“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.” Elie Wiesel.
These words of the Nobel laureate have a connected implication and speak volumes about the situation that we are in, these days. As voters of the State of Meghalaya, we cannot remain silent when there is a need for us to voice out our opinions too, particularly when it comes to the infringement on our rights either in various spheres of political, religious or economic developments or any other matter. Therefore, it seems right to share our objective opinions from the commoners’ point of view with a keen interest in the prospective implementation of the State’s Reservation Policy and the Roster system.
When the Voice of the People Party (VPP) started the first phase of its campaign to provide awareness to the people regarding the dilemma over the Meghalaya Reservation Policy and the Roster system, it raised the eyebrows of many who listened to the speeches made by its leaders. On the one hand, many are now aware of the Reservation Policy and the way Roster has to be implemented and on the other hand some assume that the move of the party is only a motivation for political gains.
However, the fact remains that the intention of the VPP is clear and as understood by many, the issue needs to be raised in the Assembly Sessions of the Meghalaya Legislature, but when the government under the name MDA 2.0 forcefully brushed the matter the side, it compelled the four MLAs of the VPP along with its supporters to hit the street. We failed to understand to what extent this move of the VPP is political when in fact it is the responsibility of the chosen representative to raise the issues which affect the State and its people irrespective of the communities they belong to. What better means could they adopt to help the people understand the nitty gritty of the Reservation Policy and the Roster system?
The Hon’ble High Court has rightly observed that even though the Reservation Policy had come into effect in 1972 but there has not been a proper outline of the Roster System that should have been in place starting from its maiden year. For the general information of our readers, the Resolution of 1972 states: In pursuance of Clause 4 of Article 16 of the Constitution of India and keeping in view the inadequacy of representation of these communities in the services under the Autonomous State of Meghalaya in terms of their population that, consistently with the maintenance of efficiency in the administration, the following reservation shall be made in favour of the Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes in posts and services in connection with the affairs of Meghalaya which are tilled by direct recruitment, (a) There shall be a reservation of 40 per cent of the vacancies in favour of Khasis and Jaintias; (b) There shall be a reservation of 40 per cent of the vacancies in favour of Garos, (c) There shall be a reservation of 5 per cent of vacancies in favour of any other Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes as specified in the Fourth Schedule and the Second Schedule respectively of the said Act in so far as they relate to Meghalaya (see, No. PER. 222/71/138 dated 12th June 1972).
After the Court’s order in 2022 to halt the various governmental appointments to fill up the vacancies in different departments of the State till the Roster System is taking place, the NPP-led government rushed to speed up the implementation of the same by applying the retrospective approach without understanding the decision of the High Court and without properly analysing the repercussions that could have a serious outcome on the communities of the state. Thanks to the Hon’ble High Court’s timely intervention, the decision to implement the Roster has now been left to the Legislature and the Executive.
The introduction in the Resolution of 1972 which is also the basic memorandum for the reservation of job quota for the communities of the State specified the basis and criteria for the implementation of the Reservation Policy and that is “in terms of their population”. It should be noted in the Resolution that there is no reference relating to backwardness, illiteracy, under-development, or any other factor.
The glaring reality is that the census shows that the Khasi-Jaintia deserve their portion of the quota since they are demographically larger than the Garos or other communities. Why is this so hard to understand? Therefore, the VPP’s stand is to implement the Roster system in letter and spirit keeping in track the principles laid down in the Resolution of 1972.
Of course, the VPP did not only demand the immediate halt of the Roster system as per the implementation of the present government to set the cut-off date to 1972 but also offers suggestions such as the convening of a Special Assembly Session, forming of an Experts’ Committee that would look into the issues to gather an objective decision and also openly stated that it understood the importance of having a Roster system in implementing the reservation policy.
It is amusing to see that some people have problems with this as well and go out of their way to jolt up the identity specifications of the Khasi, Jaintia, Garo and other communities by bringing in ideas that could influence communalism. Articles with a subject such as “Who Deserves Reservation: Khasi-Jaintia or Garo?” and with illogical claims that Khasis no longer need a reservation to show to the world that they can compete with anyone are baseless arguments of nothing but self-aggrandisement.
In fact if one opines that any of these communities do not need a reservation, then he or she has directly questioned the wisdom of the founders of the state Reservation Policy and also speak against the decision of the Hon’ble High Court concerning the Roster system. It is disheartening to see people who want to put more oil into the burning fire that could inflame the integrity of the State. It is also surprising to see that even elected MLA and certain pressure groups went to the extent to suggest the abort of the Reservation Policy in the State without realising the impact.
Moreover, the President of the VPP, Mr. Ardent Miller Basaiawmoit during the awareness campaigns/rallies speaks clearly that the party neither has communal feeling nor is against the sentiment and livelihood of the Garo people but what the party urgently wants is the justifiable and fair implementation of the Roster system based on the demography of the communities as stated in the first paragraph of the Resolution of 1972.
Terming the rallies of the VPP as a political stunt and a hoax that takes the people of Khasi-Jaintia for a ride is misleading and illogical. These kinds of views to malign the party’s image sounds more like a forced opinion by a group of people who belong to one political party or another or anyone who is Anti-VPP rather than a personal rational analysis. Thus, when someone sees a political party’s fight for the right and balanced approach towards this issue as political gains, I am sure that the support of the people to the VPP will answer all the doubts of narrow-minded thinking.
It is rather intriguing to many sensible citizens of the State that such a beleaguered attempt to present the party in a bad light is an attempt to smear the party and its people without understanding its core principles. The objective of the party is misrepresented through local dailies and remarks are being made in such a way that may incite communal feelings among the communities of the State. We, therefore, urge the people not to make judgemental approaches without considering the detrimental effect that may impact the peace and harmony of the State. Both the Reservation Policy and the Roster system should be implemented with impartiality and with just treatment of all communities, and it is the sole duty and responsibility of the State government to ensure that no favouritism or discrimination is taking place in the process.
Leave a Reply