One of the most hotly debated topics is about the YMA. YMA is an acronymn for the Young Mizo Association, a so called NGO whose members comprises of more or less every mizo youth. For those people who are not interested in knowing about the culture and latest news from one of the North eastern states, this would be the right time to stop reading as you might find this boring. This post is for those individuals who are interested in knowing what is going on in that part of the country.
For those of you interested, let me start by saying what the YMA is all about. The YMA, as I have mentioned before, is an NGO. They help the society by doing charity work, like conducting funerals, helping families who are victims of natural calamities like landslides, fire etc. All these are based on a term every mizo is proud to represent, a term called “tlawmngaihna”, where every mizo look out for each other. A mizo is always expected to help out another mizo. We treat guests with the highest priority and honor in our culture.
But recently, the YMA have come under much criticism. They have started taking the law into their own hands, especially after they started their drive against drugs and alcohol. They beat up anybody who is dealing with these so called evils of society, and this year alone, lynched 4 people to death. Many of us have loudly raised our voice, but the situation does not seem to change at all. People accuse them of “talibanizing” the State of Mizoram and even call them “Youth Murderer Agency”. We mizos are proud to tell the rest of India that we are the only State in the north-east that does not have any terrorist or separatist problems. Yet here we are, victims of our own endeavor. The YMA has even forced the head of the Human Rights Commission in Mizoram to leave her home in Mizoram because she protested against the Human Rights violation by the YMA. David M. Thangliana, editor of Newslink (the most prominent news portal for mizos on the net) even resigned from the Central YMA's literature sub-committee as a mark of protest, drawing applause from individuals of all walks of life. Many of the people have asked for a consensus on whether the YMA should be granted a God-like status or not. Some even believe the YMA should be disbanded as it is not a part of our culture. Given below is one article I have posted in zoram.com regarding the relationship between “tlawmngaihna” and YMA.
Quote Jewelle: "Sandman, when you say "inside" I hope to God you don't mean to imply that you Mizos living outside Mizoram are outsiders."
Now now, my dear Jewelle, you're blowing this WAY out of proportion. Do read my post again. What I meant to imply is the fact that this struggle against human rights violation would be more effective if the battle takes place right at the backyard rather than hundreds of miles away. One has to be “in” the system to fight it, not miles away. Look at Aung-Sang-Suu-Ki for example.
As I have stated many times before, I still believe in the YMA. It’s just their ways and policies that must be corrected and if necessary, the Organization must undergo a complete change. If this statement is going to incite a debate from our esteemed members who believe the entire YMA should go, then I humbly rest my case for we have had more than enough discussions regarding this. Is YMA a part or not a part of our mizo culture is a hotly debated topic, and I intend not to go down that road again.
Let us just assume for a brief moment that, this actually does happen, that there is no more YMA. The entire organization has been disbanded. The offices burnt, the flags buried, the members scattered everywhere, and the new emerging society making it taboo to utter the Y-word in public.
Can you imagine a Mizoram like that? With no YMA? Would feel be a bit weird huh? Anyway, the point I'm trying to make does not end here.
So now, there is no more YMA. And very soon, as one of our members Zoliani has said, "tlawmngaihna" creeps in, even though there are no YMA around. After all, it’s a part of our culture rite? Opponents of YMA - 1, Proponents of YMA - 0.
This is only the short-run picture. What exactly happens during this era is as follows. Please bear with me as this might be a bit long. Am just introducing an imaginary "veng" (area) and fictitious characters to make this as interesting as possible.
Pu Tawna, a retired Govt employee, has just passed away. He was a popular figure within his veng, being born and brought up there. When it comes to organizing the funeral, digging the grave etc, Pu Tawna’s neighbour’s son, Jimmy decided to step in. Jimmy is a young athletic bachelor of 23 years. He called up his friends and asked them to help him. Within a few hours, Jimmy and his friends have dugged the grave for the late Pu Tawna, raised tarpaulin sheets around the house of Pu Tawna to protect the mourners from rain or sun, collected enough benches from various houses in Tualveng for the people to sit, even organized the zual-ko (informing everybody details about the diseased). Jimmy’s girl-friend Hma-i called up her friends and they made tea the whole day at the house of the dearly departed. At the end of the day, Jimmy and his friends did an excellent work and people praised their unselfish dedication. The local newspaper described him and his friends as tlangval/nula chhuanawm (praise-worthy). Isn’t this what “tlawmngaihna” is all about in our culture?
Soon word spread about this, and whenever there was a funeral or a disaster like landslide, Jimmy and his friends were the first one to reach there and help. They became the topic of petty conversations during family dinner and office breaks. The mothers would say “Jimmy a kha chu a ti tha khawp mai, a va han fel em em. Lal Hma-i te chu a luck khawp mai”. The fathers would say to their son “Mama, i u Jimmy a thil tih ang te hi ti ve ta che. In hmang deuh rawh tiang thil ah hian, nileng a internet i khawih ringawt te chuan i puitling lo ang”. Jimmy became some sort of a role model, somebody that everybody looks up to.
So far we have looked at “tlawmngaihna” at its best only in the short run. Now, ladies and gentlemen, let us proceed to the long run. We aren’t exactly there yet though. This is the intermediate phase.
Jimmy and his friends are now very popular. Many more young men and women started joining him, and his circle of friends grew tremendously. And somewhere else, in another “veng”, moved by Jimmy’s selfless act, other young people started making their own organization to help others. These groups grew in size as time progressed. And they even started linking up so that there would be synergy. They found it easier if they shared their resources, and it was making their work easier too. Soon they started coordinating and eventually in the end, all these groups of various “vengs” became one big organization. All these were formed due to Jimmy’s tlawmngaihna.
We are now in the long run. Jimmy is now the most talked about person in Mizoram. Every house-hold knows his name. And he was growing more and more powerful every passing day. People trust him completely. After all, he’s doing it out of his own volition and not getting paid for doing any of his good deed. He started enjoying a Godfather status. Whenever there is a burglary, people come to him instead of the police for they have more belief and faith in him. And then, he and his friends would set out hunting for the thief. They would use their own tactics and nobody would question them, after all, it is their trusted and loving dear Jimmy. Soon, Jimmy and his friends started introducing new laws to improve the life of the society, like banning of alcohol and drugs. The society welcomed this move with open hands; after all, it is their loving Jimmy once again. What he says must be in the best interest of the people. But Jimmy and his friends were getting frustrated with the fact that inspite of their selfless act, people are still not obeying the one simple favour they ask them to do: do not deal with drugs and alcohol. So they started beating up these “scums of society” who drink and dope. Beat them black and blue in order to pass a message to others. Sometimes, they even beat them to death. Jimmy and his friends feel this is necessary, and that they believe they do have the rights to do it, after all, they have done so much for the community as a whole.
Very slowly, as the number of deaths and house burnt increased in an alarming rate, some people started becoming uncomfortable. This is not the Jimmy they once knew. This is not the tlawmngaihna they once believed in. The number of dissident voices started growing with every new cases of torture and death. But Jimmy and his friends are too powerful now. The police are scared of them, the politicians are at their mercy. But as the number of protest started growing, questioning Jimmy’s method, Jimmy started becoming more and more unpopular. Slowly his friends stopped talking to him one by one, and most of them avoided him. Soon, it was just Jimmy, all alone. Even his girlfriend Hma-i left him, marrying another guy that nobody has heard of before. Jimmy was reduced from the all powerful to a mere vagabond, roaming the streets of Tualveng all by himself. People never mentioned his name anymore. Thus ended an era of Jimmy.
Pu Zara has just passed away, a victim of cardiac arrest. His family members are poor and they cannot even arrange a simple funeral service. Jimmy was not around anymore to organize this unfortunate event, so Pu Zara’s neighbour’s son, Michael, decided to step in. He called his friends up and within no time they dugged the grave, raised tarpaulins, made tea, collected benches…..
And history repeats all over again. Deja-vu?
People, I believe disbanding the YMA is not a feasible solution. Correcting it is. No matter what we do regarding the YMA, there will always be similar organization formed because of our commitment to “tlawmngaihna”. Frankly speaking, as of now, I do not know what suggestions I can give to let this happen. Maybe age and experience that is yet to come along my way will make me wiser, and perhaps then, I will be able to give more constructive ideas. As of now, we are just mere spectators living hundreds of miles away from Home. Dear Jewelle, I hope I made my point clear enough now that just because we live outside, we do not consider ourselves as “outsiders” and that we love our Home as much as you do. God bless Mizoram.