Of Malls And Musings – Why Are The Youth Of Shillong ‘Anti-Development’?

Fridays For Future is a global movement seeking to advocate for intersectional climate justice that I am proud to be a part of.

Intersectionality, for us, is beyond the nexus of social and environmental justice. It extends to the underlying issues of ‘development’ and ‘change’.

And ‘change’ is what my hometown is confronted with. We are caught in the crossroads of the pursuit of modernism and the sustentation of heritage. Though change is inevitable, what’s the price we must pay for it?

To know what we stand to lose, here’s a glimpse, captured by my colleague Naphtali Langstieh.

Our opposition to mall is intersectional; it’s not only an environmental issue. Development is holistic, it’s more than just about infrastructure for profit, we need infrastructure for need.

 

Our fast-paced consumerist lifestyles is unsustainable, we are spelled bound by fairytales of eternal economic growth.
De-growth is needed, no, not recession but a change which would ensure environmental justice and a good life for all within planetary boundaries.

 

We are not opposed to the mall because we romanticize Shillong’s colonial past, though we do love the Tudor-style architecture. But, because this era of neo-liberalism has brought about irrevocable change in society, economy and environment, that some things are better left untouched.

 

Gentrification (n) – an urban development process which negates the needs of the masses for the privileged, displacing the original inhabitants by rising rents and high cost of living
The mall proposal follows the idea of the New Shillong Township – acquiring lands at throwaway prices for a bourgeoisie gated community.

 

“For me, youth activism aims at checking on what the government leaves behind” – environmental and societal implications of “infrastructure” projects; who suffers and who reaps?

 

You don’t need to be a politico to understand the politics – hell-bent insistence for a mall screams contract tenders
So, a mall as an infrastructure or bill of payment?
Hence, Ngim Sngiawbha (We are not pleased).

 

Coal falls like manna from heaven in our coal country, construct roads and you find coal; perhaps coal is at Barik too?

 

resilience (n) – teen spirit
Load up on guns, bring your friends
It’s fun to lose and to pretend
She’s over-bored and self-assured
Oh no, I know a dirty word – MALL

Photos by Naphtali Langstieh

Naphtali Langstieh is an Intern and Presenter. An undergrad at St. Edmund’s College, Shillong, he is an upcoming photographer with a peculiar perspective of the environment around him.

 

Author: Joel Kyndiah

Joel B Kyndiah is an Editorial and Marketing Intern. He is also Lead Coordinator of Fridays For Future Meghalaya, a youth-led environmental campaign advocating for intersectional climate justice, and an aspiring lawyer and academic.

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