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First Indian band to perform at Central America’s Belize Jazz Festival- 4th Element

 

TNT EXCLUSIVE | Shillong, July

By Rachel Syiemlieh

Shillong-based 4th Element has been around long enough to be right up there in the list of music pioneers in the city. An ensemble formed in the capital city of Shillong in 2007, 4th Element juxtaposes elements of jazz, funk, soul and RnB to create a contemporary, eclectic brand of music. The band has lived to actually witness Shillong’s musical growth itself, having celebrated its 10th anniversary last year and still shows no signs of slowing down, having recently been the only Indian band to ever play at the Belize International Jazz Festival in Central America. TNT – The Northeast Today speaks to band front-man and keyboardist Ribor MB, who has also played with renowned bands, Mojo and Soulmate, to discuss its decade-old music, Shillong’s growing music scene and their Carribean experience at the Belize International Jazz Festival.

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TNT: We know the band name ‘4th Element’ has nothing to do with the classical elements – earth, wind, water, fire. Mind telling us where it’s derived from?

RM: The music of 4th Element is based on the elements of Funk, Jazz, R’n’B and Soul.

TNT: You guys have been around since 2007. In what ways have the music and the audience in Meghalaya changed in the last decade?

RM: When the band started, the music of 4th Element was a new experience altogether, and the audience were kind of surprised to hear this kind of music. It didn’t take much time for this kind of music to be accepted here in Shillong and over the years the band has also influenced younger musicians to try and play this kind of music. We see a whole lot of variety of music being played and performed in Shillong now. The music scene in Shillong is definitely better.

TNT: Do you remember the first few records that had a lasting impression on you guys as a band?

RM: There are too many to name but here are a few:

Joe Sample, Lalh Hatahaway, Randy Crawford, The Crusaders, Earth, wind and fire, Incognito, Brian Culberston , Mezzoforte, Quincy Jones, James Taylor quartet…

TNT: The band has seen notable line-up changes over the years, the latest of which is vocalist, Sara Lee. Are we going to see her back any time soon?

RB: The band is like a football team, if one of the members is not free then a substitute is needed to fill in and the show must go on. Yes we’ve had a lot of session musicians who’ve played with us, over the years.  Sarah Lee is still very much associated with band, as the album in which she sang will be out soon by the end of the year. She will be featured in some upcoming shows as well; we wish her luck and success for her projects as a solo act.

TNT: Amabel Susngi has since joined the band and together you guys performed at the Belize International Jazz Festival in Central America. Tell us about the grand Caribbean experience.

RB: Amabel joined the band in March 2017 and we’ve done a couple of shows with her in Shillong, New Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Sikkim and the most recent The International Jazz Festival in Belize and a pub gig in Mexico as well.

The band had to travel four days to get to Belize and the moment we stepped foot in Belize we fell in love with this beautiful Caribbean country. 4th Element was really honoured to share the stage with incredible musicians from around the world.  The festival was a big success as well as for the band, as our music was highly appreciated by the audience and fellow musicians. The organisers of the festival have already hinted that they want 4th Element back next year.

TNT: This is the first time the festival has featured a band from India. How does that feel?

RB: Honoured! To be the first band from India to perform not just at The Belize International Jazz Festival but also the first band from India in Belize itself.

TNT: You guys have played in a number of festivals across the globe. Tell us about your most memorable performance.

RB: Every where we’ve played has its own special memories and experience. The people – musicians and the audience we’ve met will always have a place in our memories.  Meeting, and seeing musicians from all over the world perform has inspired us towards better aims and goals as musicians and as a band. We look forward to more festivals in the coming years

TNT: Khasi culture has a strong historical connection with music. Does it reflect the prominence of music in the region?

RB: It depends what kind of music you’re talking about but we do see nowadays that a lot of youngsters are trying to get back to singing the old Khasi folk traditional songs and also picking up indigenous instruments. This is a good sign as this will help in preserving the Khasi culture especially in the music context.

TNT: Shillong’s music scene is making strides – improving by the day. Will we see Fourth Element collaborating with local artists any time soon?

RB: No doubt the music scene is getting better. In the past the band had collaborated with a few local artists and we are always open to do the same in the future.

TNT: Tell us about your current projects. What is the band up to at the moment? Any gigs we need to mark on our calendars?

RB: A few shows are lined up for July, August and September in Delhi, Chandigarh and Guwahati as well as Shillong. The final stage for the album is also under the process and we hope to release this as soon as it’s ready.

Thank you for giving us your time. We look forward to more talks with you.

The interviewer can be reached at rachelsyiemlieh18@gmail.com


 

An aggrieved Shillongite’s rant on sky high petrol prices

 

Date: September 30, 2018 

To

Editor

TNT – The Northeast Today

 

India’s sky high petrol prices | ‘I might as well take a taxi… but for how long?’

Petrol and diesel prices across the country have been on the rise since April and continued rising on Friday with rates hitting new highs as oil marketing companies (OMCs) increased their costs.

ALSO WATCH |Toby from Shillong sure knows how to drive!

Petrol prices touched Rs 81.63 per litre in New Delhi, Rs 89.01 per litre in Mumbai and 81.05 in our dear Shillong city as on September 15, 2018.

I drive to work from Rynjah to Nongthymmai every day. It is not a very long drive and yet, I feel a burning hole in my pocket as I visit the petrol pump more frequently than I used to. Of course, I run errands for my job and my family too, but it has never sent me to a never-ending spiral of ‘I’m going to take a cab tomorrow instead’ everyday.

Meghalaya: ‘UDP committed biggest blunder by promoting Conrad Sangma as CM’- says proscribed HNLC

And even if I were to take these cabs, how long until they begin charging us a lot higher? The issue of the difficulties of even getting one is something different altogether. It is only a matter of time until the taxi fares in the city will rise and the drivers cannot be blamed for it.

Most establishments have shied away from the problem. The Delhi High Court said that daily change in fuel prices was an “economic policy decision” of the central government. The central government on the other hand, urged the states to take action.

Meghalaya: Man gets hit in the head with sword in neighbourhood clash

Some state governments have decided to take measures to curb the problem. The Rajasthan government had, on Sunday, announced a 4 per cent cut in the state VAT on petrol and diesel. The government of Andhra Pradesh has also announced a similar reduction by Rs. 2 per litre.

Now, I am by no means an expert and I only write as a concerned driver and citizen, but despite the fact that the trimming of excise duty and VAT will strip away government revenue for a while, I firmly believe that it will be worth it in the long run.

Yours truly,

A concerned citizen


You can also contribute articles, opinions and letters to the editor for our website by mailing them to us at web@thenortheasttoday.com and shweta@thenortheasttoday.com

We welcome your comments at web@thenortheasttoday.com

Meghalaya: Shillongites extend helping hand to Kerala flood victims without govt aid

 

By SHWETA RAJ KANWAR | August 21, 2018

Late July witnessed severe flooding in the state of Kerala due to unusually high rainfall. Kerala’s worst floods in nearly a century has left more than 350 people dead within a fortnight, while more than 82,400 people have been rescued, mainly from Chengannur, Pandanad, Aranmula, Aluva, Chalakkudi, Kuttanad and with all 14 districts of the state placed on high alert.

While the government from most states of Northeast India have announced funds for assistance to Kerala flood victims, Meghalaya is yet to make any announcement due to reported fund crunch.

However civil societies and organizations in Meghalaya are working in their own individual capacities to help their fellow brethren in Kerala.

MOX – Movement of Expression in Shillong are hosting a Friendship Jam this Saturday at Mellow Mood Cafe in Shillong. This will be an evening full of music and the proceedings from the event will go directly to the Chief Ministers Fund in Kerala.

Speaking to TNT- The Northeast Today, founder of MOX – Movement of Expression, Mrinal Paul informed that the people can donate any amount of money at the event and the proceedings will be directly transferred to the Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund while adding, “The people need not be apprehensive about the fact that their contributions may not reach the source. We will ensure that it does”.

Movement Of Expression abbreviated as MOX was founded by Mrinal Paul, an alumnus of St. Anthony’s College, Shillong, Meghalaya with an aim to connect, create and converge various talented youth and provide them a platform to showcase and highlight their talents.

Another organization called Spread the Love-Shillong is doing its part in helping Kerala in flood relief operations.

Speaking to TNT in this regard, founder of Spread the Love -Shillong Dr. Mansankara Jyrwa informed, “Since it will not be very practical to send material itemds from Shillong to Kerala, we are looking mainly at collection of funds to help them with their necessities. Right now we are collecting only accepting donations in the form of money from Shillong and we are channelising it through the Bethel Ag Church in Bangalore. And if need arises, I myself with the team of doctors will go down to Kerala and help the victims there from the medical point of view”.

Spread the Love -Shillong was started a year ago in Shillong and comprises of a group of doctors, teachers and social workers. They have conducted various dental health camps in and around Shillong as part of their initiative.

He also informed that a Press Conference will be held tomorrow to apprise people of the situation and to seek aid from them. the venue and time is yet to be known and will be updated soon.

The members of Sree Narayana Guru Cultural Centre (SNGCC), Shillong have also requested anybody from Meghalaya, who is affected by the floods in Kerala to contact the following numbers for any assistance. 9436101241, 9436103472, 8129868499 (KN Babu, Chalakkudi), 9490753656 (Mohan Kumar, Vishakapatnam). This is aimed at ensuring that people from Meghalaya get a helping hand.

Eflu Shillong also organized a fund raising campaign for Kerala floods and the amount collected has already been sent to the destination.

It may be cautioned that a fake bank account attempting to collect funds in the name of Kerala Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund has been busted recently. The fraudulent account with number 20025290179, claiming to be the bank based from Trivandrum has been shared widely on social media.

It may be recalled that Manipur has donated a sum of Rs 2 crores as relief funds to the flooded-affected state of Kerala, Arunachal Pradesh has announced Rs 3 crore as immediate assistance, Tripura Government has decided to donate Rs 1 crore financial assistance, Nagaland has announced Rs. 1 crore flood relief and Assam government donated Rs 3 crore financial assistance for the relief activities in flood-ravaged state of Kerala.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday announced that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has extended Rs. 700 crore as financial assistance to rebuild the flood-ravaged state.

Our source at ground have also informed us that the relief operations in Kerala are in full swing and the water is gradually receding. However, there is great need of funds for buying clothes, sanitary napkins, medicines, clean water facilities

The safest and preferred method of aid right now would be to deposit any amount directly to the Kerala  Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund. The donations are exempted from income tax as well as Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 2010.

Contribution can be made directly by going to donation.cmdrf.kerala.gov.in. Once the transaction is successful, you will get a payment success notification on the display as well as on your email address. This includes a certificate from the principal secretary (finance) as well as a 100 per cent tax exemption certificate.

In case you plan to send to mail a cheque/DD, you can address it to

The Principal Secretary (Finance) Treasurer,
Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund,
Secretariat,
Thiruvananthapuram – 695001

If you choose to donate online, account details are as follows:

Account number: 67319948232
Bank: State Bank of India
Branch: City branch, Thiruvananthapuram
IFS Code: SBIN0070028
PAN: AAAGD0584M
Name of Donee: CMDRF

Those wishing to donate can also use the digital wallet PayTM to contribute to the fund. An icon on the home screen will guide you to the payments page. Additionally, users can use the link m.p-y.tm/Kerala-CMDRF. No additional charges are applicable. A QR code is also available for those who wish to use

(NOTE– Do you know know of anybody who is willing to donate or are accumulating funds for Kerala flood relief? Get in touch with us so we can help you spread the word)


You can get in touch with us at shweta@thenortheasttoday.com and web@thenortheasttoday.com

What ‘Matrilineal Meghalaya’ should learn from Sikkim Govt’s stand on women!

 

Date: September 25, 2018

To 

The Editor

Shillong News

 

Respected Editor Sir/Madam,

Land and property rights in certain states of Northeast India have invited several critiques in as far as the rules and regulations laid down on the basis of customary laws are concerned with respect to the indigenous population of each state.

Recently the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) in Meghalaya was embroiled in controversy in the month of July this year after it gave its approval on a social custom bill that would strip a Khasi woman of her ST status and all privileges associated with it if she marries a non-Khasi.

READ | Meghalaya | Khasi woman marrying outside tribe to be stripped of ST status, benefits

Interestingly, the KHADC bill came just a month after the LR&DM Dept Govt of Sikkim in June this year released a notification laying down the guidelines on property ownership for Sikkimese women married to a non-Sikkimese, making her eligible to inheriting her parent’s property.

In what had come as a major relief in terms of property rights to the Sikkimese women who have/had married non-Sikkimese men, LR&DM Dept Govt of Sikkim in the month of June released a notification laying down the guidelines on property ownership for Sikkimese women married to a non-Sikkimese.

ALSO WATCH | KHASI LINEAGE BILL 2018: Protecting Customs or a mere Political Stunt?

The notification read–, “It is hereby directed that, notwithstanding para 23 of Sikkim Registration of Documents Rules 1930, any document regarding transfer of property which has been presented for registration by a Sikkimese women married to non-Sikkimese, may ordinarily be registered and the ownership of the property on her demise shall be governed as per the existing rules and regulations prevailing in the state.”

While on one hand, the KHADC Bill invited resentment from various sections of women in Meghalaya pertaining to the discriminatory nature of the Bill, the order by LR&DM Dept, Sikkim was hailed by married Sikkimese women who were demanding their right to parent’s property, thus making them eligible for the same.

This stark contrast presented above depicts an irony- one that may have been ignored for far too long but which came into the limelight (or should we say, made itself very prominent) in so called ‘Matrilineal Meghalaya’ only recently, where the youngest daughter of the Khasi family becomes the custodian of the family property (But note that ‘custodian’ here does not imply inheritance of the same).

As per the KHADC proposed Bill, the Khasi woman would be stripped off her ST status and even the aspect of ‘custodianship’ of ancestral property if she happens to marry a non-Khasi person. But let us note here that in any way, she is never inheriting ancestral property but only gaining custody over it.

So, my point here is that- Were all the hailing slogans for ‘Matrilineal Meghalaya’ only a facade to veil the patriarchal mindset? Where there is an attempt to even dictate a Khasi woman about the person she should/should not marry thereby putting her ST status as well as other benefits at stake, does it portray the staunch mindset of many people who believe women should be at the beck and call of a man?

I think the Sikkim’s Government’s stand on land and property rights and most importantly, on women ought to serve as an example to ‘Matrilineal Meghalaya’ and the bodies laying down customary guidelines! Is anybody listening in Meghalaya??

NAME WITH HELD ON REQUEST


The writer can be reached at shwetarajkanwar@gmail.com & shweta@thenortheasttoday.com

For latest news, stories, videos and features from Northeast India visit: https://www.thenortheasttoday.com

Will A. L. Hek’s son be convicted or released?

By MAYBORN LYNGDOH R | April 09, 2018

To,

The Editor

Dear Sir/Ma’am,

Following a recent incident of a Meghalaya MLA’s son being involved in a tragic road accident that led to the death of a cop associated with Shillong Jail while critically injuring another constable of Meghalaya police, a question that has been lurking in people’s mind is that, “Will the minster’s son ever be convicted or will he be out on bail for he happens to be the son of Meghalaya  Health Minister, AL Hek.

READ | Meghalaya: Mercedes driven by Health Minister’s son hits motorbike killing a cop, injuring another

 

Meet Phoebe & Baljit from Shillong who are setting fast and furious goals for people

~~By Natasha Dkhar

“The thrill of Speed overcomes the fear of Failure”

The passion for speed,the love for cars and the thrill they seek in driving is what brought the duo together as a team to conquer new heights in one of the extreme sports in the world.The duo have left no stone unturned ever since as they with their mean machines are taking motorsport to a new level.The dynamic duo are none other than Phoebe Dale Nongrum & Baljit Singh Tedwal from Shillong.

In an exclusive interview with TNT-The Northeasttoday,the duo will tell us about their journey as partners and many more…

TNT: Give us a brief Bio about the two of you?

Baljit Singh Tedwal: I started out my Journey in Motorsport with Motocross in the year 1998. I have competed in 17 Motor Cross and won 13 podium. Then I started getting into Autocross later and won a few race and side by side I have competed in a few National Rallies and brought home 3 Wins for the Northeast … The passion that I had never stopped but grew more and more each day. As of now I am concentrating more on upcoming National Rallies..

Phoebe Dale Nongrum: I grew up having the Passion for speed, the love for cars and bikes. As I was growing up I would have these small drag Race, but as there was no platform for a woman in the Racing track in Shillong, I left town to pursue my studies and had been away for over a decade. But it is when I had returned back whereby some friends of mine had organized a local autocross event and asked me to give it a try.Without hesitation I said yes and ever since my journey in this extreme sport has continued.

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