Bad planning Tourism Department
As a huge fan of Sanam-the Band I am really angry with the organisers of the Cherry Blossom Festival for cutting short their performance after they had only sung a few songs. How can a performance scheduled for 3 days be cut short to 2 days? This is always the problem with organising anything in Meghalaya. Last year the Literature Festival was short-circuited leaving several writers and panelists who had flown in from across the country high and dry. When a call has to be taken on any issue that involves celebrities who are difficult to get to come here and perform and I am sure they too are returning with sad memories. Where is your professionalism, Tourism Department? You need to do some stock-taking?
Need to revisit the purpose of education
Are we as parents, teachers and individuals becoming oblivious of the real meaning and purpose of the word education? Have we become so busy that we are letting go of the need to understand the holistic meaning of education? As parents we work hard to give our children the best education in the best institutions possible. However, we must be mindful that education is not only academic pursuit or obtaining a degree. Largely and most importantly education is also about nurturing the soul, nurturing emotional health of a child and respect alongside nurturing the mind. Foundations of good behaviour must be laid when the mind is still young and tender so that a child grows up polite, courteous, respectful of the self and others as well.
Today it is worrisome to see the elderly and the youth are trading off our manners, politeness and empathy for arrogance, pride and ego. All the high ideals, morality and virtues that were taught to us in our moral science classes in school and guidance at home are taking a back seat. What good is a rank holder if he/she lacks manners, civility and morality? What good is wealth and high social status when one is bereft of love and empathy for fellow human beings? A human being is defined not by his/her degrees, wealth and social status but his/her humility and acts of kindness. As a parent, a teacher and a citizen of the world, I pray for a world filled with love and kindness that we as adults need to sow deeply in our children. Hence, education must also focus on reviving kindness, humility, warmth and mutual love.
Dissent and Democracy in India
Dissent and democracy share an intricate relationship, integral to the vitality of any democratic society. Dissent, the expression of disagreement or opposition, is the heartbeat of democracy, fostering growth, progress, and societal resilience. Within a democratic framework, dissent serves as a catalyst for change, challenging established norms and policies, thus safeguarding individual liberties and promoting inclusivity.
Firstly, dissent fuels critical thinking and debate, essential components of a healthy democracy. Differing opinions and dissenting voices stimulate dialogue, offering diverse perspectives that enrich decision-making processes. In a democratic society, the clash of ideas through dissent is not a hindrance but a sign of an engaged citizenry invested in shaping their collective future.
Moreover, dissent acts as a check against potential abuses of power, holding authorities accountable. It serves as a reminder that no institution or policy is beyond scrutiny, ensuring that the rights and interests of all citizens are protected. However, dissent, while crucial, requires responsible expression. Peaceful protests, civil discourse, and engagement within the legal framework exemplify constructive dissent. Embracing dissent within the boundaries of law and mutual respect fortifies democracy, preventing chaos or anarchy.
Dissent in Indian politics embodies the essence of democracy, reflecting a vibrant tapestry of opinions and perspectives crucial for a thriving society. India’s political landscape has been shaped by diverse ideologies, fostering an environment where dissent serves as a catalyst for progress, change, and the protection of democratic values. India’s history is replete with instances where dissent has played a pivotal role in shaping policies and ideologies. From the freedom struggle against colonial rule to contemporary socio-political movements, dissent has been a driving force in initiating reforms and safeguarding the rights of citizens.
Within India’s democratic framework, dissent manifests in various forms. Political parties, civil society organizations, activists, and citizens exercise their right to dissent through protests, activism, legal challenges, and public discourse. These expressions of dissent are instrumental in holding governments accountable, challenging injustices, and advocating for marginalized communities. However, Indian politics also witnesses challenges regarding dissent. Instances of suppression, intolerance towards opposing views, and polarization sometimes hinder the democratic spirit. The balance between dissent and governance often becomes delicate, with accusations of stifling voices that oppose the ruling narrative.
Despite challenges, India’s democratic fabric remains resilient due to its ability to accommodate dissent. The judiciary, as the guardian of the Constitution, often intervenes to protect the rights of dissenters, ensuring that freedom of expression and the right to dissent are upheld.
Thus, dissent in Indian politics is the cornerstone of its democratic ethos. While occasional challenges arise, the resilience of India’s democracy lies in its ability to embrace diverse opinions, paving the way for a more inclusive, progressive, and accountable governance system. The evolution of Indian politics continues to be shaped by the interplay between dissent and democracy, ensuring the nation’s democratic ideals endure and flourish.
Tura, West Garo Hills
Growing inequalities in India
Amir Jahan, a 45 year old mother of three daughters, had been starving for four days in a rented room in Moradabad town in Uttar Pradesh. She had an Aadhar card and had applied for a ration card under the BPL category but it was rejected. Her husband used to pull a rickshaw till he got TB. After some treatment, he moved to Pune and had not been in touch with her for two months.
Amir Jahan’s neighbour, Shabana Begum was also poor, but after hearing the girls sobbing, she gave Amir six chapattis. But when her daughters had also been starving, how could a mother eat even a single chapatti? So, Amir Jahan distributed all six chapattis to her three daughters and went to bed on an empty stomach. She hadn’t eaten for four days. Next day, Amir Jahan passed away. Shabana took her to a hospital where doctors told her that she had nothing in her stomach. It was the Republic Day in 2018.
The very next day was Day one for IPL bids. On that day, English all-rounder Ben Stokes had entered into a one year playing contract with Rajasthan Royals for Rs.12.5 crore. Kings XI Punjab paid Rs 11 crore to Lokesh Rahul and 7.6 crore to Ravichandran Ashwin. Kolkata Knight Riders gave 9.6 crore to Chris Lynn, 9.4 crore to Mitchell Stark and 7.4 crore to Dinesh Karthik. Sunrisers Hyderabad spent Rs. 11 crore for Manish Pandey and 9 crore for Rashid Khan. There were many other such deals involving enormous amounts.
These two back-to-back incidents showcased the ugliness of inequality. At one end of this inequality-ridden economy, Amir had to die because she was not able to deprive her children of food and at the other end it was a generous fun game of crores of rupees. Apart from the ugly inhuman face of inequality, the durability of inequality-ridden economic structure is always at stake. It is like a house of cards. If we keep on giving priority only to our lopsided GDP growth and beating drums of the trillion dollar economy – completely ignoring growth in human development – then it would be like a game of building a shaky high-rise with cards.
According to the World Inequality Report 2022, India is the most unequal nation in the world. India’s top 1% of the population hold more than one-fifth of the total national income and the bottom half just 13%. The report stated that the economic reforms adopted by India have mostly benefited the top 1%. It has been observed that the deregulation and liberalisation policies implemented in India since the mid-1980s have led to “one of the most extreme increases in income and wealth inequality in the world.”. There is also high gender inequality in India as the female labour income share is only 18% which is one of the lowest in the world.
The report suggested that a modest progressive wealth tax should be levied on multi-millionaires. It can generate significant revenues for the government because of the high concentration of wealth. In our country, writing off huge amounts of bank loans for the rich has been done without much ado while subsidies to the poor are questioned as ‘rewdis.’
This glaring inequality must immediately be bridged. Our banking sector needs to sanction more micro-loans for farming, cottage and small enterprises that can mainly generate employment and less NPA-generating macro-credits. Moreover, the poor who are reeling from high inequality, rising inflation, nagging unemployment and negative growth in real wages as per the Economic Survey of 2022-23, must not be further burdened with GST. GST should exist only on luxury and non-essential goods. But essential goods must have zero GST.
Policy makers should take corrective measures. Otherwise, the inequality-ridden economic edifice would crash like a house of cards. Inequality and poverty not only cause stagnation in the market but also lower the quality of the workforce in skill and health.