Mizoram caught my attention recently as many governors were transferred there as if in a punishment. Their consequential refusal and resignations only furthered my inquisitiveness about the whole scenario and dig up some more about Mizoram.
Wikipedia says Mi means people, Zo means hill and Ram means land, the Mi and Zo which forms Mizo– ‘people of hill’ is relatable, but ram is the corroded word for ‘puram’ which is the word for land or a town.
Mizoram is the southernmost state of North East with a tribal population of 95% and a sex ratio of 975 females:1000 males. It went on to become a part of British India in 1895 and the 23rd state of the Indian republic in 1987. It is geographically a volatile land that falls under a seismic zone often witnessing many landslides and severe floods.
Its economy is directly dependant on other states for its fuel, water, electricity, food etc.
It borders with Islamic and Buddhist countries but 87% of the Mizoram is Christian as the local tribes have been converted to Christianity from their original animist faiths.
Earlier the Mizos followed gerontocracy of Garo customs where the eldest in the clan rules the group and the young automatically surrender. These tribes were hunters who had once raided the British in the 1840s the British in turn raided them and took control of the entire Lushai region along with the support of other local tribes. These inter-ethnic tribal raids by British were mostly done for loot, slaves and retaliation.
A region that knew no religion or spirituality that thrived in its own culture and customs was an easy and essential target for the missionaries to stake claim and have a hold. This vision of the missionary that has hit the bull’s eye today really amazes me.
The naïve tribes feared that Bengali language would be forced on them and hence surrendered to the British, the Christian missionaries developed a script for their spoken Lusei language and translated the gospels into their own language which the Mizo tribal folks readily accepted and honored the Christian Missionaries with a title ‘Zosap’ meaning saahib for Mizos.
The Welsh Christian missionary that acquainted the English culture and Baptist churches to the locals left after planting several hubs of aggressive missionaries and finished the unfinished land.
Post-Independence when the rest of India was busy studying the greatness of the gory Moghul atrocities leading Indians to believe that all about Hinduism was a myth while all the drafting and crafting was being done as to what the children of India the new secular breed of crops needed to study, the missionaries were busy rampantly converting and baptizing large gullible masses without any noise.
Of course we practice freedom of religion but how free is it when one religion de sells another? How free is it when it is thrust upon innocent naïve tribes in luring traps in the name of civilizational development and education?
If learning English is equivalent to education and conversions were to yield development and earn equal social status then a little peek into the developmental statistics tells that Mizoram has a rural poverty of 35% below poverty line way above India’s 25%rural poverty line even after 100years after conversions.
In a population of 10lakhs 4169 people are infected with HIV Aids as per 1990 reports.
Most people end up in small petty jobs and are not seen in any higher posts in mainstream India in spite of having a great literacy rate, now that should not go on to become another burden on the already overburdened general merit category.
Even the equality in social status is questionable as sadly the Mizo people still face discrimination in their own country this is largely because they were kept disconnected from the majority and we have been disconnected from them all along.
The first time I came to know about Mizoram was when I saw the ‘Mile Sur Mera Tumhara’ video and I wondered who spiky headgear tribes were, pardon my ignorance but I had no way to know about it then.
Maybe a little introduction about contemporary cultures across the country in the education system would help today as this disconnect is there even amongst North Indians and South Indians.
Had there been any attempt to cover them in the academics then the blasphemy of the missionaries would be out in the open.
I am no religious fanatic but what is it that you cannot achieve without converting to another religion?
Even today a modernized traditional Mizo religion called Hnam sakhua exists which stresses on Mizo culture and seeks to revive traditional Mizo values attacking the influence brought about by Christianity on Mizo people.
Also the Reang community who follow Hinduism, are getting wiped out of Mizoram where the church is very aggressive.
More than 50,000 of the Reang tribe fled violence over a decade back and remain in relief camps in neighbouring Tripura, when they wanted to return, the Mizoram government rejected their demands and announced rehabilitation elsewhere keeping them separate.
Other clans like Chakmas who follow Buddhism, Lais and Maras, Hmars claim they also face discrimination at the hands of Mizos.
As per the Inspire Magazine from the United Kingdom 1 out of every 500 people in Mizoram is a missionary. As per the statement made by Mizoram Chief Minister Pu Zoramthanga in 2004, it is sending out one lakh missionaries from the state, then the proportion of missionaries to the Mizos will be 1:9 since the total population of the state is merely about 9 lakhs (900,000 according to 2001 census).
The UK missionaries shared the Gospel with the Mizo hunters hundred years ago today the Mizos are partnering with the UK Church and sending more missionaries per capita than any other nation in the world.
Tell me what does Mizoram export? asked a visitor to a church leader in Mizoram to which he replied “We export the Gospel.”
This obsession with religion reminds me of Mahatma Gandhi’s saying “a convert’s enthusiasm for his religion is greater than the person born in it” in his book “The Story Of My Experiments With Truth”.
A little political history you must know:
Soon after India’s independence the Lushai Hills, now Mizoram, experienced a terrible famine in 1958 due to a situation called as rat flood.
The bamboo boom or Mautam(death by Bamboo) is a phenomena which occurs once in 48years in the Lushai region where the protein rich bamboo plants flower extensively, this multiplies the rat population alarmingly that in turn ate up all the food stock of the people. The situation continued for 2-3years, due to this famine like situation hundreds of Mizos died every year. The many pleas sent to the Indian Government for aid went unheard. The tribes who had recently been included into India felt let down and formed MNFF (Mizo National Famine Front) under Pu Laldenga where every Mizo decided to help a fellow Mizo by giving food. With no help from the government the famine passed but the blemish remained in the minds that they were not cared for, the MNFF went on to become a rebellious MNF(Mizo National Front) demanding a sovereign Mizo country as they had now gained popularity among the Mizo masses due to their relief works.
This opportunity was well made use of by East Pakistan who aided these rebels with enough arms to carry on guerilla warfare in India.
In 1966 the Mizo National Army carried out ‘Operation Jericho” a well-planned surprise attack simultaneously on Indian treasuries, fuel stations, communication centers neutralizing the police forces taking all senior non-Mizo government officials captive and dared the Indian Army by executing officers and other Mizo informers of the army, as a result of this Indira Gandhi ordered Airforce action.
It was masterminded that if the plan succeeded then Pakistan would help Mizos to hoist their flag and get a UN approval for a separate country but their plan was sabotaged by Indian forces. Read article TimesCrest: Gaddafi in Mizoram
The Chakmas wanted to be part of India because of their similarities to the Bengali and Assami culture, refrained from the warfare but the Mizos of MNF wanted to be a part of Pakistan but during the siege when their leaders like Laldenga and Lalnunmawia escaped to Pakistan with all the MNF funds leaving their rebel army back broken the rebels had no choice but to surrender.
This is where, perhaps, the “Lal Salaam” slogans emerged from:)
The Indian army took control of the rebellious region of Mizos by deploying ‘Operation security’ the brainchild of Lt.Gen.Manekshaw that helped in controlling the rebellion. The Mizos claim there were lot of atrocities by the army also on the natives but things became peaceful only in 1972 when the Mizo Peace accord was signed.
The decades of British and Indian misadministration that had failed to transform and reconstruct the Mizo tribal society into a rational one was brilliantly handled by Manekshaw, who led the primitive tribal folks to the light of urban democracy and civilization by regrouping them and providing financial aid to those who surrendered and promised to rehabilitate them.
However the immediate beneficiaries of this economic reconstruction in the modern Mizoram were mainly the Mizos who had rebelled as other clans like Chakmas, Maras, Pawis, Reangs who deliberately chose not to support the MNF insurgency were simply regrouped without any aid and felt un incentivized.
This undue favour showered on the rebel Mizos led to mixed reactions among those who remained loyal to the Government during all these insurgencies. This discrimination increased the economic imbalance that led to neo-rich Mizo classes who dominate the politics of Mizoram today.
Also the Chakmas who supported the Indian army were attacked and avenged by the hostile rebel Mizos who killed and burnt down many Chakma villages later, but they never received the largesse favours from the Government unlike the rebellious counterparts who were given a glorious resettlement
For all that Indira Gandhi fought to resurrect Mizoram, her son Rajiv Gandhi in his 1989 election Manifesto declared that if they voted for Congress then the Government would run on the teachings of Bible.
Ever since the formation of Mizoram it has largely been ruled by Congress alone yet ironically in a recent debate on NDTV the congressman asks what the new 3month old government has done so far for Mizoram when the parody is that their administered governors(Sheila Dixit) themselves are refusing to go to Mizoram for reasons best known to them.
One of the big challenges in front of the new government is to dissolve this disconnect between the Mizos and the rest of India.
Today although America and Britain claim that they are tolerant, the Vatican has a lot of stake in all their decisive policies because all along history it has been proved that religion, power, politics, financial stability, are all inter-connected and RELIGION has been the biggest weapon either to divide or unite or gain power or money for time immemorial.
Our secularism should not in any way be mistaken for easy infringement by radical Baptists whose only aim is to divide and render India a weak nation in the name of divinity.
No Muslim No Christian is lesser Indian than any Hindu but if only our people overcome the overpowering radical spell of the religious divide created by external forces and really see through the dirty tricks there would be no stopping for India.
“A convert’s enthusiasm for his newfound religion is more profound than a person born in it” but that belief should not blind him to see the truth.
I really look forward to travel to Mizoram some day and connect with my fellow Indians.
Did you know that there was a report that claimed that the pilots who bombed Aizawl during 1966 were Rajesh Pilot and Suresh Kalmadi(Read link in the article)