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Diversity is the lifeblood of Democracy: So too in NEHUSU

BY Ngayaipam Awungshi Shimray

I woke up this morning and I sat on my bed pondering upon certain things that matter to me. Things that define my belief system and I have always believed that in diversity, there is beauty and strength. Our strength must be derived from our ability to unite people of different backgrounds around common principles- to stand for the needs and welfare of the students. We must come together as students. We must unite forgetting our differences, be it caste, religion, race, sex, tribe or community. The essence of beauty is ‘unity in variety’. History teaches us that unity is strength and cautions us to submerge and overcome our differences in the quest for common goal to strive with all of our combined strength for the welfare of NEHU students.

A year ago I read an article written by Dr. Benjamin Lyngdoh, an Assistant Professor, Tourist and Hotel Management Department NEHU, in The Shillong Times dated 18 October 2017. I quote from his article, “NEHU and its Students’ Union”; “The students’ union representation contemporarily is a huge concern. Over the years of my close association with the students’ union election, the exercise does feel like a bastion of ‘Ka Bri U Hynniewtrep’. The candidates are all from the Khasi community and even on the day of polling and counting, the interest is shown by this community only. But this is not what NEHU represents. NEHU represents a mix of cultures and practices and people, so why is there no diversity amongst the contesting candidates? As such, the voter turnout at the very recent students’ union election was only 47%. This is a result of a lack of cohesiveness amongst the student community. As such, one can be blunt and say that the current students’ union does not represent the entire student community.”

Martin Luther King Jr., one of the most influential persons of the 20th century, the father of the modern civil rights movement, a symbol of freedom as well as peace in his famous speech, “I have a Dream” delivered to over 250,000 people from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial remarked, “I still have a dream, a dream deeply rooted in the American dream – one day this nation will rise up and live up to its creed, “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.” I have a dream…” And so I say, I have a dream, a dream deeply rooted in my heart of hearts and in the hearts of all those who truly believe that this University will rise and live up to its name. “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.” This University should be a University where not only students and scholars are produced and community leaders are made and where leaders of the region and of the country are created, where heroes are born, legends are moulded and where stars shine eternally.

My dear friends, the alarm has gone off long time back but we are still sleeping in our comfortable zones. Leadership should no longer be a position as in the bygone days, rather let it be a Choice and the choice is- Are we going to remain the same? Or are we taking the risk to be the Change? Change is the only Hope for the cocoon to become the butterfly. Sometimes breaking down the cocoon won’t be easy but it will be worth it. To be a University with wings we have to come out of our Cocoon. Greatness is never a free package; it is something that has to be earned. Bringing diversity in the NEHUSU may be the biggest challenge for many of the student leaders. But if you and I are true  leaders and want to show that we have something like an iron inside of us then its better to vacate our comfort zones. Challenge the Convention and Be the Change. What we choose today will decide where NEHU stands tomorrow and in the distant future. All men have fears, but the brave put down their fears and walk forward; sometimes to death, but always to victory.

Honourable leaders of NEHUSU, many Presidents, Vice Presidents, and General Secretaries of NEHUSU will come and go but people will remember leaders like Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, and Nelson Mandela for challenging the conventions and bringing the change. Some of them died fighting for a cause but they stand out in history for sacrificing their own comforts and freedom to stand up for principles of human dignity and liberty.

I am of the opinion that the food tastes better if we add spices, salt, chillies et al to it to bring out the best taste. NEHU is an exciting melange of various tribes and cultures just as the region is. Our flavours and dishes are as unique as our colourful way of life. So if we can bring the different dishes together- the delicious “Khar” from Assam without which any Assamese meal is incomplete; a luscious pork and rice-based Khasi delicacy “Jadoh” from Meghalaya; the Indian version of Tibetan noodle soup “Gyathuk” from Sikkim; the dish with the perfect balance of smokiness and lusciousness “Chikhvi” from Tripura, the appetizing spicy porridge “Zan” from Arunachal Pradesh; Iromba, the lifeline of Manipuri cuisine from Manipur; “Smoked Pork” from Nagaland; crispy on the outside yet juicy on the inside; and the Chewy meaty dish which will instantly make you drool, “Vawksa Rep” from Mizoram- then I am sure the Best of NEHU will come out.

I have always believed and still believe that in diversity there is beauty and strength. My Dear friends, wWe shall pass North Eastern Hill University but once; any change, therefore, that we can bring to this University, must be done here and now. Let’s not defer nor neglect it, for we shall not pass this way again.

This is my personal opinion but I may be wrong. I frequently am. So if you find it disagreeable or offensive, just think it over. We can sit down over a cup of coffee. (The writer is a student of MA Pol. Sc. 3rd Semester NEHU)

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