Meghalaya is a state in Northeast India. It was formed on 21 January 1972 by carving out two districts from the state of Assam:
- the United Khasi Hills and Jaintia Hills, and
- the Garo Hills
The state is bound to the south by the Bangladeshi divisions of Mymensingh and Sylhet. The capital of Meghalaya is Shillong.
The British imperial authorities nicknamed it the “Scotland of the East”. Meghalaya has historically followed a matrilineal system. The inheritance is traced through women, the youngest daughter inherits all wealth and
History of Meghalaya
Meghalaya was inhabited by people from the Neolithic period. Neolithic sites discovered are located in areas of high elevation in the Khasi Hills, Garo Hills, and the neighboring states. The highland plateaus and the abundant rain provided safety from floods but have rich soil.
One of the competing theories for the origin of rice comes from Ian Glover, who states, “India is the center of the greatest diversity of domesticated rice with over 20,000 identified species and Northeast India is the most favorable single area of the origin of domesticated rice.”
After the Conquest of Taraf in 1304, Shah Arifin Rafiuddin, a disciple of Shah Jalal, migrated and settled in the Khasi and Jaintia Hills where he preached Islamic monotheism to the local people. His khanqah remains in Sarping / Laurergarh on the Bangladeshi border but the part containing his mazar is in Meghalaya on top of Laur Hill.
In 1993, Bhaitbari is an archaeological site first discovered and excavated by A. K. Sharma. He discovered a fortification of burnt brick with mud core at the Meghalaya – Assam border which is dated to the 4th-8th century AD, the city has been speculated to have been one of the capital cities of Kamarupa.
The British discovered Camellia sinensis (tea shrub) in 1834 in Assam and later companies started renting land from 1839 onwards.
The Khasi, Garo, and Jaintia tribes had their kingdoms. But in the 19th century, Meghalaya came under the British administration. Later, the British incorporated Meghalaya into Assam in 1835.
The region enjoyed semi-independent status through a treaty relationship with the British Crown. On 16 October 1905, Lord Curzon did the partition of Bengal, and Meghalaya became part of the new province of Eastern Bengal and Assam.
On 3 January 1921 in pursuance of Section 52A of the Government of India Act of 1919, the governor-general-in-council declared the areas now in Meghalaya, other than the Khasi states, as “backward tracts.” Subsequently, the British administration enacted the Government of India Act 1935, which regrouped the backward tracts into two categories: “excluded” and “partially excluded” areas.
After the Independence of India, Meghalaya was part of Assam and had limited autonomy. In 1960, a movement for a separate hill state began.
On 11 September 1968, the government of India announced a scheme for constituting an autonomous state within the state of Assam.
Accordingly, the Assam Reorganisation (Meghalaya) Act of 1969 was enacted for the formation of an autonomous state. Meghalaya was formed by carving out two districts from the state of Assam: the United Khasi Hills and Jaintia Hills, and the Garo Hills.
The name ‘Meghalaya’ coined by geographer S.P. Chatterjee in 1936 was proposed and accepted for the new state. The Act came into effect on 2 April 1970, with the autonomous state having a 37-member legislature by the Sixth Schedule to the Indian constitution.
In 1971, the Parliament passed the North-Eastern Areas (Reorganisation) Act, 1971, which conferred full statehood on the autonomous state of Meghalaya. Meghalaya attained statehood on 21 January 1972, with a Legislative Assembly of its own.