Developmental Challenges In Northeast India: Perceptible Reflections On Mizoram


The main aim of this paper is to study the nature of developmental process in the Northeast Indian state of Mizoram in the post-statehood period. The study is focused on the social, economic, cultural and political perspectives of development in the state. It also tries to identify the problems and prospects in the context of several developmental strategies that were underway. And, this paper is aimed at understanding the various developmental strategies that were undertaken in Mizoram. Both the state and non-state actors have had their corresponding roles to be engaged in the process of its state development. Despite many an attainment in the context of certain developmental indicators, the state has had its share of fiascos that could be marked conspicuously.

This paper has been drafted largely on the basis of review of literatures that stem from the secondary sources, besides that of the primary sources like interactive studies and field surveys in different districts in Mizoram. As part of examining the achievements, challenges and drawbacks of the developmental process in the state, an attempt has been made to interact with various stakeholders in the state. For, besides the state and its governmental agencies, various non-state actors have also been involved in the developmental process. In short, the core of the study problem lies in these heterogeneous and complex factors of socio-economic, cultural and political system. The research has certainly focused on the state and non-state actors and their various initiatives towards the socio-economic development in the state and also on certain limitations and challenging perspectives.

As part of the methodology, the study is quantitative in nature. Yet, there is also a need to use qualitative method. As the research is interdisciplinary in nature, the study requires conducting interviews and interactive sessions with different stakeholders in the state. Besides, field survey will be conducted for identifying the problems and prospects of various dimensions of development in certain areas. Further, the study draws its resource material, both from primary and secondary sources like the research-based studies that were undertaken by some academics belonging to the Mizoram University. Certain primary sources like the reports and documents of both the governments (Center and State), available information from the DONER, the NEC, unpublished doctoral theses, seminar proceedings, reports of social activists on the scope of developmental efforts in Mizoram have been used. Apart from this, primary data collection that was based on interviews with concerned institutions and individuals has been elicited authentic information on the subject. Besides, the study has also been based on secondary sources of information. Literatures generated from academic books and articles besides magazines, journals, internet-based information and newspapers have been adequately used.


Understanding ‘Development’

Although the phenomenon of development has been associated more with the economic dimension, there are other dimensions too that have had some bearing on the specific case of Mizoram development. Thus, the study has identified various indicators of development that would account for a comprehensive development of the state. Incidentally, the project theme is aimed at exploring the socio-economic challenges that stem from the state and its various governmental agencies from within and without Mizoram. And, its political implications affect the state development in different ways. Multiple stakeholders have been studied as to know how these had played their due role in the process of state development. While there appeared numerous challenges to the state development that come from both state and non-state agencies, there are also some prospects of overcoming such challenges so that its comprehensive development was undertaken.

The term development certainly refers to progress, gain, evolution, expansion, growth and rise in a society. It involves the process designed to improve the quality of life, socio-economic designed to improve the quality of life, socio-economic condition or standard of living of its people. Development involves a wide extent and the scope of development is multi-dimensional. As a multidimensional term, development is concerned with various aspects, such as education, health care, human development, access to resources, improvement in transport and communication, gender sensation as well as other natural resources. The process of development requires initiating various strategies for securing the outcome of end results.

Besides, the term development has been differently used by various scholars in different contexts. Some post-modernists such as Hickey and Mohan defined development as a ‘discourse that actually shapes and frames reality and power relations’[1]. It does this because this discourse values certain things over others. For example, like those who do not have economic assets are viewed as inferior from materialistic point of view. Alternatively, there is a new discourse based on different value system which places a much higher value on spiritual or cultural assets, and within which those without significant economic assets would be regarded as having significant prosperity. Thus the post-modernists hold that development was a social construct that did not exist in an objective sense outside of the discourse that one could only know reality through this discourse. According to this approach, culturally perceived poverty cannot be real material poverty, for instance, people depending on subsistence economies, which serve basic needs may not identify themselves as poor.[2]

Globalization Era: The globalization process has entered into the development discourse of many governments, either because it is regarded as an effort to poverty alleviation and promotes growth or because the globalization is viewed as an inevitable reality within which nations must either play the game or lose out in the search for development. Evidently, globalization cannot be regarded as a casual factor in development (Dickens, 2004)[3], rather within the umbrella notion of globalization there are specific processes which will have certain time/place-specific contexts. Further, with the growing possibilities for rapid transportation, almost instantaneous communications and improved technology production of many goods can take place far away from markets. Meanwhile, the focus on civil society and particular NGOs in the development policy is intensely associated with a focus on ideas of social capital as a key asset for individuals and communities in the development process. As with the civil society, social capital is a highly contested concept but at its roots is the idea of social relations between individuals and groups. These relations are based on trust and these are expectations about how one should behave in these social interactions. Further, social capital is regarded as another asset which can be used by individuals or groups to contribute to their economic and social advancement, just as can economic capital or human capital. Thus individuals without sufficient or suitable social capital can be marginalized or vulnerable.

For the post-development theorists and practitioners, the key is to make the act of participation actually mean something. Rather than incorporating individual and community views into programmes and projects local views should be prioritized in the development of any policies. Further, rather than attempting to consider and act at a global scale the focus could be on local views and actions. For modernization theory, many forms of cultural practices are regarded as obstacles to development because they are considered to represent non-rational, collective, traditional ways of life, unsuited to individualistic capitalist development. Notwithstanding ideological differences, focus on development on a national scale means that any diversity within the population needed to be incorporated into a national project. However, ethnicity has been a neglected dimension in development theory. Ethnic diversity can represent a challenge to this national approach. Thus, the term ethno-development has been used to describe development which takes into account the need to maintain ethnic diversity as development takes place. Main aspects of ethno-development include territorialism, internal self-determinism, cultural pluralism and ecological sustainability.

Human Development: The most frequently used of these is the ‘Human Development Index’ (HDI) that was devised by the UNDP in early 1990s. While the measure still has an economic dimension, there are other indicators of the development related to the well-being of people. Since 1990, the UNDP has been publishing the Human Development reports (HDRs) every year. The HDI is used to divide the countries into those with high, middle and low human development. This is another development concept, i.e. ‘Human Development’ had appeared in the early 1990s. This concept was introduced by Dr. MahbubUlHaq[4]. He held a view that human security was at stake under conditions of poverty. It focuses on ‘expanding and widening of peoples choices as well as raising the level of wellbeing’. It covers almost all aspects of human life and peoples’ choices like economic, social, political, cultural, educational, physical, biological, mental and emotional.[5] In a way, human development places people at the center of development and emphasizes that the purpose of development was to enlarge human choices, not just incomes.

Thus, development becomes meaningful only if human rights are promoted and huge space for promotion and multiplication of talents and interests of persons are permitted subject to limitations by the law of the land. According to AmartyaSen, ‘Development requires the removal of major sources of unfreedom poverty as well as tyranny, poor economic opportunities as well as systematic social deprivation, neglect of public facilities as well as intolerance or over re-activity of repressive states’.[6] And, he argued that freedom was both the primary end and principal means of development and the key to securing the general welfare of the world’s entire population releasing the idea of freedom from association with any particular historical, intellectual, political or religious tradition.

An economist Schumpeter, in his article ‘Development’, profoundly associated the notion of development as a discontinuity. He consistently made a distinction between incremental change, which he called ‘growth’, and a more fundamental discontinuous change as ‘economic development’. He used the term discontinuity due to the emergence of novel phenomena, which he further identified as the ‘greatest unmet scientific challenge’.[7] Further, people defining the concept of development as something related to the notion of ‘modernity’, look at development largely in economic terms. This conception of development underpins much of the work of international organizations such as the World Bank (WB), IMF and UNDP, and also many national governments in both the global North and global South. The World Bank uses the gross national product (GNP) per capita (pc) to divide the countries of world into development categories. In fact, the GNP is largely an economically-based measure, as it varies so greatly in population. The use of a wealth measure to represent development is regarded as appropriate. For, it is assumed that with greater wealth come the other benefits such as improved health, education and quality of life. Meanwhile, the GNP pc indicator is still widely used, but this has been in conjunction with other broader indicators of development, which have highlighted the non-economic dimensions.

Besides, it is not only defining development which is contested, but the way development is measured is also problematic. For, development is something that needs to be assessed and measured. In any case, methodology of measuring is important for various actors in development. For instance, governmental policy makers consider social development position of a population in order to initiate policy formulation, whereas the international agencies want to assess the impact of a particular development initiative and thus want to have dimensions from both before and after the project-execution. Of course, there exists a problem with measuring development is comparability between the states or regions in a country. In the case of a few NGOs and advocacy agencies that seek to improve the living conditions of marginalized groups certainly want information about the nature of marginalization.

Remarkably, development measures are virtually quantitative, i.e., they can be expressed in numerical forms w.r.t. time and space. While focusing on quantitative measurement, the qualitative dimensions of development are excluded. In other words, this objective approach amounts to excluding the subjective feelings, experiences and opinions of concerned individuals and groups. This approach also tends to reinforce outsider ideas about development rather than what local people think development is or ought to be. For example, the million development goals (MDGs) have in it the poverty reduction at its core and thus definition of poverty attracts the attention of the policymaking. Obviously, the definition of poverty used in these targets is an economic one and the measurement used is mostly a poverty line-oriented and thus its definition varies from state to state and regime to regime.

Incidentally, development of regions and states is the result of many factors. In contrast to the indicator of economic growth in terms of GNP per capita, other indicators have been added to the list of development, including the human development. In fact, human capital has been understood as the sum total of the knowledge, skills and aptitudes of the people, inhabiting a country. Broadly it includes the individual initiative, resourcefulness, capacity for sustained works, right values, interests and attitudes and all other human qualities conducive to higher output and accelerated economic growth. Thus, a country merely having the largest population is not necessarily the richest in human capital. Rather, the most important human resource consists of education, experience, skill, health among other capabilities of the people.

According to one Nobel laureate Shultz, the quality of a population is derived from two resources, viz., genetic endowment and acquired abilities. Of these two resources, acquired abilities of the population certainly play an imperative role for economic growth and development of a country. Since the genes inherent in different populations are not same, it is not responsible for the difference in their abilities and efficiency. Thus, it is necessary to improve the quality of the population for an accelerated economic growth and development. Better investment in physical capital alone cannot bring much change unless there is an improvement in the human skills and knowledge. In fact, an advance in knowledge and skills would make a vast improvement in its physical capital which in turn affects economic growth. It is believed that development of human quality through educational training and health care can play an important role in achieving self-sustained growth. Thus the developing countries have become more conscious of developing human resources as part of national economic development.

Lately, AmartyaSen have argued that ‘until a person or a group is endowed with capabilities, s/he or they will not be in a position to exchange their entitlements for sustaining livelihoods no matter what the levels of economic growth are’. MahbubulHaq on the other hand states that, ‘the ultimate end of all development strategies must be people and their welfare: economic growth is only a means. Income generation is necessary, but it is not sum total of human life’. Thus it is evident that the development of human development takes the center-stage where economic growth is a means to achieve the developmental objective. Economic growth and development in is usually brought about by scientific and technological advancement that would bring about a systematic improvement in equipment, machines and tools. For proper utilization of these machines and tools, it is necessary to improve the human skill and knowledge.

A country may be rich in natural and physical capital resources, but unless there are men who can mobilize, organize and harness its natural resources for the production of goods and services no country can make progress economically or otherwise. So, the fundamental problem of the developing countries is not about the creation of wealth per se but it is the creation of capacity of people to create wealth themselves. In other words, development of human resources is the chief objective of all developmental efforts. Proper utilization of human resources provides a key to economic and social development. With this perspective in view, this study reviews the major trends and present the situation in the sphere of development and utilization of human resources in the Northeast with reference to the state of Mizoram.

Northeast India: The NEI comprises of the ‘seven sisters’ viz., states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura. Later on Sikkim was also included in the list of NEI states. Despite being a hilly-terrain, this region is a pool of rich natural resources and a striking link of different people and culture. It is also the most human resourceful region with rising literacy levels in several states. Unlike the mainstream India, this region has an added demographic advantage, due to low density  as it occupies 7.8% of the country’s total land space but has a population of 3.8 crore, which makes it about 4% of the  total population. This is also a huge unexploited market, which could be of interest to domestic and international investors[8].

Long before the British quit the Indian sub-continent, most of these NEI communities were assimilated and integrated to one another. Neither administrative nor political lines could keep them spaced out. The people used to move freely for trade and economic needs in the Eastern side, which culminated in the rise of Orientals or oriental culture. Apropos to it is the cultural familiarity between these people who live in either side of the Indian borders. Incidentally, the NEI shares some of the strategic borders with China in the North, Bangladesh in the South-West, Bhutan in the North-West and Myanmar in the East. Besides, the NEI states are closer to the ASEAN countries than even to the mainland India. This makes it an eventual nucleus of international trade and commerce. Yet, the region has always been faced with multitude of problems in the context of peace, governance and development. Thanks to the formation of separate states, some of the NEI states like Mizoram have achieved social harmony and political peace to a large extent. Yet, the issues of governance and development have hardly been addressed to any significant level.

Geographically, the Northeast mountain ranges and river valleys certainly divide Southeast Asia from South Asia. And, this predominantly tribal region, replete with protracted records of segregation[9], difficult terrain, and lack of intense inter-ethnic contacts, had witnessed the formation of different types of political societies. Diversities in terms of Mongoloid ethnic origins, linguistic variation and religious pluralism characterize this region. This ethno-linguistic region characterizes the pervasiveness of the ethnic populations and the Tibeto-Burman languages. Of course, the British colonial regime resorted to the policy of non-intervention in most of the then Assam state that consisted of all such NEI regions. Local tribes resisted colonial interference in their affairs and thus these minority communities often raided the British posts and positions in the region. Consequent upon the visit of the Statutory Commission in the late 1920s, apprehension of their marginalization had developed among them. However, with the introduction of missionary activities through the Christian evangelists, a sense of self-esteem was infused in these communities.

Eventually the religious factor is crucial in understanding the birth of ethno-nationalism among the Nagas, the Mizos and the Manipuris. In the subsequent decades, that raised their identity consciousness, these communities demanded for participative representation in the Legislative Assembly of Assam. Over the years, attitudes of in-group/out-group, marginalization and minority/tribal consciousness had always appeared as key factors causing indigenous discontent. Depending on the wide-ranging influences of marginalization and ethnic conflicts, some identity movements articulating their socio-economic objectives persisted more explicitly than the others. Strategies of such movements correspondingly varied in the region. Indigenous conflicts initially grew in the region through primordial traditional affiliations had later on become political. Besides, language and dialect had always been in the center-stage of their ethnic turmoil.

Because of the colonial legacy, hill areas of the Northeast region were conceived of as a sovereign country as per the plan of British crown colony[10], the NEI remained detached from the freedom struggle. Even though the region was brought under its single political set up, the colonial administrative structure separated the lowlands from the highlands. While the lowlands were fully engaged in the political and economic transactions, the highlands were left untouched and were left out only to be administered by their traditional institutions. Meanwhile, the Christian missionaries[11] were engaged in the socio-religious changes in the areas like Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland whereby the social mobilization of these local communities was far-reaching.

Consequently, the developments in the post-Independence were marked by the rise of separatist tendencies and movements that favored greater autonomy. In response, the mainstream leadership tried to implement the theory of assimilation and integration in the region. Even some historians considered the NEI as frontier region, and advocated such mainstream policies with the help of which the region could be ‘integrated with the mainland’ somehow. Some of the Indian regimes relied excessively on the ‘stick and carrot policy’ in the initial phases of regional movements. Thus, whenever the military approaches were unsuccessful, the ‘Centre started pumping in huge sums of money’, neglecting to build the necessary infrastructure[12]. In this milieu, SanjibBarua[13] made a sarcastic comment, ‘One idea that enjoys widespread acceptance is that once the problem of the region’s economic backwardness is taken care of, the main source of political turmoil will go away’. This sort of highhanded approach had isolated the region and its people beyond any sort of patch-up. Yet, during the course of Constitutional making[14], Dr. Ambedkar realized the need of keeping its distinct identity intact and thus advocated for conferring the ‘special status’ (Sixth Schedule) on such regions.

Mizoram Profile: Mizoram, often remarked as the ‘Garden of Peace’ is a mountainous state in the southern-most part of NEI. Its 722 km long international boundaries touch the neighboring countries (Bangladesh in the west and Myanmar in the east and south). Some of the NEI states of Manipur, Assam and Tripura are located on its north and north-east. The growth of population in the State during the last one decade has been 29.18% as against the national average of 21.34%, to a current population size of 8.91 lakh. Given the state’s vast geographical area of 21,087 sq. kms, Mizoram has a population density of 52 per sq. km, compared to the all-India average of 382 per sq. km. The state of Mizoram lies between 21.95 N and 24.39 N latitude and 92.15 E and 93.40 E longitudes[15]. The Tropic Of Cancer runs through the heart of Mizoram. It occupies an area of strategic importance, inter-state border with Assam, Tripura and Manipur and international boundary with Myanmar and Bangladesh.

Mizoram was once a district of the undivided Assam. By an Act of Parliament, the name of the Lushai Hills district was changed to Mizo district from 29th April, 1954[16]. Subsequently, the district became a Union Territory (UT) consequent upon the North-Eastern Areas Reorganization Act of 1971. On 7th August 1986, Mizoram was conferred a statehood consequent upon the passing of the Constitution Amendment Bill and the state of Mizoram Bill. The signing of Mizoram Accord of 1986 automatically led it to the upgradation to statehood. Mizoram became the 23rd State of the Indian Union in February 1987. The first State Assembly was constituted in 1987 with 40 elected members. The election for 40 seat legislative assembly was held in 1987, 1989, 1993, 1998, 2003, 2008 and lastly the seventh election was held on November 25, 2013.

There are eight districts in Mizoram, namely, Aizawl, Lunglei, Champhai, Lawngtlai, Mamit, Serchhip, Kolasib and Saiha. Aizawl city, the capital of Mizoram and the most populous district among the eight districts, was selected. And, administrative-wise, there are three Autonomous District Councils (ADCs) for ethnic tribes in Mizoram, namely the Chakma Autonomous District Council (in the southern part of state, bordering Bangladesh), Lai Autonomous District Council (LADC) for Lai people in the southern part of the state, and Mara Autonomous District Council (MADC) for Mara people in the south-eastern corner[17].

The Mizo life style and culture is different from that of their counterparts in other regions in the NEI. Their social relations are apparently communitarian. Despite being predominantly tribal-oriented, its ethnic groups and communities are contented with their traditional and social institutions. Besides, religious organizations like the church, which are quite influential in the NEI, can also be put in place as part of the developmental initiatives in the region. To be more precise, the role of Christianity is very constructive and encouraging in these states, as the communities that belong to different denominations of church lead a more spiritual and communitarian life in the states like Mizoram and Nagaland. Churches and other civil societies play constructive role in building up the society and political system of the state. Mizoram Accord of 1986 could be signed only through the efforts of the church leaders of various denominational groups. Likewise, various civil societies and NGOs, namely, Young Mizo Association (YMA), MizoHmeichheInsuihkhawm Pawl (MHIP), MizoUpa Pawl (MUP), MizoZirlai Pawl (MZP), Mizo Students’ Union (MSU) and Mizoram People Forum (MPF) render socially useful works in their respective fields and they also work together for the welfare of the state. Obviously, Mizoram is adjudged as the violence free and unfair means free state with regard to conduct of all types of election whether it is LokSabha, VidhyanSabha, Municipal Corporation, District Council and grassroots political institution, namely, Village Council and Local Council.

The Mizos were practically free from any social barriers and restrictions of the ‘caste system’ that prevails in the mainstream India. The Mizos are close knit homogeneous society. They follow the patriarchal pattern of the family where the male, head of the family controls the social, economic and religious affair. The youngest son has inheritance rights. In Mizo society, the value of “Tlawmngaihna” revolves round the society which serves as a humanitarian service to render helping hands in the society. The social life of the Mizos is generally harmonious and peaceful. Christianity plays an important role in each and every life of the people. While the YMA has been the oldest civil society organization that influences the state and non-state actors in the state, its developmental initiatives have always been noteworthy. The establishment of Mizoram People Forum (MPF) under the initiative of the church with constructive cooperation from the civil societies enables the conduct of free and fair poor in every level of election up till now. An important dimension of regional politics in Mizoram that always influenced electoral outcome seems to be that of NGOs and their social contributions in the political and electoral processes.

Although there are a few other NGOs which undertake several issues of social and religious nature, the role of Young Mizo Association (YMA) that is the largest civil society organization in the state is well-connected to the people throughout the state. The organization has played a dominating role in ensuring political socialization and thereby encouraged larger political participation in the state. In Mizoram, a number of communities are found with a distinct socio-cultural system, and quite different from one another. Thus, the Mizo polity[18] has also been marked by socio-ethnic, economic and geographical settings that were unusual and diverse, thus their implications are also of discrete nature.

It is a fact to admit that the Mizoram Accord of 1986 was a gateway of peace, which paved the way for 30 years of peace, as is evident when the state level celebrations of the Remna Ni were held on June 30, 2016. Yet, there prevails some discontent in a few sections of the state populace. Conversely, development need not be deterred by such notion, as was observed by JKPatnaik[19]. And, it can be argued that the pursuance of developmental works and economic development are not up to the mark in the post-accord era. In line with the provision of ‘Peace Accord’, and having had more powers, the state government was expected to speed up the economic development of Mizoram.

Converted into a political party under the leadership of Laldenga on October 22, 1961, the Mizo National Front (MNF) raised the demand of political freedom and independence for the Mizos who were living in different parts of the Indian subcontinent. Along with the objective of safeguarding the Christian religion that enrolled around 87% of its population, the MNF promised to uplift and develop the Mizos in all respects once it attained independence. Largely involved in the socio-cultural and communitarian activities that characterized the ethnic and religious interests of the major tribes in the state, the MNF mobilized the Mizos politically. The party had frantically raised the religious issues and non-political slogans so as to score some political points over the ruling congress party, but in vain. Although another regional party, the Zoram Nationalist Party (ZNP) that offered an alternative politics to the ruling and regional parties has had dismal performance in the election after election.

Developmental Strategies: As one of the smallest states in India, Mizoram is identified as a backward state lacking infrastructures for economic development. Although agriculture is the primary occupation of its population, the rough and hilly terrain of the state has severely put a limit on the scope of its production capacity. The state is having a high literacy rate with 91.6%, male 93.7%, and female 89.4%. It is the second highest literate state in the country, next only to Kerala[20]. Though laudable, its high literacy percentage has significantly contributed for the growth of unemployment in Mizoram. However, the unique socio-cultural institutions, difficulty and high cost of transport, language barriers has put a constraint upon the local youth to seek employment outside Mizoram. Without the expansion of governmental administration and activities it is unlikely that they would acquire gainful employment. Mizoram is an industrially backward State with the vast majority of its people living below the poverty line.

Universally, the development of infrastructure, particularly transport infrastructure, is a key prerequisite for economic development. However, in Mizoram, the lack of adequate transport infrastructure has been the major inhibiting factor on its economic growth and development. Being a hilly state with difficult terrain and climatic conditions, transport infrastructure in Mizoram is essentially road-based one. While there is a small metre-gauge rail link at Bairabi (about 130 kms from Aizawl), as well as a recently[21] commissioned airport at Lengpui (44 kms from Aizawl), for most community, business and personal purposes in Mizoram, road transport is the only principal means of communication. The State has good potential for economic growth in the areas of agriculture, horticulture, tourism, and handicrafts.

Problematical Issues

Although there are multiple interpretations of development and its various dimensions, this study has focused on the socio-economic development of a regional state like Mizoram in India. Theoretically, development can be understood as an organized intervention in collective affairs according to a standard of development. What constitutes development and what it means of appropriate intervention vary in different socio-economic contexts as well as that would be dependent upon specific power relations in a state or society. Thus, it is largely context-specific. And, various actors or stakeholders were expected to play their role during the process of development in the state. More particularly, it is the state and its various governmental agencies that played leading role, whereas non-state actors like the civil society and NGOs were contributing their mite towards different developmental indicators in their own way, complementary to that of the state.

However, unlike many other states in India, Mizoram is such a Northeastern state that had been developed on account of equivalent contribution of both state and non-state actors during the period of statehood and after. Thus, this study takes into account various efforts of the state, both state and central governments, besides that of non-state actors like the Church and its affiliated civil society organizations and NGOs in the last two decades or so. As usual, the central government had extended its financial assistance, quite generously (for being declared special category states), to all the Northeastern states including Mizoram for over several decades. Not only was it beneficial to these states to ensure peace and harmony in the region, but also helped them achieve socio-economic development in different sectors over the years. Of all other states, Mizoram has emerged as the most peaceful state in the region, besides contributing to its human development success. Yet, there are several areas that still deserve attention of the state and non-state actors, if the state is to ensure comprehensive development in the days to come.

Expectedly, the state had received major share of its plan and non-plan outlays from out of the central funding that was largely used for the development of the state. Besides, there were numerous central-government-sponsored schemes that got implemented in the state quite effectively. There has been significant progress in the agricultural development and its allied fields. And, there has been marked improvement in the industrial and infrastructure developments in the field of transportation (surface and airport) and communication systems[22]. Thus, the economic condition of the Mizos, particularly those of the urban areas like Aizawl, Champhai and other towns, has been better than pre-statehood period. Obviously, there is an improvement in the basic civic amenities like the primary education, health care, drinking water supply, sanitation among others in the state.

Of course, industrial activity is yet to take off in the state. Unemployed youth are desperate to secure sustainable jobs in either public or private sectors. There is scope for exploring natural and mineral resources like oil and natural gas and thereby to establish some big power generating industries. Similarly, proper implementation of look east policy is possible with contextualizing it within the northeast development. Long-pending developmental projects could be undertaken at the earliest so that the state is converted into real ‘gateway’ to the ASEAN and other countries in the East. As part of the state initiatives and governmental responses, both the governments have crucial roles to play in this endeavor.

Although the state government has been responding to the central initiatives and funds quite positively, several projects have not been implemented as per the fixed schedules. Besides political factors, local leaderships have also been attributed for the mismanagement of some sponsored schemes in the state. Similarly, local regimes have also reversed many a development programme on account of political grounds. Suffice it to cite the case of implementing the Anti-jhumming agricultural operations during the congress and non-congress regimes in the state on few occasions. Irrespective of change of nomenclature of the programme, the agricultural programme has been criticized for being colored with corruption and mismanagement in the state.

At the other end, while non-state actors like those belonging to different denominations of the Church were proactive in ensuring peace and social harmony in the state, their scant regard for developmental activities has been noticed in the recent past. Their effective intervention during the course of conducting peaceful elections has always been welcome, that got mass appreciation, but their unsolicited role in certain governmental activities was hardly acceptable. Occasionally, some Church leaders were accused of indulging in non-governmental activities like enforcing ILP regulations on few occasions. Political leadership and the party system in the state were under the grip of some Church denominations and thus failed to deliver goods at times. Viewed in this perspective, development or otherwise of the state is dependent upon the role that these non-state actors would be playing in the state. Thus, this study has accordingly problematized the issues and concerns of development in the state.

To sum up, unlike the mainstream India, this NEI region has an added demographic advantage, due to low density. Christianity and education paved the way for development in Mizoram and play a vital role in all spheres of its lives. Meanwhile, in terms of politics, there are two major political parties (INC and MNF) in Mizoram that dominated the political scenario of the state. Besides an age-old YMA, Mizoram has had a forum called the Mizoram Peoples Forum (MPF), which had acted as a guardian of society and politics in order to have clean and fair governance in the state. Thus, Mizoram has developed a distinct political process. Obviously, the role of church and civil societies in cleansing the electoral activities is laudable.

Wellbeing of the people is an important component of human development. Besides economic dimension, educational and health indicators certainly contribute to the human development of the people. Of course, economic development is an important indicator of state development in the country and elsewhere. Agriculture that was once the main economic activity in the state has over the years, had taken a back seat with the service sector becoming the most important sector in terms of contribution to the state income and its welfare. Despite the implementation of NLUP its economic performance from the primary sector income was inadequate and limited, the state could achieve better economic performance due to other sectoral improvements. Besides, the two-decade old Look East Policy could hardly be implemented since the development of Mizoram was not contextualized with it. To be specific, though the border trade has got lot of potential with establishing the border spot like Zokhawthar (Champhai) on the India-Myanmar route not much was witnessed with regard to developing the local interests.

The state has recorded the top rank in the context of literacy levels in the NEI and second rank in the country in the recent past. Thus, the state has been generating rich human resources in terms of educated skilled workers for being employed in the high-profile service sector (public and private jobs) that could contribute more to the state exchequer so that constant dependency on the central funding would be weakened in the days to come. Of course, every government had implemented new schemes. Nevertheless the success rate seems to be inadequate. Development still took a heavy toll even though several programmes were undertaken by various governments in the state. Ultimately, the problem lies in the political and administrative systems that need to ensure good governance in bringing out the appropriate developmental works efficiently.

Prof  K V Reddy Dept of Political Science, Mizoram University, Aizawl- (India)

Notes and References:

[1]Hickey, S. and G. Mohan (2004) Participation: From Tyranny to Transformation?Exploring New Approaches to Participation in Development, London: Zed Books.

[2] M. Lalramdina, “Socio-Economic Development, Political Culture and Political Participation: A case study of the Mara autonomuous district council (MADC) area”. In Socio-Economic Development and Governance in North Eastern Region of India. Pg,212.

[3] Michael, Slater. “Dickens, Charles John Huffam (1812-1870).” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.Ed. Lawrence Goldman. Oxford: OUP, 2004-7. Web. 29 July 2015.

[4]Haq, Mahbub-ul (1995), Reflections on Human Development, Oxford University Press, New York.

[5]Zonunmawia. “Rethinking Development and Governance in North-East India: Some Conceptual Issues.” In Socio-Economic Development and Governance in North Eastern Region of India. Pg. 48

[6]SenAmartya (1999). ‘Development as Freedom’. Oxford University Press, London.

[7] Joseph A. Schumpeter. “Development”. Journal of Economic Literature Vol. 43, No. 1 (Mar., 2005), pg. 110 Published by: American Economic Association, Stable URL:

[8]Bhorali, D., ‘Economic Development of the North-Eastern Region’, (Guwahati, Spectrum Publications, 1988).

[9]In 1873, the Inner Line in hill areas was introduced beyond which no person could pass without a license.

[10]Chaube SK., 1972. ’Hill politics in North East India, (New Delhi).

[11]Gopalakrishnan R, 1996. ‘Sociopolitical Framework in North-East India,’ (New Delhi: Vikas publishing house).

[12]MisraUdayon, 1988. ‘Quest for Identity’, (Guwahati: Omsons publications).

[13]His book ‘Durable Disorder’, in 2005.

[14]Ambedkar BR., 1950.  Constituent Assembly Debates vol.IX.

[15]Statistical Handbook, Mizoram 2014, Directorate of Economics and Statistics, Govt. of Mizoram, Aizawl.

[16]Lianzela (1997), ‘Effects of Shifting Cultivation on the Environment with special reference to Mizoram’, International journal of Social Economics, Vol.24, Nos.7/8/9/, pp 785-90.

[17]Doungel, J. ‘Issues concerning Peace and Development in the Sixth Schedule area of Mizoram’,in the Edited volume by JKPatnaik, ‘Peace and Development in Mizoram – role of the state and civil society’, (Dept of Political Science, Mizoram university, Aizawl, 2008).P188.

[18]Sangkima,.Mizos: Society and Social Change (1890-1947). (Delhi: Spectrum Publications,1992).

[19]Patnaik, JK (2008), Mizoram, Dimensions and Perspectives: Society, Economy and Polity, Concept publishing Company, New Delhi.

[20]www.indiaonlinespages/population, accessed on 15 October 2015.

[21] The Mizoram Post, May 28, 2016.

[22]Satpathy RK, ‘Contextualising Development in The-state-Civil Society Paradigm of Mizoram’, in the Edited volume by JKPatnaik, ‘Peace and Development in Mizoram – role of the state and civil society’, (Dept of Political Science, Mizoram university, Aizawl, 2008).P124.

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