It’s better to be prepared
In the last few days North East region has been rocked by series of earthquakes.
On Monday, a strong quake measuring 6.7 on the Richter scale hit Tamenglong in Manipur.
This was followed by many small and medium aftershocks. In Manipur many people lost
lives. The earthquake also caused massive damage to property and infrastructure.
Yesterday a medium intensity earthquake, measuring 4.5 on the Richter scale hit Arunachal
Pradesh. Even though there was no loss of life and property but it created panic.
Adding to the panicky situation union home ministry's disaster management experts
recently warned that in future earthquakes with a magnitude of 8.2 or greater on
the Richter scale may hit the already ruptured Himalayan region. However the big
question is whether our state is ready to face such kind of disaster? Lack of good
health care facilities and absence of well trained disaster response team is a major
hurdle. Also the department of disaster management is not doing enough to educate
people about various issues related to disaster. There should be rigorous awareness
campaign throughout the state. District administration will have to play their part
too. Strict checking should be carried out so as to ensure that building laws are
being properly followed. Action should be taken against those who violate the building
laws. People of state should themselves take precautionary measure. Everyone is aware
that Arunachal comes under earthquake prone area. Therefore while constructing houses
they should exercise maximum caution.
A New Year for soul-searching
Indeed, 1st January is a big day because we step into a day which is the beginning
of the year. Absolutely a new time, the time for celebration, time for fun. Of course,
also a new occasion to feel important to resolve to take up promising things and
think more innovatively. But one is extremely confused as to what is the reason so
strong and significant that we should celebrate the occasion letting our hair down
— shedding all human inhibitions with booze and organizing wild parties.
It seems what we have been doing is absolutely the reverse. Instead, as one believes,
we should feel rather regret that another year has also just elapsed without our
efforts to learn to become a little more like a human being. We should feel rather
important to knell down with remorse and tears in the eyes before the altar begging
the Almighty for His pardons that how we have become more prone to commit sins these
days than the previous years. More than anything, why are we not aware that we have
become older by one more year which is far too regrettable? But, if this new year
celebration would make us younger by one year then we could certainly jump and hop
like a child in ecstasy and wish everyone — a happy new year!
This is not to preach and spread a message of pessimism but just a reality check
that our mindless merry-making and big bashes are ephemeral joys. Isn’t it that we
should learn to think other way round as well — that which is the reality and the
inevitable truth affecting the whole mankind, governing the whole universe? Should
we not acknowledge that the year that has just passed by (2015) was marked by more
instances of heartless shooting, bombing, kidnapping, rapes, adultery, suicide, corruption,
divorces than the previous years? This clearly proves we have gradually become a
lesser human. Let’s try to find out how our mind is being littered with more vices
in the successive later years. Further, let us start soul-searching what we have
been doing in the name of a new year celebration is really worthwhile and value-based
which subsequently would be helpful for our positive growth and evolvement of inner
selves and help purify the environment in the society at large.
It may be reiterated that the New Year is a significant occasion to do real introspection,
to be more meditative and make solemn resolutions to undertake constructive things
rather than mere indulgences in a series of entertainments. It is a time to glorify
the Almighty who has created this wonderful world and eternal-time, instead of becoming
appreciative of models’ amorous dances or get lost in the meaningless talent-hunt-shows
on TV channels. When shall we realize that our indulgences and preoccupations these
days are of exceedingly lower grades that are only leading us to the abyss of confusion,
frustration and subsequently degradation of mental faculty?
Salil Gewali, Shillong
Cooperation instead of conflict
Mr. Kajal Chatterjee should be thanked for his feedback to the letter, ‘Need a legislation
to rid the baggage of prejudice’ ( January 5, 2016) and for his identifying the caste
system as ‘the greatest evil’ in his letter ‘Counter view’ (January 7, 2016). He
has put forward an exceptional instance of his Brahmin cousin being mocked at school
for having an uncommon surname ‘Malkhandi’. This leads him to conclude that ‘mocking
certain person by exploiting their surnames has no relationship with the caste system’.
I hope his Brahmin cousin ( Mr. Malkhandi) must have completed his school unlike
my Dalit classmate ( Mr. Mal) who had to drop out of school to save himself from
the ignominy of surname that channeled all the insults towards his parents and his
family occupation. However, his Malkhandi point shows that if there is a ban on the
use of surname, it will even save the day for some Brahmins as well who have exceptionally
uncommon surname. It is true as Mr. Chatterjee has, rightly, pointed out that apart
from surname there are other sticks to beat a person with like the name of one’s
village etc. However, we can easily see that a surname is the biggest stick as it
identifies a person and his or her caste 24x7. Besides, surnames route offenders’
acid spitting towards victims’ parents and family occupation. In India, the caste
system is hell bent on making the status of blue collar workers as lesser animals.
If Mr. Kajal has a surname of a very important occupation say Chamar (cobbler)
or Dom ( worker in a burning ghat) or Paramanik ( barber) instead of Chatterjee (Brahmin
priest), he could not have said, ‘mocking certain persons by exploiting their surnames
has no relationship with the caste system’ as the words ‘chamar’ and ‘dom’ have,
frequently, been used to call somebody names in common parlance. Unfortunately, Indians
are yet to respect such valuable professions. I can feel the pain as I, myself, am
carrying a half pariah surname that announces my belonging to other backward castes.
In fact, pariahs are in a quandary about what to do with their surnames. It is difficult
to live with it. It is also hard to drop it as in that case people will say you are
cheating at your surname. Only a blanket ban can redress a pariah’s plight. Mr.
Chatterjee asks if it is necessary to hide one’s ethnic and religious identity as
well along with one’s surname and to identify ourselves as Mr. Blue etc to avoid
nepotism. Though the question is asked in lighter vain, it needs to be followed in
interviews to hide as far as practicable the caste, race and religious identity of
interviewees to arrest nepotism. Instead of Mr. Sky Blue etc, certain number can
easily act as an identity of an interviewee.According to Mr. Chatterjee the problem
of surname in a marriage is an immaterial thing and there are instances of happy
wives with wiped parental surnames and unhappy wives having original surnames. I
wonder even in those cases if wives’ surname changing has been made an issue or
condition for conjugal happiness. Mr. Chatterjee rightly says that mutual affection
and sacrifice are necessary in a marriage since it is a noble relationship. When
he himself is calling for mutual sacrifice, I cannot understand why he fights shy
of the idea of mutual sacrifice of surname. Let both life partners drop this what
Mr. Chatterjee describes as only an immaterial thing.However, no one can deny Mr.
Chatterjee’s view that ‘all depends upon the mindset of people’ and ’people should
learn to rise above narrow mindset’. This is indeed the real panacea. When our mindset
become humane, we will strive for cooperation instead of conflict. There will not
be any existence of crime or punishment. But it is still miles to go to reach to
that stage. Education is the most effective apparatus to get to the ideal society.
As Pratichi Trust report on primary education reveals that some teachers themselves
are using sticks to touch a Dalit, such a dream society seems to be a far cry at
least as of now. At present, the monster of prejudice is making people dance to
his tunes and killing one’s own children in the name of honour (!) killing. According
to statistics from the United Nations one in five cases of ‘honour killing’ internationally
every year comes from India. The cases of honour killing have been on the rise in
India. This leads to a proposal that India badly needs a legislation on ‘honour killing’.
This is enough to show that there is no question of sitting idle finger crossed in
the hope of changing the mindset of people to have a permanent solution. It is time
to attack all the pockets of prejudice such as surnames, Khap Panchayets (kangaroo
courts), public display of contempt towards any caste or accepted profession from
all front- legislation as well as education and surveillance.
Sujit De, Kolkata
The office and press of this Daily will remain closed on account of annual general
meeting of the Arunachal Press Club, Arunachal Pradesh Union of Working Journalists
and Arunachal Electronic Media Association on Jan 9th. Therefore, there will be no
issue on Jan 10th.