Tuesday, July 04, 2006
State yet to decide on uranium mining
Mining and Geology Minister Prestone Tynsong was replying to a Zero hour notice brought by P T Sawkmie, about a newspaper report which said "UCIL yet to take steps for mining".
The minister clarified that the UCIL had submitted a formal application for uranium mining to the Deputy Commissioner, West Khasi Hills on 15-10-2001. It is still under scrutiny of the Deputy Commissioner,he added.
The DC had requested UCIL to submit consent of land owners and surveyed maps which the UCIL has failed to do till date. The application for mining lease of UCIL is yet to reach the state government. Only after the application has been received, it will be decided by state government whether to allow uranium mining in the state.
The UCIL had approached the state government for almost a decade now and series of preliminary discussions have been held but no final decision has been taken by the state government so far, he said.
Regarding health, the minister said a committee visited UCIL’s uranium mining project at Jaduguda in Jharkhand during March 8 to March 10 and found that the health condition of the people here was found to be normal and no case of ailment or physical deformity due to radiation could be confirmed.
But the government assured that before allowing uranium mining it will see that the mining does not pose any health hazard.
No change to Land Transfer Act, says Govt
Replying to a discussion in the Assembly today on a resolution moved by Independent Opposition legislator Manas Chaudhuri favouring amendment to the Act to facilitate transfer of land between non-tribals, deputy chief minister in-charge revenue Donkupar Roy said the resolution was not practicable and therefore not acceptable to the government.
"It will be detrimental to the interests of the indigenous people," Roy said and added that the rights of the tribal people over land needed to be protected from unscrupulous elements and pointed out that permanent non-tribal residents of the State were at liberty to buy and sell land within the un-scheduled areas in capital Shillong and Mouza Six in the Garo Hills.
Pointing out that indigenous tribal people have been outnumbered in the North Eastern State of Tripura, Roy said it was the commitment of the Meghalaya government to protect the future of the indigenous people at any cost.
Appreciating the contributions made by non-tribal people to the development of the State, the deputy CM, however, appealed to the permanent non-tribal settlers not to sell their land to outsiders.
Taking part in the discussion, former CM DD Lapang, while opposing the resolution said a way should be found out to remove doubts and fears, if any in the minds of the non-tribal people while keeping the tribal interest intact.
Legislators PT Sawkmie, PM Syiem, HS Lyngdoh, Boldness Nongum and Zenith Sangma also vehemently opposed any move to amend the Land Transfer Act and,instead, called for more stringent measures to ensure that tribal land was not alienated. Earlier, moving the resolution, Chaudhuri argued that the virtual blanket ban on transfer of land to non-tribals has robbed the permanent non-tribal settlers of Meghalaya of any opportunity to own a piece of land in the State where they have been residing for a long time.
"This is not only contrary to the spirit of natural justice and fairness but also runs the risk of providing unwitting invitation to surreptitious and unlawful manner of transfer of land among the non-tribal residents of the State," he said.
Supporting the resolution for lawful transfer of land between the "genuine" non-tribals, BJP member AL Hek pointed out that the permanent non-tribal settlers had taken part in the Hill State movement along with their tribal brethren. However, on being assured by the government that the rights and interests of permanent non-tribal residents of the State would always be ensured, Chaudhuri withdrew his resolution.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
The narrow path
—Edgar Reitz , one of Germany’s most prolific filmmakers
Some statements are always true to our lives and these leave on us a stamp of memory which is tough to erase. For Dalanglin Bryson Dkhar, the imprint of her grandmother was a force from within.
Born in Shillong, Dkhar studied film in Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, and the University of Technology, Sydney, pursuing MA from both. She is founder of East India Films and is currently in pre-production for a ten-part series based on the northeastern region. She divides her time between Shillong and Sydney.
She earned the Masters with distinction in media arts and production from the University of Technology, Sydney, Australia in July, 2005.
In November 2001, she co-directed and was associated with Where I Belong…, a social documentary based on the lives of children of sex workers of red-light area GB Road, New Delhi. In between April 2002 and September 2003 she produced, coordinated a documentary film Where Past Speaks for the Future based on the Oral Traditions of the Himalayan Tribes of India, Nepal and Bhutan.
2005. Dkhar was co-director and editor of highly commended JT Wilson— The Writing Busker, a short documentary on a writer who sells his stories on the streets of Sydney. In May-June 2005, she worked as a camera assistant for an award-winning short film, Another Dinner, based on the fragmentation of family lives in modern society. It was shot in Sydney, Australia.
As time grew, she wanted to use her art and study through camera. Her The Narrow Path is a representation of the culture and tradition that identifies the people of that part of the world.
She did not seek others help. She is the only one to produce, direct, write and edit the documentary film, The Narrow Path. It was shot within the Khasi Hills. The film has been picked up for distribution by Palandor Pictures. The documentary was awarded Best of Festival in San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival 2005 and runner up as Best Documentary . The film also participated in Golden Gate Fiction and Documentary Festival 2005 (San Francisco), New York International Independent Film and Video Festival 2005, Detroit Docs Film Festival 2005, SoCal Independent Film Festival (California) 2005, GoldenEye UTS Awards 2005 (Sydney). In all these festivals, the documentary got praises for direction, script and editing from critics. It was selected for National Competition Section in Mumbai International Film Festival 2006.
The Narrow Path in Director's language
My original idea was to document my grandmother, Silon Dkhar’s vivid account of her life and of eras gone by. As one of the longest living matriarchs of her clan, my grandmother was the link to history and to a way of life and values that is lost to the present generation. Her strong memory and clarity inspired me to capture it all on camera.My mode of documentation began in observational mode, but slowly morphed into a participatory one as I accompanied her as granddaughter, listener and participant in her talks. The camera soon became a quiet presence as we moved into the experiences of her journey of life. Initially the footage was to serve as archival for the family and the generations who would never know her. But this perception of it changed as I realized that her story was something powerful and life-changing. It was then that the film was conceived.
The journey of faith by which she lived her life decided and changed the landscape of her own and of her children forever. The Narrow Path became about the understanding of my grandmother’s history and the linking it to the legacy that we children have received since. Her first death anniversary is the event on which the film is launched, and it is a representation of the culture and tradition that identifies the people of that part of the world.
As someone who has grown up in the hills of northeast India, capturing the starkness of those hills was like stamping an identity of our roots. Therefore it was imperative that they formed part of the visual landscape of the film. They were the hills in which my grandmother had travelled widely on foot and they represented for me the strength, the vitality of life in the hills, and also the wisdom of ages gone by. Shortly after my grandmother’s death, the research for the film began. I was away from home in Sydney, studying for my Master’s degree, and I worked with the footage that I had shot as material, to uncover the stories, the details and the milestones of my grandmother’s life.
As I delved into the various stages of her life, I knew that I needed to uncover what was the emotional archaeology of my grandmother’s story. In order to understand that point of view, I had to understand how her memories have been influenced by historic moments as well as family dynamics that changed her life forever. In this manner, I attempted to make the film that would be the final product of my understanding of my legacy through the life of my grandmother.
Saturday, May 06, 2006
Discovering a Khasi Star in London
My good old schoolmate from St. Edmund’s Gerald Pde who currently works in New York is the Internet researcher who tracked down this amazingly beautiful and super talented Khasi star that Shillong has ever produced. Her name is Karen David and she is only 27, but I must say that she has achieved a lot for her age. Gerald’s wife Habari Warjri who is also a good friend of mine, then got in touch with me in London and connected me to Karen who wanted to meet Khasi people there. Karen was born in the music-loving city of Shillong, but moved to Toronto with her parents when she was one year old. The last time she returned home was when she was 8 years old. So when I met her, I told her that she must revisit her homeland and rediscover her roots and heritage. She then told me she wrote a song called "Shillong Shillong" and I was happy to know that still she strongly identifies herself as a Khasi girl even though she was raised far away in Canada. We both agreed that we needed to put our hometown Shillong on the international radar screen and that we wanted to work with children in the poor villages of our state Meghalaya.
Before I went to her show at the Jazz Café in London, I did a little research on her and I was really impressed by what she has been able to achieve so far. I found out that the stylish singer, songwriter and actress may be this year’s hottest new thing, and it seems that Karen is no stranger to the world of showbiz. She was handpicked by Bill Cosby to star alongside him in a TV commercial for Jell-O at the age of six, and the multi-talented girl has spent her whole life doing what she does best - putting on dazzling performances to win admirers wherever she goes. Born in Shillong and raised in Toronto, by a Khasi mother and a father from Chennai, I guess the ever-alluring Karen was never one to be confined by the expected boundaries.
At 17, she won a scholarship to the prestigious Berklee College Of Music in Boston to study jazz and gospel, where she discovered her flair for songwriting. In 1997, she moved to London to study at The Guildford School of Acting and, the moment she announced I Have a Dream, Benny Andersson snapped her up in a shot to join the original cast of the hit musical Mamma Mia. Film Director Shekhar Kapur brought his friend, the legend of Indian music, A. R. Rahman, who was developing Bombay Dreams at the time, down to see the show. He was impressed by Karen and asked her to assist him and Don Black, in the development of the material for Bombay Dreams. Her reward was to be invited to perform some of the songs on stage on his highly acclaimed sell-out US and Canada tour. This was the start of a friendship that has led to Karen writing and recording with A. R. Rahman at his Panchathan Record Inn studios in Chennai, India.
In 1999, she was voted Best Unsigned Artist in a showcase held by the giant US performing right organization BMI. A year later, she was signed by Hit & Run, an affiliate of EMI Music, which led to her introduction to Stuart Crichton and Jony Rockstar with whom she wrote Me vs Me, which would become her signature tune. And with two exquisite collaborations with A. R. Rahman, "Carry Me Home" and "Shillong Shillong" receiving critical praise, Karen had well and truly arrived.
A major international deal with BMG Records followed. Her first single for the label, "Its Me You’re Talking To" set Top 20 Radio ablaze all across Germany, Austria and Switzerland. However, corporate politics then intervened, with the entire label being fired (from the A&R staff to the president of the label). It took 9 months of legal wrangling to get released and to escape with the material.
But now, with a new creative team around her and the full backing of EMI Music pushing her forward as the new sensation for 2006, the World is finally ready for the music of Karen David.
Her sound may be unfamiliar to some, but her face is not. The star of critically lauded stage plays such as Strictly Dandia and appearances in a series of blockbusters that included Bollywood Queen, Take 3 Girls and Batman Begins, she can also be seen on the TV screen in Johnny Vaughans cult favourite Top Buzzer on MTV and Channel 5. Her role in the forthcoming movie alongside the likes of Aishwarya Rai, Naveen Andrews, Miranda Richardson and Robbie Coltrane in the hard-hitting Provoked, has already won her attention within the industry. The soundtrack for the movie found her back in A. R. Rahman’s Chennai studio to write and record with him, the powerful Alive, the theme song that captures the essence of the infamous story of the abused woman, Kiranjit Ahuwalia, who refused to let the world crush her.
2006 will also see Karen introduced as a new member of the cast of Belonging, the award winning BBC Wales drama series that draws huge viewing figures right across Wales.
Karen David is ready to take on the world. With a hugely productive year that saw her writing material and singing for the Voelker Bros Rapsody project in Germany and wowing new audiences at gigs as diverse as Ronnie Scotts and Glastonbury, her studio work is getting set to take us all by storm in 2006. Working with the beautiful, eclectic Bombay Dub Orchestra (Garry Hughes and Andrew T Mackay), her new album is her most adventurous, groundbreaking work to date. The breathtakingly original songs marry her velvet smooth voice and quirky insights with progressive dub pop, set against an exotic backdrop that could only have been painted by Karen David. "I Need You", her first single from her forthcoming album Me Versus Me, has already received extensive airplay on independent radio stations and was play listed by Adil Ray on the BBC’s Asian Network station.
One evening after spending the whole day studying and working on my paper at the London School of Economics library, I decide to take a break and go to one of her shows at the Jazz Cafe in the North of London to hear her music and relax my mind. When I got there her fans cheered as she walked on stage with a light grey top with shining silver V shaped neck, black pants and smooth leather boots up to the knee. She saw this Khasi boy in the club packed with her screaming fans and just smiled at me as I wave my hand. After that all the other girls and boys in the club then looked at me and asked me how I knew the cool singer on stage. I replied to them saying that it was my first Karen David show.
I wanted Karen to sing "Shillong Shillong" which is about our homeland, but she sang four of her other great songs. She opened with "I Need You", and who could resist such an offer? The exotic star has everything her fans have been looking for: talent, beauty, charm and a star quality that shines through everything she puts her passion to. That night she was performing with the Inklein Quartet – so they were playing a couple of their own pieces as well - she hit the stage at 8.30pm sharp and I tell you, it’s not easy to sing pop songs with a Quartet. There were seven people playing three violins, a cello, a tabla, a keyboard and a background singer. Karen did the opening for the great Susheela Raman and her music was simply amazing!
After her show Karen introduced me to her manager and lawyer Colin Long who later gave me her CD. She got me a drink and some pudding and thanked me for coming to support her. She is so talented and famous, but yet she is so humble and warm. I think that is the perfect ingredients that make a star. I am really proud of her and all the Khasi people will be very proud of her too. I picked up one of her fliers and she signed her autograph on it for me. Before we parted that night, I said rock on Khasi Star and she said "Khublie Shibun and Thiah Suk". What can I say, but she turned that cold and rainy night in London into one that her fans including myself will cherish for a while.
Recently I got an email from her after she I got back to London from filming the Steven Seagal new flick, "Enemy of the Unseen" in Romania. This picture is a shot of Karen as Lieutenant Landers in the US Air Force from the film set. Well we will have to wait until the film comes out of Hollywood to see Karen in action. The other picture is during the Lord of the Rings premier in Canada with A. R. Rahman. If you are interested in her work then you can listen to her music and see her videos on www.karendavid.com. May the force be with her to keep our Khasi star safe and strong always!
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
MeSEB chairman’s chair - and the winner is ……. .
SHILLONG, APR 23:The much ado regarding reinstatement of Mr. P.J. Bazeley is beyond comprehension of many. He is one bureaucrat who has few parallels in administration and efficiency. And above all the capacity to mobilize and harness resource, being his unique and much sought after USP. He is a “powerhouse”, which some of our top, ailing electricity board mandarins cannot even think of surviving without. Thus settlement of all big tenders involving crores including award of contracts and work/supply order to small suppliers and contractors- all have been allegedly kept at abeyance by MeSEB “purchase board” since last few months. His return was imminent and hence no “member” dared to take any decision, thereby establishing and confirming his indispensability. The precedence in recent times, from Messers J.P. Singh to Bazeley, has been to allow the Chief Secretary to hold the additional charge of Chairman MeSEB. The only deviation was when Mr. Tayeng had to forego the additional post prior to retirement for accommodating his successor. Under the convention, what valid reasons exist for ignoring Mr S.K. Tiwari or even Mr. B.K. Dev Varma – the present “transition” incumbent? Is it because both are low profile individuals of integrity and capability - who would prefer to remain in the sidelines than to sully their image by entering the whirlpool of murk and deceit? Mr. Bazeley has been involved with the state’s planning process for long and hence it is only natural that he has planned his post retirement innings with surgical precision. So why grudge him when decision makers who are beneficiaries of his benefaction are ready to break all norms and convention to reinstate him and benefit from his management skills. Time only will tell whether the commitment and concern of the N.G.O’s who have embarked on an agitation on the issue, will finally translate into reclamation of the denigrating governance edifice. Mr Bazeley however stands to gain as usual; irrespective of who emerges the winner in the on going tug-of-war between the government and N.G.O.’s on one hand and among some MDA coalition partners, on the other. In case the agitation against his appointment becomes intense, his popularity will keep rising in direct proportion, among individuals and organizations in certain constituencies of his home district. Political ambitions, if he harbors any, shall receive a winning surge. Concurrently, if the will of the cabinet sustains, 2 years of proposed contract with MeSEB will end coinciding with Assembly elections in the state. The ground then too shall be fertile for a windfall; an ensured place in the cabinet or who knows maybe even the top post. The question in such a scenario is will he appoint two Deputy Chief Ministers? He shall call the shots, if the possibility becomes a reality; since he is and will remain indispensable for “them” and not vice versa. However, under the prevailing situation, Mr. Bazeley may finally opt for the safe passage out, by declining to accept the formal government notification; refusing to be dragged further into the vortex of the issue, which is generating adequate hype. Here also, he stands to gain by declining the offer and continue serving the cause of Almighty and be blessed, rather than run into hurdles of earthly minnows. Time will reveal who stands and who falls among the impending ruins, created by the fallacy about individual(s).
Sunday, March 12, 2006
Determination overcomes disability
By Desmond L. Shylla
SHILLONG: We shall overcome one day is a popular song known by all and truly indeed. Three completely blind students of Jyoti Sroat School have proven that they have overcome their disabilities by appearing in the Secondary School Leaving Certificate (SSLC) examination conducted by the Meghalaya Board of School Education (MBoSE).The three — Richardiwanson Lamin (Roll No. 14340), Cornelius Lyngdoh (Roll No. 14340) and Benistar Kharpor (roll No. 14286) — are appearing in their SSLC examination at St. Anthony’s Higher Secondary School, Laitumkhrah. And they were all accommodated in one single room under the supervision of one invigilator.Answering the same question papers set for the normal students, these three students dictate their answers to their helpers who are one class junior to them. All the three helpers, students from St. Edmund’s School, volunteered their service. According to official sources, last year too there were some low-vision students who had appeared in their SSLC examination at the same examination centre.Talking to this reporter after their examination, this afternoon, Kharpor who is 23 years old, expressed hope to pass the examination with flying colours.On his preparation, Kharpor said that he had started his preparation for the examination from January and he was quite satisfied with his MIL (Khasi) paper today. However he was not so satisfied with his English paper.Lyngdoh said that his MIL (Khasi) paper today was okay unlike the English paper. He also expressed hope of passing the SSLC examination this year.On his preparation, 18-year-old Lyngdoh said, "I started my preparation from December last year but I put in more effort in January."While, Lamin, who is now 22-year-old, said that his paper went well today.On his preparation, Lamin said that he started studying from January 14 and, "we took tuition in Mathematics and our school teachers were always there to help us." Besides the three blind students, one deaf student is also appearing for his SSLC examination at H. Elias School, Nongshiliang.Mentionably, a total of 34, 890 students are appearing in the SSLC examination conducted by MBoSE which got under way on Wednesday and will conclude on March 22.
Sunday, March 05, 2006
A non-functional PHC that was completed 7 years back!
NONGSHKEN, MAR 5: The central government agenda — Health for All by 2006 — has come a cropper, if the pathetic condition of Wahshyrkhmut Public Health Centre (PHC) is any indication.
Believe it or not! The building of the PHC was completed about seven years ago; but it still remains to be commissioned. Probably the health minister has no time for a ribbon cutting ceremony, or even the department may have forgotten all about its existence.
Talking to some of the visiting journalists, Tangmang village elder Nalesen Khonglam said, "We all were very happy when the PHC building was complete," regretting that "it has been seven years now the PHC is yet to be made fully functional."
Wahshyrkhmut PHC is supposed to cater to the patients of eight adjacent villages and there are about 3800 holdings along the Indo-Bangla border, including Nongshken and Umniuh Tmar villages.
Khonglam wanted to know: "If the government is not serious about opening it then why at all constructed the building, what was the need to furnish it with cots and beds."
He rued that the doctor in-charge of Pynursala visits once a week to the PHC which has the facilities for doctors and nurses, including quarters. Presently, only two staffs — a chowkidar and a head assistant — have occupied their respective accommodations while others are vacant.
When asked where they go in the rest of the days of the week, he said, "We either go to Pynursala or Shillong." Pynursala is about 25 km away from the site of the PHC.
It is not only that the people of the border area are unhappy with the government just for the PHC, they are also annoyed with the government for not opening border hats. The government time and again promised to open border trades but have never taken initiative to open the oldest three hats along the border — Nongjri, Bearbally and Thymmai (Naya Bazaar). Talking to this reporter, secretary of Raid Nongshken Meiot Khongsni and Matabor of Umniuh Tmar Pariot Mawkon said that this affected the economy of the people living along the border, to a great extent.
"When the border hats were open the economic conditions of the people here were very good but now they are passing hard days to earn a living," the duo said. On the allegation that the border hats helped in infiltration, insurgency and smuggling on the basis of which the hats had been closed, they dismissed it, saying "the allegation is baseless." They urged upon the central and State governments to re-open the hats considering the economic condition of the border people. Hat Nongjri and Hat Thymmai were closed ten years ago while Hat Bearbally was closed way back in 1974.
They also informed this reporter that in the hats they used to sell vegetables, betel nuts and leaves while they used to get other essential commodities from Bangladesh. They also said: "It is not only the border people who used to sell their products, when the hats were operational people from other parts of the district used to come with their goods and about 15 bazaar buses came to the area from different parts twice a week."
Thursday, February 23, 2006
BSF personnel helping Bangladeshis'
Sunday, February 19, 2006
Purno undisputed leader of Garo Hills
TURA, FEB 19: Former Lok Sabha Speaker and Garo Hills strongman, NCP contender Purno Agitok Sangma won the bye-election to the prestigious Tura Parliamentary seat with a landslide margin of over 1,01,176 votes against his nearest rival Congress candidate Dr. Mukul Sangma who secured 1,18,848 votes, whose results were declared here today. Purno Sangma secured a total of 2, 20,024 votes. The polling for the bye-election was held on February 16 under tight security in an overall peaceful atmosphere. In 2004 Lok Sabha election Purno Sangma defeated Dr. Sangma with a margin of 72, 763, votes when Dr. Sangma had a ‘bright track’ record. Purno Sangma has won the Tura Parliamentary seat for the record ninth time, who resigned last year owing moral responsibility after the September 30 incident, which claimed nine innocent lives and injured over 100 others in CRPF-Police firing in two separate rallies at Tura and Williamnagar, when the students protested over the controversial issue of restructuring and revamping Meghalaya Board of School Education .Congress candidate Dr. Mukul Sangma, the then Deputy Chief Minister in-charge Home, Education etc was held responsible by the agitating student body, who later resigned owing public pressure and contested the bye-election whose candidature was strongly opposed by the student body in Garo Hills districts.‘Development’ was the core issue for the Congress and the Independent candidates but for NCP, the issue was MBoSE and September 30 incident. Victorious Purno Sangma, while talking to The Meghalaya Guardian after wining the election, remarked “Development was not the issue for this election and people have given their mandate.” Earlier on February 16, he remarked “I’m all set for another record”.Today’s result shows that the Congress propaganda of ‘development’ has been out rightly rejected by the voters. The political analysts had earlier indicated that it would be difficult to predict as to who will make it to the parliament and had also predicted that whoever wins the election it will be with less margin, but today’s result has however proved everyone wrong. The Congress had earlier speculated that people will vote for change and development .Purno Sangma defeated his rival Dr. Mukul Sangma in 20 constituencies with huge margin. Dr. Sangma managed to win in his MLA constituency Ampatigiri and in the plain belts that consists of Mahendraganj, Phulbari and Rajabala. In the last election Purno Sangma had secured 8046 votes whereas Dr. Sangma secured 7413 votes from Ampatigiri Constituency. In an election meeting at Ampatigiri Purno Sangma had earlier said “Let the people of Ampati decide as to who will win the election as entire Garo Hills is looking at Ampati”. Purno Sangma secured 6960 and Dr. Mukul Sangma secured 8687 votes from Ampatigiri constituency this time.The wave for Congress had gained moment with Union minister Oscar Fernandez, DONeR Minister P.R. Knydiah, Chief Minister D.D.Lapang, MPCC President O.L Nongtudu and other Congress workers campaigning in Garo Hills. But the final results have proved wrong all the claims of Congress party, who were confident to win the Tura Parliamentary seat. The two Independent candidates Ismail Sangma secured 8683 votes and Winstone Momin secured 11479 votes and lost their deposits.
Saturday, February 18, 2006
Vanilla plant thrives in Williamnagar
Vanilla plant special to Kerala is now growing fleshy and healthy in virgin soil of Garo Hills.
Vanilla that belongs to orchidacea family is a lone genus cultivated as spice crop having more than 110 species. Also known as ‘king of spices’ it is a fleshy herbaceous perennial vine supported by adventitious root.
One of its species known as vanilla Planifolia Andrews is largely cultivated in India especially in the state of Kerala. But with suitable soil and favourable climatic condition vanilla plant also thrives well in Williamnagar.
A prominent farmer of Williamnagar, Winderson Sangma after attending the necessary training of vanilla cultivation in Kerala in the year 2003 also started cultivating vanilla in Williamnagar too.
Encouraged by the department of horticulture with necessary arrangement of seedlings, he started vanilla cultivation in the thickset of his own residential compound. He planted saplings using areca nut (betel-nut) palm trees, peach trees, mango trees, agol trees and simul trees as standard support. Within two years vanilla vines grew up to more than a metre.
Once the vine creeps up more than two and half metres from ground level its soft shoot or bud can be cut off and implant as a new seedling. It gives new sprouts within few months and the same step can be repeated to create multiple nurseries out of few vines.
Since the plants are still young and green they have not borne flower or fruit. So it is too early to predict the success of cultivation. But considering its fleshy leaves and healthy stems currently growing in the thicket of Winderson Sangma, one can assume that vanilla cultivation in the region will prove to be a success in the near future benefiting farmers of the region.
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
City people to get more quality water
Setting aside all speculation of a possible water shortage in the coming months, Shillongites can now feel at ease for more water will flow to the capital city once the En-route Villages Water Supply Scheme (EVWSS) is commissioned in the month of March.Talking to The Meghalaya Guardian this afternoon, state public health engineering chief engineer T G Abraham said that there are 29 villages en-route from Mawphlang to Shillong city and are presently receiving water from the Greater Shillong Water Supply Scheme (GSWSS) in accordance with the agreement signed between the department and the villages.On EVWSS, the chief engineer said that the department has started a scheme where water supply will be pumped from a spring near the second reservoir of the GSWSS at Mawphlang for the 29 villages and tentatively it will be commissioned in the month of March. He also said that once the scheme is commissioned the water supply to the enroute villages from GSWSS will be diverted to Shillong City which will increase the amount of water supply to the city. The EVWSS is being constructed at a total cost of Rs.5.45 crore, the chief engineer further informed. Abraham also informed that the department is taking steps to improve the generation of water supply by replacing the two pump sets at GSWSS and said that the the first pump is under replacement at a total cost of Rs.1.55 crore and work has been allotted for replacing the second pump at a total cost of Rs.3 crore. When replacement of the two water pumps is completed, the chief engineer said that water supply will be enhanced to its total intake of 11.30 MGD from the present intake of 7.5 MGD. Abraham further informed that the department is undertaking a scheme for improving the quality of water of municipal sources supplying water in parts of Shillong and integrating these sources with GSWSS so that mixing of treated water with untreated water is avoided and also for ensuring that a uniform quality of water is supplied to all the people of Shillong. The scheme will be handed over to the Municipal Board shortly after completion, he added
Thursday, February 09, 2006
"You will find something greater in woods than in books.
Trees and stones will teach you
That which you can never learn from masters."-St. Bernard
Plants are an integral part of nature, which nature in itself reflects the creative powers of a living God. All plants available in this part of the country-Scotland of the East-has in them powers of healing which man has never fathomed. They are bounties of life-sustaining force which we are really not in a position to tap because our attitude towards nature has become distorted.
Modern drugs are not only expensive, but many of them bring about side-effects which are more dangerous than the disease itself.
Here are some plants having with them healing properties widely available in all the seven districts of our state.
· Black Mulberry or (Soh Lyngdkhur in Khasi) is a popular plant in our state growing up to 10 meters high, has medicinal properties in its bark and fruits. While Seri culturists depend on the plant to feed silkworms, its oblong red fruit which turns to purple when ripe is nutritive. Its juice is a grateful drink for convalescents and anaemic, while the bark of the tree is used for expulsion of worms. It cools the body too!
· Castor (Dieng Ryndia) found to grow wild in the city’s wasteland has healing touches in it. While leaves and seeds are for external uses, the oil obtained from its seeds prevents dry wax in ears. Pounded castor leaves are also used for ulcers, wounds and boils. Besides it also helps rheumatism and headaches. So next time you spot it near your homes recognise it from a spiny capsule fruit it has which splits into three one-seeded parts when dry.
· Chrysanthemums (Tiew Jaiaw) the beauty of our homes blooming in around the city in the month of October is also seen with the Kongs in the city’s hub-Police Bazaar. Besides fetching a good price in a flower loving city, it relieves colds and inflamed respiratory tract. This charming beauty can also be used for whooping cough, boils and swelling. Chrysanthemum oil is applied locally in fungal affected areas and abdominal pain-Beauty with a cause!
· Jackfruit (Soh Phan) a large fruit sometimes weighing over 30 kilos is found in almost all the districts of the state. For those who haven’t spotted it, check out for this heavy branched tree with its foliage providing a beautiful shady resting spot along the Shillong-Guwahati road. The jackfruit root is a good remedy for diarrhoea, fever and asthma while the milky latex of the tree can be applied externally for wounds, glandular swellings and insect bites.
· Passion fruit (Soh Brap) a climber plant bearing 2 to 3 inches of fruit in diameter not only makes wonderful drinks rich in vitamin C but also aids in digestion, checks scurvy and takes care of spasms, convulsions and a remedy for weakness. Its leaves are also used in treatment of duodenal and nervous ulcers.
· Sponge-Gourd (Soh Prew) cultivated for use of the ripe fruit having sponge-like fibres and commonly used as bath sponge by all the locals is a herbaceous vine. The young fruit rich in phosphorous, iron and calcium too provides seeds which expels worms from the body. Its stem and leaves are also used for liver diseases, iron deficiency and anaemia.
· Tapioca (Phan Dieng) relished by the local people are cooked and prepared in a variety of ways. Its starch is not only used for making your favourite biscuits, puddings and other confectionery items, but heals the skin rashes and itchiness you’ve been yearning to get rid off.
· The handsome wood-apple tree (Soh Kwit) with fragrant flowers, a cricket-ball sized fruit which tastes sweet and sour is a laxative for fever. If eaten when half ripe it leaves a husky throat. But you have to taste it! For it tones the stomach, helps digestion and a remedy for chronic diarrhoea and dysentery.
These were some of the plants that heal. But there are thousands and thousands of plants having in them healing powers that can promote health and alleviate illness. The natural substances in plants whether cultivated, planted or grow wildly when properly tapped are remedies for the service of man.
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
MBoSE is issue and not development!
By M. A. Venugopal
SHILLONG, FEB 8: The bye-election for 2-Tura parliamentary constituency is held in the backdrop of the row over Meghalaya Board of School Education (MBoSE) leading to September 30 firing incidents at Tura and Williamnagar in which nine persons were killed and several others, mostly young students, severely injured. Sitting MLA from Ampati and Congress candidate for the bye-poll Mukul Sangma has been harping full throat on development of Garo Hills. The truth is stranger than fiction! There are 14 MLAs from Garo Hills; had half the number who were one time or other were part of the government the region would not have been backward as of now.
Funds allocated for development and welfare schemes have all along been bungled by the departments concerned, for, the government never initiated stringent action against bureaucrats/officials/engineers responsible for overseeing the job. PHE and PWD have become nest of corrupt officials who grease the palms of the powers that be as otherwise why officials of the departments concerned are let off the hook every time one scam after another is exposed through the media and NGOs. Whether it is electrification of villages or construction of roads or water supply scheme all point accusing finger at the representatives elected by people who cared two hoots for development and welfare of common people. The ministers, MLAs, bureaucrats and engineers continued fill their coffer with the filth lucre extracted through vested interests.
Who to blame? It is the people who elect their representatives on the gullible promises. How could they ever see the light at the end of the development tunnel? Now an MLA alone gets Rs.5 crore for a full term carrying out development work and implement various welfare scheme in his or her constituency, rendering MPLAD fund inconsequential.
The allegation that eight-time Member of Parliament from Tura Purno A. Sangma imposed this mid-term poll for his personal gains holds little water. He resigned from Lok Sabha on two issues of which the MBoSE controversy was prime and another, which needs no explanation, is how a National Trinamool Congress (NTC) MP sitting in the opposition could do anything to scuttle the covert State government move to "bifurcate" the Board of School Education headquartered at Tura. Purno as a principled politician could not bear with it, hence he resigned from the Parliament and planned to contest on the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) ticket; for, he wanted to return to the party which was formed in protest against certain differences with the Congress high command then. Now the differences have been sorted out and by the way the NCP is part of the UPA government at the Centre and if elected as an NCP MP for the ninth time from Tura he would rise to the occasion to put up a tooth and nail fight over the MBoSE issue.
Mukul who had to resign from the Cabinet over the twin firing incidents has hit the high voltage campaign trail, while for veteran Purno it has been a low key affair this time because he understands the sentiments of his voters who are still to reconcile with the ghastly fallouts of the government move to revamp MBoSE. Purno is doing door to door campaign in the rural areas with the hope that urban population understands best who to vote for! Unlike Purno, Mukul is hogging all the media light; thanks to his money power. Whether Purno wins the election or Mukul, but the credibility of some media persons are definitely at stake for writing coloured, one-sided reports.
Monday, February 06, 2006
You are a millionaire now!
By Kanad Nandi Majumder
Since the advent of Internet, e-mails have become the most convenient form of communication. But did you know that some of the e-mails can come up with nasty surprises?
The 419 Scam has baffled even the US Secret Service which has termed it as a growing epidemic. So much is the effect of this scam mail that every two days, one gets an indirect 419 Scam mail announcing that he is the lucky winner of some million dollars. Once in the trap, it is very difficult to get out of it. A survey reveals that this particular scam is worth $ 200 million and the people behind it are as dangerous and criminal as your master forgers back home. It also calls it the fastest growing epidemic.
The hoax e-mail, which has many variants, appears to be sent out by a deposed African official or a relative of one. The message asks its recipients for assistance in transferring or handling a sizeable sum of money, offering a corresponding share for such service.
This scam e-mail has victimised many individuals, some of whom have given up millions of dollars and their personal safety for lure of promised lucre.
Recently, I received an e-mail in which I was congratulated on having won £1,600,000 Pounds. The congratulations came from a valid company registered with a London address and with a list of phone numbers, an agent and also a lawyer in case I needed to know how to get the massive lottery money through insured bank drafts. The content of the email was “It is expected that you would forward this information as soon as possible to enable us attend to your winnings. Once we confirm your information, your payments would be processed. After you have sent down this information, a certificate will be prepared for you. This is to be your proof of winning. Be advised that your winnings would be paid to you in instalments of £1,600,000 Pounds. You are advised to keep your winning numbers secret to avoid unscrupulous elements from taking advantage of the situation. Once again, congratulations.”
In order to claim the money, I was given option of sending courier charges of 650.00 Pounds (1,150 Dollars) through Western Union. All attempts to tell the agent that he should deduct this amount from the overall draft that he would be sending were not entertained.
Thousands of people receive 419 e-mails every month. Although the Nigerian Government claims to be cracking down on them, it is commonly believed that they are actually protecting the culprits. The reasons? Well, to start with it is alleged that it is the Nigerian Government officials themselves who are the kingpins. Secondly, the 419 scam is estimated to be the third largest source of revenue for the Nigerian economy. This is just too large a business for it to crack down on.
The Nigerian Scam letters generally fall into one of these four categories:
1. I am a Government Minister in Nigeria. I have been accumulating funds in a secret bank account by over-invoicing contracts awarded by the Government of Nigeria. I now have $18.5 million in the account. I will send the money to you and, for performing this service; I will give you part of the money when I get out of Nigeria.
2. I am the son of the President or Chief or Leader of an African country. My father was killed in a war/uprising. The new Government of my country is trying to get the money my father left for his family. We have only $18.5 million left. I want to send you this money to hold for me.
3. My father was a rich diamond merchant/gold miner/farmer. He was killed in a land dispute. We have only $18.5 million left. I want to send you the money to hold until we get out.
4. I am a branch bank manager of a bank in Nigeria. One of the depositors in my bank was killed along with his entire family in a car accident on Zimbabwe Road. I have discovered that my client had $18.5 million on deposit with the bank. I want you to impersonate my client and claim that you are him and then I will give you the money.
5. Dear Winner, We are pleased to announce you as one of the 6 lucky winners in the Heritage Lottery Funds draw held on 3rd of October. All 6 winning addresses were randomly selected from a batch of 40,000 international emails. Your email address emerged alongside 5 others as a 3rd category winner in this month's draw. Consequently, you have therefore been approved for a total pay out of £1,600,000 Pounds (one million Six hundred thousand pounds).
6. I am the manager of bill and exchange at the foreign remittance department of Banque Internationale du Abidjan. In an account that belongs to one of our foreign customer who died along with his entire family in November 1997 in a plane crash we discovered an abandoned sum of U.S$8.5m US dollars (Eight million, five hundred thousand US dollars). I will be transferring the full amount to your account and it will be there till I get out of my country. In exchange you will get 30 percent of the amount as commission.
Not only are there many cases of people who have had their bank accounts drained by 419, there are also cases where they have been lured into actually travelling to Nigeria and entering the country without a passport - which puts them at the mercy of the scamsters. Some law enforcement agencies report that some of these people have not left that country alive.
After 419, comes the online job scam. There are many online classified services full of job offers for what are listed as re-shipping firms. Requirements of the job are simple - accepting goods or money and transferring them out of State. Employees get to keep 10 to 15 per cent of everything they ship. But, of course, even this is a scam. Thousands of people have fallen victim to re-shipping scams.
However, a large number of victims are enticed into believing they have been singled out from the masses to share in multi-million dollar windfall profits for doing absolutely nothing. But the question is how do they get your name? Well they may have got your name from a variety of sources like trade journals, professional directories, newspapers and commercial libraries. They do not target a single company, but send out mails to an individual.
A person posing as Vincent approached the complainant through e-mail with a business proposal for investment in real estate in India. Vincent and the complainant decided to meet. During the meeting, one more Nigerian posing as Andre came along. Both said they were in possession of a large number of defaced Indian currency notes of Rs 1,000 denomination. They claimed that these defaced notes could be recovered by applying certain chemicals and by using genuine currency notes.
They convinced the complainant by giving a live demonstration of the process of recovering the defaced currency notes and gave one such note to him for verification. After the demonstration, the duo told the complainant that in case he was interested in making money, he should bring Rs 50,000 worth of Rs 1,000 denomination. Thereafter, they said, he would be given Rs 1 lakh worth of defaced currency along with the chemicals so that he can recover the currency notes, whenever he wished.
Suspecting the intention of the accused, the complainant approached the CBI and a trap was laid. To the decoy, too, the accused gave a currency reconstruction demo.
What actually used to happen was that the culprits used to apply a white chemical powder on one genuine currency note and after keeping it between two defaced notes; they used to apply another chemical on it.
The three currency notes were then kept in the freezer for 15-20 minutes. These notes were then treated with another chemical and washed in hot water. In this manner, the accused used to produce three different currency notes of Rs 1000 denomination. After the demo, they used to take the genuine money brought by the target as their share and cost of the chemicals and hand over ordinary black paper strips and chemicals to the victim. Subsequent attempts by the victim to recover genuine currency, of course, came to a naught.
So, the question is how you safeguard yourself from such tempting offers. The first thing is never wire the money. In order to find out the genuineness of the company use Google search. There are dozens of sites which list companies operating under 419 Scams. However, remember just because the name of the company is not listed in the 419 scam list it does not mean that the e-mail is genuine. Try and get the telephone number. Most scamsters will be reluctant to talk over the phone and prefer to communicate through e-mail.
So if you get a mail that talks about you winning a large sum of money, especially in a draw in which you never took part remember what your grandmother told you: You've got to earn your millions.
Tuesday, January 31, 2006
Union Defence ministerPranab Mukherjee handing over the second prize bagged by Meghalaya Tableau in the Republic Day Tableaux Parade, 2006 to DIPR PRO C. Passah at a function at Rashtriya Rangshalla Camp, New Delhi
Monday, January 30, 2006
With a host of public issues ranging from influx to border fencing to uranium mining regularly making the news headlines, we have a situation here in the State where it is queer if not weird. Take a look at this. The NGOs/Pressure groups of the State rake up the issues, the government is supposed to look into them; it does not (well, mostly); the elections come – the issues temporarily forgotten; the same government get voted into power and the vicious cycle started again. What a farce?
The widespread protests on various issues are expected to generate awareness amongst the general public. But does it? And what is awareness without taking recourse to appropriate and sufficient actions by the right groups, parties or quarters at the right time? It is heartening to see that NGOs in the State are raking up issues after issues of public interest and that touch upon the whole gamut of administrative, governance, developmental, political and social topics. No doubt, the intense pressure from NGOs has put the government on its toes. In fact, never before in the history of the State, has there been so much dynamism in the socio-political front. In some cases, the government seems to have acquiesced and even went to the extent of actually implementing some of the demands but there are a whole lot more of problems and issues that need some doing or that simply could not be taken up or implemented due to the controversial nature of the issues. The moot question is where all this would lead to? Now, we have the NGOs who raise the issue and on the other hand, we have the government that has to ‘look into the matter.’ But simply looking at the matter will not suffice. The government has to do something even if it takes some decades like the present hounding of suspected foreigners by the authorities. I wonder why they take so long when the students unions have insisted on the same since the late ‘70s?
The logical expectation is that when an NGO or NGOs raise an issue of public importance, the government is expected to look into it and take some action on it or otherwise, if it found that the protest or demand is not agreeable, it could issue clarifications and appeals. Period. Now, there are only two things that would make the rulers of our State to implement a public issue or demand – a vision or responsibility to see things done and the other is fear of poll fiasco. And there are two other reasons that would make them not to – apathy and the other is money and vote gains. Our leaders are notorious for not having any drive or vision on the public front and what about fearing the election prospect? Well, this is the most unfortunate thing for seldom politicians in Meghalaya ever lose their seat because of an issue raised by the NGOs. And why is that? The reason is simple. It is simply because in the elections, the voters vote for political parties not for the NGOs that raise the issues. Now, you see how things are shaping up.
In other States of India and in other countries, the political parties, particularly the opposition party or parties take up the cudgel to bring the government to task. But not here in Meghalaya. Come election time, whatever public opinion making the rounds, are simply forgotten and the demands of the NGOs get pushed to the backburner. I strongly believe that every demand or issue raised by NGOs should culminate in influencing voters in the election. Unfortunately, during elections, several NGO functionaries are busy trucking with political candidates and some with, of all people, members of the government to which they have raised such a hue and cry prior to the elections. Perhaps we should have political parties that come from an NGO background a la the Khun Hynniewtrep National Awakening Movement (KHNAM). In this context, such a party will have some ‘legitimacy’. But then again, such a party will be too small, too little too late and stands at a disadvantage to well established Congress, BJP or UDP. And there’s this question of ethnic equation where demands are made for the interest of or to appease a particular community. In such a situation, where did the NGOs or for that matter, the government stands. Again, what a farce?
The bottom line here is that the polls do not deter the rulers from their tendency of not delivering the goods and that the legitimate demands of the NGOs are only a cry in the wilderness. Perhaps the NGOs should organize themselves into legitimate political parties or at least have a political platform so that the people could vote for them, therefore for their demands. A long shot but it was worth a try for after all, odd situations call for weird solutions.
Direct Funding to the Dorbar Shnong for Development
By Bremley Wanbantei B. Lyngdoh
A special call was made to the Government of Meghalaya by the Dorbar Shnongs to recognize their traditional system of grassroots governance and to give them the full responsibility of implementing the "Direct Funding" for the development of their villages. The Dorbar Shnongs wanted the government to start with an allocation of Rs. 2 lakhs for small villages and Rs. 5 lakhs for big villages in the entire state of Meghalaya, which will be audited by government authorities. They understood that if such a funding came straight to the villages, it would really speed up their growth and development process. It would also lighten the responsibility of the concerned MLAs & MDCs with regard to building footpaths and other small infrastructure related work that the villages themselves can take action upon.
On 21st August 2004, the Government of India published in many national newspapers the words of Rajiv Gandhi, the former Prime Minister of India who said "the system of governance that is planned from the top-down does no reflect the true realities of the people on the ground and must be stopped…if we want strong and meaningful governance we need everyone to be included in the decision making processes from the bottom-up right from the village level." The newspapers also published the words of Dr. Monmohan Singh, the current Prime Minister of India who said, "the most important responsibility of this government is how to shape the traditional institutions of self-government, so they are included in big projects for their own development and growth."
In his letter to the political leaders on 6th March 1989 and to the Governor on 24th February 1989, Bah B. B. Lyngdoh, our former Chief Minister stated that he had spoken in the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly saying that the Government of Meghalaya has decided to preserve and strengthen the traditional governance system of the Syiems, the Dolois and the Nokmas. He also stated that the government will open different ways to lift the honour and rank of these traditional leaders. The Governor also stated that the Government of Meghalaya, through the government notification of 22nd February 1989 has appointed a "High Powered Committee" consisting of – Chairman – B. B. Lyngdoh, Members – O. L. Nongtdu, P. R. Kyndiah, P. A. Sangma, and Member Secretary J. M. Phira, IAS. But nothing is known what became of this High Powered Committee, which just ended only in publicity and promises that were made from time to time by the political leaders.
Rajiv Gandhi, the former Prime Minister of India spoke in Parliament on 18th May 1989 and said, "The Panchayati Raj Act was (released) for Meghalaya because they already have the Dorbar Shnongs as existing traditional institutions of self-government which we must preserved and strengthen." But what is really surprising is that since 1992 the Gram Panchayat (Shnong) in other states in India got direct funding from their respective state governments. However, in our own state of Meghalaya where the approval was already granted because of the existence of the Dorbar Shnongs, no support of any kind has come through from the government so far. I really wonder what is holding them back. I have observed in my travels across India that while other states in our country are moving forward and developing rapidly, we in Meghalaya are shamefully moving backwards.
In 2004 about 3100 Gram Panchayat (Shnong) in the state of Karnataka got direct funding from their government for projects amounting to about 60 lakhs per village, supporting an array of developmental initiatives that benefited them. I spent a night in the village of Umniangriang, which is about 49 kms from Mairang, as part of my own Ph.D. fieldwork meeting with their Natural Resource Management Group and 4 Women Self Help Groups. After a long conversation with Bah Boxstar Nongnang, the young and dynamic Sordar of the village, I was told that he and Bah John F. Kharshiing, Chairman of Ka Dorbar Ki Nongsynshar ka Ri Hynniewtrep have been working very hard to push for this direct funding mechanism to work in our state. I want to salute their tireless efforts to help our poor villages and I call upon all other concerned stakeholders to join forces with them in this noble cause.
The Sordar also told me that the Government of Meghalaya has rejected the central government’s approval for direct funding to the Dorbar Shnongs because our political leaders will not have control of the money that will flow directly to the villages. I would argue that if this great system can work and benefit the villages in many other states in our country, what is the real problem of making it work in our own state. I think our leaders really lack the political will to make it work. I really believe that if there is a strong will to make it work, there will always be a way. It is now up to you the people of the state to put tremendous pressure on our political machinery to jump start the direct funding engine in Meghalaya before the villages run out of gas.
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
The Magic of the Wild
The Kaziranga National Park is the only National Park in the State situated in central Assam with an area of 430sq. km. It is the home of the great Indian one horned Rhinoceros (Unicornis).Kaziranga has a history of its own. Lady Curzon first heard about the Rhinos of Kaziranga from her British tea planter friends and came to Assam in 1904-05. Although she could not see the animal, she spotted hoof prints with three toes and believed that such an animal did exist. On her return, she persuaded Lord Curzon to do something to save this animal from total annihilation. Lord Curzon set the wheels of the British bureaucracy rolling, and on June 1, 1905, a preliminary notification announcing the intention of the Government to declare 57,273.60 acres of Kaziranga as a reserved forest was issued. Finally, Kaziranga was declared as reserved forest on January 3, 1908, and was officially closed for shooting. On January 28, 1913 the area of reserved forest was expanded with the inclusion of another 13,506 acres. Kaziranga was declared a Game Sanctuary on November10, 1916. In 1938, the then conservator of forest, A.J.W. Milroy stopped all poaching and opened Kaziranga to visitors. Because the word 'game' connoted animals for hunting, in 1950, the then senior conservator of forest Mr P D Stracey, changed the term to 'wildlife sanctuary'. Gradually the sanctuary, begun as a nucleus encompassing a small area, expanded to its present size. Finally on February 11, 1974, the name was changed to Kaziranga National Park. Today, Kaziranga is one of the biggest success stories of wildlife protection in the country.The one horned Rhinoceros, Elephant, Indian bison, Swamp Deer, Samber, Hog Deer, Sloth Bear, Tiger, Leopard cat, Jungle cat, Hog badger, Capped langur, Hollock gibbon, Jackal, Goose, Hornbills, Ibis, Cormorants, Egret, Heron fishing eagle etc. all form a part of the very complex ecological balance of the park. During winter a large number of migratory birds are also seen here.There are more than 1200 rhinos in the Park. It is believed that the rhino-horn (actually a massive overgrowth of hair) has unique medicinal and aphrodisiac properties. A rhino-horn can fetch as much as 5,000 U.S. Dollars in the international market. It is in great demand with Chinese and ancient Indian medicine practitioners. The rhino’s blood and flesh is considered to possess magical qualities and even its urine is used as an antiseptic. No doubt, poachers see the rhino as an easy source of income and ‘power’.Though Kaziranga's visiting season is from mid-November to early April months, the best month to visit the Park is December and January, when the bird population touches a peak. Elephants are the best way to commute in the jungle. Jeep can also be hired.AccomodationGL's Resort is the best place of leisure while visiting Kaziranga (a unit of GL's Resort, joint venture with Assam Tourism Development Corporation). The Resort offers relaxed elegance, fine dining, efficient service and all the latest amenities to ensure the best in comfort.A major attraction of the resort is the new safari route starting from Ghorakhate (1 km from the resort) which goes through the less explored, virgin territories of Kaziranga National Park. The cottages aimed at cozy twosomes and family affairs are replicas of feelings called home and human sentiments attached to it.The cottages don’t merely symbolize surroundings to keep you safe and happy, but a world where you can explore and experience love in the realms of natural beauty. The scenes from the cottages are simply mind-blowing; as if whole of nature’s beauty has ascended down to greet the people of the resort. As the main motive of the resort is to “come and stay in the lap of the nature”, you will find cottages made in tune with the same exuberance of experiencing nature at its very best.All rooms are as exotic as their names - Karbi, Cluster, Honeymoon etc. They have the perfect combination of rustic charm and modern amenities and offer a panoramic view of Kaziranga forest and the lush green Mikir Hills.Events:GL's Resort hosts one of the most awaited annual events of the year. Extremely popular and highly appreciated by the public, the GL's winter carnival has become one of the most talked about events of recent times. It is a week of non-stop fun and partying, a melee of show ranging from live performances, rock shows, fashion shows, DJ nights, magic shows, fun fiesta, cultural shows etc. with a free flow of food and drinks.Celebrities and Statesmen, all those who have visited the resort have nothing but praise, encouragement and support for the honourable task that GL’s Resort have undertaken - Promotion of Eco-tourism in the North East. The hospitality and service provided at the GL's Resort makes a favourite getaway for most of the known faces of the North East.ConferencesWith the new age work culture making its presence felt in the Indian corporate sector, the concept of 'business with pleasure' is fast becoming the mantra of every progressive organization. You can enjoy the best of both worlds under one roof at GL's Resort which boast of a sprawling 2000 sq. ft conference hall with all the latest technology.Educational TourStudents from all over the nation above the age of 10 are offered great concessions as a part of the student packages offered by GL's Resort. The excursion organized by GL’s Resort includes a visit to the Kaziranga National Park, personality development activities, screening of wildlife documentaries and special tours of tea gardens as well.Elephant SafariThe sounds of the songbirds at sunrise and explore the jungle on elephant back as its inhabitants go about life as usual.Jeep SafariFor those who are less adventurous, the Resort has the special Jeep Safaris twice a day - Morning and Late afternoon.Children's ParkChildren can have fun filled frolic time at the exciting and picturesque at the children's park inside the Resort.The other things offered by the Resort are Horse Ride, Elephant Ride, Boating, Multi-cuisine Restaurant, Indian Restaurant, Bar & a Gift Shop.Those who have in them an adventurous mind and an itch to explore the unexplored needs not worry about the comfort as GL’s Resort is there to take care of them in a most sophisticated Rajah style. For a fun-filled time in Kaziranga one can contact:Kaziranga Resort (a unit of GL's Resort)NH-37, Phulaguri, Kaziranga, AssamPh: 03672-299263 / 299486Head officeKaziranga Resort (a unit of GL's Resort),C/o G.L. Publications ComplexG.S. Road, UlubariGuwahati-781007Phone No. - 0361-2527455/ 2451590, Fax - 0361-540664Email- firstname.lastname@example.org & The Meghalaya Guardian, Lower Lachumiere, ShillongPhone: 2223143/2224086
Winter-Garo Hills, Meghalaya
Bertha Dkhar: A candle in darkness
She took on the beauty of the world with her wide exploring eyes like any other child did and grew up to become a vivacious, bright and educated young lady full of hopes for the future. But at the tender age of 20 while she was doing her Masters at the Bangalore University, Bertha Dkhar fell prey to the incurable retinitis pigmentosa and lost sight forever.
Founder of the Khasi Braille Code, Bertha is headmistress of the Shillong-based Jyoti Sroat School, the only school for the blind in the Khasi-Jaintia Hills. The government has decided to use Bertha’s Braille as the State Braille Code in Khasi.
An embodiment of perseverance, honesty and indomitable courage, she is arguably the brightest candle in the otherwise world of darkness for the visually handicapped not only in Meghalaya but throughout the North-East.
"I never accepted disability and always struggled to lead a normal life with dignity like everyone else," Bertha says during a conversation in her office chamber. "I led a very active life earlier. But with the onset of blindness all this had to suddenly end."
"With reading becoming extremely impossible after completion of my Masters, I had to take up the challenge of learning a new medium altogether – the language of Braille for the blind. Unable to get a permanent job, I made and sold jams and pickles for a while to earn a little." She adds with a tinge of sadness, "While rest of India had been way ahead, here in Meghalaya we did not know about the basic rights of the disabled."
"My mission is to arm the disabled with the knowledge of their rights as citizens of the country," Bertha, who represented the women of India at the World Congress of Persons with Disabilities in Japan in 2002, says with determination. Towards, this end, she formed the Association of Challenged People to spread awareness among the disabled and lobby with government agencies for upholding the rights of persons with disability.
"Having separate special schools for disabled children is not the answer. We need to accommodate them in the regular schools to assimilate them into the mainstream society," Bertha says adding that from the coming academic session, her school would be made "inclusive" and open to "normal" children as well. "Teachers in mainstream schools need to be trained and sensitized on the needs of the disabled."
Recipient of the National Award for Child Welfare, 2000 and member of the Disabled Persons’ International India, Bertha’s advice is regularly sought by the government in matters concerning welfare of the disabled. "The Meghalaya government is doing well but much more needs to be done. There has been no proper census or evaluation of disabled persons in the State, which is hampering the implementation of welfare schemes."
"I am working on preparing a comprehensive guide-book for teachers dealing with disabled children," Bertha says even as she hints at writing her autobiography, albeit at a later age on her unique struggle in life.
Forthright in her convictions, Bertha has words of advice both for policy makers in the government and non-governmental organizations. "Don’t make policies just for the heck of making them. And don’t do service just to add another feather to your cap."
Buffalo Hospital in Dong-ki-ing-ding Village
By Bremley Wanbantei B. Lyngdoh
On the evening of the 12th of January 2006, as part of my Ph.D. research work for the London School of Economics, I visited the village of Umniangriang located 49 km away from Mairang in West Khasi Hills district. I was respectfully received by (Bah) Boxstar Nongrang, the 31-year-old intelligent and dynamic Sordar (elected chief) of the village who had been waiting for me with his team of village committee leaders. We got along very well as we were about the same age and had a similar outlook to life. However, he had a long beard and was already married with four kids. The Sordar did not waste any of my time and wanted to show me the dysfunctional infrastructures in his community right away. So we drove for 2 kms down the road to meet the Sordar of the next village of Dong-ki-ing-ding, which happened to be the closest market centre for the all eight villages in the surrounding area.
We were taken to see the hospital that was built by the government about 10 years ago in front of the Christian secondary school. On arriving at the site I was shocked by what I saw. The gates of the hospital were locked forcing us to duck under the broken barbwire fencing to enter the compound. When we got inside I found that the hospital too was locked and had no one occupying it - no doctors, no nurses, no equipment, no medicines, absolutely nothing. To my astonishment I saw two buffaloes sitting in front of the hospital enjoying the grass in the compound. The condition of the hospital was appalling, it was already rotting to pieces as the termites had eaten up all its doors and many windows were broken. So here was the most important infrastructure built to serve the public health needs of all the eight villages in the area, but tragically it never opened for business. Surely it is shameful and unacceptable that after so much has been already spent from public funds to build such a hospital, nothing has been done in a decade to make it functional.
Only bitterness and hurt can be felt when one is faced with wasteful and uncaring behavior from the government making me wonder when the political leaders responsible will wake up and feel concern enough to open the hospital. According to the Sordar the landowners donated the land, which the hospital was built on, on the condition that the members of their family would get some sort of employment from it. That agreement was broken because the hospital was never opened, and now after 10 years of waiting in vain the landowners want to take the government to court. I was also told that many sick people have died in the surrounding villages over the years because they could not get access to medicines in time and they could not afford to go all the way to Mairang for getting hospital treatment for their illnesses. These innocent lives could have been saved if the hospital in the Dong-ki-ing-ding village was fully operational. I spent a night in the village of Umniangriang and visited the thatch house of a single mother who lost her little 1-year-old girl because she had no money and no medicines to save her from her illness. So I question the concerned authorities and their responsibility for the plight of our poor villagers dying from easily preventable diseases. Are they going to continue to shut their eyes and turn a deaf ear while the poor villagers suffer? On my 3-month journey across West Khasi Hills, I found many other villages in the same pathetic state of affairs. So where has all the money for the support and development of these villages gone?
The people whom I met from the different villages asked me to help them out, but being only a research scholar I cannot do much. However I can use the power of my pen to put pressure, to raise public awareness and debate at the local, national and international level about the unfair treatment and injustices that is being meted out to the poor people in my state. After seeing the reality of how our people life in the villages with my own eyes, I am leaving home feeling very sad and angry to finish my academic work in England. But I call upon all the concerned citizens and stakeholders, NGOs and especially the young people who are the current and future leaders of our state to shake up and put massive pressure upon some of the elected sleeping leaders, so that they wake up before its too late.
Sunday, January 15, 2006
INNUENDO-THE LOSING BATTLES
THE LOSING BATTLES
There is nothing more frustrating and disillusioning as fighting losing battles, especially battles that never ends but are fought again and again half-heartedly and with no hope of ever winning. When the British lost at Dunkirk or when MacArthur retreated, they knew they have another day to fight. But not the battles that were fought in the Meghalaya battlefields. These battles may range from influx to ban on plastics to backdoor appointment but they are there and they are simply ubiquitous. You’d think that after the newspapers had expose the existence of government ghost buildings over the past few months that we would have no more of them, but lo and behold! another government building with no occupants and that was never used surfaced in the newspapers again. If you think that because of the growing vigilance of the NGOs there would be no more backdoor appointment, you’re wrong again.
I was watching with great concern and a some amount of amusement at the battle between one community and the cabbies. At one junction in that particular community, there is a No Parking sign that was promptly and regularly violated by the cab drivers. But despite the warning of a heavy fine, the local leaders were just simply ignored until one day, the headman on being asked about the issue, simply shrugged his shoulders, saying nothing can be done. The rout looked complete until another headman would start the battle over again and lose once again. And of course, such small battles are too trivial to get their way into the press. Unfortunately, we have a whole lot more of such examples from littering, to honking ear splitting air horns, spitting and so on including not so trivial offences of graft, corruption, injustice, you name it.
It is no wonder that most of the problems (battles) would never be resolved or won taking the overall penchant of the people and rulers to disregard rules and sentiments of others. Ignorance or unconcerned attitudes are perhaps the main culprits in this free for all situation in our society. And there is this matter of laws with no teeth; of unconcerned officials, apathy, lack of enforcement, transparency and simply lack of policy, vision and dedication. Perhaps the major reason is that when you have extraneous consideration and on the rat race for monetary and material gains, the jobs that need to get done stood in the way. So we go on fighting one battle after another and consoling ourselves that we will outgrow our frustration and become immune to the ills that have afflicted us for so long. What a sorry state of affairs we are in.
If we are hoping that some day, someone will just come along to bring us salvation, straighten out matters, we are wrong for we are in a cesspool our own making.
Thursday, January 12, 2006
Shillong recalls Vivekananda’s last public speech
“Life is a pilgrimage – Kamakhya to Kanyakumari or Chicago to Shillong,” the patriot saint Swami Vivekananda declared in his last formal public speech in the Quinton Hall here more than a century ago. “Our endeavour today should be towards opening the eyes of the citizens of Bharat,” Swamiji exhorted in his last public speech delivered in Shillong on April 27, 1901.Talking to The Meghalaya Guardian on the sidelines of the National Youth Day, secretary of the Shillong Ramakrishna Mission, Swami Brahmadevananda said, “ Swamiji delivered his last public speech in Shillong in the course of which he dwelt on the intricacies of the Indian culture.”“Vivekananda addressed a congregation at the then Quinton Hall here on April 27, 1901, which proved to be his last public speech as Swamiji left for his eternal abode the next year,” Swami Brahmadevananda said.A local Khasi newspaper ‘U Khasi Mynta’ reported that Vivekananda addressed a mammoth gathering in Shillong and called for setting up of more schools to spread education. “Swamiji was invited by the then Chief Commissioner of Assam, Sir Henry Cotton to recuperate Shillong as he was ailing then,” Swami Brahmahanda said. Not only stereotypical syllabus education, students should be imparted with vocational training to adapt to the world,” said Vivekananda a century ago. “By doing this we shall receive the blessings of God, ” Vivekananda underlined in his historical speech in the Hill City. “Religion is not about rituals only. It is all about self-realization and humanity,” Vivekananda pronounced in Shillong in front of a huge crowd, including British officers and large sections of the common masses. Swamiji delivered his public speech after inaugurating the renovated Quinton Hall in Shillong on April 27, 1901, which was damaged by an earthquake in 1899. Commemorating the historical last speech of Swamiji, Meghalaya Governor MM Jacob unveiled a statue of Vivekananda at the very place in the city today, where the saint delivered his last public speech. “Let the youth undertake a pilgrimage from the North to the South to discover and appreciate the greatness of this vast country like Swami Vivenakanda did,” the governor exhorted.
Dengga-Karik Kosi – the foresaken sacred grove
The Dengga-Karik Kosi, a sacred grove belonging to three different kinsgroup, near Williamnagar, Meghalaya.
Dengga-Karik Kosi – the foresaken sacred grove.By K.D. Sangma
“Kosi” literally means “head of the dead” in local language and represents the essence of a sacred grove where forefathers used to pay obeisance and offer sacrifice to the Almighty – the “Dakgipa-Rugipa". It is also known as “A•song". - In ancient times when A•chik people were wandering in the dense forests now called Garo Hills and divided themselves into small kinship groups led by their sons who they called patriot-warriors or the “Matgrikrang". These matroclinous kinship groups are known as “Mahari". The dense forest was full of spirits that their voice could be heard but their body was not visible to human eyes. Whenever a single manifestation was seen it was seen only in a silhouette form as if shrouded by thick mist and disappears in one blink of the eye; it never appears before human beings face to face. So they decided it was not the offspring of a human being but that of fog or mist or “Mitde". Mit (part of mitmit matmat) means misty or foggy or hazy and "de" means offspring; “Mande” is just the opposite.The Dengga-Karik Kosi which lies on the northern banks of river Simsang – now lies beside PWD road 3 kms away from DC Office towards Nengkra at Williamnagar – was a sacred grove that belonged to three different kinship groups. According to elders of Am•pangdamgre it was recalled that the first generation who tried to settle there was a Cheran Mahari. They established that sacred grove placing stones amidst thick vegetation of tall trees to mark their settlement and offered a black goat sacrifice to appease and reach at a covenant between man and the Almighty. However, the Cheran Mahari could not settle there for long and the reason why they abandoned that place was also not clear.It was related that Simsang Mahari came to settle there the next. There was no proper account how long they lived there. The Simsang Mahari too vacated the site very soon. And after they left the place it came to be known as Simsang gri and no more Simsang Mahari and later it was popularly accepted as Simsanggre.The third kinship group who occupied the place were the Mrong Mahari. They lived beside the small stream which is called after them as Mrong stream. They stayed there for a relatively longer period. One day matgriks of unknown Mahari from nearby village intruded into the place and fought the warriors of Mrong Mahari during which they killed two sisters from the group who were known as Mima and Misa. Somehow two Napak brothers who were fishing in the river heard the cry of the women and gallantly offered to help them in their moment of distress. They successfully ejected the intruders and in gratitude of which the Mrong Mahari gifted the land to the brothers who came to their rescue. The brothers passed it on to their mothers and sisters who belonged to the Napak Mahari. And that is how the Napak Mahari became the last occupants of the land on which Dengga-Karik Kosi stands.The elders further narrated that part of the Kosi system was inhabited by two mitde brothers named Dengga and Karik who were not satisfied by a simple animal sacrifice and indirectly demanded that human sacrifice be made. And thus Sangma Racha and Degagrak the leaders of the Cheran Mahari offered one blind man as sacrifice to Dengga where a banyan tree was planted; and a lame man to Karik where a palm tree was planted. Following the human sacrifices the spirits of Dengga and Karik promised to protect them and advised them to invoke their spirits whenever they felt any danger or threat to their life and property. It was further told that one of the sanctified stones of that sacred grove became alive and used to roam around glowing like a lamp. But it was stolen by a kinship group of Kalak village. It is told that the animal offered in sacrifice cannot be consumed by anybody. The blood of the sacrificed animal is poured on the sanctified stones and the carcass hung from the intercrossed pair of bamboo poles suspended on the one planted on the ground. Part of the blood is sprinkled on the assembled crowd. If the carcass is left untouched by wild animals it is regarded a good omen; if it is otherwise then it portended evil.The descendants of the family exclusively annointed to smear wanti or rice powder paste on the sanctified stones as part of the ritual are still alive and are staying in the same village. It may be noted that no other individual or family can perform the task as it is not accepted by the reigning deity of the sacred grove.This important heritage site is being left uncared for by the departments concerned which is a matter of great concern. Immediate attention is required to be given to such historical wealth by the government through the department of art and culture because as far as we know this constitutes only one single example of government neglect and there are scores of such assets which otherwise are a potential universal attraction and a consequential source of revenue.
Friday, January 06, 2006
Metempsychosis – Can it really happen?
By K.D. Sangma
WILLIAMNAGAR, JAN : Transmigration of human soul into another life form literally means transfer of the soul of human being into a different life entity like that of animal or that of any living organism after death. But people of this century may hardly believe the story that the soul of a living human being transmigrates into an animal form while he or she is asleep. Even the people of Garo Hills where elders used to tell or narrate such tales considered it as a fictitious folk legend based on myth. One great writer Dewansing S. Rongmitu too, in his book Jadoreng, had mentioned about the story of transmigration of human soul into any animal like elephant, tiger, snake or bird or even fish or a human being undergoing metempsychosis while he or she is asleep.
Recently, it was told that one old woman aged about 60 years whose name was Tesing N Marak of Kusimkolgre in Williamnagar had undergone such metempsychosis. According to her family members she was suffering from eye sight and hearing problem besides she had boils on her arm pit. She used to tell her sons and daughters that her soul migrates into a smooth green snake which was living beside a small stream near Kusimkolgre LP school which is about 300 metres away from her residence.
Earlier her family members did not believe her story and dismissed it as a sour result of a continuous spell of nightmare. Interestingly they noticed that her skin was undergoing a process similar to that of sloughing off of snake. The strange sight set them thinking. Her condition suddenly aggravated from the early Tuesday morning in the second week of December. She was moaning laboriously and muttering mumbo jumbo. She had not responded to any of the treatments and her condition deteriorated day by day. Many visitors and family members observed that there were marks of internal injury on her lower back without any violent physical contact with a hard object. It gradually festered, and she kept groaning in a state of half dead and half alive.
After some days family members heard that two boys of the locality had seen a relatively large green snake – locally known as "Meolbak" – which was crawling towards the school premises. The sight of the snake excited them and they could not resist the temptation to spontaneously reach out to the nearest stick and making an attempt to kill it but only managed to hurt it on its lower back and the snake managed to escape.
On confirming the news of the incident of the two boys trying to kill the snake and hurting it in the process her son being unable to bear the sight of his suffering mother tried to trace out the ailing green snake. He scoured the spot where the injured green snake was reported to have escaped hurt. It was, however, not visible to human eyes. And the story remained a mystery. The injured green snake was never found but the skin lining or the slough shed by the snake was later discovered from the area where the incident occurred.
But it was too late as the ailing woman could not survive the injury and breathed her last on the afternoon of 30 December 2005 and was cremated the next day.
When the teacher of the LP school where the incident occurred was contacted for confirmation of the fact whether there was any attempt to kill a snake near the school premises the teacher recalled that just one day before the school picnic he had seen a green snake of arm size crawling towards the school which he tried to kill but was unsuccessful as it managed to hide itself in a ditch. Later two boys came and searched the location where the snake was hiding thoroughly and when they found it, one of the boys hit it on its lower back but it managed to crawl away. This happened on the 1st of December, 2005 which weirdly coincided with the story narrated by late Tesing to her children.
Many keen observers of this extraordinary phenomenon of transmigration of human soul into that of an animal body while he or she is asleep wonder if this was peculiar only to A•chik people of Garo Hills?
Believe it or not! But it certainly is in the realm of paranormal activity!