ST panel discussion on gambling in Meghalaya

Editor,

I was one among many who watched the panel discussion organized by The Shillong Times on the affects of gambling in Meghalaya. panel discussion organized by The Shillong Times. People watched because legalizing gambling is bound to have an impact on the socio-cultural make-up of this tribal state and people were interested to hear the pros and cons of such legalisation. The discussions left some very distinct and disturbing impressions on my mind. Hence this letter!
The first impression was that the first step taken by the MDA Government to legalise gambling in Meghalaya was preceded by nullifying the Meghalaya Prevention of Gambling Act of 1970, in 2021. The 1970 Act was then replaced by The Meghalaya Regulation of Gambling through an Ordinance in 2021. This was probably done to pave the way for the ultimate legalisation of gambling which in turn gave rise to the current controversy on whether to gamble or not to gamble. This was a bit intriguing to say the least.
Legislators of the 1970s must have had genuine reasons to come up with the Prevention of Gambling Act in Meghalaya. By nullifying the above Act, does it imply that those reasons behind the 1970 Act no longer exist or that the 1970 Act has now become irrelevant? Queries to sitting MLAs of this incumbent Legislative Assembly elicited the response that no one remembered any discussions on doing away with the 1970 Act. So, does this mean that nullifying of the 1970 Act was done surreptitiously? If so why? No explanation given! Hence the first impression from the debate is that ‘dal mein kuch kala hai!’
The present Government has justified the legalization of gambling in Meghalaya on three grounds. First, it will bring much needed revenue to the State; second it will generate employment; and last that morally and ethnically it was alright because locals would in no case be allowed to indulge in gaming and gambling activities. Perhaps, perfectly valid reasons, but the defense of the Government was completely trashed by those in the panel who were anti-gambling. The fault of the MDA Government is in entrusting the defense of the Gambling Act to a young NPP party member who was never involved in Cabinet decisions, nor was he clearly briefed on the merits of the case. This brings me to the second impression, which is, the MDA through its main partner the NPP, lacked the confidence to back up its own decisions, resolutions and laws in the public domain. The NPP youth representative of the Government came out clearly as an innocent sacrificial lamb, a fall guy, sent specifically to argue on behalf of a Government that fought shy of explaining its stand before the public. Why a senior minister, ideally the taxation Minister himself, could not participate is not understood.
To be fair to the public it needed transparency from the Government on the ongoing controversy. Instead the Government’s inability to explain its stand simply enforced the impression that everything is not above board; something fishy must be going on; that the general public is quite justified in smelling a rat in the MDA Government’s rush to enforce the Legalisation of Gambling in Meghalaya . Sad. Really sad.

Yours etc.,

Toki Blah,

Via email

What a shame Meghalaya!

Editor,

Fifty years of statehood and what do we have to show in terms of development and progress? A grand celebration showcasing a lot of potential with state of the art technology and a program befitting the occasion in different fields of governance, culture and plans for the future. Everything looked spectacular in the virtual space. However, let’s talk reality on the ground. What have we really achieved as a state in the last 50 years?
Of course there are many individuals who have brought laurels to the state be it in the field of education, sports, art and culture, music etc. but has the state and it’s government really done their bit in the contribution of these individuals? We laud their glory but most of them have got to where they are because of their own grit, determination and hard work.
The infrastructure in the state is lacking. What has been built is also falling apart literally exposed by the recent incessant rains like the ISBT, the many bridges and roads and the latest structure – the Assembly dome. We know this was bound to happen as corruption is the order of the day.
On the education front, we’ve seen our educators taking to the streets to demand their dues. Those in authority rue the lack of funds to pay them. Yet the latest model of luxury cars are owned by those in power while those that taught them how to read and write are begging on the streets. Good governance implies that all should be able to have the basic necessities. Why does that not pinch the conscience of those in power?
The CM had proudly declared sometime back that Meghalaya is the education hub of the North East. What a contradiction when schools in the rural areas are also in shambles and teachers aren’t given their salaries in time. How do we expect our education system to do well?
The recent Meghalaya Games top the list. Athletes having to stay in appalling conditions and not having enough medals to felicitate the winners. What a shame, in spite of the state receiving some crores for the Games!
What is wrong with those in authority? I’ll tell you what’s going on. They’re too busy jumping ship and playing musical chairs to strengthen their own five-year plans and with elections round the corner, planning their strategies to stay afloat.
Scams have become the order of the day. Citizens are fed up with the situation. So let’s not kid ourselves and stop this statehood celebrations and instead focus on what needs to be done, lest our state literally goes down the drain and we become a laughing stock in the eyes of the country and the world.

Yours etc.,

Angela Lyngdoh,

Shillong -14

A request to MeECL

Editor,

The New Shillong Township is expanding and has now caught up with the suburban areas of Mawkasiang, Tynring and even Mawpdang. New buildings are coming up and government offices are mushrooming everywhere. Soon these areas will be part of Greater Shillong city. That would ease congestion in the city to a great extent. However, considering that these suburban villages are getting integrated into the city, it is expected that basic facilities like roads, water and electricity be provided adequately just like in other parts of the city. As of today, the road condition has improved tremendously with the completion of the extended old road. Unfortunately, electricity supply has not improved as expected. While the three-phase current has reached Siejiong and Tynring with new cables placed, Mawpdang which is hardly a kilometer away from Tynring is still running on a single-phase line. Besides that, the line fluctuates and we face additional problem of low voltage.
Our Vendrame Institute in Mawpdang which offers computer training to rural youth, is unable to function normally because we cannot even run one computer at any time of the day. I wonder why MeECL has not extended the three-phase supply to Mawpdang when this area is also fast becoming part of New Shillong. I pity our local youth entrepreneurs who desire to set up workshops like welding and carpentry, but are unable to do so because of poor electricity supply. Consequently, these youths have to go to other villages like Siejiong and Tynring to start such workshops. In fact, the drinking water bottling plant which had operated for some years here, had to be shut down as they could not afford to meet the expenses of running a generator.
I request the MeECL authorities to look into this matter at the earliest and relieve the difficulties faced by the residents of Mawpdang.

Yours etc.,

Barnes Mawrie,

Director,Vendrame Institute, Mawpdang

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