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Why tribal villages in Meghalaya want to end cooperation with the state government

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Shillong: Tribal village chiefs in the eastern part of Meghalaya on Saturday decided to end cooperation with the state government until it legally empowers the traditional institutions.

This decision – which is likely to have a major impact in tribal state Meghalaya – was adopted at the Dorbar Bah Ka Bri U Hynniew Trep (assembly of people of Hynniew Trep land), organised by the Synjuk ki Rangbah Shnong or chief of the federation of villages.

More than a lakh people from across the eastern part of Meghalaya on Saturday attended the assembly and demanded the Congress-led government to approve two bills passed by the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) and the Jaintia Hills Autonomous District Council (JHADC) to empower the traditional institutions.

Almost all shops in the state capital remained closed on Saturday. Only a few local taxis were seen plying on the roads.

Saturday’s assembly was significant in the wake of an order of the Meghalaya High Court curtailing the powers of the traditional heads in issuing certificates to people unless empowered by legislation.

Adopting six resolutions, the assembly resolved to take further action if the two bills failed to get the governor’s assent by June 10.

The meeting also resolved to bring all village councils under one umbrella — that would be known as Dorbar Khasi Jaintia — with the sole intention to bring unity and preserve the customs and traditions of the indigenous people.

On Friday, Governor V. Shanmuganathan gave his assent to an ordinance to provide legal recognition to the functions of traditional institutions in the entire state.

Following the approval, the Meghalaya Local Administration (Empowerment of Traditional Institutions, Traditional Bodies and Headmen in Governance and Public Delivery System) Ordinance, 2015 was notified in the gazette.

The traditional intuitions include that of the Syiem, Lyngdoh, Sirdar, Wahadar, Dolloi, Rangbah Shnong in the Khasi – Jaintia Hills and that of A’King Nokma in the Garo Hills.

In a nutshell, the ordinance empowers traditional institutions to issue certificates to villagers within their respective jurisdictions.

The certificates may relate to proof of residence, life certificate of pensioners, no objection certificate for running hotel or guest house, and any other matter to be notified by the government.

The ordinance also provides protection on action taken under it as no suit or legal proceeding would lie against the headmen or traditional institutions in the discharge of functions.

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US Preschoolers on Government Food Aid Grown Less Pudgy: Study

Obesity rates dropped steadily to about 14% in 2016

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US, Preschoolers, Government
A photo shows a closeup of a beam scale in a Federal building in Washington, D.C., June 18, 2019. (Photo: Diaa Bekheet). Preschoolers on government food aid have grown a little less pudgy, a U.S. study found. A photo shows a closeup of a beam scale in a Federal building in Washington, D.C., June 18, 2019. (Photo: Diaa Bekheet). VOA

Preschoolers on government food aid have grown a little less pudgy, a U.S. study found, offering fresh evidence that previous signs of declining obesity rates weren’t a fluke.

Obesity rates dropped steadily to about 14% in 2016 — the latest data available — from 16% in 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

“It gives us more hope that this is a real change,” said Heidi Blanck, who heads obesity prevention at the CDC.

The results were published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

US, Preschoolers, Government
Preschoolers on government food aid have grown a little less pudgy. VOA

The improvement affected youngsters ages 2 through 4 who receive food vouchers and other services in the federal Women, Infants and Children nutrition program. About 1 in 5 U.S. kids that age were enrolled in 2016.

An earlier report involving program participants the same age found at least small declines in obesity in 18 states between 2008 and 2011. That was the first decline after years of increases that later plateaued, and researchers weren’t sure if it was just a blip.

Improvements in food options in that program including adding more fruits, vegetables and whole grains may have contributed to the back-to-back obesity declines, researchers said. Other data show obesity rates in 2016 were stable but similar, about 14 percent, for children aged 2 to 5 who were not enrolled in the program, Blanck noted.

While too many U.S. children are still too heavy, the findings should be celebrated, said Dr. William Dietz, a former CDC obesity expert. “The changes are meaningful and substantial.”

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Dietz said program changes that cut the amount of juice allowed and switched from high-fat to low-fat milk likely had the biggest impact. He estimated that amounted to an average of 9,000 fewer monthly calories per child.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends low-fat milk for children. It also suggests kids should limit juice intake and choose fresh fruits instead.

Further reducing U.S. childhood obesity will require broader changes — such as encouraging families and day care centers to routinely serve fruits, vegetables and whole grains; and employers to extend parental leave to make breastfeeding easier for new mothers, said Maureen Black, a child development and nutrition specialist at the University of Maryland.

Studies have shown breastfed infants are less likely than others to become obese later on. (VOA)