TNT | OPINION | April 30, 2019:
What is Shillong known for? It’s cool weather, its hospitality, its love for music …. ? Well, the answers to the above mentioned questions vary from one person to another or rather from one tourist to another.
But on a more “serious” note — what comes to your mind when you think about Shillong from a social and political point of view? What and who does Shillong harbour? Let me answer these questions in several points …
- A self-contradicting Chief Minister? – He first moots the work-permit of Bangladeshi Nationals to give them a chance to become Indian citizens, then joins an alliance with the BJP and threatens to break ties when the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) was in motion to be implemented and emerged as the “hero” of Northeast. Right after the bill lapsed in the Upper House, he passed a comment saying that they would consider the Bill if it comes with a little modification. And now he’s campaigning for his “sugar-daddy” (PM Modi) in Varanasi.
- Corruption and pimps – We have ministers whose basic pay is between 25-40 thousand including incentives, yet they own overwhelming estates. They all say, “I will bring development”. Development is what they indeed bring to themselves with our money. We can’t totally blame them though. They possess this beautiful super-power to trade an entire constituency. It’s not about who the better man is; but who the bigger pimp is.
- Unemployment – We have graduates and masters sitting at home jobless while an unqualified matriculate and undergraduate is running the office (in context with the contemporary generation) and stationed comfortably at public offices.
- Radical Pastors and Church leaders – We also have radical pastors and enthusiastic Bible-men and Bible-women brainwashing the Christian community. They talk about corruption within the Church, with a mission to CHANGE. These men with their sugar-coated preaching do manage to get a lot of attention. Ironically, the same are found sitting with the bourgeoisie and their lucrative schemes to the Holy-Land which is no different from the 16th Century Roman Catholic’s once “Ticket to Heaven”. The number of self-professed pastors and saints is growing. They’d preach of the joy of unabashedly giving offerings to the Lord and after the service, wrap it all up and say “Hallelujah praise be to God” with all of the offering that was supposedly given to the Lord. Constitutional church leaders and a few mechanical doctors are no different.
- Exploitation – We have then achieved such heights in the intellectual and talent space that Shillong is now filled with CELEBRITIES. As the saying goes, “Every girl in Shillong is a model and every guy with a DSLR camera is a photographer”. The exploitation is real, but the aspiration is also great. Every girl wants to be a model and the cry is loud and clear, “whatever it takes” and the pseudo-photographer takes whatever he gets. They all say, “We are giving you a platform”
- Beauty Pageants – I fail to understand the purpose of having a Beauty Pageant for everything. In every occasion, every function, every festival. Is it important for every Dong and Shnong to have a beauty contest? Even hospitals are having a beauty pageant contest. What is the connection? Shillong’s creativity starts and ends with a beauty contest. How shallow has our perception of life become?
- We are not teaching our women to be proud for who they are. We are instead putting tags on them.
- Festivals – Shillong is famous for useless foreign festivals at the expense of public money. Teachers are not getting paid for months and months and the “shameless” Government is busy spending money on festivals like The Cherry Blossom (Japan). Other festivals are La Tomatina (Spain), Lantern Festival(China) and the likes.
- Irresponsible parenting – We have upgraded from “Ka Ri tipbriew-tipBlei” and “Ka Ri ka Akor ka Burom” to “Ka Ri Khlem burom khlem surom“; thanks to the brilliance of irresponsible parenting! The struggle is real. There are more children suffering from depression now than ever before…
- Feminism – It is not a word but a lifestyle.We are born Feminists. Women were and are revered. Though the father is the head of the house, the mother is always the more important figure in the Khasi household. Now we are slowly having nothing to respect. It’s appalling to see that some Khasi Girls no longer care about the dignity she once possessed, and was gifted by the ancestors. They learn the new word “Feminism” and are suddenly gushed with a flow of delusional suppression. Booze, cigarettes and drugs make them look cool, they say. The ‘Hookah’ is so very famous. Soon we’ll have children whose mother is a stoner, and their dad is nowhere to be found and that’s scary. The younger generation of men are no different. They are shamelessly irresponsible.We are running into a generation of an epicurean drunk family, mad with lust and shame.
- Night clubs – Night clubs with “ladies walk in free” are on the high. It is comical to find that the same young women who preach about feminism, equality, women empowerment and the right of a woman to dress and look however she wants, are contrastingly ecstatic to be used as baits for a mere ‘free entry’ over two hundred or three hundred rupees. Skin trade is on a high rise. Not to mention the high society one-night stands that has gone vividly wild like wild-fire. Families are broken, but who cares. It’s a trend, right!
- Addiction – We find addicts in teenagers. School students are already into smoking, alcohol, pre-marital affair is becoming fashionable while some are already into drugs.
- White Wedding – A pastor once said, “We now have White weddings where the bride gives birth to a child after three or four months”. In the Khasi Christian tradition, whenever there is a White Wedding, we’d say, “Ai burom ia u Blei” but now it’s just plain competition. Statistics prove that we are witnessing a higher rate of marriages which should actually signify the growing moralistic commitment. Ironically, we are also witnessing a growing rate of divorce.
- “I am divorced” is becoming such a household anthem that a sense of pride is infused in being divorced.
- Suicide and rape is trending – There is not a single day that we will not be greeted with news of these. According to the Meghalaya Police Statistics as published by a handful of local newspapers, a total of 166 suicide cases are reported in the year 2017 not to mention the unreported while there are 750 cases against women and children in 2018. Many Priests have also been reported for molestation and rape thanks to the #MeToo movement.
- Tourism – Discover Meghalaya and the likes have helped to promote the Tourism Department of Meghalaya. This has in a way helped employ a number of local people. But are we really ready to embrace tourism? All the tourist hotspots are now polluted, mutilated and destroyed. We are losing too much for temporary gains. They have constructed a “bloody” road into the Lawkyntang for what? For the likes of the unprecedented commercial festivals to defile the very sanctity of the place? Pathetic!
- Nearly all tourist spots are destroyed for want of greed.
- NGOs and Student Unions – These are the two sets of business opportunities that have grown rapidly in the last few years. Realising the opportunity, many have sprouted into existence like mushrooms. It has become difficult to count. We once had faith and revered them. They were once upon a time true to the meaning of their name “Seng Bhalang”. They had once saved the Khasi Community from the “MYNDER-RI”. While now their identity (of most of them, not all) is that of a “MEN-DIE-RI”. There are legit ones too. But it’s very difficult to tell which ones are the legit ones or who is the legit one.
- Last but not the least, we have obsessed anglicised Khasis who are ashamed of their own identity of being a Khasi, yet these are the first to seek tribal benefits. Learn from the Khasi Woman in Germany, who not only proudly carries her Khasi surname and tradition but also teaches her two teenage daughters to do the same. The three of them speak in Khasi while embracing German, French, Spanish, English, and Hindi though they’ve settled in a foreign country for decades. While some Khasis living in Bangalore for a year or two are acting like foreigners with a weird British accent bought from the Chor Bazaar in Delhi.
We have nothing to be proud of, and everything to be ashamed of …
The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
DISCLAIMER: The opinion expressed in the article are the writer’s own and TNT-The Northeast Today may not subscribe to the same views.