Nothing looks going right around us. The year 2015 – disappointing! Agitations, insurgency, bandhs, ‘intolerance’ and two sessions of Parliament stalled. Yet, one needs a different perception to see the good in the bygone year. Ask the ruling party leaders. They will say it all. They actually believe in what they say. They try to ignore the negatives. They are not utterly wrong. We tend to forget the past enmity and mistakes. That’s human nature. To go ahead in life, we cannot always recite what went wrong in the past. Now, ask the Opposition. They will tell the opposite, obviously. In India, no political leader gets five ‘free’ days without criticism, let alone five years, even after being elected to rule for that period.
The insurgency-ravaged Garo Hills of Meghalaya has seen no less violence this year. But, for the first time, people of the region realised their mistake of offering silent support to their ‘own’, who took up arms for whatever reasons. While a very few had taken the armed path for a ‘greater cause’, the movement has over the years fizzled out, turning into a ‘business’ of extortion, by kidnapping and killing to create the fear. People of Garo Hills have never been so vocal against militancy like in this year, thanks to a Meghalaya High Court order that asked the Centre to consider deploying army in the region. The once protest against the ‘insensitive’ court order has now turned into a strong voice against violence, after Centre assured that it is not going to bring army in Garo Hills. With shrinking public support to their ‘cause’, there is a ray of hope for Garo Hills to witness peace and growth in near future.
Another positive that can be drawn from developments of 2015 is again related to a high court order. The Jaintia Hills Autonomous District Council (JHADC), one of the three ADCs in the state, has created history by proposing to reserve seats for women in the traditional Dorbar, which had been a complete no-entry for women in the matrilineal state! The Act having this clause had to be brought after the high court clipped powers of headmen to issue certificates, following absence of any such provision in the law.
The year 2015 will also be remembered for Meghalaya hosting the International Terra Madre festival, one of the biggest shows the North-east has ever seen. The festival having delegates from dozens of countries has definitely put Meghalaya and the whole North-east in the world map, raising expectations of increase of tourist flow into the state in the coming years.
(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on January 1, 2016)