Shillong’s dwindling walkways & views  


Walking along Shillong’s streets used to be a pleasure. Views of surrounding hills, forests, valleys, and meandering streams provide a rich experience. Today, we are shutting out that view completely.  The vast majority of streets, lanes, and alleyways are congested with vehicles, and hoardings, high walls, banners or buildings are now obstructing the view of the city.

Take the instance of Shillong Club, an iconic structure pleasing to the eyes and heritage in nature. Sadly this too is now being blocked out by a horrendous high brick wall under construction. The wall is being constructed with a total lack of taste and aesthetics. Wonder who has decided on this high wall to desecrate this iconic public building. There was a hedge through which the structure could be viewed by the public, but sadly the inheritors of the club felt it wise to block it out from the public view entirely.

Shillong Club will now continue to be a gated club only to be seen and enjoyed by the club members and their families. At least the present managers should have, out of respect to the original creators of this club and the beauty of the city, come up with a more aesthetically pleasing low wall using locally sourced stones with the upper portion designed in such a way that the building is visible from the outside. Sad indeed to say the least.

If this trend continues, all the tourist spots in Shillong like Ward’s Lake and Golflink will soon have walls around them too.

Perhaps it is time that the state government sets up something like the Delhi Urban Art Commission that would look into the overall aesthetic beauty of the city, including landscaping and preservation of the remaining green spaces and heritage structures in the city.

If no action is taken, this beautiful hill town of Shillong will soon be like any other city in India, and we will solely be responsible for it.

Yours etc.,

Emica Nongkynrih,

Via email

Let’s get rid of self-righteousness


As the saying goes “it takes two to tango,” so too when we speak of a corrupt institution, we need to understand that the fault lies not only with those in authority, but the others are as well culpable. In fact in my last letter, I have pointed out this reality and in the conclusion I have emphasized that the responsibility lies in us the voters. However, someone had not read the conclusion well and made a prejudiced conclusion. In politics, especially in our country, a corrupt system is the making of both politicians and the voters. Let me explain myself. We voters are culpable of abetting corruption either directly or indirectly. Indirectly, we encourage corruption when we remain silent or do nothing about it. This is typical of our state where citizens debate boisterously on corruption at home, but are afraid to come out in the open. In Khasi we have a saying for this “ksan rympei rem dorbar” (victors at home but losers outdoors). Directly, we patronize corruption when we, as voters, continue to vote for the so-called “corrupt” politicians and parties.

I do not intend to condone any corrupt government, as someone had misread and misinterpreted my last letter, but what I want to say is that it is wrong to point an accusing finger only at our politicians or government. We, the public and the voters in every election, are equally culpable. In the just concluded election, we all know how many voters have been bought by money and they have given their votes to the highest bidders. We are also aware that parties and individual candidates have shelled out a huge amount of money for the purpose of wooing the voters. It is well known too that in rural areas, candidates have to provide free liquor and food for the voters on election day. In this case, are voters not guilty of corruption in as much as they have voted certain candidates on the basis of monetary benefits that they have received?

A very popular saying among the public in our state is “candidates have spent a lot of their money in elections therefore they will have to make up for it when they come to power.” Now if the voters have not benefitted from such free distributions, then they have the moral right to question and accuse the government, but if they have benefitted from them, then I am afraid they have no moral right to do so. Jesus’ words are very poignant here, “how can you remove a speck in your brother’s eye when there is a log in your own eye.”

Above all, our people continue to seek favours and monetary aid from their MLAs and MDCs even after the elections, thus forcing these politicians to resort to corruption in order to make up for their losses. This is a vicious cycle that we are perpetuating. In conclusion I would say, before we point an accusing finger at anyone, let us look at ourselves first. Have we acted as responsible and upright citizens? Let us stop being self righteous and act justly, honestly and responsibly in the next election. Remember what Gandhiji has rightly said, “Be the change that you want to see in the world.”

Yours etc.,

Barnes Mawrie sdb,

Via email

Parliament at a standstill 


For the last two days parliament has been at a standstill and continuous ruckus is going on. Karnataka assembly elections will be held next month and due to this reason all political parties will try to take advantage of this pandemonium without taking into consideration the economic situation through which the country is passing. It was predicted six months ago that recession will come in from the month of March and the same is proving correct as two banks in the USA had declared themselves insolvent. With this reasoning banking shares had been drastically downgraded. Due to the banking crises in the USA the entire banking sector will be adversely impacted.

In 2008 when there was a recession, our country faced that situation very boldly. Even PM Manmohan Singh satirically asked the USA to send their youth to India to get jobs here. The country today is critically facing a dire situation arising due to climate change. In the country there is strong heat wave which its people are facing after the year 1901.This year due to climate change the production of wheat will be lesser and in such circumstances government had imposed ban on export of wheat so that it can be supplied as free ration to eighty crore of its own citizens who live below poverty line.

As all of us are aware, various programmes are going on in connection with the G20 conference and it is the moral duty of each citizen that no wrong message goes outside the country. In this connection it is also expected from Rahul Gandhi that his utterances on foreign soil should not tarnish the image of the country.

There should not be any damage to the social fabric of the country. How strong this social fabric is among the various societies adopting various faiths is very much evident from the election results of the North Eastern States.

Once when Indira Gandhi was on a visit to a foreign country, a correspondent asked her some controversial questions about the Leader of the Opposition Party then. Indira Gandhi immediately replied that it was an internal matter of the country. Rahul Gandhi should also follow Indira Gandhi in matters concerning the country.

It is observed that in the last 3-4 Parliament sessions that Bills are being passed on the last two days without any discussion. In this manner the roots of democracy are weakened. Let us hope that democracy is strengthened in the country.

Yours etc.,

Yash Pal Ralhan

Via email

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