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Friday, May 24, 2024

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Friday, May 24, 2024

An uncaring government

Sir,

Dear Elected Representatives: Sorry, you don’t deserve a ‘dear’ since you don’t respect our “teachers”, so hello, elected representatives of the world’s largest democracy. For as long as you serve the citizens as our leaders, you will continue to have beautiful sleep; but once we put an end to it, you will forget your sleep. How gracefully you sleep under a cozy blanket, enveloping yourself in summer and winter. Of course, you have completely ignored the duties you were supposed to do. You have not forgotten them, but you simply chose to ignore them. If a citizen of Meghalaya chooses to dive back into history to count the number of dharnas or protests led by teachers and teachers’ associations in the state, it will take as much time as it took during the counting of votes in the General Assembly Election. I reckon. It is with utter shame that we see our beloved teachers take to the streets and make their way next to the public toilet to demand their rights.

Where is the morality and compassion of the government? What is more humiliating is that this scene has reached and is known by the majority of people all over the world. Isn’t it embarrassing to get a WhatsApp message saying, “Hey, according to news articles I read, teachers are sleeping on the streets! How true is this? Are their salaries really blocked? Meghalaya’s government is always after the teachers. Why? ” (sic). This text was sent by a friend residing in South Korea, and for your information, Mr. Education Minister, A quick fact: In Korea, by showing an identity card, any teacher can enjoy all the facilities that a minister in India can enjoy. As far as we all remember, there has never been a peaceful year for our teachers. As educated citizens of Meghalaya, we are in utter shock to see the government of the day and the then governments showing no empathy towards them, the country’s builders.

If we are to reason it out, we will be left with nothing but a clear sense of rationality. Most of our leaders have not even attained basic education, so how will they even understand “apathy” towards our dear teachers? Most of us are pained to see teachers repeatedly taking to the streets, sleeping on the roadside next to a public toilet, demanding their rights and not being respected by the so-called ‘elected representatives’. If this continues, what is the future of our children, of our state and, most importantly, democracy?

Five months with no salary is not pleasant. We are left with imaginative ideas to think about how these teachers have been running their households. How have they paid their bills? The citizens can only imagine. What if the same is done for representatives? What would happen then? What if they stop receiving their MLA salary for a month? Will they suffer? Not a jot? Why? They will find a way.

What really irks the citizens is that this issue is being misrepresented by political leaders as a political issue, and it is certain that the teachers and their association don’t want that. The ones who are in the opposition now were in the last government, and if they showed no apathy then, why are they extending their fake and hypocritical support to our teachers now? Seeing Mukul Sangma and his team while the ad hoc teachers were protesting was a very cheap shot.

What amazes us, the citizens, the most is to see that Lahkmen Rymbui had warned that the government would be forced to issue an order of “no work, no pay” if they did not return to their schools. Why can’t the government issue the same order to MLAs who barely work for four years and hit the road only in the last and fifth year? Evidently, this is the democratic world we’re living in. Whose order is superior? The government’s or the general public? I reckon the public will also issue an order for you to step down as a minister and an MLA as well. Let’s see who is more powerful: you or us, the people? These people, who are elected for a period of five years, feel like they are Queen Elizabeth. The queen herself, who has ruled for more than 70 years in her extraordinary reign, doesn’t have an ounce of pride and arrogance like our representatives.

Emidao Shylla
Shillong-793002

(This was written before the state government on Thursday evening decided to release four months’ pending salary to the teachers-Ed)

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