At the outset, let’s go through this recap to put things in the right perspective. Meghalaya-the 21st State of the Indian Union was carved out of the erstwhile State of Assam on the 2nd April 1970 as an Autonomous State, created under the Assam Reorganization (Meghalaya) Act 1969, consisting of the former Garo Hills District and United Khasi and Jaintia Hills district of Assam. Meghalaya became a full-fledged State in the midnight of January 20-21, 1972 in accordance with the provisions contained in the North Eastern Areas (Reorganization) Act, 1971.
From 2nd April 1970 to 21st January 1972, Meghalaya was an Autonomous State with limited powers. The Provisional Meghalaya Legislative Assembly consisted of 41 (forty one) Members, 38 (thirty eight) members- indirectly elected and 3 (three) nominated members. It was during this time on January 12, 1972, the notifications of the State Reservation Policy (SRP) came vide letter No. PER.222/71/138. May we ask whether the SRP was created by the Provisional State over a cup of tea or we can see the minutes of that meeting where these resolutions of the SRP were taken?
The First General Election to the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly was held in the beginning of March 1972. The first Session of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly of elected members was held on the March 25, 1972 with the Acting Speaker (Shri Jor Manik Syiem) in the Chair at Shillong. Clearly, the State Reservation Policy was not framed by an elected government of a full-fledged State, yet the Chief Minister is adamant not to discuss and review the outdated policy which has long outlived its life. Let us remind him that the Constitution of India which was drafted by the Constituent Assembly formed in 1946, comprising of a group of 300 people with Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, as the Chairman of the Drafting Committee came together and finished the drafting of the Constitution in 1949. It took them three long years of discussions and deliberations to bring the Draft Constitution which was eventually adopted and implemented from January 26, 1950. In spite of that, the Constitution of India had undergone a total of 105 Amendments over time to incorporate the desires and aspirations of the people as needed.
In stark contrast, here-in the present day Meghalaya, we have the MDA government led by NPP which does not even want to discuss the outdated SRP which was framed under peculiar circumstances as mentioned earlier, displaying insensitivity to the concerns of the entire Khasi-Jaintia-Bhoi community, and focusing only on the Garo community. While the entire Khasi-Jaintia-Bhoi community is rallying behind the VPP President- Ardent Miller Basaiawmoit, who is on hunger strike for over a week, demanding the review of the SRP, it is shocking to see that the Chief Minister is maintaining complete a stoic silence while his allies-the UDP and HSPDP have also supported Bah Ardent’s demand. It is equally baffling to hear the arguments of the State President of NPP, Dr. Kharlukhi justifying the SRP. Can he prove that the conditions of villages in remote corners of Khasi-Jaintia-Ri-Bhoi areas are any less backward than that of the villages in remote Garo Hill areas in term of basic infrastructure- health centers, education, roads, electricity, connectivity, job opportunities, etc.? Or perhaps he thinks that in the last 51 years, the Khasi-Jaintia-Bhoi areas have developed so much so that they are comparable to Shillong and our Garo Hill areas are as they were for the last 51 years.
If that be the case, which is certainly not, it is not because of the Khasis but because of their elected representatives who have failed them for the last 51 years; therefore, dear Garo friends, make them pay for it. Another shocker is the statement of Education Minister, Rakkam A. Sangma, on the threat of Supreme Court ruling on reservation. I think he is undermining the wisdom of the highest court of the country. Can Mr Rakkam A Sangma guarantee that maintaining status quo on the SRP will enable the Supreme Court to rule in favour of the State? The Supreme Court ruling on the existing reservation will impact several other state governments where similar reservations are in place. Importantly, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Telangana and many other states have crossed the 50% reservation cap. The need of the hour is to review the State Reservation Policy and have a combined reservation for all Meghalaya STs without dividing it on the basis of tribes and review it every 10 years. Let us give meritocracy a chance and let the best minds rule the State for good.
In the worst case scenario, if the Supreme Court, in its wisdom, strikes down our reservation to 50%, we will cope with it. The state governments in all the states are ruled by their people for the welfare of the entire state, hence it is naive to believe that the State government does not know how to balance its recruitments to unreserved posts. E.g. in Assam-more than 50% of the posts are unreserved, same is with Odisha and other states. Have a look at their recruitments. Less than 5 percent will be non-Assamese, or non-Oriya, etc. Most of the posts are filled by locals purely based on merit. Perhaps, our flawed Reservation Policy is itself the root cause of our underdevelopment in the last 51 years. Let the best mind among the Khasi, Jaintias and the Garos, purely based on merit with no interference from the political class, run the administration of the State and see where we reach in the next ten years or so. Believe me, we will have the best doctors, dentists, engineers, pharmacists, nurses, allied medical technicians, etc. from among ourselves. Our Meghalaya Public Service Commission, District Selection Committees, all recruitment boards, etc. will be run by the sharpest minds without fear or favour across Meghalaya. Friends! Meritocracy and optimism is the only way forward.
Prof. Lakhon Kma,
Retrospective Implementation of Roster System: Its Effects
The retrospective implementation of the Roster System in Meghalaya heavily favours our Garo brethren. The case in point is the recruitment of 69 JDAs in the office of the Director of Accounts and Treasuries vide MPSC Public Notice No. MPSC/Advt-54 /1/2020-2021 of April 4, 2023. Out of 69 posts, 38 (55.07%) posts are reserved for the Garos and 25 (36.23%) posts are reserved for the Khasi-Jaintias. If we go by the ratio of 15:40:40:5, the reservation would be UR-10.35%, KJ-27.6%, G-27.6%, OST-3.45%
The Government of Meghalaya had not implemented the Roster System during the past 50 years from 1972 to 2022. The method adopted to allot quotas to the 5 communities of Meghalaya is suspect. Everything should be placed the in public domain for the stakeholders to peruse.