A teaching assignment brings me to Aizawl, the capital of Mizoram, where Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC) has its North East India campus.
Aizwal is called hill city as the city nestles on hill. At night with lights on- the city offers a magnificent view. It’s like tens of thousands of stars. The headlight of moving vehicles look like glow worms on flight.
Mizoram is one of the most literate states of the country thanks mostly to the Christian missionaries, who had set up educational institutions in this tribal dominated hilly state more than a century ago. Over 90 per cent of the population of Mizoram is Christians. Therefore there are many churches in Aizwal. Church as an institution is socially very powerful in Mizoram. It is mostly at the insistence of the Church leaders that the new Mizoram government is imposing prohibition, which was lifted by by the last government.
The Mizoram Peace Accord
Except Sikkim, Mizoram happens to be the only North Eastern state which does not have insurgency problem. It has had insurgency problem- serious problem. But the historic Mizo Accord signed in 1986 put an end to it. It fact as L. R. Sailo, the present Regional Director of IIMC, Aizawl and former Director of PR, Govt. of Mizoram writes in the pictorial coffee table book that he had compiled and edited (titled LestWe Forget) , it was the only insurgency in the world which ended with a stroke of pen. The accord was signed by Laldenga on behalf of Mizo National Front, R.D.Pradhan, Home Secretary on behalf of Govt. of India and Lalkhama, Chief Secretary Of Govt. of Mizoram. The Church and NGOs had played a very important role in bringing together the different stake holders together and after the accord was signed saw to that it was not violated by any party.
Mizo Peace Accord could serve as a template to bring about peace in other North Eastern states, where insurgency is still a problem.
Aizawl is the largest city of Mizoram with a population of 4 lakh. Considering the fact that the total population of Mizoram is about 12 lakhs, more than quarter of the population of the state live in this city. Like all hill towns- the roads are narrow and winding. Despite an efficient traffic management system, one experiences traffic jams quite often. Like in other North Eastern states women are more visible in public places and work places. Shops and business establishments are mostly run by women. However there are more men driving taxis and bike taxis. Bike taxis are very popular. Young men wearing bright yellow helmet on standing at the roadside is a common sight. Another thing that I notice that men in Aizawl smoke far too much compared to any other city in India that I have visited except Kolkata. Young men walking, working, even driving motor bikes with a cigarette dangling from their mouth is a very common sight. I am told drug abuse rate is also very high in Mizoram, drugs mostly coming from Myanmar.
Unlike most other cities in India, Aizawl is not cricket-crazy. They love football. Assam Rifles ground is full of young men and women playing and practicing football every morning and afternoon. You can see kids and young men and women wearing football jerseys. Another passion that they follow vigorously is music. There are many music and musical instrument shops in the city.
DD Station in Aizawl
Aizawl DD station is located at a breathtakingly beautiful place- on top of a hill overlooking the city. Unfortunately there was mist and haze. We could not see the city clearly, but we could feel what in a clear day the view would be.
I was part of the discussion on Media Education in North East. It was a one hour long show- very long by television standard. But the anchor, a gracious lady who likes to call herself Vary (as her name is too long and winding for people like me to understand and pronounce and remember) made it go like a breeze. Vary teaches history in a degree college. She has done her doctorate on changing trends of Mizo attire. A very interesting subject, I must say.
Aizawl has many beautiful and imposing churches. Solomon’s Temple is one of them. It is an interesting church because it is the brainchild of one person Dr. I.B.Sailo. He is the architect of the church. He laid the foundation in 1996 and he inaugurated it in 2017 Christmas day. This 2.7 million dollar church has become a tourist attraction of Aizawl.
Journalist turned media academician Mrinal Chatterjee lives in Central Odishas town of Dhenkanal. He can be contacted at [email protected]