Mizoram (India)

Mizoram at a glance

Location : Latitude 21o 58' & 24o 35' N
Longitude 92o 15' & 93 o 29' E

Area: 21,087 Sq Kms
North - South 277 Kms
East - West 121 Kms
Inter State Border
(a) With Assam - 123 Kms
(b) With Tripura - 277 Kms
(c) with Manipur - 95 Kms

International Border
(a) With Myanmar - 404 Kms
(b) With Bangladesh - 318 Kms

Temperature: 11o - 21o C in winter , 20o - 30o C in summer
Average rainfall 250 per annum

Population:
8,91,058
Female = 4,31,275
Male = 4,59,783 (based on Mizoram Census 2001 Provision Figure)
Sex Ratio: 938 female per 1000 male
Capital : Aizawl
Literacy : 88.49 (Second Highest in the country)
Highest Point: Phawngpui (Blue Mountain) 2,210/2065 M
Religion: Christian
No. of Assembly Constituency: 40
No of Seat in Parliament 1 each in Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha
(Shri Vanlalzawma –MP, Lok Sabha) & Shri Lalhmingliana MP, Rajya Sabha)
Chief Minister Shri Lalthanhawla
Chief Secretary Shri Vanhela Pachuau
Governor Lt Gen(Retd) M.M. Lakhera
District 8 : (3 new District added but not officially function Viz : Hnahthial, Khawzawl & Saitual)
Block 22
Sub - Division 23
Autonomous District Council 3
State Animal Serow (Saza)
State Bird Hume's Bartailed Pheaasant (Vavu)
State Flower Dancing Girl (Aiting)
State Tree Mesual Ferrea/Nahar (Herhse)
Longest River Tlawng 185.15 Kms


People of Mizoram
Perching on the high hills of North Eastern corner, Mizoram is a storehouse of natural beauty with its endless variety of landscape, hilly terrains, meandering streams deep gorges, rich wealth of flora and fauna. Flanked by Bangladesh on the west and Myanmar on the east and south, Mizoram occupies an importance strategic position having a long international boundary of 722 Kms.

World-renowed for their hospitality, Mizos are a close-knit society with no class distinction and no discrimination on grounds of sex. The entire society is knitted together by a peculiar code of ethics 'Tlawmngaihna' an untranslatable term meaning on the part of everyone to be hospitable kind, unselfish and helpful to others.

The Land:
Mizoram is a mountainous region which became the 23rd State of the Union in February 1987. It was one of the districts of Assam till 1972 when it became Union Territory. Sandwiched between Myanmar in the east and and south and Bangladesh in the west, Mizoram occupies an area of great strategic importance in the north-eastern corner of India. It has a total of 630 miles boundary with Myanmar and Bangladesh. Mizoram has the most variegated hilly terrain in the eastern part of India. The hills are steep and are separated by rivers which flow either to the north or the south creating deep gorges between the hill ranges. The average height of the hills is about 900 metres. The The highest peak in Mizoram is the Phawngpui (Blue Mountain) with a height of 2210 metres. Mizoram has a pleasant climate. It is generally cool in summer and not very cold in winter. During winter, the temperature varies from 11 C to 21 C and in the summer it varies between 20 C to 29 C. The entire area is under the direct influence of the monsoon. It rains heavily from May to September and the average rainfall in Aizawl is 208 cm. Winter in Mizoram is wonderfully blue, and in the enchanting view of wide stretches of a vast lake of cloud. Mizoram has great natural beauty and endless variety of landscape and is very rich in flora and fauna. Almost all kinds of tropical tress and plants thrive in Mizoram. The hills are marvelously green.

Climate:
The upper part of the hills are, predictably cold, cool during the summer, while the lower reaches are relatively warm and humid. Storms break out during March-April, just before or around the summer. The maximum average temperature in the summer is 30 degree C while in the winter the minimum average temperature is around 11 degree C. The four months between November and February are winter in Mizoram which is followed by the spring. The storms come in the middle of April to herald the beginning of the summer. The mercury starts rising and the hills come under the cover of a haze. The three months from June to August are know as the rainy season. The climate as at its moderate best in the two autumnal months. September and October, when the temperature moves between 19 to 24 degree C.
Taken all in all, Mizoram is made up of wooded hills, swift flowing rivers quicksilver streams and still lakes, the combination of all this is a rarity. And it is the combination of these physical features that has given Mizoram its own charm and fascination.

Geography

Hills
Mizoram is a land of rolling hills, rivers and lakes. As many as 21 major hills ranges or peaks of different heights run through the length and breadth of the state, with plains scattered here and there. The average height of the hills to the west of the state are about 1,000 metres. These gradually rise up to 1,300 metres to the east. Some areas, however, have higher ranges which go up to a height of over 2,000 metres. Phawngpui, or the Blue Mountain, situated in the southeastern part of the state, is the highest peak in Mizoram.

Rivers
The biggest river in Mizoram is the River Kaladan also known as Chhimtuipui Lui in local Mizo language. It originates from Chin State in Burma and passes through Saiha and Lawngtlai districts in Southern tip of Mizoram and goes back to Burma's Rakhine state, finally it enters Bay of Bengal at Akyab, a very popular port in Sittwe, Burma. Indian government has invested millions of rupees to set up inland water ways along this river to trade with Burma. The project name is known as Kaladan Multipurpose project.

Although many more rivers and streams drain the hill ranges, the most important and useful rivers are the Tlawng (also known as Dhaleswari or Katakhal), Tut (Gutur), Tuirial (Sonai) and Tuivawl which flow through the northern territory and eventually join the Barak River in Cachar District. The Koldoyne (Chhimtuipui) which originates in Burma, is an important river in the south of Mizoram. It has four tributaries and the river is in patches. The western part is drained by Karnaphuli (Khawthlang tuipui) and its tributaries. A number of important towns, including Chittagong in Bangladesh, are situated at the mouth of the river. Before Independence, access to other parts of the country was only possible through the river routes via Cachar in the north, and via Chittagong in the south. Entry through the latter was cut off when the subcontinent was partitioned and ceded to East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) in 1947.

Lakes (Dil)
Lakes are scattered all over the state, but the most important among these are Palak dil (Pala Tipo), Tamdil, Rungdil, and Rengdil. The Palak lake, the biggest lake in Mizoram is situated in Mara Autonomous District Council (MADC) within Saiha District which is part of southern Mizoram and covers an area of 30 hectares. It is believed that the lake was created as a result of an earthquake or a flood. The local people believe that a village which was submerged still remains intact deep under the waters. The Tamdil lake is a natural lake situated 110/85 km from Aizawl. Legend has it that a huge mustard plant once stood in this place. When the plant was cut down, jets of water sprayed from the plant and created a pool of water, thus the lake was named 'Tamdil which means of 'Lake of Mustard Plant'. Today the lake is an important tourist attraction and a holiday resort.

However, the most significant lake in Mizo history Rih Dil is ironically located in Burma, a few kilometres from the India-Burma border. It was believed that the departed souls pass through this lake before making their way to "Pialral" or heaven.

The people :
Historian believe that the Mizos are a part of the great wave of the great wave of the Mongolian race spilling over into the eastern and southern India centuries ago. Their sojourn in Western Burma, into which they eventually around seventh century, is estimated to last about two centuries. They came under the influence of the British Missionaries in the 9th century, and now most of the Mizos are Christians. One of the beneficial result of Missionary activities was the spread of education. The Missionaries introduced the Roman script for the Mizo language and formal education. The cumulative result is high percentage 95 % ( as per National Sample Survey 1997-98) which is considered to be highest in India. The Mizos area distinct community and the social unit was the village. Around it revolved the life of a Mizo. Mizo Village is usually set on the top of a hill with the chief's house at the centre and the bachelor’s dormitory called Zawlbuk prominently . In a way the focal point in the village was the Zawlbuk where all young bachelors of the village slept. Zawlbuk was the training ground, and indeed, the cradle wherein the Mizo youth was shaped into a responsibility adult member of the society.
Social Life:
The fabric of social life in the Mizo society has undergone tremendous changes over years. Before the British moved into the hills, for all practical purposes the village and the clan formed units of Mizo society. The Mizo code of ethics or Dharma moved around ‘Tlawmngaihna”, an untranslatable term meaning on the part of everyone to be hospitable, kind, unselfish and helpful to others. Tlawmngaihna to Mizo stands for the compelling moral force which finds expression in self-sacrifice for the service of the others. The old belief, Pathian is still use in term God till today. The Mizos have been enchanted to their new-found faith of Christianity with so much dedication and submission that their entire social life and thought-process been transformed and guided by the Christian Church Organisation and their sense of values has also undergone drastic change. The Mizos area close-knit society with no class distinction and no discrimination on grounds of sex. Ninety percent of them are cultivators and the village exists like a big family. Birth of a child, marriage in the village and death of a person in the village or a community feast arranged by a member of the village are important occasions in which the whole village is involved.

Religion
Some 87% of the population (including all ethnic Mizos) is Christian. Other faiths include Hindus who form a small minority in the state, at 3.6% of the population following the religion. Muslims also form a small minority with 1.1% of the population following the faith. People who believe in this faith are from other state but living in Mizoram

Christianity
The major Christian denominations are the Presbyterian The Mizoram Presbyterian Church was established by a Welsh Missionary named Rev. D.E. Jones. The Mizoram Presbyterian Church is one of the constituted bodies of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of India, which has its headquarters at Shillong in Meghalaya (India).The administrative set up of the Mizoram Presbyterian Church Synod is highly centralized. The Synod, having its headquarters at Aizawl, the Capital of Mizoram State, is the highest decision making body of the church. The financial operation, the personnel matters, the administration, management and the execution of works of the church are directly or indirectly supervised and controlled by the Synod Headquarters., Baptist Church of Mizoram, Evangelical Church of Maraland, Salvation Army, Seventh-day Adventist Church, Roman Catholic, Lairam Jesus Christ Baptist Church(LIKBK), and the Pentecostals.

Judaism
In recent decades, a number of Southeast Asian-looking people from Mizoram, Assam, and Manipur have claimed to be Jewish. This group is known collectively as the Bnei Menashe, and include Chin, Kuki, and Mizo. Several hundred have formally converted to Orthodox Judaism and many openly practise an Orthodox type of Judaism. The Bnei Menashe do not see themselves as converts, but believe themselves to be ethnically Jewish, descendants of one of the Lost Tribes of Israel . The Jewish population of the Bnei Menashe currently is estimated at 9,000 people.

Tribal
The pre-Christian spirituality of the Mizos was animism.
There are certain tribes that still practice the traditional animism. Roma Bradnock writes, "The mainly nomadic Chakmas along the western border practise a religion which combines Hinduism, Buddhism and animism." The Khans are also very much influenced by Hinduism. Suhas Chatterjee writes, "The Khan culture is very likely the influence of the Puys of ancient Srikshetra, the Hindu kingdom in Burma."

Politics
As in other Indian states, the ceremonial head of the state government is a governor appointed by the Union Government. His/her appointment is largely ceremonial, and his/her main role is to oversee the swearing in of the Chief Minister. The Chief Minister, who holds the real executive powers, is the head of the party or coalition garnering the largest majority in the state elections. The governor also appoints the cabinet ministers on the advice of the Chief Minister. Mizoram has a unicameral legislature like most other Indian states. Mizoram has one seat in the Lok Sabha and one in the Rajya Sabha. (There are a total of 40 State Assembly seats.) The Lais, Maras and Chakmas have separate autonomous District Councils. The present Chief Minister of Mizoram is Pu Lalthanhawla.

Transport
Roads
Mizoram is connected through National Highway 54. NH-150 connects the state with Seling Mizoram to Imphal Manipur. NH-40A links the State with Tripura.A road between Champhai and Tiddim in Burma will soon connect the two countries.

Air Service
Mizoram has only one airport, Lengpui Airport, near Aizawl and this Airport can be reached from Kolkata by Air within a short period of 40 minutes. Mizoram is also accessible from Kolkata via Silchar Airport, which is about 200 km. from the state capital of Mizoram.

Railway
Mizoram can be easily reached by train at Bairabi rail station or via Silchar. Bairabi is about 110 km, where Silchar is about 180 km. from the state capital.

Water ways
Mizoram is in the process of developing water ways with the port of Akyab Sittwe in Burma along Chhimtuipui River. India is investing $103 million to develop the Sittwe port on Burma's northern coast, about 160 km from Mizoram. Military government of Burma committed $10 million for the venture, which is part of the Kaladan Multipurpose project.

Festivals:
Mizos practice what is known as ‘Jhum Cultivation’. They slash down the jungle, burn the trunks and leaves and cultivate the land. All their other activities revolve around the jhum operations and their festivals are all connected with such agriculture operations.

Mim Kut which takes place in August-September in the wake of harvesting of the maize crop, is celebrated with great gaiety and merriment expressed through singing, dancing, feasting and drinking of home made rice beer zu. Dedicated to the memory of their dead relatives, the festival is underlined by a spirit of thanksgiving and remembrance of the years first harvest is placed as an offering on a raised platform built to the memory of the dead.

Pawl Kut is Harvest Festival – celebrated during December to January. Again, a mood of thanksgiving is evident, because the difficult task of titling and harvesting is over. Community feasts are organised and dances are performed. Mothers with their children sit on memorial platform and feed one another. This custom, which is also performed during Chapchar Kut, is known as 'Chawnghnawt'. Drinking of zu is also part of the festival. The two-day is followed by a day of complete rest when no one goes out to work.
Chapchar Kut: Of all the Kuts of the Mizo, Chapchar Kut has emerged as the most popular and enjoyable, owing perhaps to the humorous stories of its origin and the favourable time when the festival is observed-Spring !

Mizos are fast giving up their old customs and adopting the new mode of life which is greatly influenced by the western culture. Many of their present customs are mixtures of their old tradition and western pattern of life. Music is a passion for the Mizos and the young boys and girls take to the western music avidly and with commendable skill. The fascinating hills and lakes of Mizo-land literally pulsate and resound with the rhythms of the sonorous songs of the youths and the twang of guitars everywhere.

Clothing
The original garment of the Mizos is known as puan. They were used by men and women more or less in the same fashion. One has to see them to believe the intricate traditional designs woven by the Mizo women, born weavers who produce what can only be described as art on their looms. The Mizo have held on to certain patterns and mottos that have come down through the ages. These design have become deep rooted in their tribal consciousness and has become a part of the Mizo heritage. The unique value of Mizo PUAN comes from the personal involvement of the weaver, who with great labour weaves her dreams into each work and weft until every design has a story to tell. These traditional hand woven apparels are of different shades and designs without exquisite play of colour combination and intricate weaving patterns has been evolved. Some of the common clothing or puan are :-
Puanchei: It is by far the most colourful costume and is used by every Mizo lady.
Kawrchei: A distinctive blouse of the ladies
Ngotekherh: This traditional puan is won round the waist originally it was a men's puan but now it is worn by men and women alike.
Hmar am : Originally this was a small hand woven cloth of handspun cotton and indigo dye.
Cyhna Hno: It is a beautiful embroidered silk puan of the Mara's. It is used by both men and women.


HISTORICAL BACKDROP:

The origin of the Mizos, like those of many other tribes in the North Eastern India is shrouded in mystery. The generally accepted as part of a great Mongoloid wave of migration from China and later moved out to India to their present habitat.

It is possible that the Mizos came from Shinlung or Chhinlungsan located on the banks of the river Yalung in China. They first settled in the Shan State and moved on to Kabaw Valley to Khampat and then to the Chin Hills in the middle of the 16th century.

The earliest Mizos who migrated to India were known as Kukis, the second batch of immigrants were called New Kukis. The Lushais were the last of the Mizo tribes migrate to India. The Mizo history in the 18th and 19th Century is marked by many instances of tribal raids and retaliatory expeditions of security. Mizo Hills were formally declared as part of the British-India by a proclamation in 1895. North and south hills were united into Lushai Hills district in 1898 with Aizawl as its headquarters.

The process of the consolidated of the British administration in tribal dominated area in Assam stated in 1919 when Lushai Hills along with some other hill districts was declared a Backward Tract under government of India Act. The tribal districts of Assam including Lushai Hills were declared Excluded Area in 1935.

It was during the British regime that a political awakening among the Mizos in Lushai Hills started taking shape the first political party, the Mizo Common People's Union was formed on 9th April 1946. The Party was later renamed as Mizo Union. As the day of Independence drew nearer, the Constituent Assembly of India set up and Advisory Committee to deal with matters relating to the minorities and the tribals. A sub-Committee, under the chairmanship of Gopinath Bordoloi was formed to advise the Constituent Assembly on the tribal affairs in the North East. The Mizo Union submitted a resolution of this Sub-committee demanding inclusion of all Mizo inhabited areas adjacent to Lushai Hills. However, a new party called the United Mizo Freedom (UMFO) came up to demand that Lushai Hills join Burma after Independence.

Following the Bordoloi Sub-Committee's suggestion, a certain amount of autonomy was accepted by the Government and enshrined in the Six Schedule of the constitution. The Lushai Hills Autonomous District Council came into being in 1952 followed by the formation of these bodies led to the abolition of chieftanship in the Mizo society.

The autonomy however met the aspirations of the Mizos only partially. Representatives of the District Council and the Mizo Union pleaded with the States Reorganization Commission (SRC) in 1954 for integrated the Mizo-dominated areas of Tripura and Manipur with their District Council in Assam.

The tribal leaders in the North East were laboriously unhappy with the SRC Recommendations : They met in Aizawl in 1955 and formed a new political party, Eastern India Union (EITU) and raised demand for a separate state comprising of all the hill districts of Assam. The Mizo Union split and the breakaway faction joined the EITU. By this time, the UMFO also joined the EITU and then understanding of the Hill problems by the Chuliha Ministry, the demand for a separate Hill state by EITU was kept in abeyance.

FACTS AND LEGEND
But folklore has an interests tale of offer. The Mizos, so goes the legend, emerged from under a large covering rock known as Chhinlung. Two people of the Ralte clan, known for their loquaciousness, started talking noisily while coming out of the region. They made a great noise which leg God, called Pathian by the Mizos, to throw up his hands in disgust and say enough is enough. He felt, too many people had already been allowed to step out and so closed the door with the rock.

History often varies from legends. But the story of the Mizos getting out into open from the nether world through a rock opening is now part of the Mizo fable. Chhinlung however, is taken by some as the Chinese city of Sinlung or Chinlingsang situated close on the sino-Burmese border. The Mizos have songs and stories about the glory of the ancient Chhinlung civilization handed down from one generation to another powerful people.

It is hard to tell how far the story is true. It is nevertheless possible that the Mizos came from Sinlung or Chinlungsan located on the banks of the river Yalung in China. According to K.S.Latourette, there were political upheavals in China in 210 B.C. when the dynastic rule was abolished and the whole empire was brought under one administrative system. Rebellions broke out and chaos reigned throughout the Chinese State. That the Mizos left China as part of one of those waves of migration. Whatever the case may have been, it seems probable that the Mizos mover from China to Burma and then to India under forces of circumstances. They first settled in the Shan State after having overcome the resistance put up by the indigenous people. Then they changed settlements several times, moving from the Shan State to Kabaw Valley to Khampat to Chin Hills in Burma. They finally began to move across the river Tiau to India in the Middle of the 16th Century.

The Shans had already been firmly settled in their State when Mizos came there from Chhinlung around 5th Century. The Shans did not welcome the new arrivals, but failed to throw the Mizos out. The Mizos had lived happily in the Shan state for about 300 years before they moved on the Kabaw Valley around the 8th Century.

It was in the Kabaw Valley that Mizos got the opportunity to have an unhindered interaction with the local Burmese. The two cultures met and the two tribes influenced each other in the spheres of clothing, customs, music and sports. According to some, the Mizos learnt the art of cultivation from the Burmese at Kabaw. Many of their agricultural implements bore the prefix Kawl which was the name given by the Mizos to the Burmese.

Khampat (now in Myanmar) is known to have been the next Mizo settlement. The area claimed by the Mizos as their earliest town, was encircled by an earthen rampart and divided into several parts. The residence of the ruler stood at the central block call Nan Yar (Palace Site). The construction of the town indicates the Mizos had already acquired considerable architecture skills. They are said to have planted a banyan tree at Nan Yar before they left Khampat as a sign that town was made by them.

The Mizos, in the early 14th century, came to settle at Chin Hills on the Indo-Burmese border. They built villages and called them by their clan names such as Seipui, Saihmun and Bochung. The hill and difficult terrain of Chin Hills stood in the way of the building of another central township like Khampat. The villages were scattered so unsystematically that it was not always possible for the various Mizo clans to keep in touch with one another.

MAUTAM FAMINE:
In 1959, Mizo Hills was devastated by a great famine known in Mizo history as 'Mautam Famine' . The cause of the famine was attributed to flowering of bamboos which consequent resulted in rat population boom in large numbers. After eating up bamboos seeds, the rats turned towards crops and infested the huts and houses and became a plaque to the Villages.

The havoc created by the rats was terrible and very little of the grain was harvested. For sustenance, many Mizos had to collect roots and leaves from the jungles. Others moved out to far away places edible roots and leaves from the jungles. Others moved out to far away places while a considerable number died of starvation.

In his hour of darkness, many welfare organization tried their best to help starving villagers to facilitate supplies to the remove villages, no organised porters, animal transport to carry the air-drop food supplies.

Earlier in 1955, Mizo Cultural Society was formed in 1955 and Laldenga was its Secretary. In March 1960, the name of the Mizo Cultural Society was changed to 'Mautam front' During the famine of 1959-1960, this society took lead in demanding relief and managed to attract the attention of all sections of the people. In September 1960, the Society adopted the name of Mizo National Famine Front (MNFF). The MNFF gained considerable popularity as a large number of Mizo Youth assisted in transporting rice and other essential commodities to interior villages.

INSURGENCY:
The Mizo National Famine Front dropped the word 'Famine' and a new political oraganisation, the Mizo National Front (MNF) was born on 22nd October 1961 under the leadership of Laldenga with the specified goal of achieving sovereign independence of Greater Mizoram. Large scale disturbances broke out on 28th February 1966 government installations at Aizawl, Lunglei, Chawngte, Chhimluang and other places simultaneously.

While the MNF took to violence to secure its goal of establishing a sovereign land, other political forces in the hills of Assam were striving for a separate state. The search for a political solution to the problems facing the hill regions in Assam continued.

The Mizo National Front was outlawed in 1967. The demand for statehood was gained fresh momentum. A Mizo District Council delegation, which met prime Minister Mrs Indira Gandhi in May 1971 demanded a full fledge state for the Mizos. The union government in its own offered the proposal of turning Mizo Hills into a Union Territory in July 1971. The Mizo leaders were ready to accept the offer on condition into a Union Territory in July 1971. The Mizo leaders were ready to accept the offer on condition that the status of U.T would be upgraded to statehood sooner rather than later. The Union Territory of Mizoram came into being on 21st January, 1972. Mizoram get two seats in Parliament, one each in the Lok Sabha and in the Rajya Sabha

BIRTH OF THE MIZORAM STATE:
Rajiv Gandhi's assumption of power following his mother's death signaled the beginning of a new era in Indian politics. Laldenga met the Prime Minister on 15th February 1985. Some contentious issues, which could not be resolved, during previous talks referred to him for his advice.

All trends indicated that neither the Centre nor the MNF would pass up the opportunity that has now presented itself to have a full lenient and flexible. New Delhi felt that Mizo problem had been dragging on for the long a time, while the MNF was convinced that bidding farewell to arms to live as respectable Indian Citizens was the only ways of achieving peace and development.
Statehood was a prerequisite to the implementing of the accord singed between the MNF and and the Union Government on 30 June 1986. The document was signed by Laldenga, on the behalf of MNF, and the Union Home Secretary RD Pradhan on behalf of the Government, Lalkhama Chief Secretary of Mizoram, too signed the agreement.

The MNF volunteers came out of their hiding and surrendered arms to makeshift bamboo huts up for the purpose at Parva and Marpara. A total of 614 activists gave themselves up in less than two weeks in July. Large quantities of small and big firearms including LMGs and rifles were received from them.

While the MNF kept its part of the bargain, the Centre initiated efforts to raise the status of Mizoram to a full fledged State. A constitution Amendment Bill and another to confer statehood on Mizoram was passes in the Lok Sabha on 5 August 1986.

The formalization of Mizoram State took place on 20th February, 1987.Chief Secretary Lalkhama read out the proclamation of statehood at a public meeting organised at Aizawl's Parade Ground. Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi flew in to Aizawl to inaugurate the new state. Hiteshwar Saikia was appointed as Governor of Mizoram.


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