Sunday, Aug 14, 2022
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The Hills Are Alive

A local lad on national TV unites a state

The Hills Are Alive M. Das

When Meghalaya's history is written, it could well be divided into two distinct phases—one before the third Indian Idol contest and another after it. A deep tribal-non-tribal divide, punctuated by killings, riots, and attempts at ethnic cleansing, would mark the first phase. A return to harmony and to the cosmopolitan ethos of the past would signify the second. The agent of change: Amit Paul, the finalist of the musical talent hunt on a TV channel.

A Bengali lad from a middle-class family in the state capital, Shillong, Amit has not only become a local hero but also a vital connect between the tribals and non-tribals of the state. Weary after over two decades of ethnic conflict and social strife, the people were perhaps ready to call a truce. They found the catalyst in Amit Paul. He has forged an unprecedented solidarity among the people of Meghalaya who have rallied behind him, cutting across age, community, religion, politics and class. What's more, they've vowed to leverage this newfound camaraderie to build a new social order.

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