Thomas Lim, editor of Meghalaya Times, wrote this insightful piece on the occasion of the 45th State Day of Meghalaya:
As Meghalaya turns 45, just five more years away from the Golden Jubilee of attaining its statehood, the state is yet to exhibit some state-of-the-art infrastructure or landmark policy and legislation. While the rest of the world knows us as the society with directionless youth and recently, the growing menace of crimes against women in Matrilineal Meghalaya. This has exposed the decaying foundation of social and cultural institutions, which simply put on the superficial pride as a community with Divinity and Humanism like exhibiting a plaque, while refusing to acknowledge the deteriorating law and order.
The same indigenous people have withstood the invasion of the Colonial empire in the past, with their traditional practice of Tip briew Tip blei (self realization and God conscious), Tipkur Tipkha (to know the matrilineal and patrilineal lineage) and Kamai Ïa Ka Hok (to earn righteousness).These basic spiritual and moral principles have helped strengthen the community.
One of the most noteworthy practices is the sacred grove or the practice of reserved forest, which enables the society of today to enjoy the green environment within the surrounding of such forests, while other parts of the city and its outskirts turn into a concrete jungle. Even the hillsides are being cut to meet the demand for housing or parking of motor vehicles. Such human requirements and greed have not only led to the loss of flora and fauna, but many of the medicinal plants too have vanished from these hills, not to mention the contribution to global warming and now even global cooling!
It is not just disregard of the wisdom of the ancestors, in particular, the practice of reserved forests and preserving the environment, the crimes against women and children and disrespect to humanity in the name of ‘protecting’ the interests of the traditional society have shaken the core of the traditional institutions and practices.
A few are now making an attempt to restore the society, looking for answers to deal with the crises. It is impossible to do so unless we all accept that contemporary society is far more career conscious and materialistic. The youth who are being suffocated with latest gadgets and hefty sums of pocket money now refuse to work hard, as things are easily available. At the same time, the reservation policy has turned them unwilling to compete, knowing that seats and jobs are reserved for them.
The society is now somewhat affluent, where the youth are alien to the terms ‘struggle’ and ‘hard work’ as they have inherited a Free India, hence, the sacrifice of the stalwarts and freedom fighters are just stories for them. Globalization has enabled the youth to have branded and imported products, taste-buds have changed, therefore the term – Patriotism to India is just limited to cheering for the Indian Cricket Team!
The positions of custodians of Judiciary and Legislations are no more earned, there is unashamed lobbying for any post, including that of a Law Maker which has encouraged use of money power. Therefore, visionaries, scholars, meritorious personalities have all taken a back seat – propaganda and disinformation have superseded them all.
Hence Meghalaya is now facing a situation where Law Makers are alleged to be involved in a sex racket and the sexual assault of a 14 year old girl, yet tribal society is mum! Every individual needs to introspect if the tenets of democracy are being upheld.
The rise in crime, militancy, unemployment or poverty are no longer linked to the breakdown of the state economy but it is due to the suppression of economy by a handful in the state which has led to such rebellion, yet the popular cliché – Money Talks still prevails, creating the crack which divides between the haves and the haves not.
Education is no longer the Temple of Knowledge, it is now considered as a business establishment to earn for both the management and the teachers. While the students consider educational institutions as stores which sell Degrees – a license to Superficial Status in the society, the Human Resource is no more being tapped.
Judiciary is now an expensive affair, the common people are now being denied justice if they cannot afford to hire a lawyer of repute to represent them, many innocent victims are rotting in the jail due to the same reason. Under such circumstances, how does one expect the common people to seek refuge in the Law?
It is futile to point a finger at any of the institutions for the present state of society. All that is required is political will, for every individual to accept the flaws, and change within themselves to lead the society and not to look for some other individual to begin the crusade.
Otherwise we will continue to wear the tag of Divinity and Humanism just as a plaque, while the very foundation of an ethical society decays.
[edited by Frank Krishner]