The problem of unemployment is a concern of the developing India where neither the state nor the central governments could generate employment. In the case of the North Eastern region, the phobia of influx has already pushed out most of the youth for employment, now the fall out of the draft National Register of Citizens (NRC), and various methods of checking, are not only pushing out the non-indigenous youth, even the local are now seeking employment outside the North East (NE) region.
Although Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on August 3, 2018 assured that there would be no discrimination or unnecessary harassment in the entire updation process of the NRC, at ground zero there is a different story to tell, where it has now become a means to harass the travellers and small traders.
The fear of illegal migrants or ‘infiltrators’ was witnessed recently when Meghalaya Chief Minister, Conrad Kongkal Sangma mooted the idea of issuing work permits to Bangladeshi nationals to address the challenge of infiltration. Sangma made this proposal to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj when the former along with State Home Minister James Kongkal Sangma and Tourism Minister Metbah Lyngdoh called on her at New Delhi. This proposal ripped up a fear psychosis on the part of the pressure groups in the state and other social activists who termed it as dangerous idea, where the live example could be witnessed from the immediate neighbouring state like Assam.
The demand for the implementation of the Inner Line Permit’s main aim is to check on such influx, hence the pressure groups from Meghalaya, while opposing the idea of issuances of work permit for Bangladeshis added that the Chief Minister and his cabinet should focus on pro tribal policies for the state. Some of them include setting up Entry/Exit points all over Meghalaya to contain the illegal inflow of outsiders into Meghalaya, the effective implementation of Land Transfer Act 1972, check all Benami transactions and implementation of Meghalaya Benami Transaction Act, Meghalaya Residential Bill and work a way out from these unending sufferings of our people and respect the peoples’ mandate.
It may be recalled that after the ban of rat-hole coal mining by the National Green Tribunal, most of the migrant labourers have left the state, while most of the indigenous tribal are still unemployed, therefore, the government should generate more employment for the citizen in the state, more than issuing the work permit for Bangladeshis. The job vacancies should be filled up by the citizen of Meghalaya first. At the same time government should sensitize the masses on the dignity of work. Otherwise such work permit will mean the government is inviting people of other nationalities to take up the jobs of the locals.
Meghalaya is known to the outside world as a sleepy hill station due to early shutting down of the market, and opening late in the morning. The official work starts only by 10:00 AM, while in the metros the factories start by 7:30AM. The Time Zone adopted by the North Eastern region in general and Meghalaya in particular is preventing the growth of trade and commerce as well as the service industries, where the shift system is not commonly practiced, unlike Mumbai, known as the city which never sleeps, where some of the companies are having as many as three shifts within 24 hours.
It is not only because of the absence of manufacturing or producing industries, the working hours have been cut short in Meghalaya even for the educational institutions, which begin late compared to other states. Hence the class routine of almost all the institutions has been dragged on for the whole day. At the same time most of the students require private coaching popularly known as tuition here and this has further prolonged their study hours.
Under such circumstances, it is difficult for the student community from the state to seek part-time jobs, either to support their own tuition fee, or to lend a helping hand to the family in the present high cost of living. Besides that the young minds find it difficult to understand the meaning of dignity of work, as most of them are not working.
The work culture in the government offices too is not as encouraging as it should be; there are always complaints that government employees are hardly found in their respective chairs. In the state of Meghalaya, where the work culture is at rock bottom, many attempts have been made to reform the work culture, be it by former Governor of Meghalaya, Ranjit Shekhar Mooshahary during President’s Rule, or as Young Legislator, Conrad K Sangma who converted two Saturdays of the month as working days, but was rejected by the voters for this move.
If Meghalaya wants to catch up with rest of the states, it needs to adopt three mantras - Transparent, Effective and Sustainable. Transparency in governance is most important; here in the state of Meghalaya, every elected legislator wants to have cabinet berth, and every Minister wants to be the Chief Minister. In the course of grabbing this musical chair for power, the governance has taken a back seat, loosing transparency in dealing.
Effectiveness of Public Services can be witnessed through the day to day activities, where garbage can be seen at every nook and corner of the city and poorly maintained government properties; as mentioned, poor work culture is adversely affecting development.
The landslide at Umling, on the Shillong-Guwahati Highway, speaks about the effectiveness of the execution of work by the State Government. The frequent load shedding is another problem, and not to talk about the traffic congestion in the city. The state government needs to adopt some measures to be more effective for public interest.
It is not at all a surprise when the projects or schemes are being abandoned at the drop of a hat, as the central funds are exhausted or stopped, even if the projects are extremely beneficial to the grass root level, as the state government cannot sustain itself. Meghalaya is yet to work out projects which are self-sustainable; for every penny it is dependent on central schemes.
Over dependence on natural resources has worsened the work culture and dignity of labour in the state.
With the recent ban on rat hole coal mining by the National Green Tribunal, many coal barons are said to have turned bankrupt overnight, meaning even the saving habit is really bad here. More than the government, the tribals should be more enterprising in creating jobs and employment. Over dependence on government jobs, reservation and quota system are the causes which have infused the poor work culture here.
It is time for the state government to reform the Administrative Services, with more transparent work culture, and the quality of services should not be comprised. Then and only it will be more effective and discourage political backing when it comes to jobs; let the deserving candidate fill the respective post, and make competitive spirit to excel the only yardstick for promotion. This way the governance will be more effective and also become sustainable.
Meghalaya needs to partake in honouring and paying rich tribute to Dr Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam, who breathed his last in the state capital, Shillong by adopting a better work culture and walk on the path as preached by him that ‘Work is Worship’.
Lastly, a new Time Zone should be introduced. The state needs longer working hours, which will not only improve the economic status of the state but also open up more avenues for work, meaning more employability opportunities even if it is for part-time, which will help many economically weaker section of the society to have some extra income, be it to pursue studies or improve the health and comfortable life style. All such policies will surely improve the work culture in the state, then all such proposals of issuances of work permit for Bangladeshis will not arise as the youth will not migrates to other states for jobs.