A Mizo woman working at a traditional loom.
|c. 1,500,000(Mizoram)5 million(worldwide)|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Northeast India, Bangladesh, Burma|
|Mizo ṭtawng · Hmar language · Laizo (Pawi) · Mara (Lakher) · Paite · Gangte · Bawm · Zotung · Zophei · Senthang ·|
|Presbyterianism (majority) · Baptists · Evangelicals · Roman Catholicism · Seventh Day Adventist · Judaism · Penticostalism ·|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Zomi · Chin · Kuki · Naga · Meitei · Bamar · Tibetans|
The present Indian state of Mizoram (literally "Mizoland") was called the Lushai Hills and was a district of Assam, before it became a Union Territory and afterwards a full-fledged state. The Lusei people were the first Mizo people to have an external exposure and hence the ethnicity was initially known as the Lushai people. The demand for a distinct political territory for the people of Lushai Hills resulted in the creation of a separate Union Territory and afterwards the State of Mizoram.
A powerful factor in their political organising was the movement to call themselves Mizo - rather than by distinct clan names such as Hmar people, Lushei, Ralte, Gangte, Mara, Pawi, etc. Their languages (of which the largest is Lusei Duhlian dialect) belong to the Tibeto-Burman language family.
Though the term Mizo is often used to name a nation, it is rather an umbrella term to denote the various clans, such as Pawi, Mara,Ralte,Hmar people etc.. . A number of dialects are still spoken under the umbrella of Mizo; some of them are Mizo ṭawng (which is an official language of Mizoram and a lingua franca of the Kuki people), Hmar language Gangte language, Paite language, Thadou-Kuki, a sub-clan of Gangte who still speak their own dialect, Lai language and Mara language.
Sandwiched between Burma in the east and south and Bangladesh in the west with a total of 630 miles, Mizoram is inhabited by the Mizo people and the minority Chakma and Reang (Bru) (Mizo: Tuikuk) communities. Historically speaking, Mizo people are a part of the great waves of the Mongoloid races spilling over into the eastern and southern India from Tibet and Yunnan province in the 18th century.
Their sojourn in western Burma, into which they eventually drifted around the 7th century, lasted about ten centuries. Mizo people came under the influence of the British missionaries in the 19th century. The spread of education by Christian missionaries led to the high percentage of 91.58% literacy.
A great majority of ethnic Mizo people are Christians. The major Christian denominations are Presbyterian (majority), Baptist, United Pentecostal Church International The Salvation Army, Lairam Jesus Christ Baptist Church (LIKBK), Seventh-day Adventist, Evangelical Church of Maraland (ECM), Congregational Church of India (Maraland) in the southern district of Saiha, Roman Catholic and Pentecostal churches. In recent generations a small group of Mizo have claimed themselves as Jews; see Bnei Menashe.
During the later part of the British rule, the people in Lushai Hills as well as in Manipur hills felt that the British administration was trying to adopt the policy of control through the Chiefs of the community. There were several rebellions against the British rule as a result, an anti-Chief movement gained ground and in 1946, a political party named Mizo Common Peoples' Union (MCPU) was formed. In the event of India being independent, the Mizo Union, formerly known as Mizo Common Peoples' Union declared that Mizoram should be with Assam rather than adjoined with Burma, which the pro-Chief party advocated.
But, in reality, with the independence of India, the secessionist group in MCPU favored joining with Burma. The separation of India from Burma in the year 1937, the partition of India in 1947 and the administrative extension over the Indian part of the area negatively impacted the free mobility of the inhabitants, despite the existing rules that allowed free cross-over across India-Burma and India-East Pakistan (now India-Bangladesh) international border. These territorial demarcations were never accepted by the people and resulted in March 1966 Mizo National Front uprising.
The multi-ethnic and pluralistic state of Mizoram exhibits a co-existence of different communities, such as the Mizo (majority) (Lusei, Gangte, Pawi, Lakher, or Mara), the Riang (Mizo: Tuikuk), and the Chakma.
With the promulgation of the Indian Constitution as a Sovereign Democratic Republic in 1953, the Lai people of Southern part of Mizoram ( a segment of the much larger population of Lai/Chin) – have been given constitutional safeguards by granting them an Autonomous District Council under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution of India. Lawngtlai was created as the Headquarters of Lai Autonomous District Council.
Their language has been strictly maintained in the community and in their education. Maintenance of language as a symbol of identity has been inculcated up to Middle school standard. The Lai Autonomous District Council managed their education from Primary to Middle stage in which the state government (Mizoram) has no control and interference. Due to the spread of Christianity, education also spread and molded their social life. Lai people speak both Lai and Mizo language.
Mara, earlier known as Lakher, is the predominant community of the southeastern district of Saiha. The demand for a separate Lakher hills district in 1945 led to the formation of an organized political party called Mara Freedom Party. An autonomous district council, Mara Autonomous District Council under the Sixth Schedule Amendment of Indian Constitution was given to them. Their struggle for identity, having passed through several politico-historical events, now plays an important part in the political horizon. Their maintenance of language as a symbol of identity has been supported by their education. Due to the spread of Christianity, education also spread and molded their social life .The Mara literacy rate contributes a lot to the good standing of Mizoram state in terms of literacy.--> Mara people have a native-like understanding of Mizo language.
Hmar is the name of one of the numerous Mizo tribes of India, spread over a large area in the northeast of India. In Mizoram, they are mainly found in the north and northeastern parts of the state. Literally, Hmar means North or Northern people, as they are living north to the Lusei people. But this is hotly debated among the community itself. Some scholars are of the opinion that the word originated from the style of tying the hair knot on the head.
In July 1986, after the signing of the Mizo Accord, some Hmar leaders in Mizoram formed Mizoram Hmar Association, later renamed the Hmar People's Convention (HPC). The HPC spearheaded a political movement for self-governance of the Hmars in Mizoram demanding Autonomous District Council (ADC) comprising Hmar-dominated areas in the north and northwest of Mizoram. The HPC activists take up an armed struggle by forming an armed wing, the Hmar Volunteer Cell (HVC). The armed confrontation continued until 1992, when HPC representatives and the Government of Mizoram mutually agreed to hold ministerial level talks. After multiple rounds of talks, a Memorandum of Settlement (MoS) was signed in Aizawl on July 27, 1994 between the Government of Mizoram and the HPC. Armed cadres of the HPC surrendered along with their weapons in October 1994 and later the Sinlung Hills Development Council (SHDC) was established. Some of the HPC leaders and cadres however rejected Memorandum of Settlement and broke away from the main HPC, and formed the Hmar People's Convention - Democratic (HPC-D), which continued an armed movement for autonomy in the form of Autonomous District Council under the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution of India within Mizoram
Political, linguistic and economic situation
Consequent to Indian independence, the democratic change in administrative set-up of Mizoram led to an anti-Chief movement. The agitation brought forward the general mass feeling against the autocratic Chiefs and support for then Mizo Union. In 1955, the demand regarding the formation of a separate hills state was put forward in a meeting of representatives of various Mizo villages held in Aizawl, due to the feeling that the involvement of the Assam Government during the mautam famine was unsatisfactory.
The introduction of Assamese as the official language of Assam in 1960 led to the protest against the Official Language Act of 1961. This was followed by the March 1966 Mizo National Front uprising, resulting in the attack of the military installations in Aizawl, Lunglei and other towns which followed by the declaration of Independence of Mizoram by the Mizo National Front, formerly known as Mizo National Famine Front.
Mizoram was declared Union Territory on January 21, 1972. The whole atmosphere was still surcharged with the feelings of anti-Non-Mizo attitude. Pu Laldenga, the President of Mizo National Front, signed Peace accord in 1986 with the Government of India, stating Mizoram was the integral part of India. Pu Laldenga came to the ministry in the Interim government which was formed in coalition with Congress in 1987 and the Statehood of Mizoram was proclaimed on February 20, 1987.
Present demand for Inclusion in 8th Schedule
With 91.58% per cent literacy, the second highest in Indian states, Mizoram is now leading towards the spread of education in a substantial manner, the recognition of Mizo ṭawng in the 8th Schedule of the Indian constitution is an undercurrent demand that is evident in various aspects of social and political life.
The dominance of the English language is evident especially in the fields of education, official matters and other formal domains as in other parts of India. English had already penetrated the life and blood of the Mizo people for a long time along with the spread of education.
Christian missionaries in the 19th century developed the current alphabetic system adopted for the Mizo language. Adoption of the Roman script has further facilitated the learning of the English language. The admiration and demand for the use of English in Mizoram is no different from the same attitude in other parts of India.
Mizo have also engaged themselves actively in a long drawn out socio-political struggle for identity and recognition, and extracting political power from the central government in New Delhi. Due to the fear of being assimilated with other communities, aversion towards cultural admixture seems to be a reality of the Mizo people.
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- R. L. Thanzawna, C. G. Verghese (1997). A history of the Mizos , Volume 1. Vikas Publishing House.
- Census of India 2011, Provisional Population.
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- Pachuau, Rintluanga (2009). Mizoram: A Study in Comprehensive Geograph. Northern Book Center.
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- "Requests to include 38 languages in Constitution pending: Govt". The Hindu. Retrieved 17 August 2012.