Shillong, October 14, 2020(MMP): Our ongoing personal experience of meeting a covid19 positive individual few days ago led us to undergo RT-PCR test on 3rd October 2020 and receiving the results on the evening of 4th and 5th October 2020. Unexpectedly while I myself turned out negative a family member became positive and based on the advise and SOP all of us in the house immediately went into home quarantine reorganizing ourselves isolating ourselves in separate rooms. Fortunately all of us are fine and well.
In this self isolation experience in our room on the eleventh day we cannot but appreciate the value of the internet technology which has helped us to be in touch and to communicate with the outside world hold meetings and connecting all visitors to our office via internet including participating in numerous meetings discussions seminars through whatsApp, zoom, skype and webex.
These new changes and adjustments have today become mandatory till such time a vaccine is found for the coronavirus or covid19 pandemic for which news reports indicate the possibilities for the public to expect some relief towards the end of the year 2021.
Under the circumstance we therefore urge all the elected representatives the traditional chiefs from the Kur, Shnong, Raid upto the Dorbar Hima including the respected members of the print and electronic media to come forward to encourage the people to adopt to these new process of communication for conducting meetings and important discussions without having to meet in person as a means to protect others and themselves from covid19. We notice that central and state governments have encouraged the school/college and university authorities to explore conducting their classes via internet protocols, although well intended the reality is that internet services drops and is practically non-existent and extremely slow the moment one travels outside the city of Shillong.
While on this subject we express our sincere appreciation to the covid19 warriors especially the nurses, doctors, the traditional village chiefs, the District Officials and all the individuals involved voluntarily in selflessly serving the people for the last eight months during this continuing pandemic and we would strongly urge that government continue to effectively focus on their welfare so as to ensure they are given proper breaks as per the SOP. The earlier decision to shut down the entry to Meghalaya on certain days of the week was a welcome relief for the covid19 warriors.
The covid19 pandemic has helped raised a number of red flags globally particularly for a developing country like India where it is now realized that budgetary allocations for health care has been very low resulting in very low health care capacities lack of human resources throughout the country including lack of high-speed internet connectivity which could have enabled quality tele-medicine services to the remotest corner of the state and country.
We recall recently during the National lockdown of April 2020 with the help of the Agriculture Department and Hill Farmer Union we managed to assist a farmer from Mawkynrew C&RD Block with 500 packets of packed strawberries to sell almost all of his agricultural produce within just few hours by circulating pictures of the packed strawberries through WhatsApp within the city of shillong. Similar again assistance was jointly provided by our collaboration with Hill Farmer Union and Agriculture Department when help was provided to a farmer in distress from Umraleng area with a huge quantity of fresh carrots. The very relevance of internet can be further gauged from the recent decision of the Central Government allowing use of online verification of driving licenses and vehicle documents which will be shortly applicable in Meghalaya.
It is the need of the hour for Minister’s, MLA’s , MDC’s, MP’s, the Syiem, Lyngdoh, Nokma, Dolloi, including Tradition Chiefs from the Village Dorbar Shnong, the Dorbar Raid upto the Dorbar Hima to fully engage, educate themselves and their people through this medium of communication and interaction through whatsApp, zoom, skype, google meet, or webex which can be easily done through a MOBILE, computer or laptop.
Given the uncertainty due to covide19 there are more changes that are likely to come and are already ongoing, the upcoming Presidential Election in the USA is aggressively happening through the use of internet and social media, similarly in a recent announcement the Election Commission of India has sought the views of the political parties on campaigning strategies primarily to maintain “social distancing” hence the appeal to the traditional heads including the District Councils to be prepared for the possibilities of conducting official meetings of the Dorbar Shnong, Dorbar Raid and Dorbar Hima via internet technology.
Inview of the above we therefore strongly urge the Chief Minister, Deputy Chief Minister Government of Meghalaya, the District Councils, including the Speaker, Meghalaya Assembly to consider constituting a time bound Government Committee or Assembly Committee to go into the various aspect of the changed scenario wherein effective steps need to be taken to further strengthen the internet services throughout the corners of the State of Meghalaya as another means to combat Covid19.
Bah John F Kharshiing,
Chairman, Grand Council of Chiefs of Meghalaya,
Adviser & Spokesperson, Federation of Khasi States,