All about Meghalaya

BY Shubhi Mathur, 17 Feb, 2017

Global Jigyasa - India 101

Neighbouring Regions

Capital of Meghalaya and Political System

The capital of Meghalaya is Shillong.

Meghalaya is one of the ‘Seven Sister’* states and is located in the Eastern part of the country.  The Chief Minister of the state is Mukul Sangma and the Governor is Ganga Prasad.

Current Status of Meghalaya

Meghalaya is the ‘cloud state of India’ and was a part of Assam until 1972. Approximately, 70 percent of the state is deeply forested. It is also known for its wildlife, biodiversity and scenic beauty. Meghalaya is the wettest place in India and receives 12,000 mm of rainfall every year. The state is also rich in minerals like limestone, coal and uranium. But no significant industries exist to realise the potential. Majority of the population of the state is dependent on agriculture. Jhum cultivation or shifting agriculture is still a prevalent practice in Meghalaya. The state also has a lot of hydroelectric power generation potential. But at present, the hydroelectric potential is not harnessed and the state imports electricity. The state is also culturally very different from mainland India and follows a matrilineal system where lineage and inheritance are traced through women, in most cases, through the youngest daughter in the family. Due to a difficult geographical terrain, there exist severe connectivity issues in the state.

Issues of International Importance over the Years

Tourism

Popularly known as the ‘Scotland of the East’, Meghalaya is a beautiful and unexplored destination.  The state has enormous potential to become the next big tourist hotspot in the country. Infrastructure needs to be prepped up in the state in order to increase the connectivity via rail, road and air. Meghalaya has two national parks and three wildlife sanctuaries and has a range of tourist attractions. The state is also investing in adventure tourism by offering opportunities like mountaineering, rock climbing, water sports, hiking and trekking. Tourism can be a major driver for the economy if adequate investment is done in the sector and the hospitality industry is improved.

 

Economy

The economy of the state is majorly agrarian. Rice, maize, tomato, tea, oilseeds, cotton, jute, mushroom and wheat are produced in abundance in the state. Meghalaya is a leading producer of bamboo and cut flower cultivation in the country. The state is also a massive producer of fruits and accounted for 409.25 thousand tonnes of fruits in the year 2015-16. Medicinal plants that are in high demand in the country are produced in Meghalaya. 14 percent of Meghalaya’s land area is covered by natural bamboo forests. The state is also investing in hydropower projects to harness the electricity generation potential of the state. The growing handloom industry in the state is also providing impetus to the economy.

 

Rock Culture in Shillong

 

Illegal immigration

Since the independence of Bangladesh in 1971, illegal immigration of people seeking refuge in Meghalaya and other Indian states has continued. Bangladesh shares its border with India on three sides, touching the Indian states of West Bengal, Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya and Mizoram. By rough estimates, it is said that the number of Bangladeshi refugees in India exceeds 15 million. Illegal immigration has proved to be a menace for India as it raises competition for resources and threatens national security in addition to altering the demographic patterns of India. Changing demographics have been a cause of violence in Meghalaya too, with locals protesting against the influx of Bangladeshi immigrants and the resultant competition for employment, food and shelter. Measures taken by the government have not been successful in curbing the menace since the IndiaBangladesh border is long and porous. There is a dire need to enforce stringent regulations to curb the inflow of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants. Measures should be taken for detection and repatriation of these illegal immigrants.

 

Seven Sisters*: North Eastern states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura are collectively called the Seven Sisters.

Ethnic Group Distribution

  1. Khasi: 50%
  2. Garo: 27.5%
  3. Bengali: 14%
  4. Nepali: 5.26%
  5. Koch: 1.8%
  6. Jaintia: 2.5%
  7. Hajong: 2.8%
  8. Biate: 1.1%
  9. Shaikh: 0.3%
  10. Other: 9.76%

Links for Detailed Research

References:

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