There are at least two battles every human being fight throughout life. The first is the battle for survival for which he does job, business etc. The other is the battle for existence, as a national, cultural or religious entity. Almost everyone of us have a sense of belonging to such entities. We raise our voice whenever there seems to be a threat of change to the entity. We don’t want change. But change happens, inevitably. But, people don’t want to digest the fact and fight against it. Root cause of most of the wars is this struggle for existence. Hitler’s message to the Germans that they would be overwhelmed by Jews one day caused one of the most brutal genocides of humanity.
While the battle for survival leads an individual to the path of progress, the other battle hardly results in positive outcome. There are many such existential battles happening across the globe. Half of them are going on in India where there are too many entities. The hundreds, if not thousands, of tribes and communities, and hundreds of religions and sects in the country are battling for space every day. While some are worried about influx of ‘outsiders’ into their domains the others go on demanding reservations for their communities in different sectors. The North-east is one of the most conflict-hit regions where insurgent outfits are born every other day on the pretext of fighting for the ‘rights’ of their own communities. Besides, there are hundreds of so-called civil society groups and student bodies raising the same voice, albeit in a different tone.
The other day Khasi Students’ Union (KSU) of Meghalaya threatened a showdown over voter applications by eight persons from a border village in Pynursla along the Bangladesh border. The eight persons belong to Bengali community allegedly originally hailing from across the border. Expanded to ten households now, the first family was brought there several decades ago as ‘translators’. They were effective in striking deals between the War (Jaintia) tribe and Bangladeshi traders. Now, according to the KSU, they should not be given voting rights because there was a ‘condition’ when their forefathers climbed up the hills to settle there that they would not get any right of an Indian citizen. According to the law, any Indian citizen living in a particular place in the country for more than six months gets the voting right there. There is urgent need for the government to step in and settle the identity of these families and not let the battle for existence aggravate any further.
(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on April 3, 2015)