Of U Tirot Sing & Modern Politics: Are mere annual celebration enough to keep his legacy alive?


SHILLONG, Jul 17: Valour that no big a force could weaken, patriotism that no amount of gold could buy and statesmanship that held the welfare of the people as the topmost priority is what the legend  U Tirot Sing was about. Although acknowledged and commemorated every year in his death anniversary for his contributions and valour, the question now is how much of his traits have actually transcended down to the leaders of modern Meghalaya.

Eighteen Century and on, his legacy lives on in the form of narratives and inspiration that defines courage and love for his home land in the truest form. A visionary, who envisage the possible slavery the British Raj could have brought upon his people, changed the course of history by exhibiting exemplary valour against the British oppression and carved tales of patriotism of the Khasis in the Anglo-Khasi War. U Tirot Singh – deserves it right to be a legend.

A hundred and eighty two years of commemoration and passing on the legend to younger generations but have we found the same old values he stood for in our leaders? Or are they too immersed in infighting to secure a berth for even the chair for themselves.

"Tirot sing was a freedom fighter who never give up or forfeit our lands for money. He's a patriots, a legends. A man of truth," said Iaipyrshang Skhembha  adding that modern day leaders have a lot to learn and emulate.

The state of affairs of Meghalaya politics portrays a very grim picture with numerous toppled government, in-fightings, corruption related matters and poor development with the current government choosing to replicate New York City's Time Square in the city over electrifying hundreds of villages, building roads and providing medical assistance. This is just one instance there are many.

If development and commitment of the leaders is to be gauged in all these years of statehood – A visit to the rural areas of the state reflects it all.

"As per legend, Tirot Sing put the people's interests first, and his own interests were given the least priority. Sad to say, but for most of our modern legislators, the priorities have completely changed. Their first priority is their own interests, the second priority is their party's interests, the third priority is their constituency's interests, and the fourth priority is the interests of the State and it's people," observed former minister RG Lyngdoh.

To top it all we have a dynasty system or hierarchy system of national parties functioning in the state where in most of the case the regional aspirations are lost and the leaders are mostly seen pre-occupied with their internal rifts and making a bee line in Delhi trying to impress the higher ups for a berth or the chair. Where is your individual stand as a leader? Do we actually need to please people for a place to lead?

"Modern day politics has turned leaders into mere chamchas or slaves to corruption and lack of truth and courage," Wilson PS Khonglah said adding that being a leader should be above politics, above self praise and gain.

The state of the regional parties too is not so sound. Constant infighting has become a trend. Forget the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly or the MLA's, the current state of affairs of the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) says it all.

"Nowadays, leaders are blind leaders leading a blind crowd. A wake up call needs to be resounded else we will be another Tripura in near future," said Avener Baneh Khyriemmujat adding that the society suffers a lot. "A clear rejection is always better than a fake promises."

On the civil front a lot of NGO's are taking the government head on, on many issues and the current burning issue is that of influx.

While a lot of promising leaders have emerged from amongst the NGO's, their subsequent alignment with mainstream politics however, seems to have eroded the enthusiasm they once stood for.

"Power and corruption has taken over minds and I doubt these were the principles of Tirot Sing…Modern day politics has even destroyed true Governance …," CSWO president Agnes Kharshiing observed.

What the state and the community needs is a strong leader who will put the people above all, whose voice will resound in the parliament and not somebody who gets easily bogged down by party politics and caught in the battle of self growth. But the question is "Are there such individuals who tread the path full of temptations and not fall prey to it, a leader who can carry on the legacy of U Tirot Sing?"

By Ibankyntiew Mawrie

(The writer can be reached at mawrie.iban@gmail.com)