Entering Ri Bhoi is the first sign for me that I have come reached home. It was not just the low hills and the wide valleys nestled within them that elevated my heart but the sight of the shops littered along the highway and the people sitting inside them. Stopping and having tea and jingbam in these shops is one of my favourite moments of the journey.
Author: Bhogtoram MawrohA geographer by training
Bhogtoram Mawroh ridicules the Right
But the old forces have found not only a way to reconcile with this new system but to co-opt it as an instrument to perpetuate their hegemonic practices.As such, not only are unjust laws made but attempts to bring about empowering proposals are also suppressed. None exemplify this more that the current state of affairs regarding the situation of the hawkers and street vendors in Shillong.
That the governing class of Meghalaya is not disinterested but openly hostile to the interest of the working class is evident when the draft rules and schemes made under the Meghalaya State Vendor (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act are examined. The whole exercise, i.e. drafting of the rules and schemes, can be summed up in these words: shoddy, unintelligent, disingenuous and anti-working class.
Dear Raiot readers, after the year-end monetary megalomania of Modi-bhaiya, Bhogtoram Mawroh brings us some black humour as respite from the RBI madness.
“For three days, hawkers in different parts of Shillong stood with a placard where their name, items of sale and the years spent on their particular spot of business. They stood there waiting for the Government to send officials to conduct the survey and take their names for record. However, the administration sent SOT (Special Operation Team) squads instead, armed with automatic weapons and accompanied by the Police and Municipality to see to it that no hawker could do business on the footpaths”
The street vendors/hawkers are not the problem, they are in fact the solution in many ways than one can possibly imagine.
On the 3rd October, 2015 the people of Saiden decided to establish their own community library. This was followed by the people of Pydengumiong, Mairang (6th August, 2016) and Khliehumstem (5th September, 2016), who also did the same. These libraries are housed in the community halls of the villages and are open to the public. These three events were sponsored and aided by Kali Kit Kot’, a Shillong-based Mobile Bookshop and Children’s Library and their partners, Ri Khasi Book Agency, who through these initiatives, envisioned the creation of a critical citizenry in the state. A critical citizen is an empowered citizen, or so they say.
The future for Britain after Brexit does not look promising with further recession and job losses looking highly likely. All the xenophobia is not going to bring the economic benefits that many desired when they voted to Leave EU. Same fate awaits Meghalaya if it falls in the trap created by the Right. But unless the state abandons looking after the interest of the few, as is evidenced from its support to the coal lobby, the trap is looking like the future that awaits Meghalaya. When the minorities were first chased out of the state in the 1970s-1980s it was the resentment at their economic dominance that was the driving force behind the tensions. The same will be played out in the future as well. A day will come when very few minorities will be left to blame. But by then it will too late. The Right would have won and the state will be in ruins. Then we will be the minorities in other’s home having forced to migrate for earning a livelihood.
There has a spurt of non-governmental organizations in the country. According to one estimate, India has more than 30 lakh NGO’s which is more than the number of schools in the whole country. These bodies are now performing the activities that the Government abdicated. But this is not a healthy scenario because at the end of the day they are not the mandated agencies and it encourages further outsourcing of development initiatives to private interest. This serves to weaken democracy because by virtue of being private initiatives the NGO’s are in principle not accountable to the public.
The last few weeks have seen a spate of reports on the illegal trade of charcoal in West Khasi Hills. After a local daily broke the news, the administration undertook surprise inspection which led to the seizure of huge quantity of charcoal. This drive against charcoal trade has been labeled as “clean up mission” with the administration vowing that they will continue their vigil until the illegal trade is completely stopped. As part of the mission people will be also imparted awareness regarding the damage to environment that charcoal making brings.
he street vendors/hawkers are not the problem, they are in fact the solution in many ways than one can possibly imagine. But right now they are being used as a punching bag by those who have a stake in keeping the real issue hidden and the state economically backward. There are close links between the right of street vendors/hawkers and that of the general public on the city’s spaces while imagining a more humane city and a just development for all. Is it then wrong to stand for the right of the street vendors/hawkers?
On the 3rd October, 2015, the Saiden village in Meghalaya opened its own public library.
To whom will the city of Shillong eventually belong, the tech-savvy and affluent or those who lack either or both?
It is a well known fact that people have been threatened of being kicked out of the balang if they were to take part in festivals of other groups. The word ‘blei thaw’ is quite familiar to us with the degrading connotation it carries. So we already have people in our state who have developed their own version of the ideology of ‘incompatibility of differences’; given the right motivation they could very soon take the next step, i.e., violence (not in thought but in actual deed)