NESFAS organized an in-house commemoration to honour the legacy of U Syiem Tirot Sing. It has been 183 years since the passing of this great chieftain who was the first to not only defend the land and his people against the British, but probably also laid the seed of the freedom struggle against colonial rule in the Indian Subcontinent.
Dr. Carl. O. Rangad, Vice-Chairman (Operations) NESFAS, shared the story of his leadership with the team, outside consultants and visitors. He laid emphasis how these achievements while recognised by the State of Meghalaya needs to be endorsed on a national level. The legacy of this great leader is of fighting against all odds, even if it means fighting against guns and bullets with the available bows and arrows for the right cause. As indigenous communities, we have to remind ourselves that we have to defend our heritage against new issues that would destroy our lands, these might not be against foreign powers but issues of modern times. These can take the shape of plastic waste, fast food, pollution and other factors decaying our lands and health of its people. The indigenous communities all over the globe are fighting against invasions from such different forces. There are many grassroots organizations that work to fight against these invasions and their biggest weapon is passion; to defend the homes, farming systems, food, culture and many more. We are all standing in an intellectual jungle, and at NESFAS, the mandate is to defend the local systems and encourage communities to take this lead so that they are eventually empowered.
The story of Tirot Sing shared how he was betrayed by one of his own ministers similarly we should be cautious of the enemy within which is tempted by the new-age changes which might be harmful. We should be able to weigh the good and the bad of modern times before absorbing or encouraging them. Phrang Roy, Chairman of NESFAS, said that besides Tirot Sing, we should remember his legacy of being a leader who listened to the majority and elders of his dorbar. Also the number of significant contributors of his struggle might be seen as unimportant people. Let us not forget that many people, during his time, associated with him and led in their own fronts and looked after him when he was injured.
We often hear many stories about him and these stories are also seen as an important documentation and among them his call, “Better die an independent king than reign as the vassal”.