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Mizoram

Polling begins for Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram Assembly elections

Polling began amidst tight security on Wednesday morning to choose new legislative assemblies in Madhya Pradesh and Mizoram -- two of five states where crucial elections are being held just months ahead of the all-important 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
 
MP Assembly Elections: 5 cr voters to decide fate of state as polling begins
Polling began amidst tight security this morning to choose new legislative assemblies in Madhya Pradesh and Mizoram -- two of five states where crucial elections are being held just months ahead of the all-important 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
 
In Madhya Pradesh, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is seeking a fourth consecutive term in office and the Congress is making a strong bid to return to power after a gap of 15 years.
 
In Mizoram, the Congress is looking for a third successive term in the face of a stiff challenge from the Mizo National Front.
 
Polling began at 7 a.m in three constituencies of Maoist-affected Balaghat district in Madhya Pradesh amid tight security, while in the remaining 227 of the 230 Assembly seats polling began at 8 a.m.
 
The polling will end in the three constituencies -- Baihar, Lanji and Paraswada -- at 3 p.m, while it will continue till 5 p.m in all the other constituencies.
 
In Madhya Pradesh, though the contest is mainly between the BJP and the Congress, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Samajwadi Party (SP) are also in the fray. 
 
Among the 2,907 candidates in Madhya Pradesh, the BJP has fielded candidates in all 230 seats, while the Congress is contesting in 229 seats leaving one seat, Jatara in Tikamgarh district, for the Sharad Yadav-led Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD).
 
The BSP has fielded 227 candidates and the SP is contesting in 51 seats. There are 1,102 independent candidates.
 
In the last polls, of the 230 seats, the BJP won 165, Congress 58, BSP four and Independents three. 
 
Over five crore registered voters in Madhya Pradesh -- 2,63,01,300 men, 2,41,30,390 women and 1,389 of the third gender -- are eligible to vote in today's polls.
 
In Mizoram, polling began at 7 a.m. for all 40 seats in the Assembly and will end at 4 p.m.
 
According to senior police officials, around 11,100 security personnel comprising central paramilitary and state security forces have been deployed across the state to ensure smooth polling and prevent any untoward incident.
 
In all 768,181 voters, including 393,685 women, would decide the electoral fate of the 209 candidates in the state, of whom 15 are women. In 2013, only six women had contested and none were successful. 
 
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Besides the two national parties, the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), many regional and local parties have fielded candidates in most of the 40 assembly constituencies. They include the main opposition Mizo National Front (MNF), People's Representation for Identity and Status of Mizoram (PRISM), Zoram People's Movement (ZPM) and Meghalaya-based National People's Party (NPP). 
 
However, the main contest is likely to be between the ruling Congress and the MNF. Both the parties have fielded 40 candidates each. 
 
The BJP, which is trying to make inroads in the state, has fielded candidates in 39 constituencies. 
 
Except for 10 years -- 1998-2003 and 2003-2008 -- the Congress has been in power in Mizoram since it became a full-fledged state in 1987. 
 
Counting of votes in Madhya Pradesh and Mizoram will be taken up on December 11 along with Chhattisgarh, where polling was held on  November 12 and 20, and Rajasthan and Telangana, where voting will be held on December 7.
 
The term of the Assembly in Chhattisgarh is due to expire on January 5, 2019; Madhya Pradesh on January 7, 2019; Rajasthan on January 20, 2019 and Mizoram on December 15, 2018.
 
In Telangana, the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) decided to go in for early polls and, accordingly, the Governor of the State had dissolved the Assembly with immediate effect on September 6, 2018, nearly nine months before its term was to end.
 
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Moderate earthquake shakes Myanmar-Mizoram border region

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An earthquake of moderate intensity, measuring 5.0 on the Richter scale, shook the border region between Myanmar and the Indian state of Mizoram this morning, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 22.7°N and longitude 93.2°E, occurred at 0709 hours at a focal depth of 10 km, an IMD bulletin said.
 
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Mizoram Governor Kummanam Rajasekharan resigns, likely to return to active politics in Kerala

Kummanam Rajasekharan
Kummanam Rajasekharan
Mizoram Governor Kummanam Rajasekharan has resigned from his position amidst speculation that he is likely to return to active politics in his home state of Kerala.
 
"The President has accepted the resignation of Shri Kummanam Rajasekharan as Governor of Mizoram," a press communique from Rashtrapati Bhavan said here today.
 
"The President of India is pleased to appoint Prof. Jagdish Mukhi, Governor of Assam to discharge the functions of the Governor of Mizoram, in addition to his own duties, until regular arrangements for the office of the Governor of Mizoram is made," the communique added.
 
Rajasekharan, 66, who was the president of the BJP's Kerala unit, was appointed as the Governor of Mizoram in May last year.
 
There has been media speculation for some time that the state unit of the BJP was keen on Rajasekharan's return to active politics in Kerala. The reports also suggested he could contest the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, possibly from Thiruvananthapuram, held currently by former Union Minister Shashi Tharoor of the Congress.
 
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Minor earthquake shakes Lawangtlai region of Mizoram

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 4.9 on the Richter scale, shook the Lawangtlai region of Mizoram this morning, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which  had its epicentre at latitude 22.5°N and longitude 92.8°E, occurred at 0828 hours at a focal depth of 20 km, an IMD bulletin added.
 
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KIYG once again puts focus on footballing gems from North East

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There is no denying the fact that the North-East is on its way to becoming a major talent pool for Indian football. The team for the 2017 Under-17 World Cup hosted in India had as many as 10 players from Manipur and Mizoram in the ranks. These states continued their glorious run at the just-concluded Khelo India Youth Games where they shared four of the eight medals handed out.
 
While Mizoram’s boys won the Under-21 gold, Manipur bagged the U-21 girls’ tournament in dramatic yet identical penalty shoot-outs.
 
The North-East is extremely football-centric and that shows in their grassroot level programmes. Mizoram has its own football league where young talents are scouted from every nook and corner of the state and trained. According to Hmingsanga, coach of the U-21 Mizoram football team, having the state’s own football league has improved the tactics and styles of the players.
 
“My boys may have not played for the big leagues but they are regulars in the Mizoram Premier League which started in 2012. Football is highly popular in the state and having a televised league gives the players more motivation since they get more recognition,” he says.
 
About the team’s performance through the tournament, Hmingsanga adds, “We began training from November and were confident that we would perform well. Khelo India was a big deal for my boys and they showed it till the end. All of them are from small villages and did not expect luxurious treatment from the organisers. That came as a nice surprise.”
 
“They were well rested and content before the matches which helped. And before every fixture we prayed for a good match. I guess all our prayers were answered.”
 
Manipur, on the other hand, has a long history of football champions. The U-17 World Cup team featured eight footballers from the state. The extreme level of passion for football in Manipur has impressed one and all including the Sports Ministry, which is planning to build a world class football academy in the state. 
 
Players from the state were expected to perform well in Khelo India Youth Games and they did not disappoint.
 
Their success story was credited to the players’ families. Says coach, Shanta Singh, “Manipur is not an economically strong state. But people wish to see at least one national level player in their family. To fulfil this dream they work really hard and support their kids as much as they can.” 
 
He adds that even though sports like boxing were getting medals and recognition for the state, kids choose football at a very young age which helps to secure a big pool of talent right from very early on.
 
With Khelo India Youth Games being a national-level platform to showcase young talent, these two states have managed to steal the limelight and will hope to continue this with their passion for football.
 
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MNF takes office in Mizoram after a decade

Zoramthanga. (File Photo: IANS)
Zoramthanga. (File Photo: IANS)
The Mizo National Front (MNF) government led by Chief Minister Zoramthanga on Saturday assumed office in Mizoram, ending the Congress' 10-year rule in the state.
 
Governor Kummanam Rajasekharan administered the oath of office and secrecy to Zoramthanga and his Council of Ministers at a ceremony at the Raj Bhavan here.
 
Zoramthanga, 74, took office as the Chief Minister for the third time. Earlier he headed the state from 1998-2003 and 2003-2008.
 
Outgoing Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla, Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma, Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) leader and former Assam Chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, leaders of various political parties and senior civil and security officials were present in the ceremony.
 
"The Chief Minister would distribute the portfolios among the ministers soon after a cabinet meeting," an official of the Chief Minister's secretariat told the media.
 
The MNF in the November 28 Assembly polls secured 26 seats, five more than an absolute majority in the 40-member Assembly, ousting the Congress from power in its last bastion in northeast India.
 
The MNF had got only five seats in the 2013 Assembly polls, while the Congress had won 34. This time, the Congress got only five seats.
 
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the first time made its entry into the Mizoram Assembly, winning the lone Tuichawng seat.
 
State Congress chief and outgoing Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla lost in both Champhai South and Serchhip constituencies. 
 
Zoramthanga won the Aizawl East-I seat for the fifth term.
 
The MNF is a constituent of the BJP-led North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA). 
 
However, both the BJP and MNF fielded candidates separately in 40 and 39 seats, respectively.
 
IANS
 

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A decade later, MNF back in Mizoram, Congress' last Northeast bastion

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The MNF on Tuesday returned to power in Mizoram after a decade, securing 26 seats, five more than an absolute majority in the 40-member Assembly. With this, the MNF has ousted the Congress from power in its last bastion in the Northeast.
 
The Mizo National Front (MNF) had got only five seats in the 2013 Assembly polls, while the Congress had won 34. This time, the ruling Congress has got only five seats, the results of the November 28 election showed at the end of counting of votes today.
 
In a significant political development, Zoram People's Movement (ZPM) -- a forum of six local parties in Mizoram and the NGO-turned-newly-floated party the People's Representation for Identity and Status of Mizoram (PRISM) -- secured eight seats out of the 40 seats it had contested for as Independents.
 
The Congress had taken power in the state in both 2008 and 2013 elections. 
 
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) made its entry into the Mizoram Assembly winning the Tuichawng seat.
 
Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla lost in both Champhai South and Serchhip constituencies to MNF's T. J. Lalnuntluanga and Zoram People's Movement (ZPM) President Lalduhoma respectively.
 
MNF supremo and Chief Ministerial candidate Zoramthanga won the Aizawl East-I seat for the fifth term, defeating Independent candidate K. Sapdanga.
 
Buddha Dhan Chakma, a Minister in the Congress government, who just before the polls joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), won in Chakma tribal-dominated Tuichawng constituency defeating his MNF rival by 1,594 votes.
 
Former IPS officer and security in-charge of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Zoram People's Movement (ZPM) chief Lalduhoma defeated outgoing Chief Minister Thanhawla in Serchhip by 410 votes. Lalduhoma quit the Congress two years ago before forming the ZPM.
 
Popular Aizawl Football Club (Aizawl FC) owner Robert Romawia Royte, who contested on MNF ticket from Aizawl East-II, also won.
 
The BJP had undertaken intense efforts to oust the Congress in Mizoram after forming governments on its own or in alliance in the others in the Northeast.
 
The MNF, a constituent of the BJP-led North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), ruled Mizoram for 10 years -- 1998-2003 and 2003-2008.
 
However, both the BJP and MNF fielded candidates separately in 40 and 39 seats, respectively this time.
 
IANS
 

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Assembly polls: Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram witness 75% polling

 
MP Assembly Elections: 5 cr voters to decide fate of state as polling begins
More than 75 percent of the electors in Madhya Pradesh and Mizoram voted amidst tight security today to choose new legislative assemblies in Madhya Pradesh and Mizoram -- two of the five states where crucial elections are being held just months of the all-important 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
 
Election Commission of India (ECI) officials said in New Delhi that 75% polling was recorded till 6 pm in 227 of the 230 constituencies as compared to 72.13% in the 2013 Assembly elections.
 
In the three Left-wing extremism (LWE)-affected constituencies of Baihar, Lalji and Paraswada, where polling was held from 7 am to 3 pm, the percentage of polling was reported as 78%, 79% and 80.06%, respectively.
 
The officials said that Mizoram recorded 75% voting by the close of polling at 5 pm. The state had recorded 83.41% polling in 2013.
 
The final voting figures in both states could go up slightly after information from all the polling booths in all the constituencies become available, they said. 
 
In Madhya Pradesh, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is seeking a fourth consecutive term in office and the Congress is making a strong bid to return to power after a gap of 15 years.
 
In Mizoram, the Congress is looking for a third successive term in the face of a stiff challenge from the Mizo National Front.
 
Polling began at 7 a.m in three constituencies of Maoist-affected Balaghat district in Madhya Pradesh amid tight security, while in the remaining 227 of the 230 Assembly seats polling began at 8 a.m.
 
The polling will end in the three constituencies -- Baihar, Lanji and Paraswada -- at 3 p.m, while it will continue till 5 p.m in all the other constituencies.
 
In Madhya Pradesh, though the contest is mainly between the BJP and the Congress, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Samajwadi Party (SP) are also in the fray. 
 
Among the 2,907 candidates in Madhya Pradesh, the BJP has fielded candidates in all 230 seats, while the Congress is contesting in 229 seats leaving one seat, Jatara in Tikamgarh district, for the Sharad Yadav-led Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD).
 
The BSP has fielded 227 candidates and the SP is contesting in 51 seats. There are 1,102 independent candidates.
 
In the last polls, of the 230 seats, the BJP won 165, Congress 58, BSP four and Independents three. 
 
Over five crore registered voters in Madhya Pradesh -- 2,63,01,300 men, 2,41,30,390 women and 1,389 of the third gender -- are eligible to vote in today's polls.
 
In Mizoram, 768,181 voters, including 393,685 women, would decide the electoral fate of the 209 candidates in the state, of whom 15 are women. In 2013, only six women had contested and none were successful. 
 
According to senior police officials, around 11,100 security personnel comprising central paramilitary and state security forces were deployed across the state to ensure smooth polling and prevent any untoward incident.
 
Besides the two national parties, the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), many regional and local parties have fielded candidates in most of the 40 assembly constituencies. They include the main opposition Mizo National Front (MNF), People's Representation for Identity and Status of Mizoram (PRISM), Zoram People's Movement (ZPM) and Meghalaya-based National People's Party (NPP). 
 
However, the main contest is likely to be between the ruling Congress and the MNF. Both the parties have fielded 40 candidates each. 
 
The BJP, which is trying to make inroads in the state, has fielded candidates in 39 constituencies. 
 
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Except for 10 years -- 1998-2003 and 2003-2008 -- the Congress has been in power in Mizoram since it became a full-fledged state in 1987. 
 
Counting of votes in Madhya Pradesh and Mizoram will be taken up on December 11 along with Chhattisgarh, where polling was held on November 12 and 20, and Rajasthan and Telangana, where voting will be held on December 7.
 
The term of the Assembly in Chhattisgarh is due to expire on January 5, 2019; Madhya Pradesh on January 7, 2019; Rajasthan on January 20, 2019 and Mizoram on December 15, 2018.
 
In Telangana, the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) decided to go in for early polls and, accordingly, the Governor of the State had dissolved the Assembly with immediate effect on September 6, 2018, nearly nine months before its term was to end.
 
IANS adds:
 
Officials said the highlight of the day in Mizoram was that over 10,000 elederly voters exrcised their franchise with a 108-year old man, 106-year old woman on wheel chair and 103-year-old man coming out to vote. 
 
In the case of Madhya Pradesh, violence was reported in a few places in Bhind district. 
 
Two persons were arrested in a firing incident near an election booth in Bhind, police said. 
 
Several Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) malfunctioned, which were replaced by the poll panel officials. The Election Commission also announced that Rs 10 lakh each would be paid to its officials who died during the voting exercise. 
 
The highlight of the day in Madhya Pradesh was the voting by a 101-year-old woman, who exercised her franchise in Agar Malwa district.
 
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Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram to vote on Wednesday

Madhya Pradesh will vote on Wednesday to either give the BJP a fourth successive term in power notwithstanding anti-incumbency or give a chance to the challenger Congress to break the saffron party's monopoly over power for the last 15 years.
Polling officials checking Electronic Voting Machines on the eve of Mizoram Assembly elections, at a distribution centre at Pachhunga University College in Aizawl, Mizoram on November 27, 2018.
Polling officials checking Electronic Voting Machines on the eve of Mizoram Assembly elections, at a distribution centre at Pachhunga University College in Aizawl, Mizoram on November 27, 2018.
Madhya Pradesh will vote on Wednesday to either give the BJP a fourth successive term in power notwithstanding anti-incumbency or give a chance to the challenger Congress to break the saffron party's monopoly over power for the last 15 years.
 
Similarly, voters in Mizoram will also exercise their franchise on Wednesday to elect a new Assembly in which the Congress is striving for a third successive term against a stiff challenge from the Mizo National Front headed by former Chief Minister Zoramthanga. 
 
Mizoram, one of the four states where the Congress is in power at present besides Punjab and the Union Territory of Puducherry and part of a coalition in Karnataka, is the last remaining bastion for Congress in the northeast.
 
The campaign has been high decibel, often marked by bitter personal attacks, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress President Rahul Gandhi leading the charge of their parties. 
 
In Madhya Pradesh, the contest is mainly between the BJP and Congress though the Bahujan Samaj Party and Samajwadi Party are also in the fray. 
 
Apart from Modi's appeal, the BJP is banking on the image of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and its organisational structure. Party President Amit Shah, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Union Ministers Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley campaigned in the state. 
 
The Congress put up a spirited fight by raising issues concerning people and putting up a united fight by keeping the issue of leadership at bay. 
 
Rahul Gandhi sought to rejuvenate the state unit by appointing Kamal Nath as the party chief in April this year and naming Jyotiraditya Scindia, MP, as the campaign chief. 
 
Congress leaders have sought to highlight the problems of farmers, the poor, middle class and youths in their rallies holding, especially holding demonetisation and GST as the reasons for the agrarian distress and traders' plight. 
 
Rahul Gandhi attacked Modi and his government on issues of corruption and promises made in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and by Shivraj Chauhan in the 2013 elections. He has promised a farm loan waiver within 10 days of Congress coming power. 
 
National issues issues like surgical strike, construction of Ram temple, caste and dynasty were raised with the campaign barely revolving around the issue the development. 
 
Modi attacked the Congress on corruption, dynasty politics and several other issues and gave accounts of the achievements of the state and his own government.
 
Among the 2,907 candidates in Madhya Pradesh, the BJP has fielded candidates for all 230 seats while the Congress is contesting in 229 seats leaving one seat, Jatara in Tikamgarh district, for Sharad Yadav-led LJD.
 
The BSP has fielded 227 candidates and the SP is contesting 51 seats. There are 1,102 independent candidates.
 
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The keenly watched constituency will be Budhni, the home turf of Shivraj Singh Chouhan. The Congress has pitted former Union minister and former Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee chief Arun Yadav against him. 
 
In the last polls, of the 230 seats, the BJP won 165, Congress 58, BSP four and independents three. 
 
Over five crore registered voters in Madhya Pradesh -- 2,63,01,300 men, 2,41,30,390 women and 1,389 comprising the third gender -- will decide the fate of the candidates. 
 
In Mizoram, the fight is largely between the Congress and the Mizo National Front though the BJP is also seeking to make its presence felt. The BJP has made deep inroads in the northeast since the Modi government came to power at the Centre in 2014 and its performance in the Christian majority state will be keenly watched. 
 
In the battle for supremacy in the election to the 40-member Mizoram Assembly, Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla of the Congress is seeking a hat-trick. He claims there is no incumbency against his government.
 
A total of 209 candidates are in the fray in Mizoram. 
 
The Congress has fielded 40 candidates while the BJP and MNF are contesting in 39 and 40 constituencies, respectively.
 
The Chief Minister is contesting from two seats -- Serchhip and Champhai South. The Congress has been in power since Mizoram became a full-fledged state in 1987, except for 10 years from 1998 to 2008. 
 
Around 7.7 lakh voters will decide the fate of 209 candidates.
 
Counting of votes in both the states, along with three other states -- Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Telangana -- will be held on December 11.
 
IANS
 

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Mizoram is among India's top states, but four worries for new government

Polling officials checking Electronic Voting Machines on the eve of Mizoram Assembly elections, at a distribution centre at Pachhunga University College in Aizawl, Mizoram on November 27, 2018. (Photo: IANS/PIB)
Polling officials checking Electronic Voting Machines on the eve of Mizoram Assembly elections, at a distribution centre at Pachhunga University College in Aizawl, Mizoram on November 27, 2018. (Photo: IANS/PIB)
On November 28, Mizoram -- the last northeast bastion of the Congress -- will vote to elect a new government that will oversee what is planned as India's gateway to South-East Asia.
 
With about half as many voters as south Mumbai, Mizoram is one of India's fastest-growing, healthiest (second) and most-literate (third) states.
 
However, there are issues that threaten to slow the growth of a state that has been administered by either the Congress or the Mizo National Front (MNF), ever since the peace accord of 1986. That agreement ended the long-running Mizo uprising, marked by air raids on capital Aizawl in March 1966, the only time the Indian Air Force bombed its own people.
 
Mizoram's 768,000 voters will vote in 40 constituencies to determine if the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will make its first inroads in the state and complete the party's surge into the northeast. After the victory of the BJP-led Northeast Democratic Alliance (NEDA) in Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura earlier in 2018, seven of eight states in the region ---Sikkim, Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur -- are governed by the alliance.
 
Led by Lal Thanhawla, former insurgent-turned-mainstream politician, the Congress has administered Mizoram for the last 10 years. Previously, in the 2013 elections in Mizoram, the party won 34 of 40 seats. But since 2014, the Congress' vote share declined 13.4 percentage points across the northeast.
 
Mizoram has been positioned as the epicentre of the Centre's Act East Policy, which aims to harness shared cultural and border ties between India's northeast and South-East Asian countries such as Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand and other ASEAN nations.
 
Filtered through various indicators, Mizoram boasts a raft of high-performing statistics. The state is one of the fastest-growing in the country, with its economy growing by 12 per cent between 2013 and 2016. It has India's second-best health indicators and third-best literacy.
 
However, the state's achievements are challenged by four issues: Increasing poverty, racial tensions, high school-dropout rates and inter-district inequalities, which hinder growth.
 
It also grapples with illegal migrants, inter-tribal differences, an inability to create jobs for its educated youth and tensions sparked by allegations of corruption against the current government. These tensions have led to the rise of sub-regional alliances, such as the Zoram People's Movement (ZPM) -- comprising regional parties such as Zoram Nationalist Party, Mizoram People's Conference and Zoram Exodus Movement -- and this may disrupt the traditional exchange of governments between the Congress and MNF.
 
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More than 94 per cent of Mizoram is tribal, 80 per cent is Christian, and minorities -- the Chakmas and Brus -- claim racial discrimination at the hands of majority communities, such as the Lusei, Ralte, Hmar, Khiangte and Lai.
 
Mizoram has one of the lowest rates of anaemia among women in the northeast (24.8 per cent), child wasting (8.4 per cent), stunting (28.1 per cent) and underweight children (12 per cent), according to data from the National Family Health Survey-4 (NFHS-4).
 
It ranked first among smaller states and second nationally in NITI Aayog's overall 2018 Health Performance Index. The state's health-related successes can be attributed to its per capita expenditure on health, which was five times the national average: 4.5 per cent of GDP in 2015, compared to India's 1.02 per cent.
 
However, Mizoram's progress has lagged other states. Manipur, which ranked second among smaller states in NITI Aayog's Health index, improved by 7.18 per cent compared to Mizoram's 2.43 per cent.
 
The proportion of Mizoram's people living below the poverty line rose from 15.4 to 20.4 per cent over seven years to 2011. Mizoram's high literacy rates are marred by high school-dropout rates and inter-district disparities. The dropout rates in primary and secondary schools are 15.36 and 30.67 per cent, respectively, more than the comparable national averages of 6.35 and 19.89 per cent; Mizoram's dropout rates are also the northeast's highest.
 
There is a 38.76 percentage point gap in literacy between the most literate district (Serchhip, 98.76 per cent) and the least literate (Mamit, 60). The districts of Lawngtlai (66 per cent) and Mamit suffer literacy rates lower than not just the state average but the national average of 70.04 per cent.
 
Hills cover over 80 per cent of Mizoram, and with 60 per cent of the population dependent of agriculture, the state is challenged by difficult-to-farm areas and declining soil quality, affected by the tradition of jhum -- or slash and burn -- cultivation.
 
A National Land Use Policy, 2009 (NLUP), which aims to revitalise the primary sector by introducing alternatives to jhum cultivation, such as reforestation and market infrastructure, has been a prominent promised intervention by the state government and the Congress' previous election campaigns.
 
But NLUP funding has been roiled by allegations of corruption. In 2015, a government audit found funds for bamboo plantations filched. Farmers took to the streets of Aizawl to protest the NLUP's failure in providing a market to farmers, who were made to choose broom grass and ginger cultivation. 
 
Mizoram reports 976 females per 1,000 males, as per Census 2011 -- the national statistic is 943 females per 1,000 males -- and it records the second-highest rate of female labour force participation (54 per cent) after Chhattisgarh.
 
Yet, as the state goes to vote, another contradiction emerges: Mizoram had 2.62 per cent more women voters than men in 2013. But all 40 legislators are men. Of the six women who contested the 2013 elections, only one was from the Congress. In 2018, 4.8 per cent more women electors are set to vote. Whether any of the men will be displaced will be clear on December 11, when results are announced.
 
(In arrangement with IndiaSpend.org, a data-driven, non-profit, public interest journalism platform, with whom Sejal Singh is an intern. Devyani Chhetri is a graduate of LSR College. Views expressed are those of IndiaSpend. Feedback at respond@indiaspend.org)
 
IANS
 

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BJP-RSS want to destroy India's democratic structure: Rahul

File photo of Rahul Gandhi
File photo of Rahul Gandhi
Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said the BJP-RSS combine, which has a "divisive ideology", was penetrating its people into government institutions in order to destroy the country's democratic structure.
 
Addressing an election rally here, Gandhi said the saffron outfits were planning to enter Mizoram through local organisations such as the Mizoram National Front.
 
He said the BJP-RSS know they will not win the the 2019 general election.
 
"They know they are unlikely to win the next elections. Not just in Mizoram but across India. They are placing their people in places like Governors, attacking CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation), RBI (Reserve Bank of India), ECI (Election Commission of India) so as to attack the democratic institutions. The idea is that even if they lose, they will have their people."
 
He attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the ongoing controversies related to the Rafale deal and said the latter bought the fighter jets at a higher cost than what was finalized during Congress rule.
 
Gandhi said that the Congress believed in the ideology of harmony among different people, different languages and in inclusiveness and would not let the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) succeed in imposing only one-type of ideology across the country. 
 
"They want the people from different cultures and languages to be divided and pitted against each other," he said.
 
Gandhi also claimed the per capita income in Mizoram doubled during the 10-year Congress rule. 
 
Mizoram, which has been under Congress leadership since 2008, is set to go to the polls on November 28.
 
IANS
 

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Jolt for Congress in Mizoram as Speaker quits party, joins BJP

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Ahead of the Assembly polls, in a big jolt for the ruling Congress, Mizoram Assembly Speaker Hiphei on Monday resigned from his post and the party before joining the BJP.
 
Hiphei is the fifth legislators of the ruling Congress in Mizoram to have resigned from both the House and the party since September.
 
Mizoram is the only state out of eight in the north-east to be ruled by the Congress. Polls are due for the 40-member Mizoram assembly on November 28.
 
On Monday morning, the seven-time Congress legislator said he sent his resignation letter to Deputy Speaker R. Lalrinawma, who accepted it.
 
Hiphei then went to Congress Bhavan, the state party headquarters, and resigned from the primary membership of the party.
 
"I was kept in an uncertain position even after the AICC announced my name to contest the assembly polls from Palak constituency (in Siaha district)," Hiphei later told the media, expressing his resentment against Chief Minister and Mizoram Pradesh Congress President Lal Thanhawla.
 
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"I would be contesting from the Palak constituency on a Bharatiya Janata Party ticket," he said, adding the BJP in alliance with the local parties would form a coalition government in the state.
 
"The Congress would be defeated. The BJP would secure at least five seats in the polls to the 40-member Mizoram assembly," the Congress-turned BJP leader said.
 
Hiphei was elected to the Mizoram Assembly from Palak constituency in 2013 and he won the assembly elections six times between 1972 and 1989 from Tuipang.
 
In Guwahati, convenor of the BJP-led North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) and Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said : "Hiphei is a very senior leader in Mizoram. His joining the BJP would greatly strengthen the party."
 
BJP leaders in Mizoram have confidently declared that they would make all-out efforts to vote out the Congress in the state to "paint the North-East with the saffron colour."
 
The BJP has undertaken intensive efforts to win the Christian-dominated state, after having formed governments on its own or in alliance with allies in the remaining six northeastern states.
 
Meanwhile, the ruling Congress, which is governing the state, except for ten years -- 1998-2003 and 2003-2008 -- since it became a full-fledged state in 1987, during the past two months has suffered a major setback.
 
Senior Congress leader and state Home Minister R. Lalzirliana and three sitting legislators, Lalrinliana Sailo, Buddha Dhan Chakma, both former ministers, and Hmingdailova Khiangte have resigned from the party.
 
While Lalzirliana and Sailo joined opposition Mizo National Front (MNF) and Chakma joined BJP, Khiangte has said he will contest as an independent.
 
With the resignation of Hiphei, the Congress' strength in the 40-member house is reduced to 29, while MNF has six lawmakers. Five seats are vacant after the resignations of five Congress legislators.
 
The MNF, a local party, which ruled the state for two terms (1998-2003 and 2003-2008), is also confident to form the government with the support of the other local parties.
 
Both the BJP and the MNF are yet to declare a pre-poll or post-poll alliance, but political circles predict that they might support each other in forming the government after the polls.
 
MNF is a constituent of the BJP-led NEDA.
 
BJP President Amit Shah visited the state and addressed party workers last month. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit the state on November 18 to campaign for the saffron party.
 
IANS
 

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India-Japan joint military exercise Dharma Guardian 2018 begins in Mizoram

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Exercise Dharma Guardian, a joint military exercise between Indian and Japanese Armies, commenced at Counter Insurgency and Jungle Warfare School, Vairengete, Mizoram, on Thursday.
 
The Japanese contingent is being represented by 32nd Infantry Battalion and the Indian side by 6/1 Gorkha Rifles. Approximately one platoon strength each of both the battalions is participating in this exercise. The opening ceremony was given a patriotic start by contingents of both the countries singing their respective national anthems.
 
Being first of its kind, the 14-days-long joint exercise will consist of a balance of indoor classes and outdoor training activities. The objective of this exercise is to build and promote army to army relations in addition to exchanging skills and experiences between both the armies, an official press release said.
 
Due emphasis will be laid on enhancing tactical skills to fight against global terrorism and on increasing interoperability between the forces of both countries which is crucial for the success of any joint operation, it said.
 
Both sides will jointly train, plan and execute a series of well-developed tactical drills for neutralization of likely threats that may be encountered in urban warfare scenario. The exercise will contribute immensely in developing mutual understanding and respect for each other's military, the release added.
 
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Chhattisgarh, MP, Rajasthan, Telangana, Mizoram to go to the polls between Nov 12-Dec 7

The Election Commission announced on Saturday that elections to the Legislative Assemblies in five States -- Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Telangana and Mizoram -- would be held between November 12 and December 7.
Poll dates for Assembly elections in five States
The Election Commission today announced that elections to the State Legislative Assembly in Chhattisgarh would be held in two phases on November 12 and 20, while Madhya Pradesh and Mizoram will have single-phase polling on November 28 and Rajasthan and Telangana on December 7.
 
Counting of votes will be taken up in all the five states on December 11 and all the results are expected to be out by late that evening.
 
The term of the Assembly in Chhattisgarh is due to expire on January 5, 2019; Madhya Pradesh on January 7, 2019; Rajasthan on January 20, 2019 and Mizoram on December 15, 2018.
 
The ruling Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) in Telangana had decided to go in for early polls and, accordingly, the Governor of the State had dissolved the Assembly with immediate effect on September 6, 2018, nearly nine months before its term was to end.
 
The Assembly elections, especially in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, will be a major test for the BJP, which is ruling in these States as well as at the Centre, as well as for the Congress, which is making a strong bid to regain power in the three States.
 
The BJP has been in power for the past 15 years in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh and is seeking a second consecutive five-year term in Rajasthan.
 
In Telangana, which was carved out as a new state from Andhra Pradesh in June, 2014, Mr. K Chandrasekhar Rao of the TRS, the first Chief Minister of the state, is seeking a second term. In Mizoram, the Congress is hoping to continue in power.
 
There are 90 seats in the Chhattisgarh Assembly, 230 in Madhya Pradesh, 200 in Rajasthan, 40 in Mizoram and 119 in Telangana.
 
Under the law, the Election Commission is required to hold general elections to constitute the new legislative assemblies in these states before the expirity of their present terms or within six months from the date of premature dissolution of the Assembly.
 
Chief Election Commission O P Rawat told a press conference here today that the Commission had drawn up the schedules for holding the elections after taking into consideration "all relevant aspects like climatic conditions, academic calendar, major festivals, prevailing law and order situation in the State, availability of Central Police Forces, time needed for movement, transportation and timely deployment of forces and in-depth assessment of other relevant ground realities".
 
 "The Commission seeks the active cooperation, close collaboration and constructive partnership of all the esteemed stakeholders in the electoral process and strives to employ the collective synergies towards delivering a smooth, free, fair, peaceful, participative and festive General Assembly Elections, 2018 in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Mizoram & Telangana," he said.
 
According to the schedule, 18 constituencies will go to the polls in the first phase of polling in Chhattisgarh on November 12. The notification for the first phase of elections will be issued on October 16 and the last date for filing nominations is October 23. Scrutiny of nominations will be done on October 24 and the last date for withdrawal of candidatures will be October 26.
 
The  notification for the remaining 72 constituencies in Chhattisgarh, which will go to the polls on November 20, will be issued on October 26 and the last date for filing nominations is November 2. Nominations will be scrutinised on November 3 and the last date for withdrawal of candidatures is November 5.
 
The notification for elections to all 230 seats in the Madhya Pradesh Assembly, which go to the polls on November 28, will be issued on November 2 and the last date for filing nominations is November 9. Nominations will be scrutinised on November 12 and the last date for withdrawal of candidatures is November 14.
 
The notification for the elections to all 200 constituencies in Rajasthan, which will go to the polls on December 7, will be issued on November 12 and the last date for filing nominations is November 19. Scrutiny of nominations will be done on November 20 and the last date for withdrawal of candidatures is November 22.
 
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The notification for the elections to all 40 constitutencies in Mizoram, which have polling on November 28, will be issued on November 2 and the last date for filing nominations is November 9, with scrutiny of papers on November 12 and the last date for withdrawal of candidatures on November 14.
 
In Telangana, where all 119 constituencies will go to the polls on December 7, the notification for the elections will be issued on November 12 and the last date for making nominations will be November 19. Scrutiny of nominations will be taken up on November 20 and the last date for withdrawal of candidatures is November 22.
 
Mr. Rawat said the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) for candidates, political parties and State Governments had come into effect immediately in all the five States and it would also be applicable to the Union Government insofar as announcements or policy decisions pertaining to them are concerned.
 
He said the Commission had made elaborate arrangements for ensuring the effective implementation of the MCC Guidelines. 
 
"Any violations of these Guidelines would be strictly dealt with and the Commission re-emphasizes that the instructions issued in this regard from time to time should be read and understood by all Political Parties, contesting candidates and their agents/representatives, to avoid any misgivings or lack of information or inadequate understanding/ interpretation. The government of the poll-bound States has also been directed to ensure that no misuse of official machinery/position is done during the MCC period.
 
"The Commission has also issued instructions for swift, effective and stringent action for enforcement of Model Code of Conduct during the first 72 hours of announcement of the election schedule and also for maintaining extra vigilance and strict enforcement action in the last 72 hours prior to the close of polls.  These instructions have been issued in the form of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for compliance by the field election machinery," he added.
 
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Moderate earthquake shakes Myanmar-Mizoram border region

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An earthquake of moderate intensity, measuring 5.0 on the Richter scale, shook the border region between Myanmar and the Indian state of Mizoram in the early hours of today.
 
A bulletin from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 23.8°N and longitude 94.3°E, occurred at 0442 hours at a focal depth of 84 km.
 
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11 killed as bus falls into gorge in Mizoram

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At least 11 people, including six women, were killed and 19 others injured when a passenger bus fell into a deep gorge in Mizoram on Tuesday, police said.
 
"The private bus was being driven by the assistant as the driver was sleeping in the bus. When the bus was negotiating a curve, it fell into a 500-metre-deep gorge near Pangzawl village in Lunglei district (in southern Mizoram) killing nine people on the spot and injuring 21 others," a police official said here.
 
Two passengers succumbed to their injuries on way to hospital.
 
According to the police, the bus was on its way from Aizawl to the state's southernmost Siaha district.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 
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Kummanam Rajasekharan, Ganeshi Lal appointed as Governors of Mizoram, Odisha

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President Ram Nath Kovind today appointed Kerala Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Kummanam Rajasekharan as the new Governor of Mizoram.
 
He will succeed Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Nirbhay Sharma, who will complete his tenure on May 28, a press communique from Rashtrapati Bhavan said.
 
The President has also appointed Prof. Ganeshi Lal, Haryana BJP leader and former state minister, as the new Governor of Odisha, with effect from the date he assumes charge of his office.
 
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NDMA conducts mock exercise on earthquake in North East

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The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) conducted a multi-State mock exercise on earthquake in the three North Eastern States of Tripura, Nagaland and Mizoram yesterday for assessing the preparedness and response mechanism of the State Governments in a disaster situation.
 
The exercise was conducted in collaboration with the respective State Disaster Management Authorities (SDMAs).
 
It simulated the 1897 Shillong earthquake measuring 8.7 on the Richter Scale, which had devastated the entire Shillong plateau and affected the whole of the northeast.
 
The simulation exercise was conducted simultaneously in all districts across the three States at select locations, including hospitals, shopping malls, schools and high-rise residential buildings to assess and improve the administration’s capacity in mobilising resources and reaching out to the affected communities swiftly.
 
The exercise started with sirens indicating the occurrence of tremors. Everybody ducked under the tables while covering their heads. Once the tremors stopped, evacuation drills were conducted. Soon afterwards, State Emergency Operation Centres (SEOCs) were activated.
 
Simultaneously, EOCs at the districts also got activated, assessed the damage, formed rescue teams under Incident Commanders and dispatched them to the respective locations.
 
Rescue drills were conducted in coordination with various agencies, such as Traffic control, Fire Fighting Department, Ambulances, Police and Civil Defence. People buried under the rubble were rescued and sent to hospitals after administering first aid and triage.
 
Afterwards, NDMA experts carried out post-exercise analyses, wherein independent observers from the Army shared their feedback and suggested ways to further streamline response mechanisms.
 
"Mock exercises strengthen the capacity and response mechanisms of all stakeholders. These also help improve coordination among various agencies, which is the key to a successful post-disaster response," said Lt. Gen. N.C. Marwah (Retd.), Member, NDMA.
 
Today’s exercise was preceded by orientation-cum-coordination conferences and tabletop exercises in all the participating States to ensure the smooth facilitation of the exercise.
 
This exercise is significant as the entire North East is located in the seismic zone V. 
 
The mock drill will ensure a better response in the event of a disaster to reduce the loss of lives. It will also generate awareness among the local population who are the first responders in case of any disaster, an official press release added.
 
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Foreigners allowed to visit Nagaland, Mizoram, Manipur unrestricted

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In a significant move, the Union Home Ministry has allowed foreigners -- except those from Pakistan, China and Afghanistan -- to visit tourist locations in Nagaland, Mizoram and Manipur. which were so far restricted areas.
 
With the decision, applicable from April 1, foreigners now can visit the three states for the next five years without any permit, an official said. 
 
Nagaland, Mizoram and Manipur were, since the last six decades, kept under Protected Area Permit (PAP) regime. 
 
Earlier, from January 1, 2011, the PAP was initially lifted for one year from the three states as per a December 30, 2010 circular of the Union Home Ministry. 
 
"Foreign tourists can visit tourist locations in Nagaland, Mizoram and Manipur without any PAP from April 1, 2018 to March 31, 2013. Citizens from Pakistan, China and Afghanistan are still banned from all PAP areas," the Home Ministry official said. 
 
The areas falling between the Inner line and the International Border of some states were declared as protected areas under the Foreigners (Protected Areas) Order, 1958. 
 
The protected areas currently include whole of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim, besides parts of Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Jammu and Kashmir. Some parts of Sikkim fall under the protected area regime while others under the restricted area.
 
The official further said a review is going on to lift PAP from other areas too. 
 
As per the guidelines, a foreign national is not normally allowed to visit a protected or restricted area unless the government is satisfied that there are extraordinary reasons to justify his or her visit.
 
Every foreigner, except a citizen of Bhutan, who desires to enter and stay in a protected or restricted area, is required to obtain a special permit from a competent authority having the power to issue such permits. 
 
In cases, where the power to issue such permits has not been delegated to a subordinate authority by the Central government, the application for the special permit has to be referred to Union Home Ministry for prior approval, at least eight weeks before the date of the expected visit. 
 
With an aim to promote tourism, the government, time to time by notification, exempts some of such restricted or protected areas from the need of special permission for foreigners to visit them.
 
Necessary powers have been delegated to various authorities to issue such special permits without the prior approval of the Home Ministry to facilitate foreign tourists subject to the certain exceptions. 
 
In cases of foreign diplomats, including the members of the United Nations and international organisations holding diplomatic or official passports, the special permits to visit such protected or restricted areas are issued by the Ministry of External Affairs. 
 
In cases of the citizens of Afghanistan, China and Pakistan and foreign nationals of Pakistani origin, no permit, however, can be issued without the prior approval of the Union Home Ministry.
 
IANS
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NDMA to conduct multi-State earthquake mock exercise in North East

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The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) will conduct a mock exercise on earthquake preparedness in three North Eastern States -- Tripura, Nagaland, Mizoram -- tomorrow.
 
The exercise, being held in collaboration with the respective State Disaster Management Authorities (SDMAs), will help participating agencies and stakeholders in evaluating the effectiveness of their disaster response plans, an official press release said.
 
The exercise is significant as the participating States fall under seismic vulnerability zone V, it said.
 
Orientation-cum-coordination conferences were held on April 12 at the State Capitals for working out the detailed modalities and preparations required for the mock exercise.
 
Concerned officials from various stakeholder departments such as the Army, Health, Police, Firefighting, Civil Defence, Transport, Electricity, Public Relations and Traffic Control attended these conferences.
 
Preparedness measures required to be taken at individual, societal and institutional levels to minimise the effects of an earthquake were discussed. NDMA experts briefed the stakeholders on the Incident Response System (IRS), which attributes roles and responsibilities at each level to improve coordination. This helps enhance preparedness and ensure a swift response by reducing ad-hocism in response.
 
Table Top Exercises will be conducted in all the three States before the actual mock exercise. The mock exercise will be followed by a detailed debriefing session where gaps and shortcomings, if any, for improving preparedness will be discussed. Independent observers will be deployed to monitor the entire exercise.
 
The exercise will help in filling gaps, ensuring better communication and improving coordination among various stakeholders and agencies. It will also generate awareness among the local population about the Dos and Don'ts to be followed before, during and after an earthquake.
 
"Capacity building and improving disaster preparedness is an ongoing exercise. NDMA has so far conducted more than 600 mock exercises for various disaster situations across the country in its efforts to improve preparedness and response during for various disaster situations," the release added.
 
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Union Home Secretary holds meeting with Chief Secretaries of Assam, Mizoram on inter-State border issue

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Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba held a meeting of the Chief Secretaries of Assam and Mizoram on the inter-State border issue in the context of recent incidents at Bairabi on March 8 and 10.
 
The Chief Secretary of Assam, Ms. T. Y. Das and the Chief Secretary of Mizoram, Mr. Arvind Ray stated the position of their respective State Governments on the issue of construction of a shed at Kachurtal near Bairabi. 
 
Both State Governments reiterated their commitment to maintain peace and resolve the issues amicably, an official press release said.
 
"It was decided in the meeting to maintain status quo at the spot. Assembly of people at the site will not be allowed. Both the Governments of Assam and Mizoram will take all measures to maintain peace in their respective areas," the release said.
 
It was unanimously decided that a team comprising Joint Secretary (North-East), Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and Principal Secretaries (Home) of Mizoram and Assam will visit the area within a week. This team will be assisted by officials of Survey of India in its work. The team will submit its findings to the Union Home Secretary which will be discussed in a follow-up meeting with the Chief Secretaries of the two States. 
 
Thereafter, a meeting will be convened by the Union Home Minister with the Chief Ministers of Assam and Mizoram, the release added.
 
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Union Home Secretary convenes meeting of Assam, Mizoram Chief Secretaries on March 20 on border issue

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Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has stated that a meeting of the Chief Secretaries of Assam and Mizoram will be held here next week to discuss the inter-State border issue.
 
The meeting of Chief Secretaries of the two States has been convened by the Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba on March 20.
 
Mr. Rajnath Singh also wrote a letter to Mizoram Chief Minister Lalthanhawla, in response to a communication from him regarding the Bairabi incident of March 9. 
 
The State Governments of Mizoram and Assam must take all possible measures to maintain peace and public order. The outstanding issues between both the States need to be resolved mutually and amicably, he added.
 
The Union Home Minister has expressed the hope that the State Governments of Mizoram and Assam will take all steps to defuse the situation and prevent assembly of people at Bairabi.
 
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Minor earthquake shakes Lunglei region of Mizoram

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 4.2 on the Richter scale, shook the Lunglei region of Mizoram today, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 22.8°N and longitude 93.1°E, occurred at 1342 hours at a focal depth of 10 km, an IMD bulletin added.
 
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Modi says Govt. betting on skills, strengths of India's youth

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing the gathering at the ceremony to dedicate the Tuirial Hydro Electric Power Project to the nation, in Aizawl on December 16, 2017.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing the gathering at the ceremony to dedicate the Tuirial Hydro Electric Power Project to the nation, in Aizawl on December 16, 2017.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said the Government was betting on the skills and strengths of India's youth and that the next five years until 2022, when India will complete 75 years of independence, provide an opportunity to plan and build on the country's achievements to make a quantum leap in all spheres of development.
 
"We believe in 'empower through enterprise' - which is creating the right eco-system for innovation and enterprise to flourish so that our land is home to the next big ideas that can transform humanity," he said in his address at a ceremony to dedicate the Tuirial Hydro Electric Power Project to the nation in Aizawl, Mizoram.
 
Mr. Modi said building a New India by 2022 required us to work towards the twin goals of increasing economic growth as well as ensuring that the fruits of growth are shared by all.
 
"Every Indian, irrespective of caste, gender, religion, class must have equal opportunities to partake in the new prosperity," he said.
 
He said his Government believed in competitive and cooperative federalism, where there is healthy competition between States. "I am convinced that States are the main drivers of change," he said.
 
He said the Government had taken a number of initiatives to infuse healthy competition among States. A Committee of Chief Ministers made recommendations to rationalize Centrally Sponsored Schemes, which were duly accepted by the Government.
 
Mr. Modi said that, despite fiscal constraints, the sharing pattern of core centrally sponsored schemes for North Eastern States had been continued at 90-10. For other schemes, it stands at 80-20. 
 
He said the Centre had plans to focus on around 115 districts which are relatively backward when evaluated on various social indicators. This will also benefit the backward districts of North Eastern States including Mizoram. 
 
"Just yesterday, we approved a new Central Sector Scheme. The North East Special Infrastructure Development Scheme will fill the gaps in creation of infrastructure in two sectors. One sector is physical infrastructure relating to water supply, power, connectivity and especially projects promoting tourism. The other is social sector projects of education and health. The new scheme has been designed after due consultations with State Governments.However, to ensure continuity, all ongoing projects under NLCPR will be provided funds for completion by March 2022," he said.
 
He said the new scheme would be 100 percent centrally funded as against the NLCPR, where 10 percent contribution had to come from the State Governments. 
 
The Central Government will be providing Rs. 5300 crore to North Eastern States under the Scheme over the next three years, he said.
 
Mr. Modi began by noting that this was his first visit to Mizoram as Prime Minister, though had visited the other states in the region.
 
He recalled that former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had taken several initiatives for the development of the North East region and remove regional imbalances.
 
He said his Government had continued those efforts. He said Ministers had been asked to spend a few days at a time in the region and understand the needs of the people and frame policies accordingly. During the last three years, Union Ministers have made more than 150 visits to the North East, he said. Officials are also spending a few days in a month in the region, he said.
 
The Prime Minister said that, 70 years after independence, there were still four crore households in the country without electricity, including thousands in Mizoram. He said the Government had recently launched a scheme to provide electricity connections to all such households.
 
Noting that there were very few entrepreneurs in the region because of lack of capital, he mentioned the Government's initiatives such as Mudra, Start-up India and Stand Up India. He said the Ministry of Development of North-East Region (DoNER) had launched a Rs. 100 crore venture capital fund for the North-East and urged the youth of the region to take full advantage of such schemes.
 
Mr. Modi said that, as a result of the efforts of the Union Government, schemes for the benefit of the North-Eastern region had gained momentum and projects stuck for years were now progressing. 
 
He said the completion and dedication of the Tuirial Hydro-power Project would boost the socio-economic development of the state. With this, Mizoram has become the third power-surplus state in the North-East after Sikkim and Tripura.
 
"My Government is investing close to Rs. 10,000 crore for a comprehensive improvement in the power transmission system in the North Eastern States," he said, adding that efforts were also being to improve connectivity in the region.
 
"The Union Government has sanctioned over 3800 kilometers of National Highway with an investment of Rs. 32,000 crore during the last three years, out of which nearly 1200 kilometers of road have already been constructed," he said.
 
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Mr. Modi said the Centre would be investing another Rs. 60,000 crore under the Special Accelerated Road Development Programme in the North-East and Rs. 30,000 crore under Bharatmala in the next two to three years to build a network of highways and roads in the region. 
 
"We are committed to bring all the State Capitals of North East Region on the rail map. The Government of India is executing 15 new rail line projects of 1385 kilometers length, at a cost of over Rs. 47,000 crore. The railways reached Mizoram last year, with the inauguration of the rail line connecting Bhairabi in Mizoram with Silchar in Assam," he said.
 
"I had laid the foundation for a new line to take rail connectivity to Aizawl in 2014. With the support of the State Government, we shall connect the State Capital Aizawl with broad gauge rail line. 
 
"The Union Government has been proactively following the ‘Act East Policy’. As a gate-way to South East Asia, Mizoram stands to gain immensely from this. It can emerge as a key transit point for trade with Myanmar and Bangladesh. Various bilateral projects are at various stages of completion. Some of the major initiatives include the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project, the Rih-Tedim Road Project and Border Haats," he said.
 
Mr. Modi said the high literacy rate, scenic beauty and availability of a large English speaking population in Mizoram made for a perfect blend to develop the State as a model tourist destination. "The State offers significant scope for adventure tourism, cultural tourism, eco-tourism, wild-life tourism, and community-based rural tourism. If developed well, tourism can emerge as the biggest employer in the state. The Union Government has sanctioned two tourism projects worth 194 crore rupees for Mizoram in the last 2 years, to promote eco-tourism and adventure tourism.The Central Government has already released 115 crore rupees for implementation of these projects," he said.
 
"The Government is also committed to provide assistance for maintenance and upkeep of various wild-life sanctuaries and national parks in Mizoram with a view to attract tourists. Let us work together to make Mizoram one of the top tourism destinations in India," he said.
 
"The soft power of football can become Mizoram’s global identity. There are many other prominent sports persons from Mizoram who have brought glory to the State and the country. These include the Olympian archer C. Lalremsanga , boxer Ms. Jenny Lalremliani, weightlifter Ms. Lalchhahimi, and hockey player Ms. Lalruatfeli," he said.
 
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Modi to visit Mizoram and Meghalaya on Saturday, to launch various projects

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Mizoram and Meghalaya tomorrow where he will inaugurate various development projects. 
 
“The enchanting and effervescent Northeast calls! Looking forward to visiting Mizoram and Meghalaya tomorrow, where various development projects will be inaugurated. These projects will add impetus to the development journey of the Northeast," Mr. Modi said on micro-blogging site Twitter.
 
"It is my privilege to be dedicating the Tuirial Hydropower Project to the nation at tomorrow’s programme in Aizawl. The completion of this project is a boon for the people of Mizoram. 
 
"Giving wings to our Yuva Shakti, DoNER has set up a Rs. 100 crore Northeast Venture Capital Fund. Tomorrow I will be distributing cheques to entrepreneurs from this fund. A spirit of enterprise among the Northeast’s youth augurs well for the empowerment of the region," Mr. Modi said. 
 
"In Shillong I will inaugurate the Shillong-Nongstoin-Rongjeng-Tura Road. This project will improve connectivity and further economic growth. I will also address a public meeting. 
 
"We see immense potential in the Northeast and are committed to doing everything for the region’s overall progress," he added.
 
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