The three members Pay Panel headed by former Chief Secretary Peter James Bazeley, through a report submitted to the Chief Minister Dr Mukul M Sangma, on August 2, 2017 recommended a pay hike by 25.6 percent to state government employees and pensioners. If the recommendations of the Fifth Meghalaya Pay Commission are implemented in toto, the state government will be incurring an extra-burden of over Rs 100 crore monthly in paying the salaries of over 11 lakh government employees which includes teachers of deficit schools and colleges besides 23,000 pensioners.
As of now in the day to day affairs of the state, the Meghalaya government machinery is engulfed mainly in maintaining Law and Order, controlling the most unorganized traffic in the state capital and headquarters. Still doing the brainstorming for regulating drinking water supply and stabilizing the electricity supply during dry season, the Legislators are left with no free time to visualize as to how to take the 45 year old state ahead. Hence, uncountable numbers of pressure groups, civil societies or NGOs are mushrooming at various points of time which only adds to more trouble for the government.
Meghalaya has the highest number of registered social organizations, most of which pop-up for specific demands or issues, which in the course of time have their own natural death even before they could achieve what they had come together for. Strangely, all have one similar modus operandi – demanding every issue as a public demand, either with or without the sanction of the masses.
Similarly, even the intellectuals in the society have succumbed to the same modus operandi; this section of the society only ends up in sitting room discussions where no one had ever voluntary come up as a mediator or to work out solutions to many of the issues which have paralyzed the day to day functioning of the state, including the recent resurfacing of demand for implementation of Inner Line Permit, the decades old issues of boundary or influx. Other sensitive issues like prevention of child labor, human trafficking, hazardous high rise building, shrinking of rivers across the state, price hike particularly after the roll out of GST, unchecked spending of government funds strangely does not fall under the radar of pressure groups or civil societies who are supposed to be the watchdogs of the society.
Even the government policy which affects the day to day activities like Industrial Policy or Urban Affairs, Rural Development, Health Care, Disaster Management Centre, Mining Policy to distribution of drinking water and supply of electricity could not attract the attention of any individual or groups or government authorities.
Education system in the state is on the decline and the schools, colleges and universities mushrooming here are doing brisk business. Yes, for this section of ‘merchants’, Education is purely a business establishment which has remained unchecked by both pressure groups and the government.
It is time for all to come together to put our heads together, focus purely on development of infrastructure like communication, health care and bring about a more ethical and alert society. The state government should take advantage of having the maximum social organizations, if all can be trained in civil development and be sensible citizens, Meghalaya will surely be one of the best states which can become the envy of one and all.
The natural beauty and good climate which sadly is also deteriorating due to destruction of forests and hills for civilization is not going to result in any development unless there is peace and tranquility which can only pave the way for development. Once the masses are development conscious, all such disturbance of law and order will stop. Hence, the state government should have an iron fist to deal with law breakers and sensitize the masses about the government schemes and projects. The Golden Jubilee of Statehood day can be set as the target to turn Meghalaya into the most organized and developed state. All it takes is will power.
Once the system is in place, the efficiency of the government employees will surely yield good results. As of now, the work culture of the government employees needs to change so that they contribute to the development of the state. It is only then that a pay hike can be justified.