Meghalaya needs a Socialist alternative

I don’t know about you but I find the rhetoric by our current MLA aspirants to be woefully ambiguous. Currently, the most trendy topics revolve around the crucial issues of unemployment (especially among the youth), the parallel issue of skills development and training, the management of resources to name just a few. A number of candidates have given their action plans on these. Some are worth listening to, while others have been downright ridiculous. What needs to be added to this mix are the unavoidable but very seldom talked about issues of inequality, the ongoing assault on the rights of workers/Labour, the persistence of endemic economic exploitation. These are all tied up together and no candidate with actual sense can disregard them while talking about their economic agenda. But yes, this is Meghalaya – land of the clouds – land of smoke and mirrors, land of clouded judgments.

We can no longer look the other way today on youth unemployment. It is in our faces on a daily basis, it is in the living room watching TV at 1pm or getting out of its bed at 12pm. I am referring of course to your children; my generation, my millennial peers. Many parents openly express how worried they are about their children’s choice of lifestyles and work routine. It is true, it can be worrisome. But whose fault is it? Is it the fault of the children who want to work but have to face thousands of people for one lousy government post? Is it our fault if we cannot help but feel depressed by the lack of opportunities on the economic landscape? Is it our fault when we are paid crap wages while we watch the employers vacationing every few months in Europe? Is it our fault that we are left out in the open market and forced to fend for ourselves against businesses that are over 100 years old? Is it our parents’ fault when they spend their savings on their children because the government refuses to support initiatives that are different and/or new? Whose fault is it?

Before the last election, the Congress Party pledged to create one lakh job opportunities within the state. They lied. But they are in good company; the BJP at the centre also lied, after they also promised something similar at the national level. They’re liars. But that aside even if they did manage to achieve their targets, what sort of jobs are we talking about? Are we talking about being security guards for peanut wages and being ordered around like you’re just a piece of meat? Are we talking about a job where you are readily dispensable if the owner finds someone cheaper and younger? Are we talking about a job with no provident fund, no casual leave, no sick leave, no mercy? If that is the case, then I along with my brethren will have to gracelessly withdraw from such work. Work need not be a bed of roses but right now all that we are getting are the thorns!

Mukul Sangma as CM had been urging young job-seekers not to rely on the government for employment. That they should seek it in the private sector. He is not alone. Many political and administrative staffers have been saying this over many years and across many venues. Ok, fine, let’s do it! Where are all these wonderful private sector jobs? Maybe he meant that we should start our own businesses? Ok, now give us capital, give us subsidies, give us institutional protections so that we might grow our businesses. These are what each and every government delivers on for interested investors and “job-creators” (biggest joke of the century); even for the great, omnipotent and puissant MNCS (I am sticking out my tongue as I type this). If governments can aid and assist huge companies, why is it so difficult to help local people? Most of the government officials have no idea about what young employees need and want. They think that outdated skill development initiatives and training camps are relevant and apt. They’re not. We don’t need more beauticians, mechanics and electricians. That time has passed. We need to think earnestly about vocations for a new economy.

Of course, this current crop of hopeful MLAs will probably mean nothing in the long run. I do not see a single one offering anything new and systemic. Even those within the same party seem to be doing their own thing, not working towards a group goal. They are very vague on everything. Every single party out there today seems filled with men whose real agenda is to get “contracts” (god, I hate this word).

Can anyone tell me what differentiates one political party from the rest in this election season? Except for the Right wing BJP (a big no no) everyone else sort of looks and sounds the same. The reason is because they all believe in the same economic order. They have no wish to change it. This is why if we want true economic justice and harmony to come about Meghalaya must turn towards SOCIALISM. The current economic order is unacceptable. It allows the rich to dominate politics and make off with all the public money. There is too much concentration of wealth in the hands of just a few people. Socialism is an order designed for the many, not the few. A Socialist movement must be born here which is adamant that we do not need to be saved by rich people every five years. We must demand a new politics and especially a new economics; one which can serve us: the young, the poor, the ailing, the small, the people. We don’t need to beg for our salvation.

Globally, young people are waking up to the renewed potentials of Socialism. We must be a part of this remarkable event. It will take time but I am confident that we are gaining momentum as more young people see beyond this facade and join together. Even this time around the fact that many established powers (INC and its candidates) are feeling threatened by new ones is a sign of hope. Of course these new ones are also nothing to talk about to be sure but the fact should not be lost on us: people are fed up and want something better. It should not matter whether it is NPP, PDF, BJP that comes to power. We must continue to exert pressure on them even after the elections and show them that they are our tools, not the other way around. A Socialist movement is not about winning elections. It is about beliefs in a better system that will benefit the majority. We have never had that in Meghalaya so far. Time to start. Long live Socialism !!

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Avner Pariat Written by:

Avner Pariat is a poet and chronicler of Khasi Jaintia Hills.

One Comment

  1. GITASREE DAS
    February 24, 2018
    Reply

    Very apt and timely write up. I am at it in my own small way. And I believe many more are. It takes time, but sure to happen. I am hopeful. Last two years or so, every time I pass by Polo Market and surrounding areas, it gives me a feeling that a volcano is ready to erupt any time. May be it feels the same way near other market areas too. I don’t mean sitting in my comfort zone I am romanticising a Tahrir or Tiananmen square by OTHERS. But it’s also true that even after draining out my last bit of energy for my students, year after year and looking at the plight of my domestic helps such other people, a feel of helplessness grips me. This social order must change, sooner the better.. Definitely for the sake of HAVENOTs and equally for the sake of HAVEs including myself.

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