Image courtesy: Twitter @SangmaConrad

Republic Day was celebrated in Meghalaya along with the rest of the country on Sunday with chief minister Conrad K Sangma laying out vision and plan of the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) government for the overall development of the State.

“My fellow citizens, we are at the start of a new year and a new decade.  I want to lay out the broad vision and plan of the government for the overall development of the State in the short, medium and long-term. Our vision 2030 is to transform Meghalaya into a high-income Indian state and to improve the well-being of every single citizen of the State,” Conrad said in his address after unfurling the tricolour at the Republic Day celebration at Polo Ground in the state capital.

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According to the chief minister, the vision has six core pillars – human development, primary sector rejuvenation, infrastructure expansion, entrepreneurship promotion, environmental protection and governance reform.

He said that a lot of work has happened on each of these pillars in the last two years.

“We have a clear plan to move forward in the next three years. We are building on our strengths and overcoming the challenges,” he said.

Stating that one of the state’s greatest strengths is the youth, Conrad said that 75 per cent of Meghalaya’s population is below the age of 34, and 37 per cent is in the age group of 15-34 years.

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“This huge resource needs to be empowered with quality education and skills so as to realize their full potential. Accordingly, a lot of emphasis is being placed on secondary and higher education, on skill development and on entrepreneurship. In secondary education, Ekalavya Model Residential Schools (EMRS) are planned to be set up in all the blocks of the State,” he informed.

Eleven such schools are already sanctioned at a cost of Rs 24 crore per school.

Land has been identified for the construction of these schools and DPRs are under preparation.

“Many initiatives are also being planned for higher education and particular importance is the idea of Community Colleges. These community managed institutions will provide higher education at the doorsteps of rural population with financial support from the Government. We are also skilling our youth under various programs including the Asian Development Bank funded, Supporting Human Capital development in Meghalaya project,” he said.

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He also spoke about the recently implemented unique soft skills development program called Aspire Meghalaya, wherein about 5000 youth from across the State have been trained and these soft skills improve the confidence levels and communication abilities of the youth.

The programme will cover more youth this year.

Another targeted initiative is the Chief Minister’s Civil Services Fellows programme.

Under this programme, Conrad said comprehensive civil services coaching are being provided at Shillong and Tura to about 200 youth annually.

Two of the Chief Ministers’ Civil Service fellows, Ferdinand Kharbudon and Wankhraw Kharbuli cleared the UPSC prelims last year.

“Our aim is that at least half a dozen of our youth should enter the All India or Central services in the next two years. The largest youth focused initiative in the recent past is the Chief Minister’s E- Championship Challenge, which is again an open competition to select business ideas. About 700 youth of the State applied for the first such challenge last year from which Meghalaya’s top 100 ideas were selected,” he stated.

The Chief Minister’s E- Championship challenge will henceforth be conducted annually to identify Meghalaya’s top-100 ideas.

Image courtesy: Twitter @SangmaConrad

In addition to the top 100 ideas, he said, “We also want to reach out to and support all the entrepreneurial youth of our State and we launched a comprehensive enterprise promotion program called PRIME (Promotion and Incubation of Market- Driven Enterprises). Under this program all three categories of entrepreneurs- Startup, Nano and Livelihood- will be incubated in a systematic way.”

Enterprise incubation centers, called PRIME Hubs will be set up in all district and block headquarters. These Hubs will be managed professionally and will be vibrant spaces for innovation and knowledge sharing.

The first Prime Hub, at JN Sports Complex, Shillong has been inaugurated this week which will be a space for the entrepreneurs to engage with mentors, investors, funders and market players.

“We are also designing a funding program to support entrepreneurs and a fund of Rs 10 crore has been created for this purpose. I believe that entrepreneurship will be the key driver of growth and employment in the coming years for our State,” the chief minister said adding that the sectors with the greatest natural and comparative advantages are high-value agriculture, high-end eco-tourism and new age industries like music and fashion.

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