Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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Misleading the public

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Editor ,
The hullabaloo on the Governor’s address is perfectly justified. Meghalaya does need a Governor who can communicate in the official language of this State which is indeed English. When we have a Governor who can communicate in English, then official matters are better understood. The MLAs of the VPP are absolutely right in demanding that the Governor’s address be delivered in English or his address be translated into English for all MLAs.
At the same time I believe it’s time to educate certain politicians here in Meghalaya on the difference between the terms ‘official ‘and ‘national.’ Hindi nor English are national languages. Both these languages are official languages of India. It’s shocking that ‘people who ought to know better,’ speak incorrectly thereby misleading people.
A ‘leader‘, leads while a ‘misleader misleads’.
Yours etc.,
Tyrone Patrick D’Brass
Tura

One nation, one election not feasible

Editor,
A few days ago, the Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee sent her reply to a high-level committee, formed by the Centre and headed by former President Ram Nath Kovind on the Centre’s “one nation, one election,” proposal. After that she asked in a news conference, “If, at the Centre, nobody gets a clear majority for stability, what happens then? If the Centre collapses, will all the state governments fall as well?”
Her apprehension is absolutely correct. No one can guarantee in a parliamentary democracy that all elected houses be it some of the Vidhan Sabhas or the Lok Sabha will not go to the polls before completing five years of their full term. As a matter of fact, no elected house in a parliamentary democracy can have a fixed expiry date. So, there is hardly any possibility that five years after a one-nation-one-election, Lok Sabha and all Vidhan Sabha elections will again automatically come into a synchronised joint event. Moreover, it would cause premature deaths of some elected state assemblies in order to club them under the umbrella of one election. Interestingly, the only argument in favour of the idea behind one-nation-one-election is that it would be cost-effective. However, it would actually become more costly as it requires to cut short the life-span of some of the state legislative assemblies and/or the parliament.
Congress president, Mallikarjun Kharge in his reply to the Committee said, “Such forms of simultaneous elections that are being floated by the government go against the guarantees of federalism contained in the Constitution.” Indeed this unilateral top-down proposal totally disregards the federal and basic structure of the Indian Constitution. Such a one-size-fits-all approach is incompatible with the principles of our diverse, federal, parliamentary democracy.
Some other one-one formula be it opposition-mukt, one-nation-one-party or one-nation-one-leader is a trademark of a totalitarian regime with the odour of majoritarianism. Opposition parties are banned in a dictatorship. If any effort is made to the contrary, it is suppressed with force and persons concerned are penalised.
India’s three language policy and recognition of 22 languages as official languages discarded the divisive idea of one-nation-one-language. This helped India to solidify her unity. Whereas Pakistan had broken down into two countries as it was trying to tread the path of one-nation-one-language.
India also adopted secularism cancelling regressive one-nation-one-religion majoritarianism. We need to banish such one-one formula to safeguard our unity in diversity and to protect our parliamentary democracy, secularism and federalism as enshrined in the Constitution of India.
Sometimes a tree has been pruned in a bad way turning it into a sorry state of one-tree-one-branch. Such a tree loses its balance and more often than not falls flat causing grave accidents in the process. A democratic country is like a tree. The tree would give us fruits of fundamental rights and welfare if it gets water in the form of debate and dialogue. Moreover, it produces fruits only when all of its major branches – legislature, executive and judiciary and other branches – financial, banking, investigative, educational institutions get the air of transparency and unhindered sunlight of freedom. Democracy cannot survive if its institutions are undermined.
But the most essential of all is the constitution soil. If some toxic elements get mixed with the soil then the democracy-tree will die a slow death. One day all of its leaves will dry up. Then only the skeleton of the tree will remain. Soon the tree will turn into a dry naked question mark in front of our moist eyes.
As citizens and custodians of this great democracy, we must remain vigilant and protect the delicate balance that sustains our democratic canopy.
Yours etc.,
Sujit De,
Kolkata

New Year celebrations and contemplation

Editor,
Time is in ceaseless progression. With the change in seasons due to the revolution of the earth around the sun, the first day of the year has become the most precious to all of us. As the clock strikes midnight on every January 1st, a flurry of excitement sweeps across the globe, marking the arrival of a new year. This momentous occasion, often celebrated with unrestrained revelry and joy, should also invite deeper philosophical contemplation. It is particularly because we leave this planet, living behind everything we amass in our lifetimes. Further, the New Year also symbolizes an enigmatic blend of temporality and eternity, a dance of fleeting moments progressing against the backdrop of timelessness.
Undoubtedly, New Year is a time of joy, a collective sigh of relief at the closing of a year and a hopeful gaze towards a fresh start. But beneath this fun and celebrations, there certainly lies a profound opportunity for introspection and an inner longing to dive deeper into other aspects of our existence and the world around us.
A month has already passed since the year 2024 began. Are we not reminded of the “quick passage” of time here? It feels like just the other day when the world welcomed the dawn of the new millennium (2000) in unprecedented jubilation and fervour. But almost two and a half decades have slipped by. NATURE has already put its signature right on our heads, with grey hair and a waning of youthful vigour. Of course, if the New Year could magically make us younger by one year, perhaps we could certainly leap and frolic like children, happily wishing everyone a Happy New Year and dancing; letting our hair down.
However, amidst the celebratory atmosphere, it’s essential to question whether we have evolved into beings of greater compassion, forgiveness, and tolerance, or if we have succumbed to the lower facets of human nature. The increasing instances of conflict, corruption, and virtual moral decline have already littered the landscape of modern times.
Yes, in our mad rush to embrace materialism, we often blissfully overlook the core of human values and the beauty of humanity, as TS Eliot eloquently conveyed in his masterpiece, The Wasteland, long ago. Sadly, these days, our knowledge is limited to Google information without contemplation.
Let’s just ponder over the vast expanse of the cosmos – the solar system, and beyond, the Milky Way. The Milky Way itself is spread out over about 100,000 light-years. Is it not just a small spot in the limitless cosmic ocean? No exaggeration, we cannot fully understand the intricate beauty of a single gazania, the flower that blooms in a pot on our veranda each morning. Should we not marvel at such awe-inspiring natural phenomena that are responsible for the New Year rather than lose ourselves in superficial entertainment and the boom-boom of environment-polluting firecrackers?
Hence, it is crucial that we practice shifting our focus towards higher goals — spiritual growth, mental well-being, and a harmonious “co-existence” with our environment — particularly now when the siren of climate change has already set off. As we step into a New Year, let’s take a moment to pause, to look within, and to reconnect with our deeper values and aspirations. Let our hearts leap up with gratitude for the wonder of DIVINE CREATION, rather than falling for those that quicken our journey towards the grave!
Yours etc.,
Salil Gewali,
Shillong

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