If what you’ve read so far appeals to the heart, here are some facts that will boggle the mind:
No added colours or flavours. A lot of Meghalaya’s produce is organic and pesticide-free. Which means you enjoy the purest and safest variety of many agricultural crops and nature-related products in Meghalaya. Lakadong turmeric is one such example of nature’s bounty that doesn’t have an equal anywhere in the world.
Untouched by hand. Interestingly, many products in Meghalaya come from crops that grow wild and have not been planted by anyone. They pop up on their own amid paddy, areca nut, and other fruits, vegetables, and flowers. They crop up all over the mountains, giving the locals an agricultural bonus, if they choose to harvest them. Jackfruits from Tura, and Aloe Vera in the Garo Hills are two examples of things that grow wild and are just ripe for the picking. And the government’s initiatives around Jackfruit is a great step toward leveraging these low hanging fruits.
No conditions apply. Weather in Meghalaya is consistently beneficial to agriculture and livelihood. It is as if the sun and the rain know exactly when to come out and when not to. As a result, farm output is less dependent on nature, and more on inputs by its farmers. But with global warming and the other nonsense happening in the surrounding environment, who knows if these ideal conditions have a future.
How does Meghalaya compare and compete with the rest of India and the world?
Meghalaya is a great study in History, Geography, Civics, Sports, and Contemporary Arts. But it needs to do a lot of work on its Economics, before it can graduate to being a successful and significant player in the national and global stage. But more on its economics, later.
For the History lover, Meghalaya has plenty to contemplate on and learn from. Ancient monoliths, centuries-old festivals and hereditary customs still dot the landscape and lifestyles of the State. The monoliths at Nartiang, and the Sacred Forest at Mawphlang, are just two of the many places rich with history and legends of the past.
Geographically speaking, Meghalaya home to the ancient rocks that place the history of planet earth currently in the Meghalayan Age. It is home to other natural wonders as well. From ancient stalagmites and stalactites in centuries-old natural caves like the ones at Mawsmai, to perpetually flowing rivers and waterfalls in Sohra; from surprisingly transparent Umngot river at Dawki, to mysteriously impenetrable Sacred Forests; the State has them all, and then some more.
Civil Society and Local Governance are not wishful ideals but thriving practices in the State of Meghalaya. People live with respect for others and the space they occupy. Local headmen and church congregations ensure people live in harmony and by a value system that promotes collaboration, cohabitation, and decency in all walks of life.
A football ground at every turn is not an exaggeration when it comes to Meghalaya. You cannot drive for half an hour anywhere in the State, without coming across a football ground. And most of the time you will see teams fully kitted, playing serious matches in front of cheering crowds! While other sports are played in Meghalaya, football is the local favourite. Besides the well-known Shillong Lajong FC, there are many other football clubs brimming with talent all over Meghalaya. So much so, that Meghalaya has the unique distinction of having its own Baby League for kids as young as 4 years of age!
Musically inclined Meghalaya actively nurtures mesmerizing forms of traditional local music and dance, as well as a vibrant western and contemporary music scene. With Shillong often referred to as ‘the Rock Capital of India’, the state is also seeing the rise of other forms of contemporary music in recent years.
Besides rock legends like Lou Majaw, we also have Rudy Wallang and Tipriti Kharbangar with their Blues band Soulmate entertaining audiences with their music around the country. In recent years younger artists are experimenting with Funk, Jazz, Hip Hop, and other genres, and blending them with Khasi folk music and lyrics. If you like music, you must check out bands like Blue Temptations, Summersalt, Cryptographik Street Poets, and Khasi Bloodz (featured video above). Seriously.
Oxford of the Northeast? Given Meghalaya’s comparison with Scotland for its natural beauty, I am surprised they don’t compare Shillong with Oxford, because of its great and many educational institutions. Yes, Meghalaya offers the best education options in northeast India. With English being the main medium of instruction and learning, Shillong is a magnet for youth with aspirations (and family money) from all over northeast India. Not only does it have well-known schools and colleges like St. Edmund’s and St. Anthony’s that provide an excellent education, but it is also home to many other advanced learning institutes. Shillong also has an Indian Institute of Management (IIM Shillong), the North Eastern Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health & Medical Sciences (NEIGRIHMS), and the legendary North-Eastern Hill University (NEHU).
As a result, Meghalaya has a very large pool of educated human resources which it can leverage for the greater good, and potentially build a robust and sustainable work-force in the State.
I said potentially, because despite all the glorious things Meghalaya has to offer, the State remains vastly unexplored and not much is known about this beautiful place beyond Sohra, Scotland of the East, and now NH7 Weekender.
Read more, on the next page…