The Right to Education is a “fundamental right” under the Constitution of India. But it has been systematically denied to the Chakmas in Mizoram. Officially, the Chakmas are the most illiterate ethnic community in Mizoram, which is the second most literate state in India . The literacy rate of the Chakmas is only 45.3% while Mizos are 95.6% literate. Among the Chakmas, men are 56.2% and women are 33.6% literate. This is not at all inspiring.
- Read a short article: Denial of Right to Education to Chakmas in Mizoram (Taken from Vol.I, Issue No. 1, The Chakma Voice, November 2009)
- Read: The Task of Making RTE work in Mizoram
Civil society in education:
This article urges the government of Mizoram to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the most influential Chakma civil society group, Young Chakma Association (YCA) to improve the educational situation of the Chakmas who are educationally the most backward community. The state gtovernment has already signed such MoU with Mizo NGOs; so why neglect the Chakmas? The minorities must be primary targets of developmental schemes including schools.
“Why are the Chakmas lagging so behind in education?” should be the primary question the decision makers, bureaucrats, educationalists and social as well as political leaders should be asking now. The solutions must be found.
Given its hold among the Chakmas, the YCA’s official involvement can result in the effective implementation of the educational schemes in Chakma areas and bolster the faith of the Chakmas on Mizoram government.
2. Discrimination in employment
Mizoram’s official Employment Rules discriminate against the linguisitic minorities as these “Recruitment Rules” virtually disqualify the non-Mizos from several government jobs unless they have studied Mizo language subject in school.
The Recruitment Rules are problematic particularly for the Chakmas as they do not study the Mizo subject in school. Other minorities like Mara, Lai, Hmar, Brus generally study Mizo as a subject in school.
- Read a well researched article on this subject: Mizoram Employment Rules discriminate against linguistic minorities
3. Displacement by Border Fencing
As many as 35,438 Chakmas from 5,790 families in 49 villages – constituting 49.7% of the total Chakma population in Mizoram- have lost their houses, lands, cultivation fields and other properties to make way for the ongoing India-Bangladesh border fencing in Mizoram. Most of the 49 villages affected by the border-fencing project will have to be entirely relocated due to their proximity to the international border and therefore have fallen outside the fence. Yet, the state government of Mizoram has officially stated that it did not consider the out-fenced Chakmas as “displaced” and that they are free to remain wherever they are. Does it mean that the displaced Chakmas will not be rehabilitated?
- Read an analytical article by the Mizoram Chakma Development Forum: India-Bangladesh border fecing in Mizoram (from The Chakma Voice, November 2009)
- MCDF warns that in the event the fencing affected population are not resettled and rehabilitated inside the fence, this will result a humanitarian crisis for the Chakmas in Mizoram. Read: Border Fencing Victims must be Resettled (from The Chakma Voice, Jun-July 2010 Issue)
- Will the govt only provide assistance under Indira Awas Yojana (Indira Housing Scheme) to the displaced persons? Read: border fencing-No rehabiltiation, only IAY
4. Border Area Development Programme (BADP)
Border Area Development Programme or BADP is a Centrally sponsored scheme to develop the international border areas. Proper implementation of the BADP is significant for the Chakmas who live nearest to the India-Bangladesh border in western and southern Mizoram. The Government of India allocated Rs 158.37 crores to Mizoram state from 1993 to 2008. This is not a small amount but the saddest part is that the BADP funds are not reaching the targeted population, that is, “people living in remote and inaccessible areas situated near the international border”. In short the funds are being spent officially, but on the ground there is no development.
This article (“BADP in Mizoram – Implementation Sans Development” dated December 2009) is the first analyse ever done on this issue to explore why any development is not taking place along the Mizoram (India)-Bangladesh border areas, and provides recommendations.
Bad policies always affect the common people. Voiceless people (more if they are innocently lured by money) are more prone to be trapped to be legally evicted, only to be left into a futureless existence.
- Read an article on how the future of the Chakmas is to be affected by the unnecessary extension of the area of Dampa Tiger Reserve in Mamit district of Mizoram: Curious case of Dampa Tiger Reserve
6. Lack of safe drinking water
The Chakmas in Mizoram lack clean and safe drinking water in the villages. As a result, diseases and deaths are also common.
- Read an article (from The Chakma Voice, Jun-July 2010 issue): Lack of safe drinking water
7. Chakma Culture
The Chakmas have a unique culture and tradition which is centuries old. The Chakma women wear hand-woven traditional clothes called “pinon-hadi” which makes them look the most beautiful people in the world.
Their main festival is called “Bizu” which is celebrated each year with immeasurable happiness and gaiety.
- Read an account of Bizu celebration in Delhi in 2010: Bizu Celebration-Delhi 2010
- “Origin and Evolution of Chakma Language and Script” by Jyotirmoy Chakma: chakma language and script