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TUR blames ‘industry of patronage’ for state’s poor rank in SDG index

Meghalaya ranks seven in NITI Aayog’s NER report

Shillong, August 30: The Thma U Rangli Juki (TUR) on Monday alleged that the existence of an “industry of patronage” has turned Meghalaya into a failed state.

“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,” TUR leader Angela Rangad said in a statement issued here.

Rangad said this corrupt practice is a hindrance to development and that was evident from the state’s performance in the recently published ‘North Eastern Region District SDG Index and Dashboard: Baseline Report 2021-22’ by NITI Aayog.

The study focuses on 103 districts from the seven-sister states and Sikkim. While Sikkim and Tripura are the top two states on the scoreboard, Meghalaya is seventh with scores between 56.87 and 64.07, with East Khasi Hills the highest at 57th rank and North Garo Hills the lowest at 98th. East Jaintia Hills, East Garo Hills, Ri Bhoi, South West Khasi Hills and South Garo Hills are among districts in the region which ranked above 80.

The study pinpoints 16 sustainable development goals, including no poverty, zero hunger, quality education and gender equality. In SDG for education, East Khasi Hills ranked 25 and West Jaintia Hills 49.

“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,” Rangad said, adding, “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.”

Regretting Meghalaya’s abysmal performance in the survey, Rangad said TUR was not surprised by the state’s failure in ensuring a decent quality of life for men and women because of its various interventions in organising 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.

TUR pointed out that development administration in Meghalaya is hampered by the fact that villages have no proper democratic and gender inclusive institutions “which can and should decide upon development schemes”.

According to Rangad, for far too long Meghalaya lived in a myth of grassroots democracy without actually practising it.

However, she said that 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,” Rangad stated.

NITI Forum for North East was constituted in February 2018 “to identify various constraints in the way for accelerated, inclusive but sustainable economic growth”.

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