Knowledge Corner

Meghalaya is a state in north-east India. The name means “the abode of clouds” in Sanskrit. The population of Meghalaya as of 2014 is estimated to be 3,211,474. Meghalaya covers an area of approximately 22,430 square kilometers, with a length to breadth ratio of about 3:1.

This state is bounded to the south by the Bangladeshi divisions of Mymensingh and Sylhet, to the west by the Bangladeshi division of Rangpur, and to the east by India’s Assam state. The capital is Shillong, known as the “Scotland of the East”. Meghalaya was previously part of Assam, but on 21 January 1972, the districts of Khasi, Garo and Jaintia hills became the new state of Meghalaya. English is the official language of Meghalaya. The other principal languages spoken include Khasi, Pnar and Garo. Unlike many Indian states, Meghalaya has historically followed amatrilineal system where the lineage and inheritance are traced through women; the youngest daughter inherits all wealth and she also takes care of her parents.

The state is the wettest region of India, recording an average of 12,000 mm (470 in) of rains a year. About 70% of the state is forested. The Meghalaya subtropical forests ecoregionencompasses the state; its mountain forests are distinct from the lowland tropical forests to the north and south. The forests are notable for their biodiversity of mammals, birds, and plants.

Meghalaya has predominantly an agrarian economy with a significant commercial forestry industry. The important crops are potatoes, rice, maize, pineapples, bananas, papayas, spices, etc. The service sector is made up of real estate and insurance companies. Meghalaya’s gross state domestic product for 2012 was estimated at ₹16,173 crore (US$2.4 billion) in current prices. The state is geologically rich in minerals, but it has no significant industries. The state has about 1,170 km (730 mi) of national highways. It is also a major logistical center for trade with Bangladesh.

History

Ancient

Meghalaya, along with neighboring Indian states, have been of archeological interest. People have lived here since neolithic era. Neolithic sites discovered so far are located in areas of high elevation such as in Khasi Hills, Garo Hills and neighboring states. Here neolithic style jhum or shifting cultivation is practiced even today. The highland plateaus fed by abundant rains provided safety from floods and a rich soil. The importance of Meghalaya is its possible role in human history through domestication of rice. One of the competing theories for the origin of rice, is from Ian Glover, who states, “India is the center of greatest diversity of domesticated rice with over 20,000 identified species and Northeast India is the most favorable single area of the origin of domesticated rice.” The limited archeology done in the hills of Meghalaya suggest human settlement since ancient times.

Modern history

Meghalaya was formed by carving out two districts from the state of Assam: the United Khasi Hills and Jaintia Hills, and the Garo Hills on 21 January 1972. Before attaining full statehood, Meghalaya was given semi-autonomous status in 1970.

The Khasi, Garo, and Jaintia tribes had their own kingdoms until they came under British administration in the 19th century. Later, the British incorporated Meghalaya into Assam in 1835. The region enjoyed semi-independent status by virtue of a treaty relationship with the British Crown. When Bengal was partitioned on 16 October 1905 by Lord Curzon, Meghalaya became a part of the new province of Eastern Bengal and Assam. However, when the partition was reversed in 1912, Meghalaya became a part of the province of Assam. On 3 January 1921 in pursuance of Section 52A of the Government of India Act of 1919, the governor-general-in-council declared the areas now in Meghalaya, other than the Khasi states, as “backward tracts.” Subsequently, the British administration enacted the Government of India Act of 1935, which regrouped the backward tracts into two categories: “excluded” and “partially excluded” areas.

At the time of Indian independence in 1947, present day Meghalaya constituted two districts of Assam and enjoyed limited autonomy within the state of Assam. A movement for a separate Hill State began in 1960. The Assam Reorganisation (Meghalaya) Act of 1969 accorded an autonomous status to the state of Meghalaya. The Act came into effect on 2 April 1970, and an autonomous state of Meghalaya was born out of Assam. The autonomous state had a 37-member legislature in accordance with the Sixth schedule to the Indian constitution.

In 1971, the Parliament passed the North-Eastern Areas (Reorganization) Act, 1971, which conferred full statehood on the autonomous state of Meghalaya. Meghalaya attained statehood on 21 January 1972, with a Legislative Assembly of its own.

Geography

Meghalaya is mountainous, the most rain soaked state of India. The word Meghalaya means, “abode of the clouds”. Above is Laitmawsiang landscape wrapped in fog.

Meghalaya is one of the Seven Sister States of northeast India. The state of Meghalaya is mountainous, with stretches of valley and highland plateaus, and it is geologically rich. It consists mainly ofArchean rock formations. These rock formations contain rich deposits of valuable minerals like coal, limestone, uranium and sillimanite.

Meghalaya has many rivers. Most of these are rainfed and seasonal. The important rivers in the Garo Hills region are Daring, Sanda, Bandra, Bhogai, Dareng, Simsang, Nitai and the Bhupai. In the central and eastern sections of the plateau, the important rivers are Khri, Digaru, Umiam, Kynshi (Jadukata), Mawpa, Umiam or Barapani, Umngot and Myntdu. In the southern Khasi Hills region, these rivers have created deep gorges and several beautiful waterfalls.

The elevation of the plateau ranges between 150 m (490 ft) to 1,961 m (6,434 ft). The central part of the plateau comprising the Khasi Hills has the highest elevations, followed by the eastern section comprising the Jaintia Hills region. The highest point in Meghalaya is Shillong Peak, which is a prominent IAF station in the Khasi Hills overlooking the city of Shillong. It has an altitude of 1961 m. The Garo Hills region in the western section of the plateau is nearly plain. The highest point in the Garo Hills is Nokrek Peak with an altitude of 1515 m.

Demographics

Population

Ethnic groups:

  • Khasi: 46%
  • Garo: 27.5%
  • Bengali: 18%
  • Nepali: 8.26%
  • Koch: 2.8%
  • Jaintia: 2.5%
  • Hajong: 1.8%
  • Shaikh: 0.3%
  • Other: 4.4%

Religion

  Christianity (74.59%)

  Hinduism (11.52%)

  Islam (4.39%)

  Sikhism (0.10%)

  Buddhism (0.33%)

  Jainism (0.02%)

  Tribal Religions (8.70%)

  Others (0.35%)

Languages

English is the official and widely spoken language of the state. The other principal languages in Meghalaya are Khasi and Garo.

Languages of Meghalaya in 2001:

  Khasi (47.05%)

  Garo (31.41%)

  Bengali (7.9%)

  Nepali (2.24%)

  Hindi (2.15%)

  Marathi (1.67%)

  Assamese (1.55%)

  Other (7.01%)

Skill Test

1. Which country lies to the south of Meghalaya?
2. Capital of Meghalaya
3. Who is the governor of Meghalaya in the year 2014?
4. Meghalaya State was formed on
5. According to the census of 2011 what is the total population of Meghalaya?
6. State the date on which the state was formed?
7. Which place in Meghalaya has the highest amount of rainfall around the world?
8. Which of the following is not an official language of Meghalaya?
9. Meghalaya is known as
10. Which place in Meghalaya used to have the highest rainfall in the world?
11. What is the rank of Meghalaya in terms of Area of state in India?
12. What does Meghalaya mean?
13. Which state lies to the west of Meghalaya? Nagaland
14. What is the total Area of Meghalaya state in sq.km?
15. Name the highest point of Meghalaya?
16. What is the official language of Meghalaya?
17. What is the total number of parliamentary constituency of Meghalaya?
18. In which year was the state of Meghalaya formed?
19. What is the literacy rate according to the census of 2011?
20. Who was the president candidate from Meghalaya?
21. Total number of districts in Meghalaya
22. Which is the state bird of Meghalaya?