July- September, 1999 , Volume 1 No. 1
Post Independence Economic Development of Mizoram
Mizoram the most peaceful State in the North East became a State in 1987. Prior to 1972, it was one of the districts of Assam. In 1972 the then Lushai Hills/Mizo District became a Union Territory. The State is very much land locked and rather inaccessible. People in Mizoram are mostly Christians, taking Mizos alone, they can be claimed as hundred percent Christians. The method of cultivation till today is shifting cultivation or Jhuming. The State previously had three districts but now it has eight districts with 20 Rural Development Blocks and 22 towns. Mizoram, literally translated means "Land of the Highlanders".
Population of Mizoram in 1991 was 6,89,756. Density of population in the said year was 33 per square km. Percentage of Urban population was 46 and rural population of 54. Number of Villages in 1991 was 785. The decadal growth rate of population in the State was alarmingly high viz 48.55 per cent during 1971-81 and 39.70 during 1981-91. Insurgency (MNF) broke out in Mizoram in 1966. Peace accord was signed in 1986.
Indicators of Development
To analyse the economic development of a particular region or a State there can be various indicators or parameters. One has to ask what has been happening to poverty? What has been happening to unemployment? And what about inequality in the State? How about the education and literacy? How about the availability of basic minimum services? What is the infrastructure facility position etc. Let us now try to analyse post independence economic development of Mizoram using few selected indicators
Education and Literacy
Mizoram is a late starter in education. Only in 1903, the first formal Primary Schools were opened in a few villages. In villages, opening of Middle School was only in 1944. The first High School was established in 1944 and the first undergraduate college got opened in 1958. At the beginning girl child was often discriminated as far as education was concerned. Most parents did not like to send their daughters to school on the plea that girls after they became adults, were to go to their husbands home. But the progress in education and literacy is very significant in Mizoram. In 1941 literacy percentage in Mizoram was only 19.05. But in 1991, the literacy rate became 82.27 per cent, second highest in India. Women literacy in 1991 was 78.60, highest in the whole North-East. Presently the State claims to have 96 per cent literacy (highest among the Indian States). In the Educational Development Index Ranking prepared by the Education Division of the Planning Commission in 1995-96, Mizoram got the first rank.
According to the Annual Report 1997-98, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Department of Education, the total number of recognised educational institutions in the State (in 1996-97) was: 1263 Primary Schools, 702 Middle Schools, 375 High Schools/Higher Secondary Schools, 29 Colleges, 2 Professional Education Institutions. Recently a Women Polytechnic School was opened in Aizawl. At present Mizoram has 360 recognised village libraries. Surprisingly Mizoram is the only State in the North-East which does not have its own University.
Though the progress in literacy and educational institutions etc is quite considerable, alarmingly the school drop out rate is very high, higher than the National average. In 1996-97 drop out rate (provisional) in Mizoram is :- Class I to V 58.10 per cent, Class I to VIII 67.60 and Class I to X 72.06 per cent.
Progress made by women in Mizoram is commendable. As stated earlier, at the beginning, girl child was discriminated by parents as far as their education was concerned. But now this become a thing of the past. The only two Ph.D Degree holders among the Mizos in Hindi are females. First Ph.D in English among the Mizos is also a lady. Three Mizo women were also awarded prestigeous Padma Sree by the President of India. There are some Mizo women who are honoured with National Award for Teachers. Once, the State has even had a lady Minister (Minister of State) in the Assembly. All these signify the progress of women in the State.
Per Capita Net State Domestic Product
Development/Progress in per Capita Net State Domestic Product (NSDP) in the State is quite good. NSDP at current prices: Rs.1289 in 1980-81, Rs.4026 in 1988-89, Rs.6599 in 1992-93, Rs.7517 in 1993 and Rs.9570 (Provisional) in 1995-96.
Per Capita assistance during the Eight Plan in Mizoram is Rs.4664 in 1992-93, Rs.5346 in 1993-94, Rs.6527 in 1994-95, Rs.7786 in 1995-96, Rs.8244 in 1996-97, total for the whole plan being Rs.32,567, second highest in the North-East States (highest is Arunachal). Below Poverty Line (BPL) percentage in the state according to Focus on the Poor is 25.66 (lowest in the North East).
Infrastructure facilities for government offices increased considerably after Statehood (1987) in particular. More than thirty new buildings (Cement concrete with multi storeyed) were constructed and occupied in the State capital. To name a few Directorate of Information and Public Relations, Land Revenue Directorate, Art and Culture, Environment and Forest, Sericulture, Power and Electricity, Public Health Engineering, PWD, Directorate of Horticulture, Food and Civil Supplies, Agriculture etc. A number of offices/Directorate owned departmental bus for the benefit of their employees.
Prior to Independence, the types of roads found in Mizoram were merely 6 feet wide bridle paths. First road constructed after independence in Mizoram was jeepable road between Aizawl (Capital of Mizoram) and Lunglei (Second Capital) via Serchhip started in 1950. For quite long, in the absence of other reliable dependable communication like water ways, railway, communication by air, road communication was the sole communication, the only link Mizoram had with other parts of India and is the life line of the people. The position has changed considerably now. The new Longpui Airport has now been commissioned in 1998 eases the communication bottleneck that the state always has. In 1996, road density in Mizoram was 31.14 kms per 100 square kms. To have total connectivity as desired by the Government of India Construction of about 1210 kms of road would still be required.
The increase in number of vehicle in the State is rather fast. In 1951 total number of vehicle in Mizoram was 14 only. In 1960 the number rose to 199. According to the records of the Transport Department (September 1996) the total number of vehicles (all types) in Mizoram is 19,280. Assuming the population of Mizoram as 8,12,280 in 1996 as compared to 6,89,756 (1991 census), there is a vehicle for every 42 persons. In other words the pollutants emitted by a single vehicle is shared by 42 persons. But in reality, almost 70 per cent of the total vehicle is in Aizawl District and almost 50 per cent is in Aizawl town itself. This means that every 18 person of Aizawl town shares a single vehicle.
Since a few years back there is a railway connecting Mizoram with other parts of India. The rail head reaches Bairabi. This greatly eased the transport problems of the State. Essential items can be delivered from the Bairabi Station.
Other infrastructural and basic amenities position
According to Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) Index of Infrastructure 1992-93, Mizoram is 63 per cent, one of the lowest in the North-East States. And in the 10th Finance Commission Index of Economic and Social Infrastructure, Mizoram is given 62 per cent, second lowest in the North East. (CMIE weightage is power 20%, irrigation 20%, Roads 15%, Railway 20%, Post Office 5%, education 10%, health 4% and banking 6%).
The Mizo State in 1991 possessed 14 hospitals, person per bed is 627. In 1993-94, population per post office is 1920, lowest in the North-East. Number of schools per 100 sq km in 1993 is 9.3. Telephone connection per lakh population in 1992 is 692, highest in the North-East. Percentage of house hold having electricity in the State (1991) is 59, safe drinking water 16 (lowest in NE), Toilet is 70 (highest in NE).
In respect of water supply, though a significant progress had been made in the post independence period, yet much more needs to be done. Till today, even in the State Capital, Aizawl Greater Water Supply meant to feed 80,000 people is shared by about two lakh people. This signifies the magnitude of water scarcity in Mizoram. The coverage of rural water supply in the State as on 31.10.1994 is:-
The magnitude of water scarcity in the state is slightly reduced after the commissioning of Kolasib Greater water supply in 1999.
Planned power development in Mizoram can be said to have started only from 1975-76 when Assam State Electricity Board ceased to function in Mizoram. Integrated Rural Energy Planning Programme was introduced in Mizoram during 1985-86. At present there are nine blocks covered under IREP. The achievements in IREP in various blocks in the State upto 1995-96 are:-
a) Solar home lighting system 222 nos.
b) Solar Streetlight 284 nos.
In rural electrification out of 698 inhabited villages, 590 villages were electrified till 1995 (March) covering about 85 per cent of the villages. Out of this 49 are through non-conventional method. The electrified village became 597 in 1995 (December). The latest figure in rural electrification is 98% (electrified).
The peak load requirement of power in Mizoram in 1998-99 in 106 MW as reflected in the 15th Annual Power Survey document published by Central Electricity Authority (CEA) which is likely to rise to 141 MW by the end of the 9th Plan. Against this requirement, the State has effective installed capacity of about 21.88 MW (17 MW Diesel and 4.8 MW Hydel). TheState also imports about 18 MW power from North Eastern Grid (Central Sector). Thus against the requirement of 88 MW, only39.88 MW can be said to be available (45.3% of the requirement). The per capita consumption of power in Mizoram is 140 KWh as compared to 330 of All India (average). In the North-East, per capita power consumption is 145. The actual transmission and distribution loss in Mizoram is to the tune of 35% against the national average of 20%. The ongoing power project in the State is Tuirial Project (60 MW) taken up by NEEPCO under OECF loan. Mizoram will get power (free) to the Magnitude of 12% of the generation. The project is to be completed by 2005 A.D.
Industry & Agriculture
The entire Mizoram is a notified backward area and is categorised under No Industry State. The first Industrial policy of Mizoram came into force since 1989. According to CMIE data (January 1996, Indias Industrial Sector) number of Large & Medium size industries in Mizoram (in March 1994) is one. Number of SSI Unit (as on 31st March 1995 in the state is 2080. Sick SSI units as on March 1994 are 119. Fruit Juice Concentrate Plant at Chhingchhip has recently been commissioned is now actively engaged in production activities. The shell limestone deposit found in the state brings new hope for starting shell limestone processing industry.
In Agriculture, the progress made is rather slow. The entire population in the state in the past used to engage themselves in agriculture. The method used is shifting cultivation or jhuming. During the past five decades, changes have been made to some extent. Mechanisation in a limited extent has been introduced in WRC with the help of the tractors, power and other implements. According to the CMIE figure Mizoram foodgrain production in thousand tonnes in 1995-96 is 123 tonnes. Foodgrains yield (kg. Per hectare) is 1540 kg (third highest in the North-East).
The so called New Land Use Policy (NLUP) in the State, introduced as an alternative to shifting cultivation though not very successful as expected, benefitted the jhumis in some ways. Out of the 20 Rural Development Blocks and two additional Block in Mizoram, 12 Blocks have already been covered. The programme has so far benefited 54,932 families. The amount already spent for the scheme was a little over Rs.146 crore.
The sad fact is that till today, the State is not self-sufficient in foodgrain production. Every year huge quantity of rice is to be imported from Food Corporation of India (FCI). The import figure for rice is 93,174.4 MT in 1990, 101,326.7 MT in 1995 and 1,12,380.7 MT in 1997-98.
Telecom, Tourist etc.
Achievements made by Telecommunication Department in the State is considerable. Prior to independence, the Telecom Department did not have a single Exchange in Mizoram. At present the number has gone to 44 with 22 of them having STD facilities. The progress made by National Informatic Centre (NIC) is also remarkable. The NIC, Aizawl District has also made remarkable progress, introducing computers and information technology (IT) wherever applicable in the process of State government administration.
Tourism, as a separate Directorate started functioning since 1987. The progress made by the Directorate is commendable. The Directorate gave emphasis on construction of tourist lodge, highway restaurant, picnic spots etc. Besides constructing tourist lodge, highway restaurant etc at various places within Mizoram, the Department constructed Tourist Complex at Zemabawk (Berawtlang, near Aizawl). Tourists arrival (domestic and foreign) are significant, 18664 in 1993-94, 20227 in 1995-96 and 27430 in 1997-98.
As seen in the preceding lines post independence economic development in Mizoram is commendable. It is most significant in the field of education and literacy. Progress of women is also considerable. But at the same time there are areas in which the State is very much deficient and lacking. Till now accurate and reliable statistics are not just available. Though the State has a very high literacy rate, productivity rate is low. The State is far from self sufficient in food grain production. Technical education facility is rather limited in the State. The State is very inefficient in mobilising resources. Rate of development of infrastructure facilities are very slow and inadequate. Unemployment, as elsewhere in India, increasing at a rapid rate in the State.
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