Your paper announces names of candidates selected by different political parties on a daily basis. As a citizen and a voter I must admit that none of the names inspire confidence. All are tried and tested and have been found wanting. Till date I have not heard of any name of women candidates being declared by any political party. The Congress Party will obviously nominate its two sitting legislators cum ministers – Ampareen Lyngdoh and Deborah Marak and the sitting MLA Dikanchi Shira, wife of Mukul Sangma. The other parties have not as yet announced the names of any women candidates. I expect the NPP to nominate Agatha Sangma, former MP and Union Minister of State. That is a good choice since Agatha Sangma has experience of having been a parliamentarian and has learnt the ropes of what it is to handle a ministry at the centre. What is surprising is that the BJP which has appointed two women to two important portfolios at the Centre, namely Defence and External Affairs has not been able to project any women candidates of substance from Meghalaya. Are the women themselves shying away from contesting elections or are they not considered winnable? Or is it about money and muscle which still are prerequisites to winning elections in Meghalaya? Women in Meghalaya have shown their calibre in so many fields and have successfully managed important positions in and outside the government. There are several successful women entrepreneurs, so what is holding them back from contesting elections? There has to be something that deters women from taking the leap from their circumscribed domestic duties to running the affairs of the state. I wonder what women themselves have to say about this. The collective desire for change cannot come if only the party that runs the government changes its profile but with the same set of MLAs. The people of Meghalaya will have to take charge of things and not be led by emotions, by fear and by rhetoric. We have had enough of all this. We deserve better than the governments we have had so far.
India must retain its diversity
This refers to Ananya S Guha’s article, “Religion has not erred” (ST, Dec 28, 2017). To impose Hindi – Hindu – Hindustan as the ideals of Indian culture is nothing but an attempt to thwart our great legacy. The ideals of our culture is to achieve unity not only by showing respect to diversity but also by accepting it as our own. In his famous Chicago speech, Swami Vivekananda had said, “We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true.” Sri Ramkrishna was an embodiment of a real Catholic Hindu who himself practiced Islam, Christianity and other religions to live his words – “many opinions, many paths”. Sri Aurobindo had said, “There are two Hinduisms; one which takes its stand on the kitchen and seeks its paradise by cleaning the body; another which seeks god, not through the cooking-pot and social convention, but in the soul. The latter is also Hinduism and is more enduring than the other.”
On being asked about his views on Hindi being the common language of India, Sri Aurobindo had said, “English will be all right and even necessary if India is to be an international state. In that case, English has to be the medium of expression, especially as English is now replacing French as a world – language.” Now, if we try to impose Hindi and allow intercaste marriage vigilantes, interreligious marriage vigilantes, cow vigilantes and fairytale vigilantes to make us forget the great teachings of Maha Upanishad ~ Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam
Myanmar and India’s Expressway to ASEAN
The Global Investors Summit of Assam will be held in February. Assam has geo-strategic advantage and now she is considered India’s expressway to ASEAN. The summit will explore vibrant business opportunities. Delegations have been sent to both domestic and international locations and various road shows are organised to showcase Assam to the world. Business houses are contacted for potential investment. The Assam Government is considering the inclusion of knowledge partners like foreign Universities to collaborate with our institutions.
Myanmar is India’s strategic neighbours that shares a 1,640-km-long border with India’s North Eastern region. It has significance as the only country of ASEAN with which India has a common border. Myanmar is a key pillar of India’s Act east policy. Both the countries have shared history of colonization by the British. The Ahoms of Assam are the descendants of the ethnic Tai people of Burma. Myanmar also is attached to India from the time of Buddha. Myanmar is rich in energy and natural resources. India is yet to exploit its geographical proximity to the fullest.
OBOR initiative is expected to cement China’s dominance over Asia. To counteract this expansionist agenda, India is trying to develop railway connectivity with Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar and Nepal. India now finds a strategic sea route via the Iranian port of Chabahar to Afghanistan that bypasses Pakistan. New Delhi needs to get closer to Nay Pi Taw to plug the loopholes as it has done successfully with Bhutan and Bangladesh. Myanmar is not just a little corridor for trade but a gateway to the South East Asian countries.