My dear people of Mizoram, Chibai
In my 40 years in the Army, I had the opportunity to serve in most of the North Eastern States except for Mizoram, which I only briefly visited during a tour of duty. Little did I know then, that one day I will be here as the 22nd Governor of the State.
Driving in towards Aizawl from Lengpui Airport, my wife and I were enchanted by nature’s bounty and the beautiful surroundings. The picturesque city of Aizawl looks inviting. As I look back, my tenure has been most satisfying. We feel at home here and the Mizos have showered us with tremendous love and affection, which we have attempted to reciprocate in some manner. In fact, we have fallen in love with Mizoram.
My impressions of the State are quite heartening in many ways. It comprises a highly literate and law abiding society, demonstrating some of the best practices in the field of governance and social order. These traits make us feel proud, but are generally unknown to the rest of the world. However, the State punches below its weight and is yet to realize its full potential given that it still lags behind in certain key parameters such as health, infrastructure and employment.
The administration of the three Autonomous District Councils, i.e., Lai Autonomous District Council (LADC), Chakma Autonomous District Council (CADC) and Mara Autonomous District Council (MADC), is under Schedule Sixth of the Constitution and entails certain obligations on my part as a Governor. In particular, the condition of CADC needs more attention. Amongst other things, its literacy rate is not even 50% as compared to the State’s average of more than 90%. There are certain other anomalies in the structure of ADCs, resulting in diffused accountability and creation of multiple power centres. However, an attempt is being made to correct these, to enable them to catch up with the path of socio-economic development of the rest of the State in the not too distant a future.
Connectivity in all dimensions remains a major area of concern and is holding us back from becoming an ‘Outpost’ to a ‘Gateway of India’, going to South East Asia and beyond. We are looking at the ongoing construction of railway line to Sairang, a highway like Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport Project and digital connectivity, as also self sufficiency in food and power with great hope.
Another area which has drawn my attention is the need for all round development of a society, which is all inclusive and follows a healthy lifestyle. In this regard, the role of the religious bodies, civil society and NGOs is indeed valuable. They have already contributed a great deal in ensuring peace and harmony in a State, which had witnessed 20 years of insurgency. Mizoram should be given credit for being the only State in Northeast India, where the peace accord signed in 1986, has brought in long lasting peace unlike the accords signed in other States of Northeast.
With regard to economic growth, the State is gradually opening its doors to investments from outside to realize its potential in areas like agriculture, horticulture, tourism and so on. It has been my endeavour to bring these issues to the fore, as also to revitalise the North East Council, as a planning and monitoring body for the development of the Northeast, as we know it is a vital tool for our Act East Policy to fructify.
Another challenge is to convert our literacy into employability by revisiting the Education and Skill Development systems. As of now, despite a high literacy rate of around 91.33%, the employability is only about 24%. This gap must be bridged by a synchronized and progressive policy of Human Resource Development encompassing Education and Skill Development.
Cleanliness is an intrinsic part and a way of life for us in Mizorom, and in this regard Aizawl city being considered a Smart City and the entire State being ODF (Open Defection Free) make me feel proud of you all. I must particularly applaud the role of civil society in taking on the onerous responsibility of reviving Chite river – which has indeed become a people’s movement fit to be emulated by others.
My interaction with various cross-sections of the society in this beautiful State with a population of nearly 13 lakh has been very rewarding, satisfying and enlightening. I have been able to meet and interact with the youth in particular and find in them an enthusiasm to make Mizoram reach its full potential. The State is receiving increasing attention from the Central Government. In fact, the centre of gravity has rightly shifted to the Northeast. The visit of the Hon’ble President of India, the Hon’ble Vice President of India and Hon’ble Prime Minister of India in the last seven months, as also a series of Cabinet Ministers and Government Officials at frequent intervals – has created a fair amount of momentum and expectations, which augur well for the State. In the not too distant future, I hope to see my State on a high pedestal and as an important link of our Act East Policy.
On the security front, the Free Movement Regime on our border with Myanmar and a hard border with Bangladesh require a dynamic matrix of Border Management, which is being addressed, more so in light of the recent Rohingya crisis that occurred not too far from our southern border.
I also take a lot of pleasure as well as a sense of fulfilment in contributing towards renovating the Heritage Building of the Raj Bhavan, which was built in 1899 by Lt. Col. J. Shakespeare, the then Superintendent. This building has been occupied by Governing authorities of Mizoram and since February 20, 1987, it has been the residence of the Governor. It is now fully restored and the Residential and Office complex have been reconstructed along with certain facilities for cultural activities and sports. In many ways, the Raj Bhavan today symbolises a place of pride for the State.
As my wife and I depart the beloved State of ours, we leave you with the words of our Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi –
“I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the cultures of all lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any.”
KA LAWM E. MANGTHA