Friday, April 12, 2024

On being Christian


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Yona M Nonglang’s article “What does being Christian mean?” (Shillong Times, March 19th) was a courageous, feisty and sparkling piece of writing. It was a relief to see the profound simplicity of what Christ taught expressed with such compelling clarity especially in a world desperately in need of compassion and integrity.
The article made me recall the words of my grandfather’s best friend Bah Jismot Chyne, whom we affectionately called ‘Parad Ji’ (Grandfather Ji). Challenged by pharisaical elements in the church for not offering a prayer before he sipped his afternoon tea, he replied in his usual gentle and even tones: “My life is a gift from God, so does that mean I should offer a prayer to Him each time I take a breath?” His critics were silenced.
“My mouth shall speak of wisdom; and the meditation of my heart shall be of understanding.” (Psalm 49: Verse 3, italics mine)
Yours etc.,
Janet Hujon,
Via email

CAA exempted from Meghalaya?

The CAA passed by brute force by our Parliament on December 11, 2019 has finally been notified on March 11, 2024. A disingenuous strategy on the verge of the crucial parliamentary elections. Nonetheless, the indigenous citizens of Meghalaya have reasons to heave a sigh of relief when Chief Minister Conrad Sangma assuredly asserted that our State is virtually exempted from the CAA’s purview but for a microscopic pocket of 0.01% ,that is, 99.99% areas of Meghalaya are out of CAA’s bounds. However, this self-assertive statement of the Chief Minister may not stand the test of time if the analogy of Aadhaar enrollment in Meghalaya is anything to go by. It may be reiterated that when Aadhaar was initiated by the NDA government at the Centre it was officially confirmed that Meghalaya, Assam and erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir were exempted from the domain of controversial nuances of Aadhaar vide Notification No.37 /2017 F No.370133/6/2017-TPL dated 11.5.2017 issued by the Ministry of Finance signed by An Gautam, Under Secretary to the Government of India. But in sharp contrast to this Ministry of Finance circulation, in Meghalaya, the banking institutions et al situated here have made Aadhaar biometric authentication stringently mandatory in every sphere of life.
Of late, college students have to willy-nilly register themselves under Aadhaar networks else their right to claim scholarships will outrightly be rejected, thus placing the student community at crossroads! I thought that KSU, the champion for the welfare of the students could have risen to the occasions to alleviate the grievances of their counterparts at such a critical juncture!
In the light foregoing contentions, many commonsensical citizens have articulated that exoneration of CCA in Meghalaya can arguably be taken with a pinch of salt given the fact that this so- called exclusion will suffer the same fate like the exemption of Meghalaya from Aadhaar.
Finally when all is said and done, will the Government of Meghalaya, banking establishments and other institutions that have been going on an overdrive in compelling Aadhaar biometrics counteract if the Notification of the Ministry of Finance’s 2017 notification is mere skullduggery of vested interests to create deep misgivings in the people’s mindset?
Yours etc.,
Jerome K Diengdoh,

Kudos to Umroi airport

Through many tough years of not having a fully functional airport, I am proud to see our airport undergoing metamorphosis so that we are now able to have a comfortable flight from our own airport. Once upon a time it seemed a boredom to travel all the way to Guwahati for a flight which is tiresome and takes a toll of one’s precious time.
I remember vividly when the new terminal at Shillong Airport was inaugurated way back in 2011 and how I fondly remember flying from Umroi in that small ATR 42 managed by then Air India. It was so quiet and funny to mention too; it looked grotesque and scary, being an alienated airport or ghost airport, whereby just 10 to 15 passengers would avail air travel from Umroi.
At the time there was no refuelling station; hence, the small ATR 42 turboprop can carry only half of its capacity of passengers due to fuel constraints in our airport.
I wondered if the future of Shillong airport would remain grim and never imagined that other airlines would join the queue for operations from Umroi. I remember the boarding passes, which were written by hand, not the usual boarding passes with printed fonts. I witnessed the infancy stage of air travel from our airport at that point in time.
Sometimes the sudden cancellation of a flight would frustrate me, but those were memories that bring smiles when pondering now. I am writing this letter mainly to thank the AAI (Airport Authority of India), DGCA, and UDAN scheme for making this distant dream come true, which we can all witness.
However, being a frequent flyer and an aviation enthusiast, I would like to point out the inadequate knowledge of people from our state in deeming our airport unsafe and that flights that are operating from Shillong airport are risky. I cannot comprehend how such innuendos are floating around and the ignorance of our people pertaining to operations from our airport.
Our airport had seen the best of technological advances to ensure a safe flight for all passengers. The sheer ignorance and this desire to travel all the way to LGBI Airport in Guwahati as it is ostensibly safer seems like a joke to me.
These people spread fabricated stories which are untrue, and mind you, Shillong Airport has not endured any accidents or incidents nor disasters since its inception. We thank God for that!
Last year, when the weather was so bad and it was raining heavily during the monsoons, I was worried that my flight would be cancelled or delayed, but surprisingly, it was smooth as butter; the flight was on time although there was some turbulence. Overall, it was a very good flying experience. Hence, I have come to realize that our airport is at par with almost all major airports in the country. From reading several research papers, the issues of delays, cancellations, etc., usually happen due to the late arrival of aircrafts from other cities or HUBS. Hence, one should not jump to the conclusion that the facilities at Shillong airport are not up to standards of operations.
We have been blessed to have the ILS Type C installed, which easily guides the pilot to land safely even in very poor weather conditions. Yes, delays and cancellations occur due to unavoidable circumstances, but the rate of delays or cancellations of flights from our airport has reduced drastically.
What is imperative now is that the long-pending issue of increasing the runway strength and length would be completed sooner than later. I urge the officials to look at this to ensure wide-bodied aircraft to commence operations and give us more connections to the rest of the important metros and other cities in the country as well. I am one proud citizen to see how much our beloved airport has transformed over these years and that passenger traffic has increased considerably, and I’m looking forward to more connections and a better flying experience in the future.
Kudos to team AAI Shillong, the DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) , and the Transport Department, who have taken great steps to enhance better and smoother air connectivity from our lone Shillong (Umroi Airport).
Yours etc.,
Chanmiki Laloo,
Aviation Enthusiast
Shillong- 2


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