A roundup of news this week from the northeast.
Mizoram, Tripura and Sikkim top states in providing work under MNREGA
The central government’s annual performance report on Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) placed Mizoram, Sikkim and Tripura at the top of the list of states providing work under the rural jobs scheme in the 2016-17 fiscal.
The report, compiled by the Union rural development ministry, said Mizoram, for the first time, topped the list with a performance of 88.43 person days per household – almost double of the national average of 45.21 days.
Tripura, which for the last seven financial years was at the top slot, slid to the second position in 2016-17 with 79.88 person days per household. Sikkim grabbed the third position, like in the last financial year, with 66.77 person days per household during 2016-17.
However, the ministry’s performance list put two other northeastern states – Manipur and Assam – at the bottom of the list of 29 states, with 20.94 and 29.38 person days per household respectively.
Under MNREGA, introduced in 2006, states are mandated to provide at least 100 days of work in a financial year to at least one member in each rural household. The target has, however, not been reached in any state so far.
While Mizoram is ruled by Congress, Tripura is with CPI(M) and Sikkim with Sikkim Democratic Front. While the Assam is under BJP rule since May last year, the party has recently formed a coalition government in Manipur.
Arunachal: 152 families to receive compensation for land occupied by Indian army post-1962 Chinese aggression
After a wait of nearly 50 years, as many as 152 families belonging to three border villages in Arunachal Pradesh will soon receive financial compensation for their land that the Indian Army occupied after the Chinese aggression in 1962.
On April 13, in a ceremony held in Sengre village, Union minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju and state chief minister Pema Khandu handed over replicas of the cheques to the people of Sengre, Nyukmadung and Lish worth Rs 53,92,71,110 in total.
Addressing the gathering, Khandu said each family will receive compensation of Rs 4,20000, which will be directly transferred to their account. Rijiju said the compensation couldn’t be transferred before the ceremony as there was a dispute over the list of beneficiaries. As per local news reports, he said, “The issue will be sorted out within a week.”
Meghalaya: Both Lok Sabha MPs write to PM, home minister to extend visas of Christian missionaries
Both members of parliament from Meghalaya, Vincent H. Pala and Conrad Sangma, have written letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Rajnath Singh respectively to “provide all help” to extend the visas of foreign Christian missionaries living in India.
Both MPs have named three foreign missionaries – Fr Ignacio Zuazua from Spain, associated with Gujarat-based Jivan Jyoti Society since 1951; Sr Laurel Judith Seaton from Australia, serving at the Missionaries of Charity in Bihar for 42 years; and Belgian Aurele Brys, associated with Jharkhand-based Ranchi Jesuit Society for 51 years – in their letters.
While Pala, a former Union minority affairs minister, belongs to the Congress, Sangma is the president of National People’s Party, a constituent of the BJP’s Northeast Democratic Alliance and also an important alliance partner in the Manipur government.
As per local news reports on April 12, Pala drew attention to “increasing incidents of hate and violence against Christians in the country” in general and sought the “personal intervention” of the prime minister to “allow the missionaries to continue to do their social and educational service to the poor”.
“As part of this ongoing discrimination against Christians, long living members of the community in India from other nations, who contribute immensely to education and social work especially while working amidst underprivileged sections of the society, are being hounded and asked to leave the country,” he said in the letter.
Sangma, in his letter to the home minister, also sought intervention in the issue. He said, “There are many instances where many missionaries have faced problems in getting their visas extended, which was not in the past, which has led to lot of confusion and difficulties for these missionaries who have been working tirelessly for the poor and needy of our country.”
Tripura: CPI(M) MPs meet Javadekar over SC order on school teachers
All members of parliament from Tripura – two from the Lok Sabha and one from the Rajya Sabha – belonging to the ruling CPI (Marxist) recently met Union human resource development minister Prakash Javadekar to urge him for a “one-time relaxation” in the Teachers Eligibility Test (TET) for the youth of the state “as the state doesn’t have sufficient number of qualified candidates”.
The request was in response to the recent Supreme Court order that disqualified as many as 10,323 graduates and undergraduate teachers in the state for failing to meet the required qualifications as per the National Council for Teachers Education guidelines formulated in 2001.
CPI(M) MP Jitendra Choudhury told reporters in New Delhi on April 11, “We requested him to consider the proposal of Tripura government to extend one-time relaxation, in terms of marks and professional qualifications because suddenly the adequate number of candidates will not be available in Tripura, which may create a vacuum in the state’s school education system and cause immense inconvenience to the students.”
Choudhury said Javadekar “admitted similar situations prevailing in many other states” and “assured that he would convene a special meeting on this issue shortly and will look into the matter.”
The opposition parties, particularly the BJP, which is aiming to make a foray into the state in the assembly polls next year, has trained their guns at chief minister Manik Sarkar on the issue. State BJP chief Biplab Kumar Deb said on April 12, “The state government appointed unqualified persons by corrupt means as teachers in spite of having thousands of qualified youths. When the Supreme Court said the appointments were illegal, how can the government pursue for relaxation of rules now?”
He told reporters in Agartala, “Instead, the government could arrange alternative means of livelihood to the teachers who lost their jobs and speed up the appointment of qualified teachers by transparent means.”
On May 7, 2014, the Tripura high court, in response to 58 petitions, terminated the services of 10,323 teachers recruited by the state government in 2010 and 2013 as they were appointed by a policy not compliant with the obligatory qualifications mandated by the Right to Education Act, 2009. On March 29 this year, the Supreme Court upheld the high court order. It, however, allowed the affected teachers to continue at their posts till December 31.
The apex court asked the state government to initiate a fresh recruitment policy through the TET as prescribed under the RTE Act by May 31 and complete it by December 31. It said the affected teachers could compete for the jobs.
While 1,100 of the teachers recruited by the government were post graduates, 4,617 were graduates and 4,606 undergraduates.