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I am a Meghalaya SSA teacher and this is my sorry plight!

Date: August 14,2018

To 

The Editor

TNT- The Northeast Today

 

Respected Sir/Madam,

My journey as an SSA teacher in Meghalaya has been quite a dilemma . But I love my job as I love my family. Imparting knowledge and receiving the same amount of knowledge I have been doing and I consider myself to be still on a learning quest. As I enter my class, I don’t see myself as a teacher but I see myself as a father figure to gain and give moral values to my children.

So often, I have heard people say that teaching is an easy task, anyone can be a teacher if applied for a teacher in school or any institution and earn easily. Is that really easy as it seems from the outside? Well I can’t change someone’s point of view about certain profession. I would rather say that each and every profession has its own “Modus-Operandi”.

ALSO READ | Meghalaya | Agriculture non-bonded graduates also in murky waters over job recruitment

Let me put it my way, the profession which I have chosen is more ‘baby-sitting’, where I spend hours with thousands of children. My responsibility and priority increases manifold when I sit with them and when I have to make each and every one of them understand and learn. Like every finger in our hand is not the same, similarly every student’s way of understanding and grabbing things differs. But my duty is to make the children educated rather than just literate.

Apart from being teacher I am also a father, a husband, a son and a friend and also the only sole earner in my family. How am I doing? What is my part in my family? Are the questions which arises as month passes by. Earlier, before election I was told by a candidate that he would tackle SSA-teachers’ pending Salaries” and in a hope that at least he cares, I, and many like me voted for him and he fortunate or unfortunately won the elections.

ALSO READ | OPINION | Education in Meghalaya is a growing business – Part 1 by Mayborn Lyngdoh R

As months pass by, the situation remains the same, I am still empty-pocket, the only thing remaining with me is the debt from my relatives, neighbour and my friends. Day seems restless and night seems undending but do I have any other choice? Not being able to pay for my daughter’s school fees, not being able to fill the empty vessels and jars. Sometimes it pushes my limits, slits my passion and my career but do I have a choice?

With humble request to the state government: Respected Sir/Madam, please understand that before being a teacher I am a human being so please kindly consider my request and let each teacher like me live in peace with enough and timely income to feed me and my family.

An aggrieved teacher hoping against hopes 

Featured image courtesy: All Meghalaya SSA School Teachers’ Association – Ribhoi District Unit


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Meghalaya | Agriculture non-bonded graduates also in murky waters over job recruitment

Date: August 7, 2018

Respected Editor,

With reference to the letter to the editor dated July 22, 2018 titled Meghalaya: Agriculture students left in murky waters over job recruitment,it is disheartening to acknowledge that instead of uniting and fighting against the sovereign authority of nepotism and corruption in the system of recruitment in Agriculture as a Unified body of Agricultural students, the Meghalaya Agricultural Students and Graduates Association (MASGA) are showing that till date the British tactic of “divide and rule” still works.

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The MASGA has been successful in dividing the whole agricultural student union. They have continuously shown in various news articles that they alone have a greater right than other agricultural students in getting employment in the State Agricultural Department. Therefore, it can be understood that we the so-called “non-bonded agricultural students” are not entitled to the same rights, according to them.

We the non- MASGA students have studied the same courses alongside with them in similar prestigious universities across India and have also faced similar hardships as them. Is it not an injustice if we are not given the same opportunities as them in securing employment? We do not want any reservation or consideration because we are the ‘other’ students. We do not demand others to lose equal rights for employment. We just want a fair and transparent system of recruitment where every student is equal and not judged of only one examination, that is their Class XII board exam results.

The minimum qualification for working as an Agricultural Development Officer or Horticultural Development officer has always been a bachelors degree. But we fail to understand how the MASGA students take into consideration that their Class XII board exam result as the only important factor for them to be more deserving of recruitment. We know that there have not been any recruitment in the department for the last ten years and all the students are suffering equally. Many seniors are on the brim of being over aged to qualify for those recruitment. Therefore, we feel betrayed that MASGA, this small union of bonded students are trying hard to secure a lifeboat and leave others drowning. We believed that there was always a bond amongst the fraternity of students belonging to agriculture, but it can be seen that it is obsolete in today’s time where a few peoples’ selfish desires are greater than the good of the whole fraternity.

We the non-bonded students will also be raising our voices for our rights to employment, emphasizing on the fact that every agricultural student and not only MASGA should have the same rights and opportunities for recruitment in the State Department of Agriculture of our great Meghalaya.

Yours faithfully,

Non-bonded Agricultural Graduates of Meghalaya


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Toxic Masculinity: What the Amendment to Khasi Social Custom of Lineage Act, 1997 is really about

 

By Laetitia Bruce Warjri | July 30, 2018

In a globalised world, the question of identity has become a fundamental one. Who we are, our place in the world, and what sets us apart from others is determined through the concept of ‘identity’. In the national arena, the question of who is ‘Hindu’ is occupying a major part of the space for discourse. For a community that makes up about 80% of our population, it is interesting to note that there is a sense of disquiet amongst certain members of the Hindu community. What happens then when we look at a community that is much smaller? What does living in a 21st-century reality mean for a tribe as small as the Khasis?

ALSO READ | KHADC Bill: A timely Bill handicapped by gender inequality — By Mayborn Lyngdoh R

The recent Bill to amend the Khasi Hill Autonomous District (Khasi Social Custom of Lineage) Act, 1997 has divided the Khasis into two camps: Those who are for it and those against it. It seeks to deprive a Khasi woman who marries a non-Khasi man of her Khasi status. Not only the woman loses Khasi status but the offspring of such a union will not be allowed to avail Khasi status either. This amendment, in one fell swoop, deprives the people falling under it of ST status (under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution) and all the benefits, privileges, and protection that come with it.

This move is not sound in many respects: Legal, customary, and ideological. The first legal challenge to the amendment will come under Article 14 of the Constitution – the right to equality. The right to equality provides for equality amongst equals. It allows for a differentiation between groups of people provided there is a reasonable basis for doing so. For example, the distinction between a juvenile and an adult is on a universally accepted sociological and scientific basis. The reasoning behind the distinction is that those below the age of 18 do not have mental, emotional, and reasoning capabilities that are as developed as those older than 18.  Therefore, expecting the same out of a juvenile as we would out of an adult would result in inequality. They are not equals.

READ | An open letter to KHADC leaders on Khasi Lineage Bill 2018

On what basis has the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) differentiated between Khasi women who marry non-Khasis and Khasi men who do the same? Why have only Khasi women been made to lose their Khasi status should they marry outside the community? The Statement of Objects and Reasons only notes that this amendment is to “strengthen the Khasi social custom of lineage by way of codification.”

Irony just died as the reason the Khasis are celebrated outside their home state of Meghalaya is because of the community’s matrilineal structure. The Khasis trace lineage through the female line, children carry their mother’s surname, a woman is not expected to move out of the family home and move into her husband’s. In fact, Khasis are also matrilocal. It is the man who moves into the woman’s home (especially if he marries the Khatduh, the youngest daughter of the family).

READ | Mr. Shylla won’t approve of this: I, a Khasi woman, oppose the KHADC Amendment of Lineage Act

So the question arises, if lineage is traced through the woman, how can the child of a Khasi woman not be Khasi? For the entire history of the Khasis, it has been the woman’s name that has been passed down to the child making the offspring a part of the maternal clan.

In March this year, the Supreme Court ruled that the right to marry who we choose is a fundamental right that is protected by Article 21 of the Constitution (the right to life and personal liberty). Under what power can the KHADC decide who it is that a Khasi woman marries and what the consequences of such a union will be? That is akin to indirectly coercing women into marrying only those men deemed fit by the KHADC, which is a gross violation of both the rights to equality and personal liberty. Formed under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution that provides for the setting up of Autonomous District Councils for protection of tribal rights in the states of Meghalaya, Assam, Tripura and Mizoram, the KHADC cannot decide who is “Khasi” and who is not. Its job is to promote and protect tribal interests not decide on the eugenics of Khasi identity.

A reading of the original act will give us a better understanding of how this amendment discriminates against Khasi women. The original act has provision for both Khasi men and women who marry non-Khasis. They themselves retain their Khasi status but the children are only given Khasi status if they fulfill the criteria in sub-clauses (i) to (v) of clause (b) of Section 3 of the original act, namely, if they can speak Khasi, they have observed the matrilineal system of the tribe, have not voluntarily renounced their Khasi status, have not adopted the customs of the non-Khasi spouse or parent, or have not been deprived of their Khasi status by a judgment or order or under any provision of the act. There is no distinction between Khasi men and women who marry outside the community. The same criteria applies to both.

In fact, the original act goes even further, and has a sub-section (under Section 2) that exclusively deals with non-Khasi women who marry Khasi men. As per custom that has been in practice by the Khasis, the non-Khasi woman can undergo a ceremony where she is given a ‘jait’, i.e., a clan name. She then becomes a Khasi with her clan name bearing the prefix ‘Dkhar’ or simply ‘Khar’, signifying that she was once a non-Khasi but is now part of the Khasi clan system with her own clan name.

This part of the original act has not been touched and will continue to function and be enforced as before. In practical terms, this means that Khasi men can continue to marry non-Khasi women without losing their Khasi status. The children born of such a union will also not lose their Khasi status. Why then have Khasi women been denied the same privilege, especially since the Khasi clan name is carried through her and not the man? Is it not logical to assume that according to the custom of matriliny, the child of a Khasi woman regardless of who the father is will automatically become a Khasi carrying the mother’s clan name? Why the emphasis on a patrilineal determination of identity when, by custom, the Khasis have a matrilineal system of determination of identity? This move by the KHADC reflects a troubling sense of male domination in a community that has been marked by an ability (in some important areas) to give the woman equal importance.

‘Khasi’ according to the original act is defined as ‘Khasi, Jaintia, Pnar, Synteng, War, Bhoi, and Lyngngam’. All these tribes are recognised by the original act as falling under the Khasi tribe. The trouble arises when a Khasi woman marries a non-Khasi man who is part of an ST community that is not Khasi like the Garos, the Mizos, the Bodos, etc. Does she lose her ST status but the child of such a union gains the ST status of his/her father? Each of these tribes have their own system of marking identity that may or may not be prejudiced against a woman from outside the community and her offspring. Things get even more complicated when the Khasi woman divorces her non-Khasi spouse. Does she get her Khasi status back? Or once married to a non-Khasi, you will be an outcast for life, according to the eyes of the law?

This amendment is not well thought out. It seems to be a knee jerk reaction by male chauvinists who believe that only women should be held accountable for the customs and traditions of the tribe. As is the case in patriarchal societies worldwide, it is the woman who is the vessel that carries symbols like honour, purity, and tradition. Men can do as they please and never have their honour and purity questioned. It is a sad state of affairs that a people that has prided itself on being “better” than others because it provides a semblance of respect for its women is falling into the trap of toxic masculinity that tries to control the choices and actions of its women.

DISCLAIMER The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of TNT- The Northeast Today. Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of TNT- The Northeast Today


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An open letter to the Chief Minister of Meghalaya Conrad Sangma

To,
The Editor
Dear Sir/Ma’am,

In view of the recent proposal made by the Chief Minister of Meghalaya, Mr. Conrad Sangma to External Affairs Minister of India, Sushma Swaraj to moot the Work Permit of Bangladeshi Nationals in our State and country, I wish to send our beloved Chief Minister a message through this open letter via your medium.


To,
The New Chief Minister of Meghalaya,
Mr. Conrad Sangma.

Respected Sir,

Subject – Work Permit for Bangladeshi Nationals.

With reference to the subject cited above, I would like to enlighten you that the state is already “SUFFERING” from the stigma of “UNEMPLOYMENT” and here you are mooting the “Work Permit” for the Bangladeshis in our state and country.

Let me warm your Excellency with a simple question:

What is the value of a Master’s Degree in Meghalaya?

A student holding a Master’s degree in any subject holds a Master’s Degree no greater than that of a graduate and sometimes the degree is of lesser value than that of a Class XII pass.

The patriarch predecessors of the Government in Meghalaya has devalued a Master’s degree. A Master’s degree is only good on paper and pleasing to the ears.

Allow me to explain –
Approximately, 90% of the Government posts in our state that are available to apply for; the minimum qualifications required starts with class VIII pass and the highest being Bachelor’s (any stream).

For instance:
Police department – In the last three years of my observation, the vacant posts are for either Constables or Sub-inspectors. (Qualifications required – Class XII pass and Bachelor’s)

Teaching – B.A. (B.ed) and B.A. (D.El.Ed.) are the only qualified catch for the Deficit and SSA pay scale.

Ad-hoc does accept a Master’s Degree, but the problem with that, is that most schools are looking to employ more teachers with a Master’s degree tagged with B.ed with a hope of being provincialised, and colleges will not take in without Master’s tagged with NET (National Eligibility Test).

Government offices – Most offices are very adamant based on qualifications; which is fair. A Master’s Degree holder is not allowed to apply for the post of a peon or driver because they are deemed “OVER QUALIFIED”.

With that being said, the minimal scale pay of a Peon is Rs 17,800 to be exact. If a Master’s Degree holder is willing to work as a peon with his or her qualifications, I do not find it difficult for the employers to employ them.

Note: It is also obvious that we will not want to work as a peon with our degree. It’s a mockery to our Degree. But why are we willing to do so should also be another question to be discussed.

Private enterprises – Private enterprises are such life savers. They employ the cream – the very qualified and efficient from the lot at the cheapest rate.

IS IT OUR FAULT THAT WE ARE MASTER’S GRADUATES?

Does having a Master’s degree mean that one is qualified to be subjected to exploitation of qualification?

Very often, I find my Master’s comrades landing an officiating job in some school or college at Rs 200 and Rs 300 per day. In some cases it’s lesser than that, whereas a daily labourer – let’s take a coolie for example, now values at Rs 450 or Rs 500 per day.

P.S. There are minimal or no posts for Masters’ except some that arrives like Halley’s Comet once in every three to four years.

Flawed system – When you have unqualified Ministers dictating office, recommended rich brats flooding the government posts and relatives and friends of these excuse of a human being, holding responsible public posts, it is only expected to witness what we witness.

As of 30th June 2016 statistics, 39,472 unemployed youths have registered with the Employment Exchange in the various districts. It is pretty certain that the number of the unregistered is also alarmingly high.

Where will our youths go?!

Pardon me for being a keen observer, but I am critical that there are a good number of Bangladeshis that are already working with big contractors. These Contractors fish cheap Bangladeshi labour and employ them at cheaper rates. As a result, most of our own citizens are left jobless. These then go on to get themselves a Pan-card and an Epic to become full-fledged citizens of India. How? That is a universal truth that every citizen of Meghalaya is aware of. I do not deem it important to comment.

These are then used as vote banks. These needed a home, a job and a right of an Indian citizen. They are given all the above, allegiance is something they must pay to someone.

The growing number of voters in every constituency is something that must be monitored very meticulously.

Where will our labourers go? How will development come? From where will we progress?

We are already populated with illegal immigrants who are now proud citizens of India, and your grace’s short-sightedness is only going to drain the life out of this beautiful state of Meghalaya of which we call ‘Home’.

As a citizen of Meghalaya, I hope you address to the need and angst of the citizens of your country and more so of the people of the state of Meghalaya first which is “THE NEED OF THE HOUR”. Discussions on International issues can be discussed once the problems of unemployment of our people are met at.

Thank you,
With utmost sincerity,
(Citizen of Meghalaya, India)
Mayborn Lyngdoh R.


The writer can be reached at calebdelshe@gmail.com

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

 

8 surrendered GNLA cadres- a sheer case of misguided youth! Where are we heading?

Date: March 14, 2018

Respected Editor,

I would like to draw your attention to the employment issues that the youth are facing in Northeast India.With the development taking its toll in Shillong, the employment sectors have seemed to lose its way.

Many of the youth are not being able to come up with opportunities due to which they have chosen to travel abroad or are sometimes forced to opt for illegal ways to earn livelihood.

READ | WATCH | 8 GNLA Cadres officially surrender before Meghalaya Home Minister in Shillong

Let us take the example of the 8 GNLA cadres who surrendered recently in Shillong. The question to be asked here is that if these young people really wanted to become militants and fight for their rights, they would have continued their fight even after the death of Sohan D Shira. But the very fact that they surrendered proves that they chose the path of insurgency due to lack of viable opportunity to earn a dignified living. Isn’t there enough source of employment where they can earn their livelihood? The answer is No

WATCH |

Can this also be the reason causing increase in crimes prevailing not only within the state but also in numerous parts of the country? Few days back I came across news where few youth were arrested in a smuggling case in Guwahati. Such kind of incidents are rising with each passing day. In future it may become a serious issue and it is better to tackle this problem as our first priority. As it said “Prevention is better than cure”.

Yours Faithfully,

Preetty Chambugong Marak


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