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Zoramthanga: Challenges Abound

Zoramthanga: Challenges Abound

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  8 Jan 2019 3:09 AM GMT

Shreeprakash Sharma

(Shreeprakash Sharma is the Principal of Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya, Dinthar Veng, Mamit in Mozoram. He can be reached at spsharma.rishu@gmail.com)

The landslide victory of Mizo National Front (MNF), after a decade of political hibernation, in the recently concluded Mizoram Assembly elections under the dynamic leadership of Zoramthanga has been the reflection of what one may call the beginning of a new chapter in the history of the State which stands at the crossroads of much-needed and long-due development for decades.

Winning from the prestigious Aizawl East-I seat by defeating his nearest rival journalist-turned politician K Sapdanga, Zoramthanga has been the saga of sacrifice, struggle, patience and never-say-die-attitude for over five decades.

Serving as the Chief Minister of Mizoram for two consecutive terms from 1998 to 2008, the 74-year-old veteran politician has now appeared as the latest icon of fulfillment of the aspirations of around 11 lakh people of Mizoram who have been subjected to a host of socio-economical problems and challenges since February 20, 1987 when Mizoram got statehood.

The biggest question at this stage is: Will Zoramthanga prove to be the saviour of the people inundated with an avalanche of problems for decades? The second no less important question is: Will Mizoram come out of the current stagnancy under Zoramthanga? And the most important question which calls for urgent attention is: how would the newly-elected Chief Minister bring about the much-expected changes in the lives of the people of Mizoram, deprived and isolated from the mainstream development of the country?

The Jet Airways flight from Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi reaches Lengpui, the only airport of Mizoram, near Aizawl, connecting rest of the country to it via air, at 2.30 pm. If you happen to hire a taxi from the airport, the Maruti Wagon R which abounds in Mizoram next to the unofficially-claimed state carrier of Tata Sumo only, it reaches Mamit district headquarters at nearly 6.30 pm. It means the journey of around 65 kilometres from Lengpui airport to Mamit is covered by the reserved taxi in not less than 4 hours.

It also means that the hired taxi runs 16 kilometre per hour on an average on this road route which is potholed. It is feasible, especially when there is no rainy season spanning from April to late October. During the rainy season the same distance between Mamit and Lengpui airport is covered in more than 5 to 6 hours, sometimes even more if the road is blocked due to landslides. It is really a nightmare to journey across Mizoram when it pours.

The message is clear that the plight of roads in Mizoram, the most prominent means of transport, is really very horrible and it has wrought havoc not only upon the economy of the state but also on the socio-familial condition of nearly 1.1 million population of the State.

It is no exaggeration that the most important responsibility for the newly-elected government is to urgently mend and maintain the road condition which is just like the lifeline of the common masses of the state, especially when it does not have the railway network due to hard and inaccessible terrains. The government also needs to build new metalled roads in those areas which are deprived of the basic facilities.

Drug addiction is another menace which is taking the youths of the State in its grip and due to which precious and promising lives of the State are being ruined. As per the latest data of the PTI, 25,000 youths are drug addicted in the State out of which 10,000 are intravenous drug users and 2,000 drug addicts are being treated and counseled in 300 rehabilitation centres of the State. The latest data shows that there have been more than 1,400 deaths due to drug abuse and addiction in Mizoram since 1984. Drug addiction and its repercussions have not only directly affected its addicts but also each and every family in the State.

Zoramthanga’s firm commitment to bring about complete prohibition of alcohol in the State is surely going to bring about the miraculous changes in the families that are on the brink of devastation in the years gone by.

The Reserve Bank of India, in its reports of 2013, states that around 20.5 percent families in Mizoram lies Below Poverty Line (BPL). This is a little less than the national average of 21.9 percent. However, against the national average of 25.7 per cent rural poverty, the average of Mizoram’s rural BPL families stands at 35.4 percent. This heavy inequality between the haves and have-nots of the society too needs to be bridged shortly so that an equitable society can be founded for the fast inclusive development of the State.

Given the difficult nature of the hilly terrains of the State, the new-elected government must lay out radical policies for the faster comprehensive and balanced development of tourism industry. It is really unfortunate that unlike other states of the Northeast, development of tourism is in a shambles in Mizoram despite the State being rich in flora and fauna, besides eye-catching climatic scenario. The government must urgently develop economic infrastructural facilities for boosting tourism in the State. It will not only open job avenues to the employment but also raise the per capita income of the State.

The power-starved State also needs to chalk out plans for the production of hydel electricity. The increment in power production would substantially help establish and accelerate new industries in the State. The fast development of handloom and horticulture industries may give the much-needed boost to the economy of Mizoram. It is hard to deny that development of these new avenues is bound to generate new employment opportunities which the youths have been so eagerly longing for. Mizoram being the second most literate state (91.58 per cent) only after Kerala (93.91 per cent), it must take a bevy of pragmatic and flawless plans for providing jobs to the educated youths of the state to harness their talent for the ultimate paradigm change of the state.

Challenges abound before Zoramthanga and expectations of people are very high, and as such the days ahead are not easier for him. What Mizoram wants Zoramthanga at this critical stage is to take the State on the rapid holistic development trajectory to ultimately make it one of the fastest growing states in the country.

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