Knowledge Corner

Mizoram is one of the states of Northeast India, with Aizawl as its capital city. The name is derived from Mi (people), Zo(Belonging to the people of Mizoram/Lushai Hills) and Ram (land), and thus Mizoram implies “land of the hill people”. In the northeast, it is the southern most landlocked state sharing borders with three of the Seven, now with the addition of (Sikkim,) Eight sister states, namely Tripura, Assam, Manipur. The state also shares a 722 kilometer 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.

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 kilometers. About 91% of the state is forested.

About 95% of current Mizoram population is of diverse tribal origins who settled in the state, mostly from southeast Asia, over waves of migration starting about 16th century but mainly in 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. The tribes converted from Animist religions to Christianity over the first half of 20th century. Mizoram is one of three states of India with a Christian majority (87%). Its people belong to various denominations, mostly Presbyterian in its north and Baptists in south.

Mizoram is a highly literate agrarian economy, but suffers from slash-and-burn jhum 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$1.0 billion). About 20% of Mizoram’s population lives below poverty line, with 35% rural poverty. The state has about 871 kilometers 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.

History

The term Mizoram is derived from three Mizo words-Mi, zo and ram. ‘Mi’ in Mizo means ‘People’ 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 hill people’. B. Lalthangliana says ‘zo’ may also mean ‘cold region’ and therefore, Mizo signifies people of the cold region.

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 practiced 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.

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. North and south Mizo hills became part of the Assam province in 1898 as the Lushai Hills District, with Aizawl as headquarters. At the time of the British conquest, there were around 60 chiefs. After Christian missionaries arrived with the gospel of Jesus Christ, majority of the population became Christians over a period of time in first half of 20th century.

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 got 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, between 0 and 2 civilians have died each year from any 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.

Geography

Mizoram is a landlocked state in North East India whose southern part shares 722 kilometers 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. As per state of forest report 2015 states with maximum forest cover as percentage of their own geographical area. Mizoram being the highest 88.93% Forest.

Demographics

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.

Languages

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, Paite,Gangte, etc. Christian missionaries developed the Mizo script.

Religion

 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.

Skill Test

1. What is the Area of Mizoram?
2. According to the census of 2011 what is the population of Mizoram?
3. The Capital of Mizoram is
4. What is the total number of districts present in the state of Mizoram?
5. In which year was the Mizoram union territory?
6. Which is the state bird of Mizoram?
7. Which country lies to the east of Mizoram?
8. The route to China through 'Nathula Pass' goes from the Indian state of
9. What is the capital of Mizoram?
10. State the date in which the Mizoram state was formed?
11. How was the Mizo hills district formerly known as?
12. Which article of Indian constitution provided a special provision for Mizoram?
13. What is the number of Parliamentary constituency from Mizoram?
14. In which year the Mizoram state was formed?
15. Which of the following states do not share a border with Nagaland?
16. What is the literacy rate of Mizoram?
17. What is the meaning of the word Mizoram?
18. According to the census of 2011 what is the sex ration of Mizoram?
19. Which country lies to the west of Mizoram?