Mizoram CM graced MCCI Felicitation & Interactive Session at Kolkata

Aizawl, 5th January, 2024: Pu Lalduhoma graced Merchant's Chamber of Commerce & Industry, (MCCI) Kolkatta organised "Felicitation & Interactive Session with Shri. Lalduhoma, Chief Minister, Mizoram" at MCCI Conference Hall, Kolkatta, this afternoon.

Some points of the Chief Minister speech at the session are as follows:

1. This is my first visit outside Mizoram - indeed, my maiden speech outside the State after becoming Chief Minister and as someone who, for years, has nurtured a deep rooted desire to change the system and the way Government in general is run, I believe that unless we begin to affect such change now, Mizoram is headed down a very deep hole, especially financially, that will be extremely difficult to get out of later. The electorate in Mizoram is well aware of my most significant call to action – ‘KALPHUNG THAR’ - which translated loosely into English means to bring about positive change; to introduce a new way of doing things.

2. Being a realist, I am acutely aware of the human condition and our imperfections even when the most noble of intentions are in play. I also recognize that improving our present system of administration and governance or any changes that need to be introduced cannot be done overnight. We really do have a long and arduous road ahead of us and it is for this reason that I am wary of making promises that neither my party nor I will be able to keep, an issue that some of my predecessors had trouble with.

3. In my opinion, of all the scourges that afflict politics and the Government machinery in Mizoram, corruption and indifference amongst stakeholders are the ones that need to be tackled first and foremost. While we have had fine leaders and excellent Government servants over the years, the actions of some of them over successive governments have tarnished their collective reputations resulting in a situation where all are painted with the same brush.

4. Ushering in a new Government under such circumstances is an uphill task, but I am proud to say that I lead a team of Ministers and MLAs who are eager to work sincerely and genuinely for the people of Mizoram – to bring about positive change and to leave behind a State and a system that is better than when we found it. In fact, we have all taken a pledge to not indulge in corruption and to leave no place for impropriety in public life. We have a 100-day programme in which we have set out to achieve and implement certain goals, one of which is deciding that 2024 will be a year of financial consolidation for Mizoram, keeping in mind our precarious financial position.

5. In fact, my Government has already initiated action on many other aspects of this programme, perhaps the most significant of which is giving general consent to the Central Bureau of Investigation through a Gazette Notification issued just a few days ago, to freely and seamlessly investigate cases in Mizoram when required. I intend to lead a Government that has nothing to hide and I think this step alone should be a clear indication of our determination to curb corruption and to punish those who choose to continue along that path.

6. Mizoram cannot become the best version of herself without intervention from outside the State. We need meaningful investment from both the Central Government and private players, both domestic and foreign. We do not have many natural resources that traditionally make a region suitable for large scale investment. However, Mizoram’s location, bordering Bangladesh in the West and Myanmar in the East affords it a unique location-specific advantage as it can act as a gateway for international trade with South East Asian countries with the facilitation of trade growing over the years following improvements in road, rail and air connectivity.

7. We are blessed with rich flora, fauna and forest cover extending to 85% of the State’s geographical area. Our State could be a goldmine for researchers seeking out medicinal and aromatic plants. We are the second largest producer of bamboo in Northeastern India and there is immense potential for the commercial exploitation of this plant. We are also the second largest producers of strawberries in India and I am sure growth will be sustained in this regard. The climate in Mizoram is conducive for the breeding and commercial exploitation of all kinds of silkworms. In fact, Sericulture is one of our key industries and my Government will attempt to bring about faster growth in this sector.

8. Mizoram is one of the most literate States in India and has consistently occupied this position for years now – which brings me to another resource we have in abundance – our human resources. It is obvious that the Government cannot offer employment to every educated youth who needs a job. We, therefore, need the private sector to invest in them. However, there is a rather curious and distressing paradox relating to our literacy rate. Kerala, being the State with the highest overall literacy in India also has a high financial literacy rate of over 35%. On the other hand, the figure for Mizoram is just over 6%, which is abysmally low, especially considering the fact that we live in an age where knowledge of basic financial concepts, personal finance etc. are crucial and literacy, in and of itself, is meaningless in the job market. This is another area where we need to grow.

9. As I mentioned earlier, we have an abundance of greenery in our State. The steep terrain in many places also translates into some of the most beautiful landscapes and scenery in the country. Rolling hills, serene valleys, lush green forests, lakes and rivers are a major feature of the landscape here. Hence, our State has immense potential for tourism of the sustainable kind. However, I should mention that we are not really interested in the kind of mass tourism some other States are known for as it can be devastating environmentally and have unintended societal side effects. What we are offering is eco-friendly and sustainable tourism that respects the fragile ecology of the State and our meager population.

10. Mizoram is also well suited for small-scale industries based on agriculture and horticulture. Our handlooms and handicrafts are well known throughout the country but need more investment and exposure to new markets. Agriculture is still the main occupation in our State and my Government has vowed to cater to the interests of our farmers through policy formulation and their implementation on the ground. Infrastructure development is another area where much still remains to be done. We need better roads, railways lines and inland waterways – all crucial for development that is inclusive and sustainable - in a way that does not totally destroy our environment, which unfortunately, has been the trend in Mizoram the last few years.

11. After the period of consolidation I spoke of in the beginning of my speech, we intend to do all we can to increase the pace of development in Mizoram. I have always maintained that Mizoram does not need new locally devised schemes with fancy acronyms for names. If the existing schemes of the Central Government are properly implemented without corruption creeping in, that alone would be enough to bring about a sea change in our development story. The fact also remains that the State Government has limited resources and cannot conjure up funds from thin air.

12. I would like to tell everyone gathered here today that I am not a conventional politician. I have seldom taken the obvious route or made obvious choices in both my professional and political careers and I certainly do not intend to start now by becoming a conventional Chief Minister or repeat the mistakes of those who have come before me.

13. This is where those of you in the audience, enter the picture. Come, join us! Help spread my call to action and partner with the vibrant State of Mizoram for a mutually beneficial and enriching experience in a future that is full of promise amidst obvious challenges. However, I would like to throw in a word of caution for those businessmen who look upon states in the Northeast like Mizoram as a means to fill their pockets through various schemes and policies, with next to no positive impact for the common man – there is no room under this new dispensation for players like them.

14. The MCCI has a glorious history and is one of the most dynamic chambers in Eastern India, serving as a link between business leaders and policymakers in this part of the country and beyond. I urge you to continue to create a conducive environment for the growth of industry especially in the Northeastern part of India and to partner with us as my Government embarks on its journey of inclusive growth balanced out by fair competition. I look forward to bigger and better things as we take this relationship forward.

Written by: K. Saitluanga, MIS, PIO to Chief Minister


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