Meghalaya

Meghalaya  , a state of India, is located in the northeastern part of the country. It is bounded by the Indian state of Assam on the north and northeast and Bangladesh on the south and southwest. The state capital is Shillong, a hill town located in east-central Meghalaya. Meghalaya –  Alaya  (“abode”) and  Megha  (“of the clouds”) – covers a hilly plateau of outstanding natural beauty. It became a state in 1972. Area 8,660 sq mi (22,429 sq km). Pop (2011) 2,964,007.

Earth

Relax and drain

Meghalaya is a highland region formed by a detached block of the Deccan Plateau. The elevation of its peaks varies from 4,000 to 6,000 feet (1,220 to 1,830 m). The Garo Hills in the west rise abruptly to about 1,000 feet (300 m) from the Brahmaputra river valley and then merge with the Khasi Hills and Jaintia Hills, which merge with the adjacent highlands to form a single tract of tablelands separated by a series of eastward trending ridges. The southern faces of the Kada Plateau, overlooking the lowlands of Bangladesh, are particularly high. Many rivers and streams flow through the plateau, creating deep, narrow, steep-sided valleys; The most important is Umiam-Barapani, which is the major source of hydroelectric power for the states of Assam and Meghalaya.

the weather

The climate in Meghalaya is generally mild. The average temperature in Shillong (in the Khasi Hills) in August is in the 70s F (about 21–23 °C); In January it falls into the upper 40s F (about 8-10 °C).

One of the wettest regions in the world is found in Meghalaya—Cherrapunji, with an average annual rainfall of about 450 inches (11,430 mm) during the monsoon season (May to September). (Rainfall at Cherrapunji can be exceeded, however, by the village of Mawsinram, directly west of Cherrapunji, which has recorded about 700 inches [17,800 mm] of rainfall annually.) Shillong, only 50 miles (80 km) from Cherrapunji, has an annual rainfall of about is 90 inches (2,290 mm). ). The climate is relatively dry during the winter months (December to February).

plant and animal life

Meghalaya is lush with greenery and pines, bark and bamboos abound. Other species include oak, birch, beech and magnolia. Elephants, tigers, leopards, deer, wild boars, gaur (wild bison), mithan (or gyal, domesticated form of gaura), wolves, anteaters, monkeys, monkeys, squirrels, snakes, hares and sambar deer are all found. Birds of Meghalaya in the state include peacocks, pheasants, pigeons, hornbills, wildfowl, mynas and parrots.

people

Most of the inhabitants of Meghalaya are of Tibeto-Burman (Garos) or Mon-Khmer (Khasi) origin, and their languages ​​and dialects belong to these groups. The Khasis are the only people in India who speak the Mon-Khmer language.The official languages ​​of the state are Khasi and Garo along with Jaintia and English; Other languages ​​spoken in the state include Pnar-Synteng, Nepali and Haijong, as well as the plains languages ​​Bengali, Assamese and Hindi.

Christianity, Hinduism, and antagonistic forms of Hinduism are the major religions of the region. There are also minorities of Muslims and small groups of Buddhists and Sikhs.

The population is predominantly rural and few cities exist in the state. Shillong is the largest city; Other urban centres, listed in descending order of population, include Tura, Mawlai, Nongthimmai and Jowai.

Economy

agriculture

Agriculture is the major economic activity of the state. The major crops grown in Meghalaya are rice, millet, maize (maize), potatoes, pepper, chilli, cotton, ginger, jute, betel nut, fruits (oranges and mangoes) and vegetables. Community land ownership is common, but  jhum  (shifting cultivation) has led to soil erosion.

resources and power

Meghalaya has abundant but untapped natural resources including coal, limestone, kaolin, feldspar, quartz, mica, gypsum, bauxite and other minerals. Its sillimanite deposits (a source of high-quality ceramic clay) are considered the best in the world and account for almost the entire sillimanite output of India. Electricity is generated from several hydroelectric projects in the state; However, when rainfall is low, electricity has to be imported.

Production

Meghalaya has no heavy industries; Small scale industries include manufacturing of cement, plywood and food products.

Transportation

Internal communications are poor and many areas remain isolated. There are no railways in Meghalaya. A national highway passes through the state from Guwahati (Assam) in the north to Karimganj (Assam) in the south. Shillong is served by a domestic airline operating short-haul, low-capacity routes to Umroi, 18 miles (30 km) from Shillong; And in 2008, an airport opened at Tura in the western part of the state.

Government and Society

Constitutional framework

Like other states of the Indian Union, Meghalaya has a Governor, who is appointed by the President of India. The Cabinet is appointed by the elected Vidhan Sabha (Assembly) under the chairmanship of the Chief Minister. The judiciary of the state is headed by the High Court at Shillong. There are 11 administrative districts in the state.

Health, Welfare and Education

The state is one of the least developed states in India. About three-fifths of the people are literate. However, the state has several colleges and institutes of higher education including the North-Eastern Hill University in Shillong. The 1947 partition of the subcontinent disrupted the tribal population; Some tribes were divided by the new international border and this resulted in tribal migration from East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) to India.

cultural life

Meghalaya is rich in tribal culture and folk art.  Drinking and dancing to the music of singing (buffalo horns), bamboo flutes and drums are integral parts of religious ceremonies and social functions. Marriages are out. However, the advent of Christianity in the mid-19th century, with its strict morals, disrupted many tribal and communal institutions.

Among the Garos there is a peculiar custom that after marriage the youngest son-in-law goes to live in the house of his wife’s parents and becomes the father-in-law, or the clan representative of the mother-in-law’s family. If the father-in-law dies,  Nokrom  marries (and has to perform the marriage) the widowed mother-in-law, thus becoming the husband of both mother and daughter. The custom is broken. Khasi people used to perform human sacrifices.

history

Apart from an account of important Khasi kingdoms in the history of the neighboring Ahoms and Kacharis, little is known about Meghalaya before the British period. However, in the early 19th century, the British desire to build a road through the region to connect Bengal and Assam led to a   treaty (1827) with the  ruler of the Khasi princely state of Nonkhlaw (Siyam).

Opponents of the treaty  persuaded Siam  to renounce it in 1829, and subsequent attacks on the British inevitably led to British military operations against the Khasis. By the mid-1830s, most of the local rulers had surrendered to the British. For the next century, the British held political control over the region, later known as the Garos and Kosia (Khasi) states, but the tribes, left to themselves, were able to maintain their traditional lifestyles in seclusion.

In 1947, the rulers of this region acceded to the newly independent India. India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru developed a policy to preserve and protect the way of life of the tribal people. Along with other tribal areas, the region was given special protection in the Indian constitution, and although included in the state of Assam, it retained a large degree of autonomy.

When Assamese became the official language of the state in 1960, the movement for autonomy and self-rule gained momentum. As in many other hill regions of Northeast India, the movement was largely peaceful and constitutional. Meghalaya was created as an autonomous state in Assam in 1970 and attained full statehood on 21 January 1972.

Khasi Hills  , Physiological Region, Central Meghalaya State, Northeast India. The area consists mainly of hilly areas and includes the Shillong Plateau; It is drained by tributaries of Brahmaputra and Surma rivers.

 The southern Cherrapunji scarp has one of the highest average annual rainfalls in the world. The Khasi Hills region is sometimes called the “Scotland of the East” because of its scenic beauty.

A majority of the population outside Shillong, the capital of the state of Meghalaya, is engaged in agriculture. The major crop is wet rice, which is cultivated in valleys and hill terraces. Other farmers in the region practice shifting cultivation, burning the trees and farming the land for a year or two before moving on.

 The government has discouraged this wasteful practice, instead calling for a settlement on conventional farms. The distinctive culture of the Khasi people includes a traditional matrilineal social system that has been modified by outside religious and modern legal influences. Many hill people have become Christians.

Partly because of their isolation, the Jains have largely maintained their matriarchal culture. They still practice shifting cultivation (potatoes being the main crop), although the Indian government has tried – with some success – to promote settled agriculture. The Jaintis are more influenced by Hinduism and Aryan practices than other tribal groups in the region, and thus, settled agriculture was more readily adopted in the Jaintia Hills.

While the region was isolated and less developed than much of India, British rule and its aftermath created a remarkable degree of unity among the people of the hill districts of Meghalaya.

Meghalaya

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