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Adult Education

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Dr. S.L. Marbaniang
Education is highly crucial in uplifting the society in diverse fields – economic, political, social. Therefore, many, if not all, desire to attain at least some level of education in order to be able to cope with their daily life. Nevertheless, due to poverty or unfortunate incidents at home or any reason, whatsoever, some are compelled to withdraw from studies midway. These unlucky ones have to work to feed themselves and their dependents.
Until a few decades back, when law and order was very good, peace and communal harmony was prevailing, those who would like to prosecute or to continue with higher studies would do so at night classes while working in daytime, without any interruption at all. In this manner, many acquired degrees from the universities which further enhance their career. Some appeared in the Indian Civil Services Examination and come out successful.
However, during the last three decades or so, communal troubles flared up and normal life was disrupted. Consequently, classes in the evening shift, both at school and college level, had to be stopped to prevent any mishaps. So the poor and the unfortunate youths had no other openings to improve their learning knowledge or develop their skill.
Government was very much concerned with these categories of the population who had no access to educational learning. Thus, the concept of Adult Education was conceptualized. Therefore, appropriate centres of learning were initiated. For those who are gainfully employed, the Government has adopted latest technique by means of distant education or correspondence courses in various subjects. Under the Scheme, syllabi and curricula have been framed and adopted to suit the need in tune with the changing time.
Adult Education aims at extending educational options to those adults, who have lost the opportunity and have crossed the age of formal education, but now feel a need for learning of any type, including, basic education (literacy), skill development (Vocational Education) and equivalency. With the objective of promoting literacy and adult education, a series of programmes have been introduced since the First Five Year Plan period, the most prominent being the National Literacy Mission (NLM), that was launched in 1988 to impart functional literacy to non-literates in the age group of 15-35 years in a time bound manner. By the end of the 10th Plan period, NLM had made 127.45 million persons literate, of which, 60% were females, 23% belonged to Scheduled Castes (SCs) and 12% to Scheduled Tribes (STs). 597 districts were covered under Total Literacy Campaigns of which 502 reached Post Literacy stage and 328 reached Continuing Education stage. At the end of the programme, 95 districts were under Total Literacy Campaign, 174 under Post-Literacy Programme and 328 Districts under Continuing Education Programme. It led to an increase of 12.63% in literacy - the highest increase in any decade. Female literacy increased by 14.38%, SC literacy by 17.28% and ST literacy by 17.50%.

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Are we really short of heroes?

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Dr. S.L. Marbaniang
When the mighty British power came to these beautiful hills to subdue the indigenous tribes, they were met with fierce resistance. Armed only with simple bows and arrows, the native tribes, who cherished independence more than any other thing, did not easily yield to the superior and more advanced White Men who had powerful arms and weapons.
At that time, the Khasi Jaintias would hardly have been more than a lakh in population. The British were perhaps less than 200 lakhs or two crores. Over and above, they were aided by the Indian sepoys whose territories were already conquered by them. Nonetheless, the Khasi warriors who never knew the words “fear” or “slaves” and who preferred death to dishonour, gave a very tough fight until they were defeated by acts of treachery and betrayal by their own people who were tempted by bribes and easy money.
Moreover, the people of these hills were disunited. The region was composed of different principalities known by different names like Hima or Elaka and ruled by Syiems, Lyngdohs, Sirdars, etc., aided by the Myntris. Whatever form of administration each Elaka might have followed, yet on the whole the general principle was a democratic form of government. There were no organized armies. But in time of need, each able-bodied male was ready to bear arms to fight against the aggressors or to wage war against others. So in the fight against the British supremacy, all these Khasi tiny principalities had their won interest and so did not unitedly join forces under one single command. Thus, in the end, each was swallowed lake a pawn on the cheese board.
Because lack of written language, the exploits of many heroes and heroines who gave their lives to preserve their independence and identity were lost to the people. In their guerilla activities against the world’s rulers, the spirit of our forefathers who waged constantly for many years against the odds remained unknown in the hearts and minds of the later generations. Very soon, even the names and incidents were forgotten.
The oral traditions that was handed down from generation to generation slowly faded away due to the invasion of modern technology. Instead of gathering together every evening round the hearth of fire-place at home and listening to the stories of the older members of society, everything has changed totally. Children and youths, including elders and even aged people, are glued to the glaring light of the colourful televisions which air varied and attractive programmes. There is, therefore, a fear that such habits may destroy the many legends and myths of our people.

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Aquaculture

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Dr. S.L. Marbaniang:

The local indigenous tribal population of the State, which comprises more than 80 percent, are mostly meat-eaters. This is a custom followed and imitated from their parents and grandparents. Up till now, the tribals will consider the menu to be incomplete, if meat is totally absent from their plate.

This practice is inherent from the old days in which forests were dense and various types of animals and cattle abounded. Being expert hunters with their bows and arrows, so meat was available in plenty. Subsequently, when they came into contact with other people who lived at the foothills in the plains areas, they began to adopt the habit of eating fish and other aquatic creatures. Gradually, they developed taste to the marine life.

Fishes are vertebrates like human beings, that is, they too have backbone like us. However, there are other animals, called fish, but in the true sense of the term they are not all fish. Shellfish, starfish and cuttle-fish are not fish since they do not have any backbones. They belong to the family of invertebrates. Whales and porpoises too are not fish either, these are the mammals which suckle the young. They have adapted their life in the sea. Nevertheless, they cannot stay long inside the water. They have to come out up to the surface to breathe air.

Scientists have been able to identify more than 20,000 species of fishes. They are found in the river bodies all over the world, from the coldest region to the hottest places on the planet. Depending on the type of water-bodies that abound, so also the characteristics of the fishes. If the water contains large quantity of salt like in the sea and ocean, then they care classified as salt water fishes. Most of the water-bodies in the hills and mountains are clear and pollution-free, besides being very fresh. So the fishes in these types of streams and rives are mostly fresh water varieties.

In spite of fishes being highly consumed by human beings and other creatures including animals and birds, yet they increase at very high rate. To understand the situation, one has to simply calculate the billions of eggs spawned by a fish during the spawning season. Therefore, the huge numbers of these marine lives cannot be easily comprehended. Clearly then, it is beyond imagination to rightly guess how many billions of fishes live in the seas, lakes, river, pool and streams , including muddy and marsh lands. If it were not so, they would have become extinct long time back, taking consideration the huge amount of fishes being consumed daily.

The fish that is harvested is a rich source of protein in food-consumption. Fish meal and oils of various types are derived from these aquatic animals. Among the countries of the world, Japan consumes a large amount of fish. Besides, their activities are beyond description since the country dies not have much natural resources. Excess fishes caught are treated, canned which are exported outside their country.

The people of Meghalaya, including the majority tribal population are great fish-eaters. The State does not produce enough fish. Consequently, a large quantity of fish is imported from outside - Assam, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh. Most of the fish produced in the State is fresh-water variety. But those brought from outside are salt-water species. Hence the State has to incur heavy expenditure on import.

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Air Connectivity

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Dr. S.L. Marbaniang:

In this age of modernity, quality and competition are very high on the agenda of any nation that desires to go forward. Time and distance are factors that are to be seriously taken into consideration. However, the present modes of travel and transportation have greatly reduced the distance. Consequently, mobility is an unavoidable factor in modern planning.

The commissioning of the airport at Umroi, on the outskirts of Shillong, last Saturday June 25 by the Union Minister of Civil Aviation, is indeed a step in the right direction. The airport was a much a discussed topic during these last few years. Just when everything was ready to be commissioned, somehow or the other hurdles cropped up from unknown quarters. Moreover, the land in Meghalaya belongs to the people. Therefore, acquisition of land was a great obstacle. On the other hand, people cherished their agricultural land very much. So, unless and until proper communication from both sides took place on a right approach, it became an issue for quite a number of years.

Fortunately, all these issues were amicably solved and hence the expanded and widened airport became a reality. However, it is hoped and expected that the airport will be made functionable in the days and years to come, unlike on previous occasions where it was running on an adhoc basis. What the public, at large really desire, is that the Umroi Airport should be a pride to the people and the State and, therefore, not to shut down, either temporarily or for longer periods, as it had happened in the past. Meghalaya has experienced frequent ceremonies of laying of foundation stones for people’s ambitious projects or commissioning of certain half-completed or even completed schemes, and afterwards became defunct.

Many people in the State are indulging in various kinds of trade and profession which involved frequent traveling outside. All along they had to avail of either Railways or Airways from Guwahati. Therefore, they had to travel to Guwahati by road which was covered in about 4-5 hours. or even more, depending on the degree of traffic jam along the Guwahati-Shillong Road. As such, they had to face much unavoidable inconveniences. Until the airport becomes fully functional, such predicament will continue to be faced by people. This is not to mention about the trips undertaken by ministers and bureaucrats of the State on and off to Delhi and other capitals of the different States outside the North East Region.

With each passing years, air transportation has become an increasingly important means of travel and communication between countries and continents. The presence of a good number of Central Government establishments and prestigious Centres of Learning like North eastern Hill University (NEHU), Indian Institute of Management (IIM), NEIGRIHMS, etc. is attracting a good number of visiting professors, scholars and academicians from various parts of the world. Road travel from Guwahati to Shillong, a mere distance of about 100 kilometres has been an eyesore.

Air transport for carrying people and goods has an obvious advantage to speed. In earlier decades and centuries, the trip from Europe to India by means of ship took several days. Many people became sea-sick because of the long journey. Therefore, before embarking upon such kind of journey, people had to think many times. If a single coverage took several days, then going to and returning back meant much more. The appearance of wide-bodied jet covered the same distance, one way, in only eight hours or so. Now more and more planes which are much faster have taken over the old types of planes which are considered to be quite outdated.

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Animal Pets

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Dr. S.L. Marbaniang:

Certain animals and birds possess characteristics which are very much liked and appreciated by humans. The affinity between them has an impact not only on health but even on the psychology of human beings, especially children and young kids. On the other hand, pets of the animal world as well as the bird species have grown so accustomed to the presence of human around them that, at times, they seem to be at loss if they are put back in the wild. If they get any opportunity, they will immediately seek their masters and to be near them.

Meanwhile, animal and bird lovers are so much concerned with the treatment accorded to them by cruel masters. So these have banded themselves into a group of society for Preservation of Cruelty of Animals (SPCA). It’s true that animals and birds are also creatures in this planet and, therefore, they too have a rightful place under the sun. Thus, people who rear them as pets ought to treat them kindly and nicely. If they cannot do so, they are to release them back to the wild. The other alternative is to send them to the Zoological Park or the bird sanctuaries where they will get proper food and treatment.

Pets kept by human beings may be of different species and categories, big or small. Of all the animals kept and reared by people as pets, perhaps dogs and cats are the most favoured and continue to occupy the preferred places around the family hearth. While the cat moves about freely in the house, the dog keeps sentinel out-doors.

There are more than 100 breeds of dogs from which to choose as pets. People who keep dogs to watch over their house and property ought to know well in advance which ones are the best and which will serve them well, depending the type of location and the climatic environment that they live in. City dogs are in general different from country dogs. Fir city life, smaller breeds are better like a terrier, miniature poodle, Pekingese, a local breed or even of mixed breed. Since city life is surrounded by fellow human beings on all sides, ferocious and aggressive dogs are to be avoided, otherwise they will create a lot of nuisance unnecessarily and thereby create bad blood between neighbours.

For those who live in rural areas, choice of dogs also further depends on the type of profession followed by the people. Shepherds may pick a Saint Bernard or a German Shepherd dog. Those who rear cattle may have suitable big dogs to protect them from wild animals. Alsatians are good watchers of the house in case owners have to work for long distances, away from home.

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