Meghalaya is staring at a developmental abyss of hunger, unemployment, poverty, food insecurity and malnutrition. The recently released NITI Aayog district level report on Social Development Goals for the NE States highlights the glaring failures in terms of social development, where our state is at the bottom of the important indicators. This report points to a rot in our governance, and as we move towards 50 years of statehood, we as a people should not have stared into extreme hunger, malnutrition, unemployment, food insecurity, increasing poverty of our farmers, clean water and sanitation. It is a wake up call for us as a society that Meghalaya, when it comes to the real bread and butter issues like development and quality of life of the people, where Meghalaya was once better comparatively, and now it is amongst the worst performing states in India.
Whereas other states in India are enjoying the fruits of development, in Meghalaya we do not talk about these fundamental issues. The reason that Meghalaya has turned into a failed state is because of the existence of an industry of patronage amongst representatives like the MLAs and MDCs and the political class, along with the bureaucrats and non-state actors. If we allow this corrupt industry of patronage we will never have true development.
Niti Aayog in its report for NORTH EASTERN REGION DISTRICT Sustainable Development goals, has ranked all the districts of North Eastern Region (including Sikkim) vis-a-vis their performance in 15 Sustainable Development Goals of No Poverty, Zero Hunger, Good Health and Well Being, Quality Education, Gender Equality, Clean Water and Sanitation, Affordable and Clean Energy, Decent Work and Economic Growth, Industry and Innovation, Inequality, Sustainable Cities, Environment etc. Our position in this ranking is abysmal. Our best performing district East Khasi Hills District is 57th in the list and the worst performing districts South West Khasi Hills, South Garo Hills and North Garo Hills are 87th, 92nd and 98th in the list. If Development was a Talent Contest, Meghalaya would have been disqualified in the first round itself.
TUR was not surprised by the abysmal failure of Meghalaya in ensuring a decent quality of life for our men and women because of its various interventions in organising the people around the question of economic and social justice to demand for their rights and assert their autonomy vis-a-vis the corrupt patronage network presided over by Political-Bureaucratic nexus.
The report makes it ver clear that the states who do well are the states which have truly democratic grassroots institutions which are accountable and elected and are gender inclusive. In Meghalaya, development administration is hampered by the fact that our villages have no proper democratic and gender inclusive institutions which can and should decide upon development schemes. For far too long Meghalaya lives in a myth of grassroots democracy without actually practising it. TUR believes that till there are true democratic and participatory institutions at the grass roots level, Meghalaya is going to be caught into a vicious cycle of poverty, hunger, unemployment and death. Meghalaya can never have peace without economic justice rooted in rights and democracy.