Halloween party ideas 2015

By Ninglun Hanghal
The once upon a time 'mautam'- a local term for famine, strikes again in Mizoram and parts of Manipur, effecting the districts of Tamenglong , Chandel and Churachandpur. In 2006 signs of the calamity draw in with flowering of bamboo and swarming of rats, feeding upon villagers’ harvest.

By 2007, four out of the five sub – divisions in Manipur’s Churachandpur district confronted the famine. More than 16 hectares of jhum cultivation were devastated with an estimate of over one lakh people affected. Resources in kind and cash were generated from individuals, philanthropic organizations, NGOs and Churches. Even communities living abroad mobilized and sent contribution to their brethrens. The Central as well as the State government too earmarked their funds and budget. Appeal for contribution continues as people were still reeling under starvation in these God for shaken hills of North East India.

Mautaam occurs within an interval of 48 – 50 years. The previous mautaam occurs in 1958 – 59, affecting the same geographical area. Many who have witnessed the calamity reminisce about their experiences and hardships faced during the famine. Days of the infamous Mizo National Front movement, formed initially under the banner of Mizo National Famine Front in Mizoram, resurfaced in many people’s minds.

Not many documents were found to be recorded about the calamity. Most of the information available were oral recollections and articles about the rat menace, emotions at the sight of no harvest to reap, relying on edible roots and leaves from the jungle or if fortunate ,walking miles through the rough terrains to pick up a kilogram of rice dropped from above. Though there were few scientific studies or academic writings, mautaam remain a phenomenon that is still yet to be research, analyse and formulate prevention, management and crisis intervention during the havoc.

A highly philanthropist Mizo- Zomi- Kuki community faced the situation in the previous famine helping themselves, sharing whatever little available. This was visible and prominent in terms of help and intervention in the current situation too.

Aids and relief materials were distributed through community or tribe based philantrophic organization like the KKL – Kuki Khanglai Lompi, the ZYA – Zomi Youth Association, HYA – Hmar Youth Association, the YMA – Young Mizo Association. The amount of contribution, both in kind and cash, if put together, collected within individuals and community, donations from civil society, would far more out weight the Rs 4,42,62,360 earmarked for Churachandpur district from the Central government’s total amount of Rs 67 crore approved.

According to reports, relief spending from the six parent churches in the district, more than 2 crores were already spend in cash on famine relief this year. The parent churches include Reformed Presbyterian Church – NEI, Partnership Mission Society, Evangelical Baptist Convention, the Presbyterian Church of India (R) the Independent Churches of India, the Chin Baptist Association etc. Apart from the aid and relief work, seminars and concerts were held to campaign for famine affected people.

Besides starvation, rats and relief, survey visit by the Manipur Hills Journalist Union in November 2007, reveals many other faces of the mautaam story. The team helped by villagers to drag their loaded Jeep in the mud filled track, the deserted office of the Sub Divisional Officer in Thanlon which has turned into an abode of cows and goats make good pictures and are thought provoking. Of all the 38 villages surveyed, one village – Maukot received its share of two months, rice and dal etc under the public distribution system- PDS for the year 2007. Other villages like Dialkhai, Pherzawl, Lawibual , received 2 to 3 bags of rice.

While 25 village out of the 38, did not receive any PDS at all. Only 40 % families in 18 villages have BPL card, below poverty line, a category for benefactors. Therefore, PDS for the BPL was shared with the APL - above poverty line.!! The survey report suggest that the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act- 2005, commonly understood as 100 days job, would have come as an emergency relief, had it been implemented at the right time. At the time of the MHJU report, all the 38 villages were awaiting the job card to be issued.

It was reported earlier that the Central Government in Delhi sanctioned Rs 16 crores and as per latest information, December 2008, a total amount of Rs 67 crore was approved. The State Government earmarked in its 2006-07 annual budget an amount of Rs 9.9 crore to combat famine. Similarly, donations and contributions from Churches, organizations, individuals etc comes up to crores of rupees. The total amount, in kind and cash, if put together in figures, from government and non-governmental, not to forget the individual contributions and the physical labour, will not be a small sum.

There has always been a concept of ‘welfare approach’ intervention in developmental issue and crisis, specifically in the North East region of India. Development packages or Funds are common words and strategies, including law and order. Every budget session in the parliament has an estimated package, grants or funds for development of the North East region. It may be recalled that Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh on his visit to Manipur in 2004, post the naked protest and uproar over the AFSPA, offered development packages worth Rs 28 billion, laid the foundation of capitol project estimated at 317.54 crore etc.

Passed on from generations to generations stories about mautaam was heard and known. At this stage, the information, including campaign for the affected population was communicated in print as well as in electronic form. In comparison to the previous mautaam, the humanitarian intervention, concerns and resources raised in the current situation was unprecedented. Vialzakham, who witnessed two consecutive mautaam recounts and feels that, “in the previous mautam we were still backward and solely depend on jhum.

Today not only are we in the modern age but also have our own government / state administration. After 50 years and well aware that it will occur again, it is sad that that we still do not have an alternative.” In case, there were no funds from the Government or no contributions after 50 years ahead, the next generation need to prepare as mautaam will definitely resurfaced again, as our forefathers narrated us through our folklores.

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