| A bird’s eye view of Nongjrong in East Khasi Hills. Picture by UB Photos |
Shillong, Jan. 20: Meghalaya — the abode of clouds — will turn 42 tomorrow.
Much water has flown under the bridge since January 21, 1972, when the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared Meghalaya, comprising Khasi-Jaintia and Garo hills, a full-fledged state of the Indian Union at Polo grounds here.
In these past 42 years, there has been transformation in various areas. There has been change.
At the same time, political instability and militancy have shaken the state in many ways.
While Meghalaya was attained without bloodshed, the state is now bleeding with the rise in militant-related activities, especially in the Garo hills region.
“After 42 years, we have not succeeded in attaining any tangible, sustained growth in most sectors, with the goal of ensuring percolation to the grassroots to benefit the commoner. There has been hardly any realistic emphasis on planning and evolving a blueprint to reap the benefits of statehood,” environmental activist Naba Bhattacharjee said.
He added that governance has been “tardy”, and most interventions in governance have been fund-driven rather than need-based, while natural resources have not been judiciously utilised.
The All-Party Hill Leaders’ Conference, formed in July 1960, had spearheaded the hill state movement under the leadership of stalwarts like late Capt. Williamson A. Sangma, who was also Meghalaya’s first chief minister, late Brington Buhai Lyngdoh, late Stanley D.D. Nichols Roy, late Hoover Hynniewta and many others.
As the hills were then part of composite Assam, the drive for a separate state was intensified by the decision of the then Assam government to introduce Assamese as the state’s official language.
The Meghalaya government has planned programmes tomorrow to commemorate Statehood Day. Directions have also been given to district and block headquarters, including Meghalaya Houses outside the state, to commemorate the day in a befitting manner.
However, as the celebrations continue, tomorrow is also a day to look back, retrospect and plan ahead.