October 5, 2009

Musings on Mizoram

Filed under: Education,Mizoram,Politics — loggers @ 8:26 pm

Our travels in the northeast could not have been complete sans a visit to the most literate[i] state in the country, Mizoram. Connectivity to Aizawl is limited to road and air, and we chose the latter on account of travel time. Similar to Arunachal Pradesh, we had to obtain an inner-line permit upon arrival at the airport, which was a lot less painful since we had come by air. Had we crossed the state border from Assam, obtaining this permit would have taken a day. Aizawl is nestled among the Lushai hills and seems to have grown beyond its means – narrow, windy roads with houses packed next to each other and a distinct air of smog held over the city during the day. Often referred to as the Switzerland of India, we, however were not able to observe any tangible development taking place in the city, which is home to more than 40% of the state’s population.

view from Hotel Royale in Aizawl

View from Hotel Royale in Aizawl

Predominantly a Christian society, Mizoram is a cultural anomaly compared to the other northeast states and the rest of India. Heavily influenced by western cultures, Mizo society is more liberal and egalitarian, with a particular emphasis on women empowerment. Due to the rocky relationship between the army and locals during the 2 decades of insurgency until statehood in 1987, Mizos did not identify themselves with the rest of the country. Having realized the political and economic dependence the state has on the center, this view is changing and more people now see themselves as Indian, and not just Mizo.

Congested street near Millenuim Mall, central Aizawl

Congested street near Millenuim Mall, downtown Aizawl

During our visit we met with Pu[ii] Silo, the principal at one of the best private schools in the state, who shared with us his thoughts on the education sector and Mizo society in general. The provision of basic literacy notwithstanding, [quality] higher educational institutions are lacking in this part of the country. As a result, students who have the financial means (25-30%) move out for further studies and tend to stay back in cities such as Delhi, Kolkata, Bangalore and Mumbai to attain jobs. We were also able to interact with a few students (10th and 12th graders) from his school, who shared with us their ambitions. Interestingly, these ranged from becoming a doctor to a principal to an animation designer in Japan to becoming a hotel manager in Korea.

Fun fact: Korean drama (translated into Mizo) is the most popular form of entertainment in the state.

Korean dvds displayed on the sidewalk

Korean and American DVDs displayed on the sidewalk

[i] Officially this figure is slightly lower, because of migrant laborers from other states who now live in Mizoram. For locals, however, this is 100%

[ii] Pu is a prefix used for respect in Mizo, similar to ‘Mr.’ in English, ‘Pak’ in Bahasa and ‘Khun’ in Thai



  1. naman ko naman , but my dear u must travel in north east in bus .of course going to mizo or arunachal by air is a right decision .next time , if u have time then go there by bus

    Comment by JUGNU SHARDEYA — October 9, 2009 @ 2:21 pm | Reply

  2. Great journal and excellent write-up 🙂

    Also kudos on interacting with the principal and students. Most tourists don’t do that usually.

    Comment by Kima — November 24, 2009 @ 6:50 pm | Reply

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