Tribes in News

Meghalaya to give land rights to men


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Khasi Tribe, khatduh

Mains level: Matrilineal society in NE

Matrilineal Meghalaya is set to break the tradition of share of parental property to the khatduh, which means the youngest daughter in the Khasi language.

Matrilineal Society of Meghalaya

  • The matrilineal tradition which the Khasi and other subgroups practice in Meghalaya is unique within India.
  • Khasi are an ancient tribe said to be the largest surviving matrilineal culture in the world.
  • Matrilineal principles among the Khasi are emphasised in myths, legends, and origin narratives.

Their evolution

  • Khasi kings embarking on wars left the responsibility of running the family to women and thus their role in society became very deep rooted and respected.
  • Reference to Nari Rajya (female kingdom; or land of matriarchy) in the epic Mahabharata likely correlates with the Khasi and Jaintia Hills and Meghalaya’s present-day matrilineal culture.

Property rights

  • The youngest daughter of the family, the Ka Khadduh, inherits all ancestral property.
  • After marriage, husbands live in the mother-in-law’s home.
  • The mother’s surname is taken by children.
  • When no daughters are born to a couple, they adopt a daughter and pass their rights to property to her.
  • The birth of a girl is celebrated while the birth of a son is simply accepted.
  • There is no social stigma attributed to a woman remarrying or giving birth out of wedlock as the “Khasi Social Custom Lineage Act” gives security to them.
  • Care of children is the responsibility of mothers or mothers-in-law.

Matrilineal, not matriarchal

  • While society is matrilineal, it is not matriarchal. In past monarchies of the state, the son of the youngest sister of the king inherited the throne.
  • Even now in the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly or village councils or panchayats the representation of women in politics is minimal.

Issues with the system

  • Some Khasi men perceive themselves to be accorded a secondary status.
  • They have established societies to protect equal rights for men.
  • They express that Khasi men don’t have any security, they don’t own land, they don’t run the family business and, at the same time, they are almost good for nothing.


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