the last 50 years how many new roads were constructed in and around Shillong? Has that important infrastructure factor ever been addressed? Not really. In new localities which have come up, are the roads wide enough? Foresight is required so that bottlenecks are avoided. The ADCs need to realise that too. Tura is going the same way with traffic snarls even though most schools in Tura do have their respective school transport system and we are comparatively in a less stressful situation than Shillong.
A few years ago a certain minister in charge of Education did propose that schools in Shillong must introduce buses for their students. Indeed, it was an extremely bright suggestion, but none of the leading educational institutions in Shillong opted for buses. A few weeks later , the same minister had visited Tura and I brought up the issue of having an IMPROVED SCHOOL BUS system in Tura. The minister flatly refused to entertain the suggestion. To which I then remarked, “You are the Education Minister of Meghalaya and not Shillong alone.”
When are we going to start thinking on a larger scale ? Even after 50 years of statehood, we still haven’t yet thought of ourselves beyond Khasi, Jaintia, Garo, Hajong, Koch or non-tribals. The identity of being “Meghalayan” is proving to be an alien concept to the people of the Abode of Clouds. This thought was stated in the inaugural edition of The Meghalayan newspaper early this year by Ms Kimberly D’Brass Momin. When are we going to grow beyond the tribal roots? When?
For the last 50 years in Meghalaya, a piecemeal approach to development has occurred. There is no clarity on major policies and with such a lackadaisical manner of functioning, it’s no wonder that Meghalaya is the 5th poorest state in India. Unfortunately, the youth of Meghalaya do not see any light at the end of the tunnel.
I would love the political parties to do some soul searching and ask the question,” When can we see a rainbow in the Meghalayan sky?”
It’s a materialistic world
While expressing our deepest condolences to the family of Subhankar Pratim Deb, with prayers for the soul of the deceased, our thoughts also go to the IIM faculty and staff who had lost a colleague. My suggestion to reduce the occurrence of such tragic accidents which have become commonplace in Meghalaya is to revive and strengthen the Accident Tribunal.
What has happened to the Accident Tribunals that take action after a judicial order has imposed proper fines on the errant driver? Any driver that violates the rules deserves a befitting lesson. Above all the family members of the victim deserve financial assistance. But tragically, as of today, the follow up is absent and drivers behave with impunity. In the past the traffic police and Motor Vehicle Inspectors (MVIs) enforced the MV acts and daily check the road worthiness and passenger worthiness of vehicles for an accident- free journey. Today MVIs are invisible and the violators get away scot-free to create more tragic news.
The only solution is to employ speed governors. It was practised in the past when speed was never an issue, but the Department loved to play safe. In Assam, the elephant corridor has a device linked to the internet at the District Transport Office (DTO). Any threatening speed is warned by blinking lights and if trespassed the driver immediately gets a message telling him the amount of fine and which police station to pay to, as well as penalties such as seizure of driving license etc., The driver’s phone number along with the registration plates are linked to computers at the DTO much like the Fastag.
India is a vast country and speed limits vary from state to state or terrain wise. The speedometer and odometer should be linked nation-wide. Speed cannot be reduced by speed breakers as drivers today execute high jump stunts. The registration plates at the front and rear must be clear and not smeared with mud as happens in hit and run cases.
If the centre and states are really interested in saving lives then speed governors are the only solution. Enough of deaths by accidents!