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East Garo Hills District

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About the East Garo Hills district

Click on the following link to download district statistics as per NITI Ayog website
http://niti.gov.in/file/283/download?token=i9rqxMXs

Brief About East Garo Hills District
The almost complete absence of written records prior to the coming of the British leaves the past history of the Garo very far fro certain. For the past, we have to depend entirely on their legend and oral traditions, their folklore and folksongs, and other circumstantial evidence which are, however, most uncertain and reliable sources of information.

The Garos’ own traditions relate that they came originally from Tibet to what is now Cooch Behar, whence they moved on to Dhubri whose king received them warmly. However, later on, being afraid of them, he did not allow them to settle permanently. From there they moved to their neighourhood of Jogighopa where they remained for about 400 years but they were again forced to leave the place, driven towards the south by the ruler of that country, crossed the Brahmaputra on rafts and advanced towards Gauhati, where they settled at Ka’magre or present Kamakhya Hills and along the Brahmaputra valley. As the place was infested with tigers, the Garo relinguished the place and then spread into Habraghat Pargana in Goalpara. Tradation also tell us while in the neighbourhood of Habraghat Pargana, the Garo appear to have become rich and prosperous and the first Garo Kingdom was established, of which the first reigning price was Abrasen who has his palace and capital at Sambol A’ding, an isolated hill near the Dakaitdol Village not far from Goalpara town

Mediaeval Period
With the passage of time in the medieval period, while the Garos in the hills were still divided into a number of petty Nokmaships, the plain tracts along the fringes at the foot of the hills came to be included in the many Zamindari Estates, which eventually developed into fewer but larger complexes. During the mediaeval era and the Mughal period, the more important estates bordering the Garo Hills were Karaibari, Kalimalupara, Mechpara and Habraghat in Rongpur district, Susang and Sherput in Mymensing district of Bengal and Bijini in the Eastern Duars.Early records describe the Garos as being in a state of intermittent conflict with Zamindars of these large estates.

Modern Period
The contact between the British and the Garos started towards the close of the 18th Century after the British East India Company had secured the Diwani of Bengal from the Mughal Emperor. Consequently, all the estates bordering upon Garo Hills, which for all practical purposes had been semi-independent were brought under the control of the British.

Though political control had passed from the Mughals to the British, the latter, like Mughals, had no desire to control the Estates or their tributaries directly. The Zamindars were not disturbed in the internal management of their estates. In fact, they were entrusted, as they had been by the Mughals, with the responsibility of keeping the hill Garos in check with help of their retainers. Thus in the beginning, the intermittent conflict between the Zamindars and the Garos went on unabated until the situation deteriorated to the extent that the British were forced to take notice. This development led ultimately to the annexation of the Garo Hills in 1873. Captain Williamson was the first Deputy Commissioner of the unified district. The district was bifurcated into two districts viz. East Garo Hills and West Garo Hills districts in October 1979.

People
Garo is the language of the majority of the people of the Hills which bear their name. Garo is the only indigenous tribal language in the Garo Hills that has a growing literature. The script used is the Roman. Garo has a close affinity to Bodo, the language of one of the dominant communities of Assam.

Garo society is entirely casteless. A garo society is matrilineal, and inheritance is through the mother. All children, as soon as they are born ,belong to their mother’s Ma’Chong, whence Dalton’s Term "motherhood"

Inheritance of property among the garos is generally linked with matrimonial relations, and although men may have no property to pass on, they have an important say in deciding to whom it should pass. If the nokna is unmarried, as she often is since selection generally takes place before she get married, the father will try to get a young man from his own lineage, commonly the son of his own sister, as the husband of the heiress. 

The Garo normally do use many ornaments. The common ones are string of beads and earring worn both by men and women. The latter ornaments are considered to be very essentials as they serve as guarantees of the safe journey of the soul to the other world, being offered to the spirit Nawang should he try prevent the soul from going to the land of the dead.

The Garo prefer simple food. They gradually avoid spiced food, and usually with rice they take boiled meat and vegetables. They boil this curry quite plainly, adding a kind of alkaline Kalchi vegetable "salt" to it just as it comes to the boil. It has been suggested that this practice account for the comparatively low incidence of gastric ailments in these hills.

Literacy and Educational Standard
The progress of education in earlier times was very slow, as the administration was mainly concerned with the maintenance of law and order. The main agency for propagation of education was therefore the American Baptist Mission, which however, concentrated its activities only in a few areas where it had established its Mission Stations. Until 1911, when only 23 people per thousand were returned as literate, progress was very slow.

Between 1911 and 1951, education in this district made slight though still insufficient progress. According to the 1951 Census, the percentage of literacy in this district was only 7.3% compared to the All-India average of 16%. An upward trend was apparent after independence, the most remarkable progress achieved being in the field of Primary Education. As a result, literacy spread at a faster rate than in the plains, during the 1951-1961 decade.

The increase in literacy has been due to the rapid increase in the number of educational institutions.

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