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What Indians can learn from the Mizo spirit of Tlawmngaihna during natural disasters

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By Anurag Paul

Mizoram is the southernmost state among the north eastern states, in the territory of India, sandwiched between Myanmar to its east and Bangladesh to its west. Every monsoon, hilly states like Mizoram and Sikkim often bear the brunt of nature’s force in the form of landslides. Aizawl, which, unlike other capital cities of North East India is spread across the spur of a hill range.

While the monsoon brings a sigh of relief and a fresh lease of life in the rest of the country; in the hilly states of the North East it often brings forth uncertainty and destruction. The monsoon here is the most trying time as landslides cut off vital roads snapping all links with the world, sometimes for weeks. Earthquakes are another Damocles sword that hangs over the region as the entire North East region falls under Zone 5 on the seismic scale referred to as the Very High Damage Risk Zone.

For a small state like Mizoram, where one-fourth of its population lives in the capital, Aizawl and where societal bonding is very strong and the community is close-knit; accidents, disasters and calamities often show remarkably, the care and concern; the helping and giving spirit of not only the residents of Aizawl but of the people across the state for those who have suffered.  There might not be many parallels in other societies of such a wonderful facet that the Mizo society has – Tlawmngaihna.

Tlawmngaihna is a term, very hard to define; simply put – it is the Mizo code of Dharma that puts the welfare and interest of others foremost before self-interest or personal welfare. In times of catastrophes, Mizos do not wait for the government machinery to arrive; rather they will go out braving all odds to help in whatever way they can. The rage of nature that is unleashed in Aizawl from time to time shows that the spirit of Tlawmngaihna is still very much alive and sounding off in modern Mizo society.

Mizoram, which has the distinction of being one of the most literate states in the country, equally has a very strong social media presence. Social media works as a useful medium for dissemination of information during the course of the entire rescue operation. Various groups on Facebook whose membership run into tens of thousands update the latest information round the clock about the rescue efforts and also put up photographs, thereby streaming information across the world. Such is the solidarity of the people and natural disasters within a short time involves all and manifest into ‘everyone’s business’ with the sole purpose of helping those in need.

There are many things that societies and communities can learn from each other in bettering the lot of their fellow men. Tlawmngaihna and the Mizo spirit of helping others is indeed something that can be emulated across our country today given the changing social scenario in which we have fitted ourselves into our own narrow worlds, often shutting ourselves out to the larger world outside, which needs us.

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