By the Editor
Great thinkers of the world pronounce that humans are social animals meaning that they cannot live alone but by living together, socialising among themselves and helping one another be it in times of happiness or sorrow and in this way they will thrive and prosper. As population increases various problems arise, chief one being poverty and unemployment which create disharmony leading to extreme cases at times. In society, there are certain categories of people who are greatly concerned with such types of persons and so they try to find ways and means in helping them and they are the social workers. Social workers observe their neighbourhood and are greatly concerned with general welfare and well-being of their fellow human beings. They work alone or in groups with common aim and purpose. It is indeed a good sign since there are at present quite a number of social organisations in the state that render selfless services to the poor and the needy. Frank Tyger said, “ Good friends are like shock absorbers. They help you take the lumps and bumps on the road of life”.
Unemployment has become a chronic problem nowadays and there seems to be no total solution at all to it but rather it is becoming worse and number of unemployed people, including educated youths of both sexes, is increasing at an alarming rate. Government and quasi-government departments cannot absorb them all and due to lack of factories and industries the problem is compounded. In order to earn their livelihood with respect and dignity no matter what, at first a few of them opened small shops and stalls on the roadsides in urban areas and at the same time trying not to encroach into footpaths meant for pedestrians and the number gradually increased in a matter of time. Few of these street vendors, no doubt, might have crossed the limit and so caused hardships and inconvenience to pedestrians and even motorists. Generalising the situation without conducting proper investigation and with inhuman care or feelings for these simple hawkers, state government introduced the Meghalaya Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014. Street vendors, who were till then unorganized, became helpless and had to face great hardships due to constant harassment from police. Unable to earn sustainable income for supporting themselves and their dependants, they were at a complete loss until guardian angel in the person of Angela Rangad, member of the Thma U Rangli Juki (TUR), came to their rescue and consequently formed the Meghalaya Progressive Street Vendors Association (MPSVA).
Angela Rangad challenged the state Act as central Act on hawking was already operational. She contended that the central Act has enabling provisions alongside regulation of hawking protecting interest of street vendors. Before the association was formed, besides state repression and illegal evictions there were also non-state actors who were taking advantage of the most marginalised in the society and goods confiscated by the police were seldom returned. Government decision to repeal the state law was hailed as a victory for hawkers of the state.