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State Library well stocked

 Editor,

The State Central Library was constructed by the erstwhile government of Assam in the early 1950s. After the attainment of statehood in 1972, the Assam government handed over the library to its Meghalaya counterpart on 19 January 1974, dividing the assets of the library between the two states. Whenever there is a conversation between people about the State Central Library, they would all share a common preconceived notion through having heard from others, that the State Central Library houses very antiquated and outdated books, dusty obscure late 19th century fiction, non-fiction and poetry books whose covers and pages have been ripped off or stolen by readers of old. As a regular client I would like to spread a positive message and dispel the negative perceptions. In recent years, the library has made concerted efforts to improve its collection.

I would like to enlighten bibliophiles and avid readers of all ages that it has many beautiful novels in its innumerable tall shelves. There are contemporary classics like the ‘Collected Stories’ of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, ‘The Museum of Innocence’ of Orhan Pamuk, ‘Interpreter of Maladies’ of Jhumpa Lahiri, ‘In Custody’ of Anita Desai etc. There are the best novels of novelists like J.M Coetzee, Amy Tan, Haruki Murakami, Toni Morrison, Shashi Deshpande, Bharati Mukherjee, Rohinton Mistry, Amitav Ghosh, V.S Naipaul, Kiran Desai, Arundhati Roy, Salman Rushdie, Khuswant Singh etc. And poets like Octavio Paz, Soso Tham, Kahlil Gibran, Ghalib, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Tagore etc. The library also has a good Northeast Literature(which now has emerged as a genre) collection, where one could find books of Kynpham Sing Nongkynrih, Temsula Ao, Anjum Hasan, Jahnavi Baruah, Janice Pariat etc.

I recall having a brief chat with the head librarian there. She expressed her deep concern over the fact that she sees not many visitors in the library. She told me that it is because of the few members that the library has been able to improve its collection. This was through her urging them to give suggestions of the books they most wanted by writing a letter to her. Literature not only delights us with its style and beauty, but it also helps us introspect and become careful, sensible beings. The reason we think that life is always problematic and complex is because we do not choose to read. If we take efforts to learn from the many philosophies, writers and poets, we will come have a more enlightened view of life, and not dwell too much in the space of negativity. In this age of Kindle, ebook readers, Flipkart and Amazon, a library still has a certain charm that could beguile us. There is something about book lending, the smell of old pages and old polished antique furniture in the State Central Library that makes one think that everything is falling in place for him/her; an atmospheric time perfect to just read and read. Hence I would humbly encourage the people of this city to make a visit to the library. There are cultural programmes, festivals, concerts in the Auditorium, and then there is the entrance to the library where one is greeted by the bust of the great bard of the Khasi Hills Soso Tham.

Yours etc.,

Willie Gordon Suting,

Shillong-1

 

VAB: The long wait

Editor,

News report indicates that the KHADC VAB has run into rough weather with The Ministry of Home Affairs Govt. of India, returning back the VAB with as many as twelve queries seeking clarification from the State Government. I am certain that the State Law Department, after examining them, will come up with appropriate answers. But once again, it’s another long wait for the Dorbars and the Rangbah Shnong to get their recognition and empowerment. The Synjuk Ki Nonsynshar Shnong Ka Bri U Hynniewtrep is spearheading the movement for the recognition and empowerment of the “Dorbar Shnongs”. This demand is just and fair, for the Dorbar Shnongs are the only grass root Institutions which have unselfishly served the people of the Khasi Hills since time immemorial. The Synjuk deserves to be praised for taking up this cause. But after attaining Statehood, Meghalaya has undergone a sea change.

The Dorbar Shnongs too need redefining to adapt to these changes so they can confront the challenges we face as a modern society. Rigidly clinging on to the way of life of the past and refusing to accept reforms will be detrimental to our very own society. During this transitional phase of the Dorbar Shong, different section of people will have different viewpoints. Healthy debate and discussion to resolve these differences are the best way to usher in new and modern ideas. But to be at loggerheads and always flexing muscles at each other, will not bring about solutions to the myriad problems which the State is currently facing. Forest cover is getting depleted, rivers polluted, the city is choking in its own filth, illegal immigration, these are visible signs of a chaotic administration and in the absence of a strong and an accountable grass root institution many of these problems, which need to be tackled at the grass root level are left unattended and the situation is getting from bad to worse. The longer the delay in recognizing the Dorbar Shnong, the more we stand to lose. The need of the hour is for the State Govt. and the KHADC to bury their hatchet and work towards bringing in a Bill, which is acceptable to all, conferring recognition to the Dorbars and empowering the Rangbah Shnong. Hoping that the wait will not be too long.

Yours etc.,

PD Nongrum,

Shillong-2

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