India Today's survey creates divided opinion in Mizoram

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Aizawl, Sep 21 (UNI) Mizoram has been ranked among the top in the small states group across a range of key parameters like infrastructure, health, agriculture, investment, education and consumer markets, according to a survey.

At a time when a strong anti-incumbency wave is blowing in the poll-bound Mizoram, India Today, one of the country's largest news magazines, has brought a smile to the leaders of the ruling Mizo National Front (MNF).

According to the sixth 'State of the States' survey, conducted annually by India Today, Mizoram has been ranked first among the small states, comprising Delhi, Pondicherry, Goa and the NE states, excluding Assam, in overall performance.

The top overall rank was also given to Mizoram among the eastern zone that includes West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Jharkhand and Bihar, besides the other NE states.

Mizoram tops the small states in investment environment, budget and prosperity and law and order. It also tops the country in literacy with 89 per cent literacy rate. It has also been noted that 83 per cent of the children over 10 years of age were enrolled in schools.

Mizoram is also among the top five most urbanised states with 51 per cent of the state population living in urban areas, and the second least populated state with a population of a little more than 10 lakh.

Mizoram is also among the 100 best Lok Sabha constituencies.

MNF ministers referred to India Today's survey in each of their public speeches. Not only the MNF party, the state information department has also come out with a statement acclaiming Mizoram's high rank in the survey.

Based on a model devised by two of the country's leading economists supplemented with additional reportage from ''state correspondents'', the 'State of States' survey is claimed to be ''as accurate as any document from the Planning Commission.'' However, the findings have created a divided opinion among the people of Mizoram.

''All data used in the survey was objective and obtained from the Centre's source which is short of analytical studies and primary observations,'' a statement of United Democratic Alliance, formed by two opposition parties, said today.

''Looking into the present wretched condition of majority of Mizo people and the aborted projects of Falkawn referral hospital, Tuirial hydel project, GAWSS phase II and Bairabi thermal plant, it is inappropriate to call Mizoram as one of the best states,'' the statement added.

''The people of Mizoram are the ones who know best their state, not any outside organisation,'' it stated.

Dr Vanlalchhawna, economic reader at Hrangbana College here, however, agreed with India Today's survey in some aspects.

''Compared to many other states, Mizoram is far better in health, education, roads communication and public distribution system. This is not solely because of the present government, but mainly because of public participation in development programmes,'' he told UNI in Aizawl today.

He, however, wondered on what basis Mizoram has been adjudged number one in investment environment.

''Even with the separate industrial policy for the NE states, a handful of investors have not yet entered Mizoram. Peace alone is not the factor for investment opportunity,'' he argued.

Prof Lallianchhunga, a political science lecturer at the Mizoram University, also alleged that the survey was based on government sources submitted to the Centre by different departments of the state, which were always ''exaggerated''.

Pointing out that researchers have stopped relying on government sources or those of the National Sample Survey Organisation, he rubbished the India Today survey, saying this was not accurate.

He also laughed at the number one rank in investment environment.

Journalists have also found it hard to accept India Today's findings.

''The survey was clearly based on government sources, and therefore one-sided. Such a survey can bring bad consequences, particularly to Mizoram, which is going to the polls very shortly,'' senior journalist David M Thangliana lambasted.

''Not a single India Today researcher has set foot in Mizoram to do the survey. I know for all certainty that the magazine has not a single correspondent in the state, therefore the entire survey was done at the Delhi office,'' he alleged.

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