Meghalaya’s malaise of corruption & its kleptocrats
By Lyzander Sohkhlet
Meghalaya the “Abode of Clouds”, “The Scotland Of the East” – the famed monsoons, the rich traditional festivals, and the dramatic terrain is the reputation that Meghalaya has. But today we talk about the other side of Meghalaya. The Meghalaya that is falling apart, right before our very own eyes. Recently, we have all read about the New Assembly, Dome collapse, The Inter-State Bus Terminus incident, and the devastating state of our roads to name a few, and the causes of these have been stated as “ An inherent flaw during the design stage” or they are just blaming the weather. But we all know that this isn’t just a design flaw, but systematic corruption happening right in front of us.
Corruption is normalized in Meghalaya. The illegal coal mining that goes on every day, the trucks turn turtle and vomit the coal they carry. And the government has the audacity to deny it ever happening! On May 24, 2022, a preliminary report revealed that the authorities in Meghalaya have failed to comply with directions issued by the Supreme Court and the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to check illegal coal mining. Needless to say, the government officials were always the elephant in the room, as they are hands-in-gloves in this murky trade
On June 10, 2021 our Education Minister himself admitted “ Meghalaya is the ‘worst’ in school education, but things will improve.” But will they really? The state’s current education system is disastrous. There are more students dropping out than ever, our very own teachers are unpaid, and they are forced to the streets to air their grievances. Our educational Infrastructure is in a pitiable condition. Schools are basically falling apart, and a report from the Ministry of Education states that 80-90% of government schools “are not compliant with the complete set of RTE infrastructure indicators as per the Performance Grading Index (PGI)? And on the issue of sports, the living conditions of athletes are pathetic; the toilets are in shambles, and running out of medals and we are expected to host the National Games in 2023? Do our so-called “leaders” have no shame?
While reading through reports by adrindia.org the asset comparison of re-contesting candidates has an estimated growth of 250%. One that really caught my eye is our very own Minister Of Urban Affairs PWD (buildings) the very Minister that is in charge of the Assembly Project whose assets grew by 39,439 % (thirty-nine thousand, four hundred and thirty-nine percent) from 2008 to 2013 and then as of 2018 grew his assets from 2.9 to 6.4 crores in 5 years. Are politicians like him using their political power to appropriate the wealth of the people they govern by embezzling or misappropriating government schemes and policies? They should increase transparency by stating the kind of businesses they are in and filing appropriate documents. There are always investigations, but the reports are never made public.
However, the truth is that we are at fault for these unfortunate events happening in the state. Weren’t we the ones who elected these people in the first place? The state is run by individuals that rob us in broad daylight, driving their luxury boy toys on broken eroded, pot-holed roads, driving past children that are dying from avoidable diseases, and going to bed without food because they refuse to improve our system but are ambitious about further extending their bank accounts. We’re not human beings, our families don’t matter, they see you as votes to be manipulated during each election. They don’t want to talk about the real issues, instead, they talk about our religion and our differences, and what is going to make us vote for him/her instead of the other. All we see today are our politicians changing jerseys that suit their personal interests.
Meghalaya’s politicians are no longer politicians, but Kleptocrats. The only difference between a petty criminal and a politician is that a politician wears lavish suits and throws lavish parties. The hypocrisy is when these very people attend church every Sunday to “clear their conscience.” The rampant corruption reflects the failure of the church to stand up for the truth and challenge its members, but instead become a part of the corruption.
Every conversation is about religion, every conversation is about our differences. We’ve just been taught to hate each other. We’ve been taught that the Muslims are violent and the Hindus want to take over? When are we actually going to talk about the real issues? Inflation is at its highest, petrol prices shooting through the roof. Our government is supposed to provide education, health, electricity, clean water, and affordable food. These are the basic requirements and there isn’t a single thing on that list that we are getting today. The truth is that while our politicians are glittering with wealth on the surface, buying flashy cars and luxury buildings, and throwing flamboyant weddings for their children, the people are rotting underneath.