Monday, May 27, 2024
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Non-tribals – victims of racial prejudice

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Editor,
The unending saga of racial killing of non-tribals in Meghalaya took its latest toll at Mawroh, Shillong with the death of a daily wager whose only crime was his ‘race’ and nothing else. Going by the history of Meghalaya, it is irrefutable that the State Government, law enforcement agencies as well as civil society of Meghalaya are equal stake holders and active partners in diligently pursuing the agenda of ethnically cleansing the State since its formation and they have till date succeeded to achieve their goal to a large extent. Instead of grieving and expecting any action from the state machinery, the non-tribals should ponder whether it is worth residing in an uncivil and lawless state which is in the lowest rung of education, health care, employment, human rights, sports, basic infrastructure (potable water, electricity, roads, sanitation) and other development indices. In fact, the smart and erudite sections of non-tribal populace had understood many years back this devious design and rightly moved out of Meghalaya to civilized parts of the country and globe where justice, equality and fraternity takes precedence over their race and ethnicity.
Non tribals of Meghalaya should realize unequivocally that such racial killings had never shaken the conscience of the State machinery and civil society in the last fifty years nor it is expected to be aroused this time or in the future as well. As such, the residual non-tribal citizens should seriously introspect and decide their future in this hill state without pleading for equality and justice which are nothing but voices in the wilderness.
Yours etc.,
D. Bhattacharjee
Shillong-1

No words to condemn the heinous crime

Editor,
No amount of condemnation can bring back to life the labourer who was mercilessly killed on April 10 and unless the perpetrators of the heinous act of murdering the innocent labourer are caught and brought to trial, this will persist. As a concerned citizen who often travels outside the state it is really becoming embarrassing to name the state and place I come from, and this is obviously faced by those who stay and study outside this godforsaken state where avenues are limited. Such acts of violence are perplexing and hard to comprehend as to what joy such rascals get from tormenting families. So, all this statement that we often hear in public gatherings that we are, “Ka Ri Tip Briew Tip Blei” is becoming more like a scam rather than a reflection of the ground reality just like those who misuse every issue in the name of the “Jaitbynriew”. Justice should be brought to families facing such injustices be they tribal or non-tribal. Perhaps the State Government should read the Constitution once again to remind itself that it has a solemn duty to protect the life and liberty of all citizens. What is shocking is the silence of political parties, except for the BJP Minister Alexander L. Hek. Enough of this; we cannot continue to live in the dark ages.
Yours etc .
Dominic S. Wankhar,
Via email

Crime must be condemned

Editor,
I agree with the views of Kyrsoibor Pyrtuh expressed in his letter to the editor (ST April 11, 2024) captioned: “A Murder is a murder: Whoever commits it is a murderer”. We must take heed of his advice. Concerned with the increasing spread and deepening crisis of climate change, the United Nations, during the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit, affirmed that food systems hold the power to significantly manage climate change by moving to nature-based food systems. Current chemical-dependent and industrialised agriculture consumes 70% of global freshwater and is responsible for 80% of deforestation and 80% of biodiversity loss.
I am currently leading and coordinating an international study to assess the performance of Indigenous Peoples Food Systems in 4 countries (Meghalaya, Northern Thailand, Kenya and Mexico) as sustainable and nature-based food systems. We used a UN (FAO) methodology called Tools for Performance Evaluation Assessment (TAPE) to assess the performance of these food systems. The results convincingly confirmed that Indigenous Peoples Food Systems across these countries demonstrated very high scores on most agroecology indicators. One very interesting and important result showed that these high agroecology performances are the result of the high human and social values of caring and sharing of participating communities (Tip Briew Tip Blei).
We will be presenting this Report to several international audiences including the 2025 Session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, New York. The killing in Mawlai Mawroh will unfortunately damage our emerging international reputation as a tribe and could pour cold water on attempts to highlight that our values can indeed be important global game changers to meet current climate and food challenges.
I therefore call upon Churches of various denominations, social and political organizations to condemn and stand up against such senseless and targeted violence. This is not part of our culture.
Yours etc.,
Phrang Roy, (Coordinator Indigenous Partnership for Agrobiodiversity and Food Sovereignty, Rome, Italy)
Via email

Tasks before the candidates & electorate

Editor,
The editorial “Needed a questioning electorate” and the special article “Through the lens of the Shillong Parliamentary Seat” by Kyrsoibor Pyrtuh (ST April 9, 2024) both made interesting reading. Knowledgeable people in India know that this country’s democratic status has been a topic of debate and assessment by various organisations. The US-based non-profit Freedom House downgraded India from a free democracy to a “partially free democracy,” in its annual report on global political rights and liberties. It cited increased pressure on human rights groups, intimidation of journalists and activists, and attacks, especially against Muslims. Civil liberties are on the decline. The Swedish based V-Dem Institute went further, labelling India as an “electoral autocracy.” Democracy Index by The Economist Intelligence Unit shows that India slipped two places to 53rd position in the latest Democracy Index. It attributes this decline to democratic backsliding by authorities and crackdown on civil liberties damaging the country’s political fabric. But the government has defended its democratic credentials. The foreign ministry emphasised India’s robust institutions and well-established democratic practices. However, critics argue that erosion of democratic norms remains a concern. While India remains a vibrant democracy, recent assessments highlight challenges related to civil liberties, freedom of media and minority rights.
The editorial has raised an important point on the Electoral Bonds pertaining to pharmaceutical companies as well as the issue of MUDA being raked up in a national election which is not at all relevant to the general election to the 18th Lok Sabha. As to songs and noise and switched off reason and logic as pointed out in the editorial, one need not wonder why it happens. When the electorate are ill-informed, they will be captivated by songs and noise and sway according to their emotions, as emotional appeals are more effective than real messages, but by focussing on rational appeals they are likely to inhibit their chances of success. Ultimately, they (political parties) will also be producing less efficient communication because the objective is to influence people how to feel, not how to think. The problem in Meghalaya is that the electorate never questions but goes by their emotions and feelings. Social media has made things worse that even the Union Finance Minister observed that it is a waste of precious time to respond to social media. Kyrsoibor Pyrtuh rightly observed in his article that, “long pending and vexed political issues of the indigenous community cannot be resolved during elections, rather it requires consistent deliberative and participatory exercise.” The last paragraph of his article is very rational and one must not forget that it is the Lok Sabha with 543 Members who decides this vital issue and I am certain that if Narendra Modi returns as Prime Minister of India for the third time there is no reason for him to disagree on the inclusion of the Khasi language or for that matter the Garo language in the 8th Schedule when Parliament gives a nod, given the fact that there is no fixed formula for such an inclusion, as the inclusion of a language in the said schedule considers historical significance, literary heritage, and cultural distinctiveness. We must not lose sight that each language’s journey to official recognition is unique and reflects India’s rich linguistic diversity.
Yours etc.;
VK Lyngdoh,
Via email

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