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Apropos the letter by P Naik, “Population, myth and reality” (ST May 20, 2013) I congratulate the state machinery the officers and the staff of the Directorate of the Census Operations and especially the Supervisors and Enumerators who have shouldered the grave responsibility of enumerating the people. They have performed a responsible national duty! With regard to Mr Naik’s letter, I fully agree with his argument about the state population scenario as a whole. Since Meghalaya is inhabited largely by Scheduled Tribes, therefore the composition of the Scheduled Tribes to the total population as per the 2011 Census is 86.1percent. The data presented by him is absolutely correct where he quotes that only 13.9% of the population is non-tribal and that therefore there is no cause for alarm. But what I would like to point out here is the urban distribution of population. In Meghalaya, out of the total urban population of 5.95 lakhs as per 2011 Census, the percentage of Scheduled Tribes is 70.4 % and that of General category (plus SC) is 29.6% respectively. The urban growth rate recorded during 2001-2011 in the state is 26.5% among Scheduled Tribes and a little less than this in the General category respectively. I would prefer to use the words Scheduled Tribes, Scheduled Castes and General Category, rather than tribal and non-tribal which are not used in census terminology.
To get a clear view of the urban population scenario, I present below the percentage population distribution in Shillong Urban Agglomeration (SUA) extracted from 2011 Primary Census Abstract. Shillong Cantonment Scheduled Tribes 3.5% General category (plus SC) 96.5 %, Shillong Municipality – Scheduled Tribes 51.2% General category (plus SC) 48.8%, Nongmynsong – ST 51.3%, General + SC 48.7%, Madanrting- ST 52.2%, General + SC 47.8%, Pynthorumkhrah – ST 54.2% , General + SC 45.8%, Nongthymmai – ST 65.1%, General + SC 34.9% and Mawlai – ST 96.9%, General+ SC 3.1% respectively. The five new towns which have been included in SUA for the first time in 2011 Census are more rural hence the percentage population of General category against Scheduled Castes varies between 20-30%. It may be noted that the population of Scheduled Tribes in the above includes Khasi and Garo and the other 15 Scheduled Tribes who are residing in these towns and who have been included as per the list of SC/ST Amendment Act 1987.
In the late seventies, late Prof. M. N. Majaw, the then MLA of Mawhati had pointed out in the Assembly about increased immigration and had stated that the population of Scheduled Tribes (Khasi and Garo particularly) were reduced to a minority in certain parts of Shillong. At that juncture the then Chief Minister, late Capt W. Sangma agreed with Mr. Majaw and assured the House that he would introduce measures to check immigration. Later, what was pointed out by Majaw was confirmed by the 1981 Census report in which the population of Shillong Municipality, Shillong Cantonment and Pynthorumkhrah, showed that the General Category had outnumbered the Scheduled Tribes.
It is incumbent on the present chief minister to take the facts and figures seriously and not listen to officers who explain things by looking only at one side of the report. I also thank and congratulate Mr K.L. Tariang, IAS who had retired in 2012 and his team of officers for conducting the 2011 Census successfully. In the past decades, except for the 1971 and 1981 censuses, the state government failed to depute officers from the State cadre to function as Director. The Central Government had to depend on the services of IAS officers from Karnataka cadre to function as Director while conducting 1991 Census. Similarly, for the 2001 Census they had to engage the services of an officer from the Arunachal Pradesh State Civil Service as Director. Considering that census data is the basis for articulating most developmental programmes in the state, it is important to entrust our own officers with the onerous task.
(Retired Census Employee)
Shillong – 1