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Mizoram (English: ( listen)) is a state in Northeast India, with Aizawl as its capital city. The name is derived from "Mizo", the name of the native inhabitants, and "Ram", which means land, and thus Mizoram means "land of the Mizos". Within the northeast region, it is the southernmost landlocked state, sharing borders with three of the Seven Sister States, namely Tripura, Assam and Manipur. The state also shares a 722 kilometre border with the neighbouring countries of Bangladesh and Myanmar.
Like several other northeastern states of India, Mizoram was previously part of Assam until 1972, when it was carved out as a Union Territory. It became the 23rd state of India, a step above Union Territory, on 20 February 1987, with Fifty-Third Amendment of Indian Constitution, 1986.
Mizoram's population was 1,091,014, according to a 2011 census. It is the 2nd least populous state in the country. Mizoram covers an area of approximately 21,087 square kilometres. About 91% of the state is forested.
About 95% of the current population is of diverse tribal origins who settled in the state, mostly from Southeast Asia, over waves of migration starting about the 16th century but mainly in the 18th century. This is the highest concentration of tribal people among all states of India, and they are currently protected under Indian constitution as a Scheduled Tribe. Mizoram is one of three states of India with a Christian majority (87%). Its people belong to various denominations, mostly Presbyterian in the north and Baptists in the south.
Mizoram is a highly literate agrarian economy, but suffers from slash-and-burnjhum, or shifting cultivation, and poor crop yields. In recent years, the jhum farming practices are steadily being replaced with a significant horticulture and bamboo products industry. The state's gross state domestic product for 2012 was estimated at ₹6,991 crore (US$1.1 billion). About 20% of Mizoram's population lives below poverty line, with 35% rural poverty. The state has about 871 kilometres of national highways, with NH-54 and NH-150 connecting it to Assam and Manipur respectively. It is also a growing transit point for trade with Myanmar and Bangladesh.
The term Mizoram is derived from two Mizo words-Mizo and ram. 'Mizo' is the name used to call the native inhabitants and 'Ram' means 'land'. There is dispute on the term 'zo'. According to one view, 'zo' means 'highland' (or hill) and Mizoram means 'land of the Mizos'. B. Lalthangliana says 'zo' may also mean 'cold region' and therefore, Mizo may also signify people of the cold region.
Main article: History of Mizoram
The origin of the Mizos, like those of many other tribes in the northeastern India, is shrouded in mystery. The people living in the Mizo Hills were generally referred to as the Cucis or Kukis by their neighbouring ethnic groups which was also a term adopted by the British writers. The claim that 'The Kukis are the earliest known residents of the Mizo hills area,' must be read in this light. The majority of the tribes classified as "Mizo" today most likely migrated to their present territories from the neighbouring countries in several waves, starting around 1500 CE.
Before the British Raj, the various Mizo clans lived in autonomous villages. The tribal chiefs enjoyed an eminent position in the gerontocratic Mizo society. The various clans and subclans practised slash-and-burn, locally called jhum cultivation - a form of subsistence agriculture. The chiefs were the absolute rulers of their respective clans' territories (ram), although they remained under the nominal political jurisdictions of the Rajas of Manipur, Tripura and Burma. There were many instances of tribal raids and head-hunting led by the village chieftains. Head-hunting was a practice which involved ambushing, taking slaves and cutting off the heads of fighters from the enemy tribe, bringing it back, and displaying it at the entrance of the tribal village.
British era (1840s to 1940s)
Some of the earliest records of raids and intertribal conflicts are from the early 19th century. In the 1840s, Captain Blackwood of Britain marched into the Mizo Hills with his troops to punish a Palian tribal chief for raiding British interests in India. A few years later, Captain Lester was wounded in a battle with the Lusei tribe in the region that is now Mizoram. In 1849, a Lusei tribal raid killed 29 members of the Thahdos tribe and added 42 captives to their clan. Colonel Lister retaliated in 1850, with the co-operation of the Thahdos tribe, an event historically called the First British invasion, burning down a Lusei village of 800 tribal houses and freeing 400 Thahdos captives. British historical records on the Mizo Hills state similar inter-ethnic tribal raids for loot, slaves and retaliatory battles continued for decades.
The Mizo Hills formally became part of British India in 1895, and practices such as head-hunting were banned in Mizoram as well as neighbouring regions. The northern and southern Mizo Hills became part of Assam province in 1898 as the Lushai Hills District, with Aizawl as their headquarters. At the time of the British conquest, there were around 60 chiefs. After Christian missionaries arrived with the gospel, the majority of the population became Christians in the first half of the 20th century.
By the time India gained independence from the British Empire, the number of tribal chiefs had increased to over 200. The educated elites among the Mizos campaigned against the tribal chiefdoms under the banner of the Mizo Union. As a result of their campaign, the hereditary rights of the 259 chiefs were abolished under the Assam-Lushai District ("Acquisition of Chief's Rights") Act, 1954. Village courts were re-implemented in the Mizo region along with other parts of Assam. All of these regions were frustrated by these arrangements and by centralised Assam governance. The Mizos were particularly dissatisfied with the government's inadequate response to the 1959–60 mautam famine. The Mizo National Famine Front, a body formed for famine relief in 1959, later developed into a new political organisation, the Mizo National Front (MNF) in 1961. A period of protests and armed insurgency followed in the 1960s, with the MNF seeking independence from India.
In 1971, the government agreed to convert the Mizo Hills into a Union Territory, which came into being as Mizoram in 1972. Following the Mizoram Peace Accord (1986) between the Government and the MNF, Mizoram was declared a full-fledged state of India in 1987. Mizoram was given two seats in the Parliament, one each in the Lok Sabha and in the Rajya Sabha. The region has been peaceful in recent decades. Between 2006 and 2013, no more than two civilians have died each year from protest-related violence (or less than 0.2 people per 100,000). The world's average annual death rate from intentional violence, in recent years, has been 7.9 per 100,000 people.
Main article: Geography of Mizoram
Mizoram is a landlocked state in North East India whose southern part shares 722 kilometres long international borders with Myanmar and Bangladesh, and northern part share domestic borders with Manipur, Assam and Tripura. It is the fifth smallest state of India with 21,087 km2 (8,142 sq mi). It extends from 21°56'N to 24°31'N, and 92°16'E to 93°26'E. The tropic of cancer runs through the state nearly at its middle. The maximum north-south distance is 285 km, while maximum east-west stretch is 115 km.
Mizoram is a land of rolling hills, valleys, rivers and lakes. As many as 21 major hill 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 (3,300 ft). These gradually rise up to 1,300 metres (4,300 ft) to the east. Some areas, however, have higher ranges which go up to a height of over 2,000 metres (6,600 ft). Phawngpui Tlang also known as the Blue Mountain, situated in the south-eastern part of the state, is the highest peak in Mizoram at 2,210 metres (7,250 ft). About 76% of the state is covered by forests, 8% is fallows land, 3% is barren and considered uncultivable area, while cultivable and sown area constitutes the rest. Slash-and-burn or jhum cultivation, though discouraged, remains in practice in Mizoram and affects its topography. The State of Forest Report 2015 states that Mizoram has the highest forest cover as a percentage of its geographical area of any Indian state, being 88.93% forest.
Mizoram terrain is, according to the Geological Survey of India, an immature topography, and the physiographic expression consists of several almost North-South longitudinal valleys containing series of small and flat hummocks, mostly anticlinal, parallel to sub-parallel hill ranges and narrow adjoining synclinal valleys with series of topographic highs. The general geology of western Mizoram consists of repetitive succession of Neogene sedimentary rocks of the Surma Group and Tipam Formation such as sandstone, siltstone, mudstone and rare pockets of shell limestone. The eastern part is the Barail Group. Mizoram lies in seismic zone V, according to the India Meteorological Department; as with other northeastern states of India, this means the state has the highest risk of earthquakes relative to other parts of India.
The biggest river in Mizoram is Chhimtuipui, also known as Kaladan(or Kolodyne). It originates in Chin state in Burma and passes through Saiha and Lawngtlai districts in the southern tip of Mizoram, goes back to Burma's Rakhine state. Although many more rivers and streams drain the hill ranges, the most important and useful rivers are the Tlawng, Tut, Tuirial and Tuivawl which flow through the northern territory and eventually join the Barak River in Cachar District. The rivers have a gentle drainage gradient particularly in the south.
Palak lake is the biggest in Mizoram and covers 30 hectares (74 acres). The lake is situated in Saiha district of southern Mizoram. It is believed that the lake was created as a result of an earthquake or a flood. The local people believe that a submerged village remains intact deep under the waters. The Tam Dil lake is a natural lake situated 85 kilometres (53 mi) 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 Ţam Dil which means of 'lake of mustard plant'. Today the lake is an important tourist attraction and a holiday resort. The most significant lake in Mizo history, Rih Dil, is ironically located in Burma, a few kilometres from the Indo-Burma border. It was believed that departed souls pass through this lake before making their way to Pialral or heaven. Mizoram is also called a "peninsula state" as it is surrounded by international borders on three sides.
Mizoram has a mild climate, being relatively cool in summer 20 to 29 °C (68 to 84 °F)but progressively warmer most probably due to climate change with temperature crossing 30 degrees Celsius with winter temperatures ranging from 7 to 22 °C (45 to 72 °F). The region is influenced by monsoons, raining heavily from May to September with little rain in the dry (cold) season. The climate pattern is moist tropical to moist sub-tropical, with average state rainfall 254 centimetres (100 in) per annum. In the capital Aizawl, rainfall is about 215 centimetres (85 in) and in Lunglei, another major centre, about 350 centimetres (140 in). The state is in a region where cyclones and landslides can cause weather-related emergencies.
|Average high °C (°F)||20.4|
|Average low °C (°F)||11.4|
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||13.4|
Mizoram has the third highest total forest cover with 1,594,000 hectares (3,940,000 acres), and highest percentage area (90.68%) covered by forests, among the states of India, according to 2011 Forest Survey of India. Tropical semi-evergreen, tropical moist deciduous, subtropical broadleaved hill and subtropical pine forests are the most common vegetation types found in Mizoram. Bamboo is common in the state, typically intermixed with other forest vegetation; about 9,245 km2 (44%) of the state's area is bamboo bearing. The state and central governments of India have cooperated to reserve and protect 67% of the land covered by forests, and additional 15% by management. Only 17% of the land is non-forested area for cultivation, industry, mining, housing and other commercial human activity. Satellite data suggests 91% of state's geographical area is covered by forests.
Jhum cultivation, or slash-and-burn practice, was a historic tradition in Mizoram and a threat to its forest cover. This practice has reduced in recent decades, due to a government supported initiative to support horticultural crops such as pineapple and banana plantations.
Mizoram is host to numerous species of birds, wildlife and flora. About 640 species of birds have been identified in the state, many of which are endemic to the Himalayan foothills and southeast Asia. Of the birds found in Mizoram forests, 27 are on the worldwide threatened species lists and 8 are on the critically endangered list. Prominent birds spotted in Mizoram include those from the families of Phasianidae, Anatidae, Ciconiidae, Threskiornithidae, Ardeidae, Pelecanidae, Phalacrocoracidae, Falconidae, Accipitridae, Otididae, Rallidae, Heliornithidae, Turnicidae, Burhinidae, Charadriidae, Scolopacidae, Jacanidae, Laridae, Columbidae, Psittacidae, Cuculidae, Strigidae, Caprimulgidae, Apodidae, Alcedinidae, Meropidae, Bucerotidae, Ramphastidae, Picidae, Pittidae, Laniidae, Campephagidae, Dicruridae, Corvidae, Paridae, Hirundinidae, Cisticolidae, Pycnonotidae, Sylviidae, Timaliidae, Sittidae, Sturnidae, Turdidae, Dicaedae, Chloropseidae, Ploceidae, Motacillidae, Fringillidae, Nectariniidae and Muscicapidae. Each of these families have many species.
The state is also host to a variety of fauna, just like its sister northeastern Indian states. Mammal species observed in the Mizoram forests include slow loris (Nycticebus coucang), red serow (Capricornis rubidus), which is the state animal, goral (Nemorhaedus goral), tiger (Panthera tigris), leopard (Panthera pardus), clouded leopard ("Neofelis nebulosi"), leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis), and Asiatic black bear (Ursus thibetanus). Primates seen include stump-tailed macaque (Macaca arctoides), hoolock gibbon (Hylobates hoolock), Phayre's leaf monkey (Trachypithecus phayrei) and capped langur (Trachypithecus pileatus). The state is also home to many reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrates.
The state has two national parks and six wildlife sanctuaries - Blue Mountain (Phawngpui) National Park, Dampa Tiger Reserve (largest), Lengteng Wildlife Sanctuary, Murlen National Park, Ngengpui Wildlife Sanctuary, Tawi Wildlife Sanctuary, Khawnglung Wildlife Sanctuary, and Thorangtlang Wildlife Sanctuary.
|Source:Census of India|
Mizoram has a population of 1,091,014 with 552,339 males and 538,675 females. This reflects a 22.8% growth since 2001 census; still, Mizoram is second least populated state of India. The sex ratio of the state is 976 females per thousand males, higher than the national ratio 940. The density of population is 52 persons per square kilometre.
The literacy rate of Mizoram in 2011 was 91.33 per cent, higher than the national average 74.04 per cent, and second best among all the states of India. About 52% of Mizoram population lives in urban areas, much higher than India's average. Over one third of the population of Mizoram lives in Aizawl district, which hosts the capital.
The great majority of Mizoram's population consists of several ethnic tribes who are either culturally or linguistically linked. These ethnic groups are collectively known as Mizos (Mi means People, Zo means Hill; Mizo thus is hillmen). Mizo people are spread throughout the northeastern states of India, Burma and Bangladesh. They belong to numerous tribes; however, to name a particular tribe as the largest is difficult as no concrete census has ever been undertaken.
Sometime in the 16th century CE, the first batch of Mizo crossed Tiau river and settled in Mizoram and they were called as Kukis by Bengalis. The term Kuki mean the inhabitants of the interior and inaccessible mountain tracts. Sometimes grouped as Kuki-Chin tribes, The First batch were called Old Kukis which are the Biate and the Hrangkhol and the second batch that followed include Lushei (or Lusei), Paite, Lai, Mara, Ralte, Hmar, Thadou, Shendus, and several other. These tribes are subdivided into numerous clans, and these clans are further sub-divided into sub-clans, for example the Hmars are divided into Thiek, Faihriem, Lungtau, Darngawn, Khawbung, Zote and others. These clans sometimes have slight linguistic differences. The Bru (Reang), Chakma, Tanchangya, Chin origin of Northern Arakan Mountain, are some non-Kuki tribes of Mizoram, with some suggestion that some of these are Indo-Aryan in their origins. The Bnei Menashe tribe claim Jewish descent.
The diversity of tribal groups reflects the historical immigration patterns. Different tribes and sub-tribes arrived in the present Mizoram, in successive waves and settled down in different parts of the state. Further, as they arrived, there were raids, fear of raids and intertribal feuds. The resulting isolation and separation created numerous tribes and sub-tribes. The Mizo people usually suffix their descriptive given names with their tribe.
Other than tribal groups, other ethnic groups inhabit Mizoram. For example, Nepali Gorkhas were encouraged to settle in Aizawl area and other parts of Mizoram during the British colonial times. Thousands of their descendants are now residents of Mizoram.
Protected demographic category
According to 2011 census, Mizoram had 1,036,115 people (95% of total) classified as Scheduled Tribe, the highest concentration of protected tribal people in all states of India. This demographic classification, given to Mizoram tribes since the 1950s, has provided reservations and extra resources in education and government job opportunities, a preferential treatment as a means to accelerate their integration with mainstream society.
Main article: Mizo language
Mizo is the official language and the most widely used language for verbal interactions, but English, being important for education, administration, formalities and governance, is widely used. The Duhlian dialect, also known as the Lusei, was the first language of Mizoram and has come to be known as the Mizo language. The language is mixed with other dialects like the Hmar, Mara, Lai, Thadou-Kuki, Paite, Gangte, etc. Christian missionaries developed the Mizo script. Writing is a combination of the Roman script and Hunterian transliteration methodology with prominent traces of a phonetics-based spelling system. There are 25 letters in the alphabet: A, AW, B, CH, D, E, F, G, NG, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, R, S, T, Ṭ (with a dot under), U, V, Z. Mizo is one of the languages with official status in India (at the state level). Nepali is also spoken by Nepali immigrants to the state.
The major languages spoken as per census 2001 are Mizo (650,605), Chakma (80,389), Lakher (34,731), Pawi (24,900), Kuki(21,040), Tripuri (17,580), Hmar (14,240), Paite (14,367), etc.
The majority (87%) of Mizos are Christians in various denominations, predominantly Presbyterian. Mizoram has a Chakma Theravada Buddhist population of 8.5%, making them the largest minority, followed by Hindus at 2.7% according to the 2011 census. There are several thousand people, mostly ethnic Mizo, who have converted to Judaism claiming to be one of the lost Judaic tribe group Bnei Menashe, with descent from the biblical Menasseh. Muslims make up about 1.3% of the state population. The remaining 3,000 people are Sikhs, Jains and other religions.
Main article: History of Christianity in Mizoram
The major Christian denomination is Mizoram Presbyterian Church which was established by a Welsh Missionary Rev. D.E. Jones starting in 1894. By the time India gained independence from British Empire, some 80% of Lushei tribe people had converted to Christianity. The Mizoram Presbyterian Church is one of the constituted bodies of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of India at Shillong in Meghalaya; it became the dominant sect of Christianity in north Mizoram hills; In the southern hills of Mizoram, the Baptist Church had the dominant following. Other Christian churches present in Mizoram include the United Pentecostal Church, the Salvation Army, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Kohhran Thianghlim, Roman Catholic, Lairam Isua Krista Baptist Kohhran (LIKBK), Congregational Church of India (Maraland), Evangelical Church of Maraland, Independent Church of India (ICI) and Evangelical Free Church of India (EFCI).
According to 2001 census report there are more than 70,494 people who follow Buddhism in Mizoram. The Chakmas and Tongchangya or Tanchangya have been Buddhist since[when?] historical times and there are approximately one hundred monasteries (known as vihara in Pali) in Mizoram. Of the many schools of Buddhism that are exist recent time TheravadaBuddhism in Mizoram.
According to the 2001 census, there were 31,562 Hindus in Mizoram, or about 3.55%. Out of this, 26,448 were non-indigenous and 5,114 were indigenous tribal. Earlier there were significant Hindu population among the Reang (Bru) communities, but after the communal clash, many of them migrated to Tripura and Assam. In 1961, the Hindu population was about 6%.
There are also a few Mizos who practice Judaism (866 according to the 2001 census) and a modernised traditional Mizo religion called Hnam sakhua, which puts a particular emphasis on Mizo culture and seeks to revive traditional Mizo values, while at the same time attacking the influence brought about by Christianity on Mizo people.
A total of 1,367 people practised the Mizo religion according to the 2001 census. This number included, in addition to the original Mizo religion (755 people), adherents of other tribal religions such as Lalchhungkua (279), Lalhnam (122), and Nunna Lalchhungkua (211).
Main articles: Politics of Mizoram and Government of Mizoram
Originally village land, locally called ram, was the property of the tribal chief. The institution of chieftainship began in the 16th century. Each village behaved like a small state, and the chief was called Lal. The rule was hereditary, and there were no written laws (the first script for Mizo language was developed by Christian missionaries Lorraine and Savidge about 1895).
After annexation by the British in the 1890s, northern part of Mizoram was administered as the Lushai Hills district of Assam, while southern Mizoram was part of Bengal. In 1898, the southern part was transferred from Bengal to Assam. The colonial power retained the chiefs and Mizo customs, including the socially stratified hereditary transfer of political power. In 1937, under Section 6 of the Scheduled District Act, the British administration consolidated executive and legislative political power to the Deputy Commissioner and District Magistrates, with village chiefs in advisory role. The political and judiciary powers of chiefs were neither final nor exclusive, thereafter. Rulings could be appealed to courts staffed with British officials. After India gained independence from the colonial rule, the region was granted autonomous status in 1952, where Mizo people formulated their own laws and delivered judicial decisions. The region was renamed as Mizo District within Assam State in April 1954 and in that year, the institution of hereditary chieftainship was abolished, and instead village courts/council were set up. In the same year the Young Mizo Association was formed which is still an important institution in Mizoram.
The representatives of the Lushai Hills Autonomous District Council and the Mizo Union pleaded with the States Reorganisation Commission (SRC) to integrate the Mizo-dominated areas of Tripura and Manipur with the District Council in Assam. The tribal leaders in the northeast were unhappy with the final SRC recommendations and met in Aizawl in 1955 to form a new political party, Eastern India Tribal Union (EITU). This group raised their demand for a separate state comprising all the hill districts of Assam. However, the demand was not accepted by the Government.
In the 1950s, the fears of Assamese hegemony and perceived lack of government concern led to growing discontent among the Mizos. The Mizos were particularly dissatisfied with the government's inadequate response to the 1959–60 mautam famine. The Mizo National Famine Front, a body formed for famine relief in 1959, later developed into a new political organisation, the Mizo National Front (MNF) in 1961. The Front sought sovereign independence for the Mizo territory, staging an armed insurrection with the 28 February 1966 uprising against the government. The revolt was suppressed by the Government of India, which carried out airstrikes in Aizawl and surrounding areas. The secessionist Mizo National Front was outlawed in 1967, as the Mizo Union and other organisations continued the demand for a separate Mizo state within the Republic of India.
Assam state was split, re-organised into multiple political regions, Mizo hills area was declared Mizoram after the insurgency, and it received status as a Union Territory in 1972. A Peace Accord was signed between central government and insurgent groups of Mizoram on 30 June 1986. Per the accord, insurgents surrendered their arms and Mizoram became the 23rd state of India in 1986, formalised the following year. The first election of Mizoram Legislative Assembly was held on 16 February 1987. Elections have been held at 5 year intervals since then. The most recent Mizoram elections were held for 40 seats of legislative assembly on 25 November 2013. The voter turnout was 81%. The Indian National Congress led by Lal Thanhawla was re-elected to power.
Lt General Nirbhay Sharma (Retd) is the Governor of Mizoram.
Main article: List of districts of Mizoram
Chhimtuipui (top) and Tuipui river of Mizoram
Languages of Mizoram in 2001