The tiny state of Mizoram is called an island of peace in the disturbed Northeast. It is a landlocked hilly state spread over 21,087 square kilometer inhabited by over 10.9 lakh people who mostly follow the same religion, Christianity, and of whom 91.85 per cent are recorded as literate.
The people of this Northeastern hill state bordering Myanmar and Bangladesh, recently celebrated the Silver Jubilee of the famous Mizo Peace Accord which was signed on June 30, 1986.
The celebration was not only in the state capital Aizawl but also in all the eight district headquarters reflecting how the people of the state cherish the peaceful atmosphere and want to keep those forgettable two decades (1966-86) of turmoil at bay.
Unlike other peace accords or ceasefire pact signed with various other militant groups in the Northeast which usually end up breeding more disgruntled armed groups instead of restoring lasting peace, the Mizo Peace Accord has worked splendidly well in bringing back lasting peace to the state.
Termed as the most successful peace accord with any insurgent group in the country, peace accord tasted success mainly because the MNF complied with all the requirements of the Accord viz.
This was to abjure violence and surrender all arms, not to aid any other rebel group elsewhere in the region and acknowledge Mizoram as an integral part of India in letter and spirit.
However, questions are being raised whether the government has fulfilled all the commitments it had made in the accord to facilitate all round development of the tiny state that has few sources for internal revenue generation.
Matters like rehabilitation of former MNF rebels and facilitate border trade have been fulfilled partially, but much is yet to be done to tap the real potential of the state in respect of tourism, ethnicity, and horticulture etc sectors.
"We want the Central and Mizoram government to work in tandem to make proper planning and mobilise resources to tap most potential sectors in the state to mitigate the burgeoning unemployment problem in the state. We need professional education institutions and better air and surface connectivity for rapid growth," said a senior office bearer of Mizo Zirlai Pawl (Mizo Students Union).
Lack of opportunities for employment and professional education back home have driven thousands of young Mizo women and men to big cities outside thereby triggering flight of huge amount of money from the cash-starved state every year.
"The state of finances of our tiny state is well reflected from the reality that it was the government which provided the money for celebration of Silver Jubilee of Mizo Peace Accord throughout the state," said a senior leader of the influential Young Mizo Association.
The YMA leader said unless there is massive central assistance Mizoram government would never have resources of its own to build much needed roads to improve connectivity in the state as well as to improve the dismal power supply scenario which have been major deterrent for investment from outside.
"We have urged our chief minister to seek special central assistance to improve basic infrastructure in the state so that the State can be put on the fast track of development exploiting the peaceful situation, the YMA leader said.
The burning problem of unemployment has given rise to a restive young generation in the hill state where drug abuse has become a serious problem and the prohibition has turned out to be total failure calling for rethinking on part of the government.
The dismal state finances has attracted ban not only on creation of new jobs but also on filling up of vacant posts in the state government sector.
The incumbent Congress regime led by Chief Minister Lalthanhawla, however, takes heart that many of the clauses of Mizo Accord related to border trade and rehabilitation of surrendered MNF rebels have been fulfilled to some extent.
Border trade with Myanmar initiated though it remains to be commissioned formally. A border haat with Myanmar is on the anvil. Talks on border trade with Bangladesh through Demagiri in Mizoram are in progress.
Lalthanhawla met Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina during the latter's visit to India, to discuss the issue and Bangladesh High Commissioner in India subsequently visited Mizoram for the purpose.
Unless rapid strides are made on the path of development and growth, the prevailing peace may turn uneasy in days to come.
Image: A Mizo tribal woman waits for a bus after buying household goods from a market in Aizawal