By: Dr E. Renphamo Lotha*
It may be recalled that I heard a challenging message of the Mizos from a responsible Mizo for the first time in 1986. Such similar success stories were narrated to me by few intellectuals who have visited the state of Mizoram.
But I could not believe them to be true stories like Thomas until I could see myself personally as the maxim goes, ‘Seeing is believing”. To get in touch with the Mizo people of the land, I visited the state capital of Mizoram, Aizawl from the 12th to 19th November 2012, to personally observe the success stories of the state in all fronts.
The state of Mizoram was inaugurated on the 20th February, 1987. Christianity in Mizoram is 118 years old. Whereas, the state of Nagaland was inaugurated on the 1st December, 1963. Christianity in Nagaland is already 140 years old. Ethnically, the Mizos and the Nagas are both of Mongoloid stock. Mizos are highlanders like the hill tribes of Nagas who build their villages on top of the hills. The Mizos and the Nagas have similar socio cultural affinities to a grate extend.
Life is full of education as education is a life long process. We continue to learn not only from books but from life of the people as well. It is therefore considered necessary to learn the living messages of the Mizos by the Nagas as their younger brothers and sisters.
Peace and development
Peace is a universal quest. Even a tiny baby just born is in search of peace. Mizoram was insurgent infested state like Nagaland spearheaded by the Mizo National Front led by Laldenga for Twenty years. They were however fed up with such secessionist movement. They came to realize the fact that such independent movement was a great loss to the people of the land for generations to come in all levels. Hence, they entered into peace negotiation with the Government of India culminating into the famous: “Mizo Peace Accord” they give up arms conflict and joined the mainstream of India. The agreement between the Indian National Congress (1) and the Mizo National Front on the 25th June 1986 is reproduced as follows:
“The Government of India under the leadership of the Prime Minister Shri Rajiv Gandhi has brought about a solution wherein the long years of disturbed condition in Mizoram are brought to see the end. The Memorandum of settlement is being signed between the Government of India and Shri. Laldenga, President of Mizo National Front to give shape to the effort to usher peace and prosperity in Mizoram within the framework of the Indian constitution, Shri, Laldenga has pledged to bring the MNF into the mainstream of the Indian polity and irrevocably commit it to strive for a strong and united India”.
Mizo National Front
Indian National Congress
Owing to the visionary statesmanship of their quality leadership, today Mizoram has become a real island of peace followed by holistic development in all fronts. Let the Nagas, the older brothers and sisters of the Mizos with a history of 60 years of insurgent movement learn the great moral lesson from them to usher genuine peace followed by all round development in all fronts instead of lingering on endlessly in a confused pursuits.
Mizoram State Government and Developments
Mizoram as a special category state like Nagaland continues to get 90 percent central financial assistances. The state continues to utilize the fund honestly and judiciously keeping in mind the core Christian principle of honesty as the state is composed of 98 percent Christians against 95 percent Christians in Nagaland who are yet to catch up with her counterpart in Mizoram in all fronts. From the top to the bottom of political leadership down to the lowest bureaucratic set up including village administration, they maintains strict sense of responsibility, accountability and transparency both in human resources management and financial management. Hence, the state is actually delivering goods to the people in need by realizing the right vision, mission and programmes of a welfare state. Nagaland older than Mizoram by 24 years has to emulate the moral examples of her younger brothers in all fronts by conducting case studies of effective governance with quality leadership with a real Christian principle of honesty.
Vision, Mission and programmes of the Mizoram Church
The Bible clearly pointed out that where there is no vision people perish. To avoid such tragedy, the Mizoram Church meticulously planned their vision, mission and programmes with the wisdom of God under the aegis of the Mizoram Presbyterians synod with a holistic outlook as follows:
(1) Mission and Evangelism;
(2) Medical services;
(3) Theological education;
(4) Training programmes;
(5) Three self church;
(6) Prayer meetings;
(7) Revival crusades;
(8) Socio Political Concern;
(9) Literature and publication;
The Church continues to exert their utmost influence as the salt and light chiefly owing to their three self church which is the sign of the existence of a successful modern church in North East India in particular and India in general.
The Mizoram Presbyterian church synod can be generally as a three self church as she is self-supporting. Self administrating and self-propagating as the maxim goes “Self help is the best help” in all ventures of life. She dose not depend on any external funding. The church has a centralized organization set up in terms of ministry and finance. Whereas, the church in Nagaland is mostly a parasite church chiefly depending on external funding. The church in Nagaland goes against the Baptist principle of the separation between the church and state as existing in American Baptist church. Hence, the church in Nagaland is a political driven church as already demonstrated clearly during the last April, 2012 Platinum Jubilee of the Nagaland Baptist Church Council. Such dependency syndrome continues to invite failure in the vision, mission and programmes of the church unlike the successful counterpart Mizoram Church.
Holistic concerns of the Mizoram church
Unlike the apathetic Nagaland church towards the holistic mission of Jesus Christ, Mizoram church is sincerely concerned towards the socio, economic, political development of the people and the land besides religious concern as envisioned, “abundant life” by Jesus Christ. She runs self help programmes which are a multipurpose training centre for the less privileged people. The training centre offers courses on knitting, shoe making, tailoring for young boys and girls. A counseling centre was established in 1977. She has the research and Evaluation wing which is a part of research and development activities.
The aforesaid activities are lacking in Nagaland church. She needs to wake up from her long slumber of holistic concern of the church although late as the maxim goes, “it is better late then never”.
The Mizoram church through its social front wing has been actively involved in organizing campaigns and seminars on political education for the mass. It issues pamphlets and booklets to all churches outlining what to do as good citizens during elections processes at all levels. So that the State Government as a whole may function effectively, smoothly, honestly and transparently in the interest of public services. This programme has covered two third of rural urban areas of Mizoram in 2009.
Mizoram People Forum
The Mizoram Presbyterian church synod along with all other major churches and prominent non-governmental organization formed a common platform known as “the Mizoram People’s Forum in 2006. This particular forum framed election guidelines for all contesting parties, outlining the Dos and Don’ts at the time of elections. It was found quite successful. Commenting on the success story, the times of India remarked.
“A day after Mizoram salutes the ‘Real Winner’. Parties and people hail Mizoram People Forum, a social group”. Another political observer commented,” this should be a role model to be emulated in the rest of the country”.
A real challenge to Naga Church
Such aforesaid powerful influence of the church in the socio, political field demonstrated by the Mizoram church need to throw an open challenge to the Naga church as both are Christian dominated society propagating honesty as the best policy in all walks of life.
Social gospel/Healing ministry
The Mizoram Presbyterian church synod runs two care centre called Rescue Home and Grace Home in which patients of alcohol and drug addicts and HIV/AIDS are treated. The programme includes detoxification, rehabilitation and after care. About 3000 patients have been treated so far through these programmes.
Relief works and sex education also have been the preview of the social front. In the event of natural calamities, the church extended it’s financial assistances to the tune of millions of rupees during the last decade. It also imparts sex education to the people from time to time.
The church in Nagaland must emulate the model examples of social gospel and healing ministry of Jesus Christ both in spirit and in letter.
Literature and publication
As a continuing processes of information, education, communication and publicity, the church ever since its inception had been the forerunner in the field of literature and publication in Mizoram. The oldest monthly called, Kristian Tlaugau (Christian Herald) continues to visit every corner of Mizoram till today. Newsletters totaling more then 2,00,000 copies very month are circulated to educate, nourished, nurture the children/Youth fellowship, Women Fellowships and theological journals and newsletters.
There are more then 30 books distribution centres in Mizoram. Even the remotest villages have access to these centres for the secular and Sunday school textbooks. The church undertakes the policy of no loss no gain through these literature evangelism, publishing houses by selling books and journals till today. Thus, the Mizo church believes,” knowledge is power, ideas rules the world” in action.
The church in Nagaland as old as 140 years need to copy such scientific idea of education from the Mizo church though late.
Socio-Cultural values of the Mizos
Despite advancement in education modernization and civilization, the Mizos continues to preserves their fine socio, cultural anthropological values of honesty, unity, peace, reconciliation, friendliness, hospitality, cleanliness, special concern to tribals etc. even if you go to Mizoram as a stranger; you will find a place to stay like your own home away from home.
In case you loose your wallet, you may recover it through loss and found counters and local cables operators like the honesty of the Japanese.
The Nagas who are like the Mizos socially, culturally and anthropologically, must imitate the model living examples of the Mizos. So that mainland India in particular and the world in general will look upon the tribals highly as a whole.
Entrepreneurship developments of the Mizos
The Mizos truly put into practice the popular maxim “Self help is the best help”. All kinds of trades and professions from the highest to the lowest are undertaken by the Mizos themselves independently. The women and the youths are the busiest section of the people making money as apart of self employment. Income generation and economic independence. Money circulation is only within the state of Mizoram unlike money circulation outside of Nagaland and all kinds of trades and professions and businesses are undertaken by foreigners. Mizos have no problem of illegal migration, foreigners issue like Nagaland as everything is done by the Mizos themselves. Thus, the Mizos are socially and economically independent people unlike the dependent Nagas on others.
If the Mizos who are tribals like the Nagas can do everything, there is no reason why Nagas cannot do everything by themselves. The Mizos have attained independence in the real sense of the term unlike the dependent Nagas who talks about independences in theory without action worth the name.
The Mizos today have become the most shining star among the eight sister States in the North East India. They are marching towards the journey of a global village by putting the philosophy, “Think globally, and act locally. “ The tribals in India have reasons to be proud of by observing their creative, dynamic and quality leadership in all fronts led by the church as the salt and the light of the world. Since the Nagas are the nearest to the Mizos both in education, Christianity, socio culturally. It is sincerely hoped that they will wake up from their long slumber and try to catch up with their brethren even if late.
It is sincerely recommended that the Nagaland State, church, Non-governmental organizations, Municipal and Town Council etc. urgently undertake study tours, conduct case studies of the success stories of the Mizos to be emulated by the Nagas in all fronts in spirit and in letter. So that Nagaland will not remain stagnant as of now but will be able to rise up and run towards all round development of the people and the land realizing the vision of Jesus Christ on “ Abundant life” . May the Almighty God help us to march from Egypt to Canaan – The land flowing with milk and honey.
* Research and Development
Good Shepherd Ministry