News

Modi, Satyarthi on Fortune list of greatest leaders

Shillong Times - Sat, 2015-03-28 10:48

New York: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Nobel laureate and child rights activist Kailash Satyarthi figure among the Fortune magazine’s 2015 list of the world’s 50 greatest leaders who are transforming “business, government and philanthropy”.
While Modi is ranked fifth, Satyarthi comes in at 28th on the list that is topped by Apple CEO Tim Cook.
“Modi rode to victory in (the Indian general) elections last year on a wave of economic dissatisfaction,” the profile on the Indian prime minister reads.
“But while many reformers before him have talked a good game, Modi has actually begun to deliver on his promises – making genuine progress in his efforts to make India more business-friendly and less regulated, addressing violence against women, improving sanitation, and patching up relations with other Asian countries and the US. There is, to be sure, a long way to go,” it stated.
According to the magazine, fully achieving any of Modi’s goals “will require reforming India’s powerful, widely corrupt bureaucracy”.
“But he has put the bureaucrats on notice while taking action where he can – for example, by substantially increasing allowable foreign investment in the insurance industry. And in greatly simplifying the procedure for getting a visa to visit India, he has symbolically lowered the status of bureaucrats and raised that of potential outside investors,” it stated.
The magazine said that Modi seized control of the national agenda and “sent a message that it’s time for all of India – not just its infotech services sector – to join the 21st century”.
“The IMF and other forecasters now believe India will be growing faster than China in a year or two,” it said.
Regarding Satyarthi, who shared the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize with Pakistani girls’ education activist Malala Yousufzai, the magazine said the Indian child rights activist “has led the global fight against child labour for more than three decades”.
“Founded in 1980, his Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save Childhood Movement) has protected the rights of some 83,000 children around the world. Child labour, he says, is as much an economic issue, perpetuating poverty and illiteracy, as it is about human rights. In any case, no one has done as much to prevent it as he has,” Satyarthi’s profile reads.
Among others to figure on the list are European Central Bank president Mario Draghi (second), Chinese President Xi Jinping (third), Pope Francis (fourth), General Motors CEO Mary Barra (9th), Hong Kong student activist and a leader of last year’s Occupy Central movement Joshua Wong (10th), Bill and Melinda Gates (18th), Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg (25th), Uber CEO Travis Kalanick (44th) and Japanese botanist and plant ecology expert Akira Miyawaki (50th). (IANS)

Categories: News

‘Landfills an example of environmental racism’

Shillong Times - Sat, 2015-03-28 10:48

Shillong: A one-day advocacy workshop on Zero Waste was organized by Bethany Society in collaboration with Public Health Engineering Dept (PHED) in the city on Friday. The workshop brought together NGOs and national and international experts who see waste as a looming crisis and a malaise that has gripped a consumptive, selfish society.
Addressing the audience, Shibu Nair, Programme Director, Thanal, who has vast experiences of tackling the issue of waste in the country, said Zero Waste is an international movement and discounted the word ‘sustainable waste management’ which he said is a contradiction in terms since the earth cannot sustain the amount of waste generated by human beings every day.
Nair pointed out that waste is indicative of societal arrogance and excess and said, “We cannot run a wasteful society on a finite planet.”
The concept of Zero Waste requires a mental revolution to change behavioural aspect in India, Nair said adding that in India it started with the liberalization period which introduced a culture of buy and waste and does not care about others. He said it is always the affluent that unthinkingly generate waste while all the land-fills and incinerators are located in areas inhabited by poor, lower caste and voiceless people.
Nair cautioned against burning of waste especially plastics which he says turns waste (some of which could be resources that could be recovered) into complicated toxins which affects the air we breathe. Speaking about land-fills Nair said these are the time bombs for the future generation.
Analysing the world “Throw Away,” Nair asked where is that “Away” we are talking of. There is no ‘Away’ because what is ‘Away’ from one’s sight is dumped somewhere in the earth. Referring to the politics of waste management Nair said, “The rich waste; the poor suffer.”
Zero Waste is built on the ethical principle of resource conservation and social justice. ‘Zero Waste for Zero Warming’ is what works, Nair said adding that landfills are an example of environmental racism.
Ananda from the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) said Climate Change is an economic problem and the result of an extractive economy. “The extraction of resources without thoughts about constraints and only aimed at unfettered growth – an energy intensive economy is what nduces Climate Change.
Warning that waste to energy is the most expensive proposition – 60 times more expensive than producing nuclear energy, Ananda said that burning waste is 2.5 times worse than burning coal.
“We are now looking at a survival plan because many are displaced and dying on account of Climate Change. Those on the frontline of the crises should be in the forefront of change. We cannot wait for Governments or scientists to bring change. It has to be the farmers, the poor, the rag pickers who have to lead the change,” Ananda stated.
Earlier, Carmo Noronha, Director Bethany Society, gave the welcome address and I. Huroo of PHED explained the purpose of the National Water Supply Mission of the Government of India. Toki Blah, President ICARE, also spoke on the occasion.

Categories: News

Inaction of DTOs deprives State exchequer of Rs 23 lakh

Shillong Times - Sat, 2015-03-28 10:47

SHILLONG:  Inaction on the part of DTOs and State Transport Authority led to non-realisation of penalty amounting to Rs 23 lakh which was supposed to be levied against 1150 vehicle owners who had not renewed their permits after expiry of validity period.
This was revealed by the CAG report for the year ended March 31, 2014.
Under section 81 (1) and (2) of the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988, the validity of a commercial permit to passenger vehicles is for five years and may be renewed on an application made not less than 15 days before the expiry of the permit. Plying of vehicles without a valid permit attracts provision of Section 19A of the MV Act, under which a minimum penalty of Rs 2000 shall be levied.
As per the CAG report, it was noticed that 1150 vehicles-422 under DTO, Nongpoh, 240 under DTO, Tura, 87 under DTO, Baghmara, 46 under DTO, Nongstoin and 355 under STA, Meghalaya– did not renew their permits for various periods between January 2006 and March 2014 and for non-renewal of permits after expiry of validity period, penalty of Rs 23 lakh was leviable under the provisions of Section 192 A but it was not levied.
When the matter was pointed out DTO Nongpoh, while accepting the observation, stated that demand notes would be issued against the defaulters. However, a report on action taken and recovery effected was awaited as on August 2014.
In respect of others, the cases were reported to the Transport department between October 2013 and May 2014 and the reply was awaited.

Categories: News

MGNREGA: NGH VECs demand abolition of middlemen

Shillong Times - Sat, 2015-03-28 10:47

SHILLONG: In an effort to ensure transparency and accountability in the functioning of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNRE-GA), functionaries from 21 Village Employment Councils (VECs) in North Garo Hills district have demanded the abolition of middlemen deeming it as a violation of the basic guidelines of the MNREGA.
In a joint representation submitted to the BDO of Resubelpara on Friday, functionaries from 21 VECs said that the resolution against the alleged anomaly that crept in the implementation of the schemes under MNREGA was also taken up at a circle meeting of the VECs held recently.
The meeting also expressed concern over the engagement of one Topstar N Marak of Omorpur village as the sole supplier of material components sanctioned under MNREGA.
In a letter, forum chairman, Elsilliah Sangma said that as the MNREGA is a right-based law governed by the principles of transparency, accountability and grass-root democracy, engaging a middleman in the guise of a supplier not only grossly violates its basic guidelines but could also erode the role, power and function of the duly constituted VECs thereby virtually reducing it to a mere skeletal entity, since the entire fund earmarked for material components will be channelized through the supplier driven by profit motives.
The circle meeting also unanimously resolved that the 21 VECs should respectively assume full responsibility of the material component of the Scheme as was done earlier. It also took view of the dismal scenario of the VECs falling far below the targeted 100 man-days of guaranteed employment, citing lethargy and red-tapism as major causes for the same.

Categories: News

3 – Day mourning in state to mark PR Kyndiah’s demise

Meghalaya Times - Sat, 2015-03-28 05:40

Staff Reporter
SHILLONG, March 27: A three-day mourning in Meghalaya was declared here as a mark of respect (L) PR Kyndiah, a former member of parliament (MP) who passed away on March 26.
In a statement issued here on Friday, Under Secretary to the Government of Meghalaya, General Administration (A) Department said, “As a mark of respect to (L) PR Kyndiah, Ex. M P, the State government has declared three days of state mourning from March 27 to 29.”
During the period of State Mourning there will be no Official Entertainment and the National Flag will be flown at Half Mast at all Government Establishments throughout the State.

Categories: News

Prabhu opens Lumding-Silchar rail line in Assam

Meghalaya Times - Sat, 2015-03-28 05:39

New Delhi, March 27 (IANS) Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu on Friday inaugurated the landmark Lumding-Silchar broad gauge rail line by flagging off a goods train from here over video-conference, bringing Assam's underdeveloped Barak Valley on the broad guage map.
Passenger train services on this route will start soon.
The 210-km line is expected to change the landscape of the Barak Valley. It will later be extended to Tripura.
The line, considered a lifeline for the entire region, is crucial for the supply of foodgrains, fertilizers, petroleum products and other essentials from the rest of India.

Categories: News

Immigration official suspended for sexually harassing passenger

Meghalaya Times - Sat, 2015-03-28 05:38

New Delhi, March 27 (IANS): An immigration officer has been suspended for alleged verbal sexual harassment of a woman passenger who took a flight to Hong Kong on March 18 from Delhi, a home ministry official said on Friday.
"The immigration officer has been suspended and a departmental inquiry has been initiated," the official said on the condition of anonymity.
Speaking to Times Now, the woman, a homemaker whose identity was not revealed, claimed that immigration officer Vinod Kumar harassed her by asking "several uncomfortable personal questions".

Categories: News

Noted Assamese actor Indra Baniya no more

Shillong Times - Fri, 2015-03-27 18:38

Guwahati: Renowned film actor from Assam, Indra Baniya who was only the fifth Indian and first Assamese to bag the prestigious Silver Leopard Award at the Lucerne International Film Festival, Switzerland died here last night at a private hospital after prolonged illness. He was 76.
Baniya who was also popular drama artiste of All India Radio, acted in over 40 Assamese films. He made his foray into filmdom in 1975 through ‘Khoj’, an Assamese film directed by Pulok Gogoi.
He was decorated with the prestigious Silver Leopard Award at the Lucerne International Film Festival an 1987 for his role in Jahnu Baruah directed Haladhiya Charaye Baodhan Khai. Some of his most popular radio plays included Govardhan Charit and Moina Sambad.
Some of the prominent films in which Boniya acted were Srimati Mohimamoyee, Sendur, Bohagar Dupariya, Haladhiya Charaye Baodhan Khai, Haladhar, Joubane Amoni Kare and Koina Mor Dhuniya.
His last feature film was Ekhon Nedehka Nadir Sipare.
He was instrumental in setting up the Assam Acting Academy in 1992.
In the year 2010, he was decorated with prestigious Natasurya Phani Sarma Award by the Government of Assam.

Categories: News

North East Briefcase

Shillong Times - Fri, 2015-03-27 18:34

Arunachal Guv for strengthening Sino-India ties through cooperation
Itanagar: Arunachal Pradesh Governor Lt Gen (Retd) Nirbhay Sharma on Thursday advocated for strengthening India-China relation through cooperation, not onfrontation. Addressing a two-day seminar on ‘Voices from Arunachal: India-China Border Problems and related Arunachal Folklore’ at the Rajiv Gandhi University here, Sharma said the benefits of cooperation were more. “India and China’s dreams of being strong, developed and prosperous nations are interconnected and mutually compatible,” he said. The Governor commended the collaborative initiative to understand the local perspective at the grassroots of the border state by documenting the folklores and oral history. “We must listen to the issues that matter to the people of the state and appreciate them,” he said. Sharma pointed out the economic and vital strategic significance of Arunachal Pradesh and the North East region and its potential in terms of its proximity to eight Asian countries as gateway to the South East and East Asia. Highlighting on the demographic connectivity, he said Arunachal Pradesh has ancient linkages with places like Tibet and Myanmar through human migration over the ages. Referring to reopening of the old Silk Route and Stilwell Road, he said,”The Centre is working on strengthening bilateral relation on the basis of the Prime Minister’s vision of “Inch Towards Miles”. The seminar was organised by Research Centre for Eastern and North Eastern Regional Studies, Kolkata and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Institute for Asian Studies, Kolkata in collaboration with Rajiv Gandhi University. (PTI)
Gogoi requests Modi not to shift NE Centre of Samgeet Natak Academy
Guwahati: Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi not to shift the North East Centre of Sangeet Natak Akademi from Guwahati to Agartala, the Assembly was informed on THursday . In a written reply to a query by Congress MLA Robin Bordoloi, Cultural Affairs Minister Bismita Gogoi said there was a move to shift the Centre from Guwahati to Agartala. She said the Assam Government is trying its best to convince Sangeet Natak Akademi (SNA) for not shifting the cultural unit. Gogoi said she has already taken up the matter with Union Culture Minister. “The Chief Minister also requested Prime Minister of India to keep the Centre in Guwahati,” she added. Gogoi informed the House that a meeting took place last week between her and SNA Secretary. “It was decided in the meeting to provide required space as an interim arrangement at Srimanta Sankardeva Kalakshetra society. “Further, the state government has also agreed to arrange suitable plot of land for establishment of permanent North East Centre of Sangeet Natak Akademi as well as Sattriya Kendra,” the Minister said. PTI
Four Bangladesh detective deptt officers enter India by mistake
Agartala: In a case of mistaken identity four officers of Bangladesh’s detective department entered the Indian territory at Rahimpur in Sipahijala district illegally and were pushed back by the BSF on Wednesday night, the police today said. Senior police officers said when the officers entered the Indian side from Brahmanpara of Comilla district of the neighbouring country last evening, they were beaten up by villagers who locked them up in a room and later handed them over to the BSF. They were admitted to Boxanagar hospital in the evening and were given first aid and finally handed over to the BGB through Akhaura checkpost here at about 11 PM yesterday, the officers said. The Police said the four officers told the BSF that they were conducting a raid against smugglers in Bangladesh and had entered India by mistake. (PTI)
Itanagar bandh passes off peacefully
Itanagar: Normal life was affected in Arunachal Pradesh capital on Thursday following a dawn to dusk bandh called by the All Nyishi Students’ Union (ANSU) opposing installation of pre-paid electric meters (PPEMs). Business establishments, educational institutions, banks and all central government offices remained closed during the bandh, while attendances in state government offices were reported to be thin. All public and private vehicles remained off the roads and only a few state buses were seen plying with escorts. The bandh remained relatively peaceful with no untoward incidents, capital SP Seiju P Kuruvilla said. The state government had declared the bandh illegal under the Arunachal Pradesh Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 2014 (APUAPA). Chief Secretary Ramesh Negi in an order had directed all government officials to attend office and asked all heads of departments to ensure cent per cent attendance. (PTI)

Categories: News

An Afghan story

Shillong Times - Fri, 2015-03-27 18:33

Thousands of people in Kabul protested against the mob killing of 27 year old Farkhunda, a religious scholar with a psychological disability who was accused of burning a copy of the Quran. Women joined the funeral march. It shows the gradual emancipation of women in a country afflicted by violence against women. Afghanistan needs speedy change and President Ashraf Ghani is emphasizing the need for women empowerment. 20% of his cabinet ministers are women. His government has evidently taken a long step forward since the Presidency of Hamid Karzai during which rights of women were curtailed. The Taliban ruled the country for over half a decade and militants are preparing for an offensive as soon as the winter ends. It is necessary to have societal change at the base before Afghan women can be totally emancipated.
It is encouraging that President Barack Obama has decided to keep 9,800 soldiers in Afghanistan till the end of the year. The militants will have to continue fighting US military power for a number of months. It may be hoped that the Afghan army will be able to hold its own after withdrawal of US troops in early 2017. The US move shows Washington’s confidence in Ashraf Ghani’s ability. It will also prevent new threats like the IS from gaining a foothold in the territory. India will gain as it will help counter-insurgency operations. Large US bases will fend off militant attack. It will help India maintain a presence in Afghanistan and be clued up on operations of anti-India groups in Pakistan territory. But the Afghan security forces will have to strengthen their striking power so that democracy in the country can survive without US support.

Categories: News

Government that walks on tenterhooks

Shillong Times - Fri, 2015-03-27 18:32

By Patricia Mukhim

A letter written by a former diplomat that appeared in this paper accuses the police and district administration of walking on egg shells as far as tackling pressure groups or the so-called NGOs is concerned.  This week, on two occasions the members of the Khasi Students’ Union (KSU) a euphemism for political activists who have not seen the inside of a school or college in years, obstructed public servants from performing their constitutional duties, which is to enrol the names of potential voters who have reached the age of 18 years, or who have been inadvertently left out of the enrolment process. The Election Commission of India is a constitutional body and it empowers the Election Department of the State to carry out this duty without fear or favour. The onus for carrying out this work in every district is that of the Deputy Commissioners and their officers. To obstruct a public servant from discharging his/her duties is a violation of Section 186 of the Indian Penal Code. Anyone who is a violator of the law has to be booked.  That is the basic tenet of governance. A group that decides to take the law into their hands cannot be cajoled to get into a bus to be taken to the Sadar Police Station. Hence it looked foolish that while the KSU activists were haranguing with the district officials the City Superintendent of Police just looked on as if his hands were tied.
Meghalaya has suffered on account of the instability of the political system.  We have had short term chief ministers whose only objective is to be “Chief Minister” and nothing else. Except for BB Lyngdoh and PA Sangma none of the others had a clue about what it was to be chief minister. They had no leadership qualities. When Dr Mukul Sangma became chief minister there was much hope that he would provide some semblance of governance which would ultimately translate into good governance. Dr Sangma is also endowed with a native intelligence to understand things very quickly, much like a precocious child who manages to outsmart all his peers in the class and has to be given more tasks to prevent him/her from creating mischief. Perhaps this is the reason for Dr Mukul Sangma’s arrogance and his proclivity to use a sledgehammer to slam the media who he sees as a gadfly aligning with his beta-noire the GNLA. This of course is the result of an over-imaginative mind. But given all these eccentricities, as a citizen of Meghalaya (not as a gadfly or better still an ant in the pants),  I also see no other political leader at this point of time who can lead Meghalaya into an era of progress and bring some order to offset the chaos created by decades of bad governance or the absence of it.
Administrators who have had the hard task of being the Deputy Commissioners of Shillong City from the redoubtable Mr VS Jafa to Prasant Naik, DP Wahlang, B Dhar and Pankaj Jain were men of character who were tough, no-nonsense officers. They had a sense of social justice but also took a hard view of those who tried to create law and order problems. Some senior bureaucrats, however, confess that in Meghalaya the general practice is to tend towards leniency when dealing with pressure groups like the KSU because they have the propensity to bring life to a grinding halt and to embarrass the Government.  And since the administrators were sent that message from the political class, that same message also filtered down to the police. The unwritten code of conduct or should we call it the “not so standard operating procedure” of the police therefore is to adopt that policy of least resistance.  Hence if somebody is roasted alive in broad daylight, the police will carefully round up a few guys to keep public fury under the lid. Since public memory is horribly short (a good example is the Dimapur lynching incident which is now in the back-burner), the guys who have been arrested for allegedly lighting the flames on a live human being are then quietly let off for want of evidence.  And no one is any the wiser. There are no human rights groups to stand in solidarity with the aggrieved families. Human rights groups only appear, as if on cue, when  the police pull the trigger on someone they have reason to believe is a militant or has links with a militant outfit. Then we have an uproar called a “fake encounter” allegation from these rights groups.
Policing in Meghalaya has never been known to be exemplary. One is unsure if it is because of poor leadership or because they are hamstrung by political pressure to release all the ‘trouble makers’  in their custody. And when I say trouble makers I am not referring to those who are arrested on charges of theft, rape, murder and other heinous crimes who in any case serve their sentences. Trouble makers, to my mind, are people who try to re-engineer society on the basis of some abstract idea of what that society should be but use force to achieve their ends. They invariably end up causing all sorts of fresh difficulties because the social organism is more complicated than we can possibly know.  There is disequilibrium in a society where people do not think through their actions and where they see everything in black and white. Life has shades of grey which more often than not is the colour that administrators engage with on a daily basis and which makes their lives difficult. If everything was black or white things would be easier to handle. Then we have further pandemonium when gossip and rumour spreads and soon takes the form of truth. That’s even more difficult to tackle.
There is a problem when illegal immigrants transform themselves into citizens and voters. The Meghalaya political space unfortunately is a haven for all those who have blotted their copybooks with corruption. It is said that those without sin only have the right to cast the first stone at the sinner. The reason why pressure groups are not taken seriously is because their leaders do not live exemplary lives. Try taking stock of all the leaders of the KSU from the 1980s until today. How are they earning their livelihoods? Is a Government contract work a fitting employment for someone who wants to take on the Government? Some of the KSU presidents have joined politics and fought elections. Have they made significant differences to society? But this is not just about the KSU. It is about all pressure groups in Meghalaya. They have not acquitted themselves honourably. The manner in which they generate money to run their organisations is highly suspect. Unlike other registered organisations they don’t even get their books of accounts audited. Now if we ourselves refuse to be held accountable, how can we hold the Government accountable? It is a pity, however, that the elders of this society believe that these pressure groups are the only forces that can keep the Government in check. In other words we believe in using the corrupt to check the corrupt!
This has been the bane of Meghalaya. The elders push their children to fight battles they are not equipped to and stand back and clap. Fighting corruption is a tough ask. One needs to be able to answer how one earns his/her livelihood without blinking. And if we are to suspect the entire administration of conniving to enrol dubious voters then are we also suggesting that the whole government be dismantled to make way for the Dorbar Shnong to arbitrarily take decisions that are not governed by any rule book? This Government, despite all its faults and failings has been given the mandate to govern.  We may rave and rant at its acts of omission and commission but it is backed by the state machinery and it cannot sway to the tune of non-state actors.
The new DGP who has just taken over needs to do a reality check! People are already so disillusioned with the system. Please don’t push them to the edge of despair for then even decent people will turn into mobs.

Categories: News

Save HMT not Air India

Shillong Times - Fri, 2015-03-27 18:32

By Shivaji Sarkar

Signs of the Government settling down to business are emerging. Hiving off nine loss-making public sector units is apparently a good decision. However, there is a surprise that the largest loss-maker Air India (A-I) is not in the list. At the same time, it is a nostalgic loss to see the HMT Watches – the timekeeper of the nation, which brought pride to “made in India” is also slated for closure.
While questioning the decision on the entire issue, we do need think hard and be sensitive to our heritage. Everything old is not gold, but it needn’t be junked unceremoniously. At least, the decision on HMT Watches calls for a review. It is a remembrance of an era that brought pride to the nation.
The country and Prime Minister Narendra Modi are trying to re-establish after decades the same ethos with “make in India” campaign. The HMT Watches started functioning way back in 1961 with the collaboration of Citizen Watch Company of Japan. Wasn’t that then the beginning of “make in India”? In fact, HMT Watches needs not only to be preserved but also be allowed to be kept alive and made functional, particularly its manufacturing hand-wound and automatic watches, now a craze in the US and the West.
The question would be wouldn’t the effort then involve costs-in monetary terms? It may or may not but preserving such heritage units gives impetus to the legacy of the country. Even in terms of a sum, it would not cost more than Rs 700 crore, for one time, against pumping in about Rs 5000 crore a year for the endless sinking pit of Air India.
Unmistakably, we need to learn from Europe. The continent has preserved many factories that were the harbingers of industrial revolution, more than three centuries ago. These are now all part of industrial archaeology. In comparison, cities such as Kanpur and Ahmedabad have many palatial textile units, which can be part of that industrial heritage.
A case which would be worth drawing the Government’s attention to is the oldest salt farm in Ston in Croatia, functioning since early 14th century. It still harvests sea salt and sells it as a souvenir. While undoubtedly it is expensive to produce salt in the traditional way, the society has chosen to maintain it for its pride. In cooperation with the organization “Eco heritage task force” Ston invites young people from the US, South America, the Netherlands and other regions to the farm. During the “Gathering Salt Summer Camp” they learn about the oldest salt farm in Europe and participate in additional educational programmes, including learning Croatian. It is the largest salt works in the Mediterranean and processing is the same way. The admission ticket to it is a mere $ 1.76.
Isn’t the concept wonderful? Why then, cannot this ancient civilization of India also take pride in the recent past? It must. Governments fail, but let us not forget that these are in continuity and many do a lot. The HMT, synonymous with accurate time in India, had given the Swiss a run for their money. It changed the watch market and made Asia proud. Possibly few know that Mrs Indira Gandhi, then as Congress leader and daughter of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was its brand ambassador, shortly before the 1962 General elections.
In all this debate, it is indeed a surprise that the Government decides to continue with the white elephant, sorry “Maharaja” that is draining the country. It requires Rs 30,000 crore of Government money to keep it flying. It would continue to make losses for the next decade. On the contrary, the HMT Watches had a loss of mere Rs 694.52 in 2012, even with all accumulation it is about Rs 700 crore even today.
It now plans to sell about 70 acres of land in north Bangalore for as much as Rs. 700 crore. HMT and its units hold 200 acres in Bangalore and around 1,500 acres across Hyderabad, Pinjore in Haryana and Kalamassery in Kerala. In reality, the continuation of HMT would not cost the Government a bit.
If it functions once the Government decides to pay for its losses and allows it to operate on a token basis, its hand-wound watches can fetch a minimum price of Rs 1 lakh in posh markets in India and the West. It can even make the factory a tourist destination and charge gate money. The losses in all probability would be wiped off and the modern living industrial monument would pay homage to the efforts of a nascent nation.
According to Minister of State for PSUs GM Siddheshwar,  the seven PSUs slated for closure have total losses of about Rs 3139 crore. In addition, Hindustan Photofilms has a loss of Rs 1561 crore and Hindustan Cables Rs 885 crore. The total comes up to Rs 5385 crore.
The companies to be revived as per BIFR proposals include Scooters India, Tyre Corporation and Hindustan Antibiotics. These would be revived as a joint venture with the private sector or through disinvestments. This raises yet another question as to whether we should really not call the shots for Air India – a shame rather than the pride of this country. Those responsible for this   poor state unfortunately continue to still drain the Government. Are we rewarding people for their inefficiency?
Possibly, the others slated for closure such as HMT Bearings, Tungabhadra Steel Products, Hindustan Photofilm, Bharat Opthalmic and Bharat Yantra Nigam, Hindustan Cables and Spices Trading Corporation were areas where normally the Government should not have gone into in the first place. Despite that their total losses are considered dirt in comparison to Air India.
Indeed, companies have their productive life. Closing them down is sensible at times. The yardstick, however, has to be the same for all big or small. It is not prudent to inject life-saving drugs to a dying Air India. Let it die. Institutions such as HMT Watches have a different value. Let us save it and kill Air India. It would be the most sensible decision. —INFA

Categories: News

Unfair comments from Sports Minister

Shillong Times - Fri, 2015-03-27 18:31

Editor,
I was surprised and pained to read the statement of the Sports Minister as reported on page 3 of your paper dated 26th March, 2015.  While it may be true that the State Resource Group was formed in May, 2014, the notification of the same is yet to officially reach me. In fact, as the so called Chairman of the SRG, I was not even aware of the meetings held in June and July, 2014, much less attend either meeting.
I came to know about the SRG unofficially in December, 2014, when the Secretary of the SRG, Mr Clive Dunai, and I happened to attend the Christmas celebrations at Nongrim Hills. I was shocked when he verbally informed me about the existence of such a body. So, if the meetings in June and July 2014, were not convened by me as the Chairman, then who called for the meetings?
However, because I believed that the Sports Policy was important, I followed up the matter with Mr Dunai, based on the copy of the notification marked to him. After he informed me that a draft Sports Policy had previously been sent to the Government, I directed him to write to the Planning Department to know the views and comments of the different Departments so that we could take those views into account when I convened the next meeting of the SRG. Accordingly, a letter seeking the views was sent in January 2015. When no reply was received, I asked the Secretary to send another letter in February, 2015. I regret that I cannot cite the exact dates of the letters since Mr Dunai is presently in Pune. Suffice it to say that we still have not received any replies from the Government on the defects of the previous draft Sports Policy.
From my explanation above, it appears that the Government of Meghalaya, through the Sports Minister, has formed the State Resource Group without any intention to let it function. The absence of a Sports Policy has adversely affected the sports scenario in the State. An opaque cloud hides the functioning of the Sports Department, and neither the different Associations nor the sportspersons of the State know what are their entitlements. And, it appears this Government is not interested in bringing about clarity and transparency. I fear that if the present attitude persists, even the IIM will find it difficult to do it’s job, and may become just another scapegoat to shoulder the blame.
I sincerely hope this clarification will clear all doubts, since the Meghalaya State Olympic Association, and its constituent associations, are eager for a Sports Policy which will give direction and establish transparency in our State.
Yours etc.,
R.G. Lyngdoh,
Working President,
MSOA, Shillong.

What ails  Garo Hills

Editor,
As a frequent visitor to Garo Hills I find that the administration has become redundant. Ampati has become chaotic with a long bandh and in Tura the police are going round to check office attendance. It reminds one of a police state. There is no administration in large swathes of rural Garo Hills, so much so that people have lost faith in the Government. Let us look at other administrative lapses. Onion costs Rs.10 more than Shillong, same with potatoes and other food items. Cement costs Rs 100 more in Tura than in Shillong and even then one is not sure if one is being sold spurious cement. Costing and quality of building materials are at odds but no one cares. Power is erratic and many a time Garo Hills is in darkness. Water supply is always a problem during summer because the pumps have been changed only on paper. Of course the administration will go on hyper drive inspecting water bodies rather than setting their house in order. To fight militancy one must get one’s act together first. Administration must be at its peak and governance must be excellent. There is no room for corruption and nepotism.
Yours etc.,
A John,
Via email

Categories: News

PR Kyndiah passes away at 87

Shillong Times - Fri, 2015-03-27 18:27

SHILLONG: Former Union Minister and veteran Congress leader Paty Ripple Kyndiah (87) passed away following a cardiac arrest in a city hospital on Thursday night .
Family sources said that he was admitted at Bethany Hospital at around 8.30 pm on Thursday after he complained of uneasiness and he breathed his last at around 11-40 pm.
Kyndiah is survived by two daughters, three sons and a host of grandchildren.
Kyndiah, who retired from active politics in 2009 prior to the Lok Sabha polls, had served as the Union Tribal Affairs Minister and DoNER Minister in 2004 when Congress-led UPA was in power.
Born on May 7, 1928,  Kyndiah, a Hill State Movement leader, was a prominent figure in Meghalaya politics as from 1970 to 1993, he was a member of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly. While from 1975 to 1988, Kyndiah served as cabinet minister in State, as Leader of Opposition, Acting Chief Minister and Speaker of the Assembly.
Kyndiah had also served as Governor of Mizoram from 1993 to 1998 and subsequently he was elected to Lok Sabha three times (1998, 1999 and 2004) from Shillong seat.
Kyndiah had a long and successful political career. With Rev. J.J.M. Nichols Roy as President, he was Joint Secretary of the Khasi-Jaintia National Conference, a powerful political party in the Khasi and Jaintia Hills. In 1964 he joined the All Party Hill Leaders Conference and also became its General Secretary. He held the post of Chairman of the Shillong Municipal Board.  When Meghalaya was first formed as an autonomous State in 1970,  Kyndiah was elected a member of its Provisional Assembly.
A pioneer in cooperatives and banking in the region, Kyndiah was Vice-Chairman, Assam Cooperative Apex Bank, founded the Shillong Cooperative Urban Bank and was the Founder Chairman of the Meghalaya Cooperative Apex Bank. He was the Red Cross chief of Assam and later Meghalaya for several years.
Kyndiah was one of the founders and President of Sein Jaintia, an influential social and cultural organisation, and has been an active member of the Assam Sangeet Natak Akademi. He was also the President of Gandhi Study Centre, Shillong and has been the Chief Patron of the Meghalaya Body-building Association.
Kyndiah  also authored popular books, Jawaharlal Nehru: The Thinking Dynamo, Meghalaya: Yesterday and Today, Mizo Freedom Fighters, Pillars of Mizo Society and others.

Categories: News

GNLA joint publicity secy contradicts police arrest claim

Shillong Times - Fri, 2015-03-27 18:27

SHILLONG: Meghalaya police arrested a person called Garo Mandei Ch Marak stating that he was the joint publicity secretary of GNLA, but after the news spread, the ‘original’ joint publicity secretary of the outfit Garo Mandei Ch Marak issued a statement to the media claiming that he was very much with the organization.
In a statement issued to the media on Thursday,  GaroMandei Ch Marak said that he would never fall in police’s dragnet “as there are thousands of holes in their net”.
However, police claimed that they have arrested Marak also known as as Anurak S. Sangma (21)  at Anogre, West Garo Hills while he was travelling along with his girlfriend from Tura to Kharkutta. Police took custody of Marak. The girl was released on bail.
Marak, a resident of Megongre near Rongram is a BA first year student, according to police. A senior police official said that Marak was the one who used to send press notes besides being active in social media.
However, in the statement issued to the media, Marak said “How many Garo Mandei Ch Maraks are there in GNLA? Who is this another being arrested as Garo Mandei? GNLA has only one Garo Mandei, one who updates status at this very moment, Anybody can inbox and confirm if necessary, even including police”,
According to Marak, the public should not be carried away with this. “It is fabricated  by police department for reasons best known to them. Why unnecessary arrest, confinement, torture in the name of Garo Mandei?, he asked
The GNLA leader also asked the pressure groups to verify and confirm who was the arrested student.
The GNLA leader further alleged that police implicating people falsely have resulted in many youths and citizens of Garo Hills with lifelong burden of legal cases.

Categories: News

Govt to distribute food items to Ampati villagers

Shillong Times - Fri, 2015-03-27 18:26

Shillong: To help daily wage earners who are the worst sufferers of the GNLA-sponsored indefinite bandh in Ampati, the State Government has directed the district administration of South West Garo HIlls to distribute rice, dal, mustard oil and salt among 50,000 daily wage earners who have had to remain out of work on account of the indefinite bandh.
As per the calamity relief norms the above items are being distributed based on reports received from the Block Development Officers.
“Majority of the households were distributed the rations in their villages under security as we received reports that most of the villagers are afraid to come out and are losing their livelihoods,” said Ram Singh, Deputy Commissioner of South West Garo HIlls.
GNLA shutdown: Meanwhile, the GNLA-called shutdown of all government offices in entire Garo Hills in protest against the failure of the state Government to bring to justice all those involved in the alleged fake encounter at Oragitok recently brought office functioning to a standstill.
In South Garo Hills the attendance percentage in the Deputy Commissioner’s Office was said to be a mere 25 percent while East Garo Hills sank even lower with just 20 percent attendance according to official sources from the two districts.
In North Garo Hills officials claimed that attendance in the DC’s Office was 50 percent, however, other sources when contacted said that the figure was much lower. Similarly, in West Garo Hills officials put the figure at 50 percent even as employees of the office said that attendance was low.

Categories: News

GNLA Publicity Secy, 3 others arrested

Meghalaya Times - Fri, 2015-03-27 05:50

Staff Reporter
TURA, March 26: Meghalaya Police on Thursday claimed to have arrested the Joint Publicity Secretary of Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) from near the village of Anogre, 48 kms from the district headquarter of West Garo Hills (WGH), Tura. Another three alleged cadres of the outfit were also arrested from near the village of Jengjal, also in West Garo Hills.
The elusive Joint Publicity Secretary who works under the pseudonym Garo Mandei Ch Marak has been identified as 21 – year old Anurag S Sangma and is a resident Megongre village, near Rongram on the outskirts Tura and is a degree student of a college.
“Based on source inputs we intercepted a Winger while he was travelling from Tura to Kharkutta in North Garo Hills”, said Mukesh Singh, Superintendent of Police of West Garo Hills.

Categories: News

Germanwings co-pilot wilfully crashed jetliner: French prosecutor

Meghalaya Times - Fri, 2015-03-27 05:50

Paris, March 26 (IANS): In a shocking revelation, the French prosecutor said on Thursday that the co-pilot of the Germanwings A320 flight deliberately crashed the airliner, killing all 144 passengers and six crew members on board.
The action of the first officer, Andreas G. Lubitz, of the crashed Germanwings A320 in the French Alps "can be analysed as his intention to destroy the aircraft", said Brice Robin at a press conference on Thursday in Marseille.
The prosecutor told media that they had come to this conclusion after listening to the cockpit voice recorder recovered from the crash site, the Spanish news agency EFE said.
Robin said the 28-year-old co-pilot appears to have deliberately refused to open the door for the captain who had left the cockpit briefly after flight 4U 9525 took off from Barcelona in Spain headed for Dusseldorf in Germany.

Categories: News

Infant dies after administration of DPT injection

Meghalaya Times - Fri, 2015-03-27 05:49

Staff Reporter
SHILLONG, March 26: A two and a half months old baby died after allegedly being administered a regular vaccination injection at a CHC even as the Health department has instituted an investigation to ascertain the facts into the incident.
The baby was the second child of Baiamonlang Laloo and Wanlambor Kharumnuid, residents of Saitsohpen village under Sohra Sub-division in East Khasi Hills District.
Based on the FIR filed by the family members, a post mortem examination was conducted on the deceased baby at the Shillong Civil Hospital here on Thursday.

Categories: News

GNLA bandh: Govt offices register low turnout

Meghalaya Times - Fri, 2015-03-27 05:49

Staff Reporter
TURA, March 26: The shutdown call by Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) of all government offices ensured most government offices remained in the state of paralysis on Thursday. All five districts of Garo Hills registered very low attendance with Ampati still unable to remove the chokehold that the bandh call has on it.
GNLA called for the two – day (March 26 – 27) shutdown of government offices in Garo Hills to protest against the failure of the state Government to bring to justice all those involved in the alleged fake encounter at Oragitok recently.
Barring the offices of the Superintendent of Police (SP) and Deputy Commissioner (DC), most offices remained closed or had very little attendance, with office goers remaining indoors.

Categories: News
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