H. Elias – A forgotten poet and patriot

Editor,

It is with a note of concern that I bring to the notice of the people of the State regarding the partial treatment perpetrated both by the political as well as the academic fora. I am speaking here of our great poet and writer as well as a freedom fighter, Fr. Hopewell Elias Khariong SDB. Without disrespecting our great poet laureate Soso Tham, I wish to reiterate the fact that the state has not given due justice to this great son of the soil. Elias was an accomplished Khasi poet as well as a great prose writer. His classical epic poems contained in his renowned book Ka Hamsaia ki Por, are a proof of his poetic genius as well as his sense of history. His many primers which are still being used in primary schools as well as his prose books used in secondary and higher secondary classes, should be seen as an expression of his love for the Khasi language and his commitment to the promotion of education in the state. In fact when it comes to the volume of literature, he surpasses Soso Tham. In the words of J. S. Shangpliang “Fr. Elias ranks with Soso Tham as a poet and a critic. Much has been said and written about the latter, but Fr. Elias has not been given the attention he deserves as a writer by our critics and fellow writers.”
It is reported that before his death in 1966, he had said, “I wish to write some more books if God permits me some more time, because I am very concerned about our students and the backwardness of our people.” H. Elias was also a freedom fighter and while he was studying at St. Xavier’s College in Kolkata, he joined the Quit India protests led by Mahatma Gandhi and it was there that he was fired with the spirit of freedom. This led him to compose a poem Hail Mother India in 1947, the very year of independence. Significantly, he was the first Khasi poet and writer to have composed a patriotic poem. It is my humble opinion that the Khasi Authors’ Society should have promoted this great poet and writer as much as they did Soso Tham. Unfortunately, many decisions that were taken by some of our leaders to honour this great son of the soil during the fiftieth anniversary of his death in 2016, have all come to nothing. Even the government has failed to honour this great son of the soil. While we see monuments of other eminent personalities in public places, there is not a single bust or statue of H. Elias in any public space.
I fail to understand why this selective treatment of our great personalities. The criteria for state recognition seems to be partial and arbitrary. In this year of the golden jubilee of our state, on the part of all Catholic authors we would request the Government to give due recognition to Fr. H. Elias by way of installing a bust or statue of his in any prominent public location, perhaps at Fire Brigade point or at Police Point. Being himself a scholar and an eminent educationist, these places would be more meaningful than anywhere else. I hope the Khasi Department of NEHU will do something to honour this great Khasi literary figure by way of encouraging more scholars to research into the deep thoughts of this poet and writer.

Yours etc.,

Barnes Mawrie sdb

Via email

Are MeECL Smart Meters really manufactured in China?

Editor,

We the citizens of Meghalaya are surprisingly curious to see the interest shown by certain groups including a political party leader from outside the State on the implementation of the ADB funded Smart Meter project in Meghalaya. To the best of my knowledge, ADB is funding not only the Smart Meter project but also the System Improvement project which involves construction of distribution lines and substations (which is surprisingly invisible to the eyes of the learned Political Leader).
The vocal (occasionally) Opposition Chief Whip of Meghalaya Legislative Assembly has slammed the State Government over the smart metering project in Meghalaya. He has questioned the wisdom of the Government for not implementing the smart meter under Smart Meter National Programme. This seems reminiscent of the attack on a former Chief Minister on the Meghalaya House deal. He even raised the question of increasing the fiscal deficit of the state by implementing the smart meter project. However, as rightly reprimanded many times in the Assembly for not doing his “homework”, in this instance also he is not in the know about the fact that the Smart Meter National Programme is in a BOOT Model which would unfortunately pass on the cost to the consumers eventually. Whereas the ADB funding is a grant extended by the Government of India without burden on the consumers and the Government.
We as laymen (practically being non-smart people) would request the Hon’ble Deputy CM in-charge Power to simply explain in detail the reason for implementing the Smart Meter project in Meghalaya. This is essentially required to clear the misgivings about Smart Meter in the minds of citizens of Meghalaya since the public should not be made pawns in a political game of accusations and counter-accusations.
Frankly speaking this is getting very banal and repetitive. However, we should remember proudly that Meghalaya was one of the first States in India to introduce pre-paid meter technology in 2014. There was a huge opposition from the public even at that time which resulted in it being introduced only in Government quarters. MeECL could not explain the benefit of this technology to the public then and it continued to purchase digital static meters till 2019-2020. It is rumored that even now more than 1,00,000 digital static meters are still lying un-utilized in MeECL stores.
Now to the question of Chinese origin of the Smart Meters. Are they really manufactured in China? Have Engineers from MeECL inspected the factory where these Meters are manufactured as part of due diligence? Were the Factory Acceptance Test and Site Acceptance Test done? Whether relevant guidelines prescribed by Central Electricity Authority (CEA) for cyber security and smart meter were followed by MeECL? These are the questions that the Govt. should simply answer and this would clear the air for the public like me. In fact we all can recollect that there was an Independent Commission of Enquiry set up to check the working of MeECL. What was the outcome? Why has this report not come out yet despite it having completed its mandate 4 months back? The public has a right to know the facts. It is better to bring clarity on these issues clearly being played out for political gains and certain vested interests.

Yours etc.,

Banshanlang Lyngdoh

Shillong – I

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