Centre urged to reduce minimum height for indigenous candidates

Recruitment into army and paramilitary forces

SHILLONG, Jul 15: The North Eastern Council (NEC) has urged the Centre to reduce the minimum height for candidates belonging to the indigenous groups of Meghalaya so that they can be eligible to apply for various posts in the army and the paramilitary forces in the country.

In a letter to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, NEC member CK Das appealed to the centre to consider reducing the minimum height of 160 cm to 156 cm for the Khasi, Jaintia and Garo youths of Meghalaya, as well as for other youths belonging to indigenous ethnic groups of the region for recruitment in the army and paramilitary forces.

Das also requested that the same reduction may be extended to female candidates as well.

In his letter to the Ministries of Home and Defence, the NEC Member pointed out that recruitment of people from this region into the army and paramilitary forces has been on since the annexation of Assam by the British in 1826.

It may be pointed out that this letter to the Centre, came after, a petition by Congress legislator from the state, George B Lyngdoh.

Lyngdoh in his letter said that many youth of the state do not get employed in the armed forces primarily because they are not able to measure up to the minimum prescribed height of 160 cm.

The Congress legislator from Umroi, pointed out that Meghalaya ranks very high in unemployment rate and the situation is aggravated due to poor absorption in the central government organisations.

“The state had faced the brunt of militancy for years before the government could rein in the forces of terror and integrating the misguided youths again with the mainstream,” the legislator noted.

Lyngdoh also warned that unless sufficient avenues for employment are created to accommodate the youths to earn a decent living, they may be lured to illegal activities as a source of livelihood.

The legislator reiterated that there was an urgent need to reduce the minimum prescribed height from 160 cm to at least 156 cm for the local youths applying for jobs in the army and paramilitary forces.

In his letter to the Home and Defence Ministers Das said that the legislator’s observation that poor absorption of local youths in central government employment avenues aggravates the current acute unemployment problem not only in Meghalaya, but the same is true for the entire region.

“If sufficient number of able bodied from the local ethnic communities of the region can also be recruited in the army and paramilitary forces, it may reduce the problem of unemployment in the Northeast,” the NEC member added.

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