Academic journal article Journal of International Women's Studies

Emergence of Women from 'Private' to 'Public': A Narrative of Power Politics from Mizoram

Academic journal article Journal of International Women's Studies

Emergence of Women from 'Private' to 'Public': A Narrative of Power Politics from Mizoram

Article excerpt

Abstract

Understanding the complex state-building process in Mizoram requires the systematic mapping of the discourses and narratives of 'inclusion' and 'exclusion' at all levels which is thoroughly dictated by those in power. The region's 'Histories' of statecraft and policies displays a distinct narrative than that of mainland India. The 'Northeast' in general and Mizoram in particular, provides a unique experience in understanding the trends in everyday politics as 'a living space' in contemporary India.

Mizoram, as a category in contemporary Indian politics reminds one of 'the protracted insurgency led by the legendary Laldenga and the Mizo National Front'. The region remains a geo-political puzzle and mapping its location becomes a perplexing task for most Indians. The complexities involved in the regions politics, state-building and citizen-building efforts based on the logic of exclusions and inclusions, hardly echoes beyond the Zo tlang ram. Against this silhouette, the paper attempts, first, at peeping through the 'Zo' Oral traditions; and the impact of Colonialism and Christianity- the timeless gendered practices in the Zo/Mizo society. Second, it attempts at reflecting on the Human Rights situation of women in the state building process of Mizoram from the Insurgency period onwards. Third, it attempts at highlighting the survival strategies adopted by the women to create their own spaces and have their voices heard in the public sphere.

Keywords: Women, Private/Public, Politics, Mizoram

Introduction

Understanding the complex state-building process in Mizoram requires the systematic mapping of the discourses and narratives of inclusion and exclusion at all levels which is thoroughly dictated (1) by those in power. The region's 'Histories' of statecraft and policies displays a distinct narrative than that of mainland India (Barooah & Scott, 1970; Guha, 1977, 1991; Dubey, 1978; Baruah, 2005). The 'Northeast' in general and Mizoram in particular provides a unique experience in understanding the trends in everyday politics as a living space (Lefebvre, 1991) in contemporary India. Mizoram, as a category in contemporary Indian politics 'rings the faint bell' of 'the protracted insurgency led by the legendary Laldenga, of the Mizo National Front in the Christian area'; and the success of India's democratic mechanisms as reflected through the dual processes of (1) the signing of the Peace Accord (1986) (Jyotirindra in Basu & Kohli, 1998, pp. 183-214) and (2) the implementation of 'Cosmetic Federalism' (Baruah, 2005). The region remains a geo-political puzzle and mapping its location and its people becomes a quest in itself for many Indians. The stereotypical images of the people of the North-East, especially the Mizos as having 'alien culture" backward, Christians, 'Open sex societies', underdeveloped tribes with weird food habits, infamously known as the 'dog-eaters' and so on (Hluna, 1985a) perpetually perplexes the mainland Indians. The complexities involved in the regions politics, state-building and citizen-building efforts based on the logic of exclusions and inclusions, hardly echoes beyond the Zo tlang ram (3). Against this silhouette, the paper attempts, first, at peeping through the 'Zo' Oral traditions (4); and the impact of Colonialism and Christianity- the timeless gendered practices in the Zo/Mizo society. Second, it attempts at reflecting on the Human Rights situation of women in the state building process of Mizoram from the Insurgency period onwards. Third, it attempts at highlighting the survival strategies adopted by the women to create their own spaces and have their voices heard in the public domain.

Time and Women

A peep into the Zo Oral Traditions

The Kuki-Chin-Mizo oral traditions reflect the broad spectrum of marginalisation of women in the Zo/Mizo society. The common sayings about women for instance, 'Pal hlui leh nupui hlui chu a thlak thei' (An old fence and an old wife can both be replaced), 'Hmeichhe finin tuikhur ral a kai lo' (The wisdom of women does not extend beyond the limit of the village water source), 'Hmeichhia leh ui pui chu lo rum lungawi mai mai rawh se (Let a woman or a dog bark to its heart's content) 'Hmeichhe thu thu ni suh; chakai sa sa ni suh' (Just as the meat of a crab is no meat, so the word of a woman is no word) (Thanga, 1978; Samuelson, 1991; Ralte, 1993) etc. …

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