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To say that Americans, in general, are very fond of coffee just as Indians, in general, are chai (tea) lovers is a sweeping opinion which however has tremendous amount of truth. It is hard to imagine an Indian town without a tea shop. The same can be said about all North American towns. An American town without a Dunkin Donuts (American global Donut Company and Coffee House) and a Canadian town without a Tim Hortons (Canadian global coffee and donut restaurant) are unimaginable. Needless to say, there are many other fast food eateries like McDonalds, Swiss Chalet, Burger King, Wendy’s, Starbucks, Dairy Queen, Pizza Hut, etc. in these countries, but I just want to refer to these two as representative restaurants to juxtapose them with our Indian fast-food shop counterparts. The idea is to highlight the scope for improvement with our business ideas and to trigger local young minds to take these enterprises seriously and tap into the potential they offer. It is about time that we revisit the concept of a Chiya-dokan/Chai Ki Dukan (tea shop) and re-strategize the enterprise to make it more attractive, organized, hygienic, futuristic or ‘up to the minute’ as they say.

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Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) started its election campaign for the state of Meghalaya and Mizoram on December 16, 2017 through none other than Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi who is a charismatic leader and a great communicator. Even though the BJP has zero presence in the state of Meghalaya and Mizoram, yet, the party is confident of coming to power. The enthusiasm has gone up because of the twin victory in Himachal and Gujarat.

MIZORAM VISIT While in Mizoram, people resented that the Prime Minister visited the state for the first time after almost 4 years of taking office that too for 1 hour only. Local NGOs initially intended to boycott the visit of the Prime Minister which was later withdrawn. The Prime Minister dedicated 60 MW Tuirial Hydropower project to the nation which is considered a boon for the people of Mizoram. This has also made Mizoram a power surplus state, only after Sikkim and Tripura. “The completion of this project is a reflection of our commitment to completing the ongoing projects and ushering in a new era of development in the North East” said Mr. Modi. He also did not forget to remind the people of Mizoram that Act East Policy of Government of India will make Mizoram the gateway to the South East Asian countries. The Kaladam Multi-Model Transport Project, linking Aizawl with the Sittwe Port in Myanmar would provide a wide range of benefits to the state of Mizoram. In the developmental perspective, Mizoram which was isolated since the last 7 decades is going to be the Front Runner once the Kaladam Multi-Model Transport Project is completed in toto.

However, it is too early to say anything about the poll prospect of Mizoram in the perspective of BJP. It is true that Mizoram is a 100% Christian state where Church and NGOs play an important role in shaping the decision of the people. Secondly, Mizoram being a small state will always like to be a part of the government which can assist the state financially for development. It is a general perception (may not be true) that if the state and the Centre has the same political affiliation, then things become easier and better. Thirdly, political parties cannot ignore the Chakma crisis which also has a role to play besides many other local factors. We have to wait and watch for things to happen.

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Interview dated 20th December The Hill State Peoples Democratic Party(HSPDP) is perhaps the last of the surviving regional parties of the state of Meghalaya and that of North East India. The Assam Gana Parishad (AGP), which is a regional party in the state of Assam was given a lifeline in the concluded Assam election of 2017 where the national party Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) had an alliance with it. However the HSPDP seems to be going alone in the state of Meghalaya as it is vehemently opposed to having any alliance with either the Indian National Congress (INC) or the BJP. The INC has not ruled out any post poll alliance with the HSPDP. The stakes for HSPDP is higher than many of the other parties contesting the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly Elections simply because last time round in 2012 they could garner only 4 seats. With the passing of the stalwart in H.S. Lyngdoh the responsibility now lies with Mr Ardent Miller Basaiawmoit, the new chief whip of the party. Our Editor, Harsh Jhunjhunwala met with Bah Ardent to discuss the oncoming elections and a little more. Here are the excerpts from the interview.

What is the vision of HSPDP?

You see as a party we have a vision for the state and for a better future for the indigenous people of the state and that is what we stand for.

Politically your presence is not in the entire state of Meghalaya? It is limited to Khasi Hills and somewhat in Jaintia Hills. How do you think that you can make the vision successful for all round development of the indigenous peoples?

I think you have raised a very pertinent question. Our presence is felt mostly in Khasi Hills region. Though we have a vision for the State and Khasi Jaintia region in particular we understand that we will not get the opportunity to realize our dream and to ensure that our vision is taking its complete form we forge an alliance with UDP, another regional Party in-order to fulfill the aspiration of the people and to make our dream come true. And with this alliance we will be able to be in the government and we will be able to take up issues that concern the indigenous people of the state.

Sir will both UDP and HSPDP be fighting in 35 seats approximately?

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1. How do you plan to carry out research in Northeast India?

Right now we are doing a lot of research on botanical prospects; especially on traditional medicine system and also planning to make documentation programme on it. We will bring our team where there will be proper scientists, researchers and experts who will work on it, so that the traditional work can be given a scientific touch and it becomes established. This will be our effort and whatever we can do we will do for it.

2. Have you visited North East India before?

I have come to Northeast several times but this is the first time that I have visited Shillong. We have done several works in Northeast especially in Assam, Manipur and planning to start here in Shillong too.

3. Are you planning to bring up a factory?

No, we will not be establishing a factory here but we will be making maximum usage of the available raw material, crafts and accordingly we can plan it out. We have planted a big unit in Tezpur. We can take raw materials from here and work on it there. We will train people from here only and establish them.

4. What is your view on Organic Farming?

Today, a new trend is being followed that is “Organic”. I would like to call it as “Fashion”. I would like to apologise for it, but they are just hybrid crops where there is no yield, no proteins, no nutrients. Just because we have not added any insecticides or pesticides it is not appropriate to call it Organic.The traditional seeds which have nutrients in it should not be named as Organic food but be named as Medicinal food. This food should reach the whole world. I do support organic farming but there is a misconception about organic farming. We work on the traditional and original way of organic farming, where there is no fertilised seeds and work on the medicinal point of view.

5. How will you make the utmost use of the resources available in Northeast India?

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The evolution of the Chakma Autonomous District Council (C.A.D.C.) can be regarded as the opening of political Pandora box in the political situation of Mizoram. The issue has been propagated in different dimensions by certain political parties, civil societies and even the law-makers. The issue has been so tense and problematic because Chakmas are regarded as outsiders but Autonomous District Council has been created for the so-called outsiders with the trifurcation of the Pawi-Lakher Regional Council (P.L.R.C.) in 1972. It is an undeniable fact to admit that the original home of the Chakmas is Chittagong in Bangladesh and Chakma kingdom also flourished there since pre-British period. Chakmas appeared for the first time in Lushai Hills when the British authority engaged some Chakmas as Labour Corps with the permission of Chakma Queen, Kalindi Rani in the Lushai Expedition of 1871-1872, however, those Chakmas returned to Chittagong after the expedition. Thus, the Chakmas’ official association with Lushai Hills began in 1892 because of the transfer of some Chakma villages nearby Dimagiri from Chittagong administration to South Lushai Hills by the order of Sir Charles Elliot, Lieutenant Governor of Bengal but those Chakmas who were allowed to settle in South Lushai Hills were charged foreigner tax of Rupees Five per year. During that time, Chakma settlement was not found in Uiphum Tlangdung (Present CADC area) because Uiphum Tlangdung was the ancestral land of the Tlanglau and they ruled over the whole hill tracts. Other than the Tlanglau chiefs, there were also some chiefs from Bawm and Pang in the area. The geographical area of the present C.A.D.C. area was administered by the Tlanglau, Bawm and Pang chiefs since pre-British period and was known as Uiphum Tlangdung which means Uiphum Hill Range. The first Chakma migration in the Uiphum Tlangdung was recognized in 1905 and they were employed in the paddy field as workers by the Tlanglau chiefs. Chakma ’s population and influx from across the border increased at faster rate which led to the domination of the present C.A.D.C. area by the Chakmas. As a matter of fact, the Chakma Regional Council later on the Chakma Autonomous District Council (C.A.D.C.) surprisingly emerged as a result of the trifurcation of the Pawi-Lakher Regional Council (PLRC) in 1972 along with the creation and declaration of the Union Territory of Mizoram.

2. Status of the Chakmas in pre-independent era

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