Letters to the Editor


Urgent changes needed!
As a person who has written several letters over several years on the subject of the degeneration of legislative democracy in our state partly brought about by the drastic truncation of the durations of Assembly sessions that has been going on for the last 25 years or so, I was elated to read a news item titled, “VPP moves motion, seeks extension of 5 day session” (ST, September 16, 2023). At last a political party has woken up to fight against the slow asphyxiation of democracy!. Although this has come 25 years late but it has come nevertheless and this gives us some hope for the future.
Now that a substantial section of the people has realized that short duration Assembly sessions are nothing short of a subterfuge to evade accountability and responsibility of our representatives towards we the people, this question naturally arises: Should a law be passed by the Assembly to ensure a fixed number of sittings in a year by this very Assembly? I’m sure most people will say ” yes” and we must demand that all our MLAs irrespective of party affiliations must support the passage of this law if they are truly committed to the welfare of the people as they never fail to declare at every available opportunity. Some people may find it strange but this is not a new idea. On popular demand, Karnataka came out with a law titled ” The Karnataka Conduct of Government Business in the State Legislature Act, 2005.” Other states such as Punjab, Manipur, Odisha, U.P., etc have laid down a minimum number of sitting days through the Rules of Procedures varying from 40 days in Punjab to 90 days in U.P. Besides, the National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution headed by former Chief Justice of India, M.N. Venkatchaliah had recommended that Legislative Assemblies of States/ Union Territories with less than 70 members should meet for at least 50 days a year.
Coming back to our state, we must pity ourselves that Meghalaya will have a meagre 12 days of Assembly sittings this year which effectively means that most of our problems have been ignored. Even the Budget for this year has been passed without discussion! Apart from that, I am pretty sure that our Assembly has had many ” guillotine closures,” which means that undiscussed clauses of bills/ resolutions are passed along with discussed ones due to lack of time. Does this not mean that many bad and half- baked laws have been pushed down our throats during the last quarter of a century?.
In conclusion, I request our fellow citizens to urgently demand change from our representatives and to be alert to the developments around us because, ” The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance ”
Yours etc.,
Samuel Swett,
Shillong- 2


Why this flight of fancy for name changing
The first positive effect of opposition parties coming together under the banner of INDIA is the reduction of LPG price. It is a notable change as the past nine years have witnessed LPG price frequently reaching from one peak to another. However, instead of taking more such people friendly steps, the ruling party has pushed the panic button. After naming various programmes and initiatives as Digital India, Skill India, Start-up India, Stand Up India and Make in India, the government has suddenly started creating an impression that there is an urgent need to replace the internationally popular name of our country (India) with the local name (Bharat).
If such a thing really happens it will create huge and unnecessary expenditure of time and public money. The Supreme Court of India, India Post, Reserve Bank of India, SBI, CBI, IITs, Government of India and many others are to stand in the long queue to change their nameplates in such a scenario. From currency notes to letterhead all are to be changed.
Our Constitution accepted both India and Bharat as the name of our country but rightly gave priority to India over Bharat by declaring “India that is Bharat” and not “Bharat that is India”. This was a judicious step. Many countries like Japan, Germany and China gave priority to their respective international names over their local names to get maximum advantage in international trade, politics and global recognition.
Nippon gave priority to its internationally popular name Japan. Bundesrepublik Deutschland also did the same to its international name Germany. Similarly Zhongguo (or Zhonghua Renmin Gong He Guo) does not mind to be recognised as China (or People’s Republic of China). South and North Korea embraced the English name for the same reason. Spanish ‘España’ also accepted English ‘Spain’ as the official name of their country. There is no problem in retaining two names of a country. But it is a wise decision to give priority to internationally accepted name over the local name.
India is as much a foreign word as the word Hindu is. As a matter of fact many words in Indian languages like Hindustan have a foreign root. But they have been assimilated in Indian languages and culture. If the process of replacing internationally recognised name of our country with the local name continued, it would cause extensive damage to India’s exchequer and as well as her international position.
Yours etc.,
Sujit De,


How viable are simultaneous elections
Apropos of the letter by Sujit De (ST September 12, 2023) on one nation, one election I would like to respectfully address the arguments presented by the writer. While it is acknowledged that conducting simultaneous elections for both Parliament and State Assemblies might be cost-effective it is imperative to explore the broader spectrum of reasons in favour of this idea.
One significant advantage of holding synchronized elections for both the national and state legislative bodies is the potential to streamline the engagement of the ruling party at the centre throughout its five-year tenure. This arrangement would enable the ruling dispensation at the centre to focus primarily on governance, unburdened by the continual distraction of state election campaigns. Over the years, we have observed central ministers, from the Prime Minister to state-level ministers, extensively involved in canvassing for their party candidates in state elections, often for extended periods within their five-year terms.
Delving deeper into this matter reveals that such a synchronized election system could reduce the frequent disruptions faced by citizens due to elections. With national elections and state elections occurring simultaneously, the public would be spared from the recurrent electoral cycles, benefiting both the electorate and the administration.
Furthermore, the synchronization of legislative assembly tenures with that of the parliament is another noteworthy aspect. For states that have recently conducted MLA elections, such as Meghalaya, where elections occurred this year, holding another round of MLA elections in 2024 during the MP election may seem redundant. To address this, it could be contemplated that the next MLA election in the state aligns with the MP election in 2029. This might be achieved through mechanisms like extending the term of the elected MLAs of 2023 by one additional year through Presidential Ordinance or, alternatively, temporarily imposing President’s Rule in the state from 2028 to 2029 if extending terms is not a feasible option.
It is essential to note that the opinion expressed by Sujit De against ‘One Nation, One Election’ and my own in its favour are preliminary assessments. Recent news reports indicate that the central government has established a committee to examine this concept, led by former president, Ram Nath Kovind. The committee’s findings and recommendations will play a pivotal role in determining the viability of synchronized elections. Until then, it is prudent to temporarily set aside this topic and await the committee’s insights.
In conclusion, embracing change in a progressive society is often preferable to maintaining the status quo. The proposal for ‘One Nation, One Election’ warrants thoughtful consideration, as it has the potential to transform the electoral landscape in our country and streamline the governance process for the betterment of all citizens.
Yours etc.,
Krishna Chettri




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