Friday, May 31, 2024

Right to vote is a huge responsibility


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The election is just a few days away and it seems like this year the competition is tougher than before with stronger candidates and a new party – the VPP that’s gaining popularity and momentum with each passing day. All the parties have made their promises in their respective manifestos. It is however our responsibility as citizens of the state and the country to choose who amongst them will be the best to represent us and our problems. One must not vote for a party solely based on the identity of the party or the popularity of the candidate but the work that has been promised to be fulfilled by them. Meghalaya is a state that is lagging behind on so many levels and development on is a goal that must be met by the party that will emerge victorious.
There are several grounds that as residents of Meghalaya we must analyse before we cast our votes. Education is a sector where Meghalaya still is trailing. According to the Survey conducted by the National Statistical Office (NSO) in the year 2023, Meghalaya’s current literacy rate stands at 75.48% which is an improvement of a little over 1% since the last survey conducted in the year 2011, so the sector needs a major overhaul. The Party that comes to power must focus on making education more accessible to children. They must also look into the cause of number of school drop-outs as according to the UDISE (Unified District Information for Education) plus data published by the Union Education Ministry the dropout rate for Meghalaya has increased from 7.4%, in 2020-21 to 9.8% in 2021-22. There is also a need to put more focus on Higher Education. The state as of now is lacking quality colleges. As of the latest information by for the year 2024, North Eastern Hill University (NEHU) is the only Education Institution from the state that ranks under the top 100 position, while the next closest rank goes to NIT (Meghalaya) which currently ranks at 400th position. Therefore, the new MP ought to make Education as one of his/her primary focus.
Another sector where Meghalaya is lagging behind is the Health Sector. Although the State has a three tier health care delivery system in the rural areas, that is a Community Health Centre (CHC) for a population of approximately 80,000, a Primary Health Centre (PHC) for every 20,000 people and a Sub-Centre for every 3000 people, accessibility and availability of doctor is still a problem. The state also has Civil hospitals established at Shillong, Tura, Jowai, Nongpoh, Williamnagar, Baghmara, Ampati, Khliehriat, Nongstoin and Mairang. It also has a mental health hospital and a T.B. hospital, namely, MIMHANS and R.P. Chest hospital. There are also three Maternal and Child Health hospitals i.e. Ganesh Das Govt MCH hospital at Shillong, District MCH hospital at Tura and MCH Hospital at Panaliar, Jowai. Despite having these health institutions, many people prefer getting treatment from Medical Institutions outside the state, The State Health Department itself has stated that there is a lack of specialist doctors in the state and that the gap between availability and requirement of specialist physicians continues to be a challenge for the State government.
It is also sad to see that the North Eastern Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health and Medical (NEIGRIHMS) is the only Government Medical Institution in the state and the only Institution offering the course of MBBS, which leads to students searching for institutions outside the state to complete their higher studies. There is therefore an urgent need of medical colleges which will encourage students of the state to complete their education in the state itself.
The third important sector that demands attention is the Employment sector. While Meghalaya is performing better than many states when it comes to Unemployment rate, at just 2.63%, there is still a need to improve the employment sector. According to the Glassdoor data in the year 2024, the average base pay in the state of Meghalaya is Rs. 16,260 which is barely enough to sustain a person living in an urban area. The Party that is elected must also look at making people not only qualified but employable as well.
One more area that needs solution is the boundary conflicts/dispute that are existing with Assam. The boundary dispute between the states have been existing since the time the state was formed and even after 50 years of statehood, there seems to be no end to this dispute which has led to numerous conflicts between the governments and people of the two states. There is a need to resolve the issue as soon as possible, so that such conflicts and loss of lives can be avoided.
All these areas pointed above are in dire need of attention and improvement because they will help the state and its residents. However, what is more important currently is the need to vote wisely. The residents of Meghalaya must take the right to vote as not just a right but a duty. Since its inception, it was only in the year 1998, where the voter turnout of the state was more than 70%. Therefore, there is a need to encourage voters to come out and vote. They should not take this day as a holiday but as a day to be responsible citizens of the country and exercise their rights dutifully, because it is only when people vote, that actual change can happen.
Yours etc.,
Reakor Shisha Kharkrang
Upper Shillong,

‘Third class mindless politics’

Opposition parties such as the Indian National Congress (INC) are harping on appeasement politics and day dreaming to form the government at the centre after 2024 Lok Sabha election. The core issues for INC is providing reservations and caste census. Being out of power for a decade has spelt frustration and anxiety for them and has led to rolling out of election manifesto that has no direction and lacks any developmental policies. They are banking again upon reservations in jobs etc., to come to power. Overall reservations have not made any significant impact on the country’s growth and has, in fact, resulted in divisions in society. Merit has taken a backseat resulting in disproportionate and artificial outcomes. The entire Opposition have no solid plans for the country but to somehow come to power at the centre. People must be aware of the divisive politics of the Opposition and must not allow them to come to power. The country stands at a better position now than ever.
Yours etc.,
Dr H S Ranhotra,


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