Mizoram:Why Lal Thanhawla is right in not allowing division of the state


Recently the Chief Minister of Mizoram stated that the State Government will never allow division of the State on communal or ethnic lines and there is no proposal for setting up a Reang (Bru) Development Area.

Lal Thanhawla also stated that he would never take steps towards further division of the State on ethnic lines and the political parties should ensure that intra-ethnic squabbles are avoided.

He was clearly referring to the Centre who now have a sizeable influence amongst the BRU and Chakma communities and there have been noises that more councils  should be set up for the marginalised community.

The presence of RSS and other affiliated organisations working in the state of Mizoram and Northern Tripura where the bru/Chakma refugee camps are set up is significant and they have been providing assistance to the communities.

Recently a controversy erupted when a wrong press release stated that the CM of Mizoram had  provided "A fund earmarked for development of people living in remote areas was mistakenly projected as for Reang Development Area development fund,"

But here are the points which suggest that 'Help' 'Development' and 'Education' is the need of the hour rather than a separate state for the affected tribe

#1 Land locked state with such small geography is not practical

Mizoram is a land locked state and one of the smallest in the country

The Chakma and Bru areas are perhaps the smallest in terms of geographical area and a state of such population will be impractical .Chakma's constitute about 8 percent of the state population while  Bru's constitute about 3-4 percent .The Total population of Mizoram is 1,091,014, according to a 2011 census making it  the 2nd least populous state in the country.However the state needs to have a balanced approach "The Lais, Maras and the Chakma's account for about 10% of Mizoram's population," but their share of revenues is much lower, at about 4.5% of the state budget."

#2 Education in affected areas 

Mizoram has one of the highest literacy rates in the country

While Mizoram is considered one of the more literate states in the country with (The first government school was started in 1897 at Aizawl by the British) literacy level  at 91.58 percent compared to the national literacy rate, according to the 2011 census, being 74.04 percent , most of the reputed educational institutions are mostly in Aizawl .With lower literacy level and lack of proper educational institutions certain vested groups have tried to set their own agenda in the Chakma and Bru areas(literacy rate of Chakma Autonomous District Council is 68%) This lack of initiative by the State machinery has given certain groups to spread their own teachings and create certain divisions between the different ethnic communities.

#3 Lack of development in health sector and the healing touch 

poor health and infrastructure is the key reason for alienation

That the Chief minister had to announce that "A fund earmarked for development of people living in remote areas' clearly indicates that after 30 years of the creation of Mizoram there are still 'remote' areas means that there has been an imbalanced development in these affected areas.Mizoram which is just 8,142 sq miles in area has not been consistent in its own development agenda with poor connectivity and infrastructure in these areas .

The sense of neglect is reflected by the state's health statistics according to the health department's data for 2014-'15, Saiha fares twice as poorly as all of Mizoram on maternal mortality and infant mortality. No less than 147 women die for every 100,000 live births – the equivalent maternal mortality ratio for the entire state is 76. Similarly, for every 1,000 infants less than a year old, 79 died in Saiha compared to 35 in Mizoram.

The state government albeit late has taken a large step in setting up a fund now for these 'remote' areas.Development has always been a key to integrate people in mainstream society.

poor health and infrastructure is the key reason for alienation

#4 Ensure balanced Funding in the autonomous district councils so there is no demand for statehood 

The offices of the BJP and the Mara Democratic Front offices occupy the same building.

The councils are knocking at the centre's doors as they want a  direct funding route .The Councils feel that the state has not been fair in funding the ADC areas.According to Chatua, the president of BJP in Saiha,  he thinks the Maras should get an Union Territory only for themselves. "Our primary demand is for a Union Territory,"

With this call of a separate state or union territory for the  first time, the Bharatiya Janata Party won an election in Mizoram. The party contested 201 seats in 37 village councils in the autonomous tribal area for Chakmas, a Buddhist community that is an ethnic minority in the predominantly Christian state. It won 42 seats and a majority in seven councils.

Though the BJP in the state has not officially said that they would like to carve out another union territory or state from Mizoram there is a feeling from certain groups parts from the the Lais and the Maras who are demanding a council that if the Centre accedes to their demand then it will give them a stronger voice to later demand a separate statehood.

The State government should keep on the development agenda so that the state not be divided on ethnic and religious lines .

Eventually all the stakeholder have to decide if creation of a separate state on grounds of religion or identity is enough for the development of the people.Progress can only happen if everyone feels a part of the system and to many people this can happen with a healing touch.Something which is evident in the statement and hopefully the actions of the Chief Minister of Mizoram .