The British contact with the regions now consisting of Meghalaya started in the first decade of the last century. With the virtual annexation of Assam following the expulsion of the Burmese and the Yandabo Terty of 1826, the British gradually extended their tentacles over the entire region south of the river Brahmaputra. Although regular administration was enforced mainly in the plains, the hill districts were also brought under a loose control. The great pioneer administrator, David Scott, was largely responsible for the initiatives taken by the government at the time of setting up a administrative structure in the Garo, Khasi and Jaintia hills. He succeeded in setting up the first technical and general schools and it was by his active encouragement that the early Christian missionaries spread the truth among what were then often referred to as `rude savages.’
It was David Scott too who succeeded in linking the two major valleys, the Surma and the Brahmaputra, by a bridle-track from Sylhet to Guwahati. The motive in drawing attention to Davit Scott is to stress that in Meghalaya, the processes of development in road communications, education, agriculture and other sectors were set into motion by the British. The capital of the province was shifted from Guwahati to Shillong in 1870, and there has been regular vehicular communication up to Shillong for the last 50 years.
The exotic butterflies of Meghalaya are the envy of collectors and research scholars all over the world, while the higher Himalayan elevation are the abode of the rare taking; they shy musk-deer, the sleek snow leopard, the sensitive panda and the brilliant tragopan. but we have been spared as yet the Yeti and Abominable snowman!
Out of the main feature of `the new landscape’ in Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh is the wide extension of the network of road communications. Twenty -five years ago, every mile traveled had to be on foot. There were enormous difficulties in administering such a widely scattered area, particularly in the tribal areas. Now it is possible to reach practically every important center by motor transport. And in the event of an emergency, a helicopter can reach any point within a matter of hours. This is the single major factor that differentiates these areas from the pre-independence era.