The demand for bringing our state under Inner Line Permit (ILP) regime on the pretext of protecting the unique culture, language and traditions of the Khasi, Garo and Jaintia people is bereft of any solid reasoning and devoid of any statistical data which can illustrate large scale infiltration from across the border (read Bangladesh) and influx (?) from other states of the Union of India. It is ironical that despite having so many constitutional safeguards such as reserved assembly constituencies, Land Transfer Act, Sixth Schedule, job reservations, income tax exemption and other protections, sections of tribal society still feel insecure whereas the depleting minority non-tribal communities residing in the state, who are afforded no protection whatsoever from the Government and its administration still manage to preserve their culture and traditions in the state. This proves that ultimately, it is the people alone who can preserve their culture and traditions, not any laws or regulations. After all, the majority of the state’s people had voluntarily chosen to forsake their own traditional customs by embracing a foreign faith a century and a half ago. In the course of this conversion, they chose to disown their traditional faith, adopt foreign names, adopt western dresses for social functions and imbibe several other features of an alien culture. Yet, over a century later, our state continues to be wracked by calls to preserve “indigenous culture” while the practice of indigenous culture is now limited to a small section of the population, due to the choices of the native communities themselves.
If we truly wish to preserve the unique culture of our state, we must call for empowerment and promotion of the followers of the traditional faiths and practices, through legislation and by directing the district councils and other bodies to, above all, safeguard these faiths and practices. After all, these practices represent the only truly “unique”, “indigenous” and “traditional” aspects left in our society, in contrast to the other faiths practised in our state that have billions of adherents in our country and abroad.
Who will be vaccinated first?
Everyone is talking about the anti-Covid vaccine and who will be the first to be vaccinated. As per Government of India notification, the health care professionals will receive the vaccine first followed by elderly citizens. Then what about those in the Government? Should they not be protected first so that they can protect the state and people? I would suggest that the Chief Minister and Health Minister be the first to take the vaccine. However, since both have already had Covid it is possible that they have developed immunity against the virus. In that case the Deputy CM and his senior cabinet colleagues should volunteer to take the vaccine and prove to all of us that it is safe and had no side effects.
In Meghalaya it is very difficult to convince people to be inoculated or to take vaccines. Even the polio drops for babies are considered unsafe by many parents and they refuse to take their babies to the health centres. I wonder how many people will agree to be vaccinated and whether it is compulsory for all to take the vaccine. Of course we all want to be protected from Covid-19 and its various strains but that is provided someone else has been vaccinated before us and not reported sick. We need that bit of reassurance. Now what happens if there are side effects? How severe will it be and if the person who is vaccinated requires treatment who will bear the cost? Will the state government take responsibility? All these questions arise as we arrive at the cusp of a new health regime where crores of Indians will be vaccinated. Another question that comes to mind is the temperature at which the vaccine is to be stored and whether the facilities are in place in Meghalaya. We have not heard much on this score. Will someone please enlighten us?
Humanity above all!
It is high time to question whether mere utterance of “Happy New Year” would ensure happiness from the very first dawn of the change of the calendar! Rather we should all go all-out to make the New Year and the society happy by undertaking concrete steps.
Just because “I am safe” or “not affected” does not mean that I would remain indifferent to the tragedy of hundreds who passed away prematurely in bank queues while trying to deposit or withdraw their own money or the vulnerability of the millions of wage-earners who lost their jobs in the wake of demonetisation! How many of us feel the inconsolable pain of the lakhs who have passed away due to Covid or that of the family of the hundreds of the poorest of poor who had passed away in due to near starvation on highways and railway tracks while forced to indulge in the “Long March” thanks to the instant lockdown without notice or the suffering of the millions who have lost their livelihoods due to the after effects of lockdown! Far from trying to feel their plight, Indians promptly joined the rhetoric of banging plates and lighting torches! Can a mere piece of document be allowed higher place in society by overriding the highest truth of humanity! If “No”, then how can we afford to remain indifferent to innumerable persons already languishing in jails just because they could not produce certain documents as demanded and lakhs of others are set to move to detention centres! Or take the case of Rohingyas! Why can’t we see our own children in the faces of the Rohingya children who are witnessing hell under God’s sky along with their kith and kin! Why can’t we realise that had destiny played its cards otherwise, we could ourselves have taken birth as Rohingyas! No wonder enlightened persons like Rabindranath Tagore had repeatedly asserted that humanity is far greater than nationalism.
Real happiness can be achieved in the society only when we feel sympathy and empathy in our souls for our fellow human beings. This will obviously lead to protest against injustice and torture which will also bring to an end all such ills thereby leading to a truly happy society where all days appear new enriching and worth living for.
- Best of BS Opinion: Covid-19 vaccine, promise of techno-nationalism & more [https://www.business-standard.com/article/opinion/best-of-bs-opinion-covid-19-vaccine-promise-of-techno-nationalism-more-121010500068_1.html]
- Covid-19 vaccine: I am not worried about the efficacy, says Jacob John [https://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/covid-19-vaccine-i-am-not-worried-about-the-efficacy-says-jacob-john-121010401400_1.html]
- Lankan Ministry of Epidemics denies appointing panel on disposal of COVID dead [http://www.lankaweb.com/news/items/2021/01/04/lankan-ministry-of-epidemics-denies-appointing-panel-on-disposal-of-covid-dead/]