I would like to share some thoughts on the current sporting conditions in Garo Hills, Meghalaya. Firstly, under the Department of Sport and Youth Affairs of Meghalaya, a District Sports Office was set up in each district where coaches and sports staff were appointed, wherever the District Sports Office (DSO) is based here in Garo Hills. All of them have been specifically appointed for having contributed in their areas of expertise to support and promote the sport among the youth of Garo Hills. But the sad thing is that most of the so-called coaches or physical education teachers are inactive all year round. Some are not even physically fit to be able to fulfill their coaching duties. Most of the staff of each DSO office are only active during January 26th, August 15th, Wangala Festival or when some sports and spectacles are held just to entertain the general public. Otherwise it is hard to imagine that they would get in touch and diligently pass on their specialist knowledge regularly in the form of coaching.
Avid hardcore athletes, the residents of Garo Hills appear to be suited to contact sports such as judo, boxing, taekwondo, kickboxing, wrestling, distance running and of course soccer. Not only that, I find games like badminton at Williamnagar and Tura indoor stadiums to be played and followed seriously, although to this day both have not seen a coach since said halls were inaugurated, which is really hard to stomach. Even without a badminton coach, Cyrus from Williamnagar won badminton gold in the U19 boys’ singles at the Meghalaya Games 2022, which speaks to the love of the game and commitment of the federation who have done a commendable job. In addition, athletes from Garo Hills have won medals in boxing, taekwondo, golf, and shooting events, for which there are absolutely no coaches or proper facilities. And another sport that deserves a special mention is table tennis at the Tura Indoor Stadium, Hawakhana, which fortunately has a dedicated and genuine coach known to all – Mr. Rollingstone Sangma. The sacrifice, dedication, dedication and discipline that Mr. Rollingstone Sangma brings to his coaching of his handful of children, boys and girls, on a daily basis throughout the year is a sight to behold for a sports enthusiast like me. Because of his hard work, discipline, perseverance and goals, his cadets dominated the U17 table tennis category at the recently concluded Meghalaya Games 2022, winning gold, silver and bronze in singles and gold in doubles (boys names: Jeff, Ario and Vivek).
I hope and pray that the momentum of the outcome of the Meghalaya Games will lead to higher performances at the national and international levels in the near future. Why I brought the table tennis coach to attention here is that if Rollingstone Sangma contributes with such dedication to the sports he has appointed, why can’t the other coaches do the same? What are the other sports coaches doing after their appointment and what are they still doing today? There should be standards to justify the appointment of all coaches under the DSO. Only then will the sports scene in Garo Hills change. Some might argue that they lack facilities and equipment and so on and so forth, but take the example of badminton, shooting, boxing, golf and taekwondo, who made it to it simply because of their hard work, dedication and love for the game made the podium.
The DSO of each Garo Hills district must pull up their socks and lead by example and only then can Garo Hills dream of becoming a sports powerhouse like Manipur. I think now is the right time to capitalize on the medal winners and use the positive impact of the 2022 Meghalaya Games to turn them into a base for progress in next year’s Meghalaya Games, which as per our Prime Minister announced to be held in Tura. Konrad K. Sangma.
Jordan Ch. Marak,
Lum Shyllong error!
The title of this letter may vaguely allude to the famous non-fiction book The Himalayan Blunder, written by the late Brigadier John P. Dalvi, which outlined the raging truth of India’s devastating military disaster in the 1962 Sino-Indian War. Conversely, the core implication of my critique is to conjure up the utterly indifferent stance of the then Hynniewtrep officials on the proportion of job quota reservations, which are fixed at 40% for Khasi-Jaintia combined and 40% for the Garos. These leaders in question may have been in a hurry to get pawns in the newborn state, thereby possibly remaining silent on a critical issue that is having adverse consequences for their “Jaitbynriew”. It was undoubtedly a gigantic mistake!
Interestingly, North Shillong MLA Adelbert Nongrum had recently put the spotlight on the previous shortcomings of this reservation regime in Meghalaya when he claimed that the same could have been contextualized on the strength of the population structure among the three main tribes of Meghalaya rather than the existing format . Many of our frustrated unemployed youth could not have agreed more with what the North Shillong MLA was claiming. However, according to reports, the state assembly of Meghalaya rejected such a proposal in its session, thereby sticking to the status quo!
In addition, the Garos would not tolerate a repetition of the existing reservation quota if this affected their social interests. To make this claim clear, we witnessed how in the 2000s, if I remember correctly, they had vehemently objected to the alleged move of the Dispensation at the time to move MBOSE’s office from Tura to Shillong. In this agitation, some even sacrificed their lives against the proposed maneuver. I cannot understand why such reverberations would not explode again if any offer is made to recast the current reservation regime. Therefore, any attempt to change this is all but impossible, and those who envision a reorientation in this direction will end up crying over spilled milk, for the die was now cast; or like Julius Caesar in 49 BC. Chr. “Alea iacta est” had claimed. In a word, this festering problem has become irreversible!
Perhaps, just perhaps, in order to begin making amends for over fifty years for the ongoing widespread discontent among Hynniewtrep’s unemployed youth, a viable option, I have been made to understand, is to see that Meghalaya be transferred to the Hynniewtrep and the Achik states . And over time, many think that would be a win-win situation for the affected communities as a whole. In relation to this narrative, and in my interactions with some government officials, I have been informed that Garo district employees are compelled to travel to their respective Shillong headquarters just for official requirements such as countersigning sample roll invoices, acquiring Funds, submission of different leave of absence, travel permits allowed before retirement, warrants quick approval. Unfortunately, some were withheld due to procedural delays, the final filing of annuity papers and other unforeseen circumstances. For these official duties, Garo Hills employees had to travel hundreds of miles to Shillong, resulting in a loss of valuable time, money, etc. Essentially, therefore, the fact that the Garos would have their own capital city in Tura would improve these obstacles forever. And it stands to reason that, based on the foregoing concerns, the bifurcation of Meghalaya may end up as Shakespeare’s play All’s Well that Ends Well.
Jerome K Diengdoh,