Scheduled Tribe (ST) Certificate To Any Khasi Person
- A verbal conflict has broken out in matrilineal Meghalaya as a result of a tribal council’s directive not to grant a Scheduled Tribe (ST) certificate to any Khasi person who takes her or his father’s surname.
- One of the three indigenous matrilineal communities in the northeastern State is the 1.39 lakh or so Khasis. Jaintias and the Garos are the other two.
Points to Ponder:
- One of the three indigenous matrilineal communities in Meghalaya, a state in northeastern India, together with the Garos and Jaintias, is the Khasis. Matrilineal societies follow the female line for inheritance and descent.
- An edict from the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) prohibited the issuance of Scheduled Tribe (ST) certificates to anyone who wants to use their father’s last name rather than their mother’s clan name. For obtaining numerous government advantages and reservations, ST certifications are crucial.
- A political group that recently won four Assembly seats, the Voice of the People Party (VPP), has criticised the KHADC’s order. The probable denial of the right of Khasis to be recognised as such, regardless of the usage of their father’s surname, worried VPP President and MLA Ardent Miller Basaiawmoit.
- The Khasi Hills Autonomous District Khasi Social Custom of Lineage Act, 1997 is used by the KHADC to support its directive. According to Sections 3 and 12 of the act, anyone who adheres to the tradition of using their mother’s last name will be classified as Khasis. The council makes the case that using the father’s last name violates the customs of the matrilineal culture.
- The KHADC emphasises its dedication to upholding and safeguarding the long-standing customs of the Khasi community. They further add that for a Khasi woman’s children to seek an ST certificate after she marries a non-Khasi person, she must obtain a Khasi tribe certificate.
- Since the 1960s, men’s rights advocates have pushed for a change from the matrilineal to the patrilineal system within the Khasi society. A patrilineal system, in which descent and inheritance are traced through the male line, is what these campaigners believe would give men more rights and benefits.
- A group that supported the patrilineal system, the Iktiar Longbriew Manbriew, was short-lived. However, after the crusade’s founding in 1990, its successor, Syngkhong Rympei Thymmai, has continued. The group, which now has over 4,000 members, keeps pushing for Khasi society to switch to a patrilineal system.