Meghalaya: Need to have competitive mindset, says CM Sangma
CM Conrad Sangma at Aspire Meghalaya’s District Talent Events

Guwahati: “We have to remember that we need to compete with the best. The reservation policy is there for us but that does not mean that our mindset has to be a ‘reservation policy mindset’. Our mindset needs to be a competitive mindset. Fight as if you need to survive,” Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma said at the Aspire Meghalaya’s District Talent Events 2022.

Aspire Meghalaya’s District Talent Events 2022 commenced on October 6 with events scheduled to be held across all districts in the months of October and November. The East Khasi Hills chapter was held today at U Soso Tham Auditorium, Shillong with 26 talents from 5 campuses performing, out of which the Top 3 were recognised. The one-day event also witnessed the felicitation of 103 campuses from the District by Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma, for their participation in the Meghalaya Youth Survey 2022 and Soft Skills Training interventions under Aspire Meghalaya.

Afshana Nongkynrih (Dancing), Class 9, St. Mary’s Higher Secondary School, Shillong; Elanstar Mawiong (Musical Instruments), Class 11, St. Anthony’s Higher Secondary School, Pynursla; and Ashish Paul (Singing), 1st Semester, Shillong Commerce College, Shillong, emerged as the Aspire Meghalaya District Stars from East Khasi Hills.

Speaking at the event, Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma, said, “When the Union Minister of Education visited our State a few months ago, he asked for a presentation of Aspire to be displayed at the All Education Ministers’ Conference that was held in Gujarat, as a model programme for the entire country. That is the scale of attention that is being given to the Aspire Meghalaya programme and goes to show the kind of impact it is having”.

The Chief Minister went on to say that if we want to make a difference and help our State become one of the Top Ten states in ten years, it must start with key stakeholders and key groups – farmers, women, and youth.

 “Aspire was meant to unlock the talents within you, and make you accept, first of all, what you are good at. You may not see the results of the programme today, but ten years from now, these same youths who are here today, the kind of confidence they will have in moving forward in life, the kind of positivity, the kind of acceptability they have for others, the kind of respect they will have for themselves, is the kind of impact and transformation we will see. We will see a different sense of purpose, passion, confidence and positivity like never before. This is the difference, and it is going to happen. But we need to be persistent and work together. Every single person has a role to play to make sure that we are able to invest properly in the human capital we have,” he added. 

He further said that the world today is about competition – positive competition and not negative competition, positive criticism and not negative criticism.

 “We have to remember that we need to compete with the best. The reservation policy is there for us but that does not mean that our mindset has to be a ‘reservation policy mindset’. Our mindset needs to be a competitive mindset. Fight as if you need to survive. Fight as if there is no reservation for you. Fight as if you are going to compete with the best in the world. It is that competitive mindset that I want in every single youth,” he continued.

A key highlight of the event in Shillong today was an interactive session on stage between the Chief Minister and some of the students from schools that attended the event. One of the questions that the students had for the CM was where and how he found the skills needed to be the leader he is today when, in his time as a young man perhaps, soft skills and leadership training were hard to come by.

The CM replied, “There were opportunities to pick up the skills we needed, although not at a scale like Aspire’s. However, my experiences were my best teachers. Like any other person, I have gone through defeat and losses on both personal and professional fronts. Through it all, I realised the power of trust, respect and hard work”.

He further spoke about his late father, Purno A Sangma, Former Chief Minister of Meghalaya, and how growing up with a leader such as him meant that there were always moments of learning even at casual dinner-table conversations.

One of the students asked him about the Government’s initiatives in helping safeguard and promote indigenous music which is lately regarded by many as a dying art form, to which he replied, “There are programmes and interventions that promote local musicians which include indigenous artists. The Tri-Hills Ensemble concluded recently is one such instance”. 

He went on to add how each of us has a role to play in safeguarding our culture and traditions. When asked what profession he would have found himself in if he didn’t become a politician, he responded, “While I have been introduced to politics early on in life which played a huge role in me developing the passion and fascination for it, social development has always been close to my heart. I would have always been involved in development programmes for youth, women, farmers, entrepreneurs, if not as a politician, in some capacity or the other”.

Speaking at the event, Rosetta M Kurbah, Director, School Education & Literacy, “Today, we are witnessing a movement of energised and enthusiastic youth who have undergone high impact workshops on soft skills for life, in identifying their talents, building up their confidence level, improving their thought process and rediscovering themselves, across 62 campuses in the state. We are here to celebrate this journey of engagement and talent exploration with the youth of our State. We look forward to the State Summit where there will be 12 District Aspire Stars and 24 runners-up talents. Our best wishes to all the participants”.

Some of the government officials also present today included Isawanda Laloo, Deputy Commissioner, East Khasi Hills District and Paia B War Nongbri, Assistant Director, Sports & Youth Affairs.

A huge part of the Aspire Meghalaya initiative is the identification of emerging talents from across the State. Talent discovery platforms were integrated into the campus training interventions that have seen the emergence of 350 promising talents from across districts in talent spaces varying from singing, dancing, spoken word, sports performance and visual arts.

The top 3 talents are selected by a panel of District Talent Committee members at each district event. 36 District Stars will converge at a State-level summit where the Top 12 State Stars will be recognised. Members of the East Khasi Hills District Talent Committee included O. Mawthoh, District Sports Officer; M. Lyngwa, District School Education Officer; A. Pathaw, District Librarian; and renowned local artists Benedict Hynniewta and Anniesha Mawrie.

Aspire Meghalaya is an initiative of the Directorate of Sports & Youth Affairs, Government of Meghalaya, and supported by the State Education Mission Authority of Meghalaya (SEMAM-SSA) under the State’s Education Department. The programme is implemented by AVENUES, Shillong.

Over the course of the year, over 64,000 youths from 332 campuses have been engaged in the Meghalaya Youth Survey and more than 13,000 students across 62 campuses have been trained in soft skills and career exploration programmes under the initiative.

To date, 24 talents have been recognised from the 8 districts of Eastern West Khasi Hills, North Garo Hills, West Khasi Hills, West Jaintia Hills, South West Garo Hills, East Garo Hills, South Garo Hills and East Khasi Hills.

As many as 178 talent performances from 41 campuses across the 8 districts resulted in the recognition and felicitation of the Top 3 talents from each district.

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