Year 2006 Chin National Day Message

Published on February 19, 2006

Year 2006 Chin National Day Message

By Nehginpao Kipgen

 

CACC – February 14, 2006

 

Introduction:

 

A society is built stronger by the coherence of individuals in the community. Civilization of one’s nation is demonstrated by the evident transition it undertakes. Although the essence of the Chin National Day (CND) is yet to be fully realized by some, many have come to sense its variant efficacies with years of celebration.

 

 Nehginpao Kipgen

 Nehginpao Kipgen

Marking the day in calendar as a “Red Letter Day” is ingenuously inherent. Memories of childhood days continue to linger in my mind when young and old alike were woken blissful by the day’s event in Burma. It could have had much more indelible effects had I personally been part of the program.

 

A maxim: To err is human. I do regret for not having visited the Chin state myself. Nevertheless, my love for the people and the rich cultural heritage has never been greater. A hope for a democratic Chin state, under a federal union of Burma, falters not.

 

While scores of points are out there to touch on this day, let me put my emphasis on three benign points – (i) CND & Politics, (ii) CND & Diplomacy and (iii) CND & Education.

 

 

CND & Politics:

 

The Chin Hills, like other geographical regions of Burma, was under the British colonial rule since Burma’s conquest in 1886. It was during this protracted period that a juggernaut transformation had taken its course both in politics and social lives. The Chin Hills was a constituent member to the founding of the union of Burma at the Panglong agreement on February 12, 1947. This historic agreement was signed in the presence of 23 representatives from the Shan State, the Kachin Hills and the Chin Hills, who agreed to form an interim government.

 

Although the 1947 constitution did not make any specific mention about federalism, the aim of the agreement was to have a federal government in which every individual state would have to take responsibility for their own government. Clement Attlee was the British Prime Minister at that time.

 

Prior to independence, Burma was ruled under two administrative units – the valley area and the hill area states. During this period, many people from the hill areas converted to Christianity after being convinced by the English Christian missionaries. This large conversion had immense impact on the Chin society and its lifestyles including but not limited to social institutions.

 

Burma’s independence from the British rule on January 4, 1948 was the hallmark of today’s Chin National Day. Under the newly established democratic government, February 20 was designated for the Chin National Day at the Chin Special Division general conference held from February 19-20, 1948. The first anniversary was marked on February 20, 1951 with U Nu, the first Prime Minister of free Burma, attending the occasion.

 

Since then, the day has become a public holiday in the union of Burma. However, today; the true spirit of this celebration inside Burma is in low ebb. The Chinlanders are coerced to rename the day into merely “Chin State Day” by the authority. Politically, this renaming, if made permanent, is a collateral deviation from its ingrained original meaning.

 

While sociology itself is directly or indirectly intertwines with politics, the predominant structure of one’s society generally entails the prevailing political set up. Given the nature of how the CND was formulated – abandoning aristocratic or chieftainship system of governance for democracy – it, unequivocally, is a historic consequence of political transition in the Chin people’s history. Politics is not a juggling term, but rather simply means “Art and science of government.” Interestingly, the day could also be celebrated as a socio-political event.

 

Meanwhile, it is worth knowing how a chieftainship system still plays a vital role in our Kuki society today in the northeastern states of India. Proponents and defendants of the system are of the view that retaining it is a means to preserving our culture as a distinct people in the world. However, I am personally of the opinion that either it be reformed or abolished in its entirety. The issue is cited here to comparatively discuss the divergent perceptions toward our traditional governing system in different geographical locations.

 

CND & Diplomacy:

 

In a simplest term, diplomacy may be defined as establishing relations with others. This auspicious day deserves to be beyond mass gathering and cultural show. With no single society on earth is independently self-sufficient, the event can be advantaged for welding diplomacy at national and international levels. For instance, at arms length, our brethren Kukis and Mizos celebrate, among others, Chavang Kut in autumn season and Chapchar Kut in summer respectively; the events of both attract large crowd. Sharing of such events will undoubtedly yield mutual benefits to our people regardless of ideological disparities. Blood is always thicker than water.

 

On this CND, the Chins ought to reach their hands out to the two brothers – Kukis and Mizos. It was touchy and heart winning when the Mizo Zirlai Pawl organized the Chin-Kuki-Mizo (Lushai) group of people under the theme “Unao Kan Ni (We are brothers)” in the state of Mizoram in 2004. Similarly, the Kukis annually organize the event called “KUT Festival,” which may be construed as a broadened picture of Chavang Kut to accommodate the Chin-Kuki-Mizo group of people as one family. Both events are pompously celebrated every year in India. Continuance of such practice will not only cement but strengthen our oneness despite the varied contemporary socio-political contentions.

 

The death of Dr. Vumson Suantak, who passionately advocated for the need of unification, is a living lesson to ponder. The people who persist to identify themselves distinctively under different nomenclatures – Chin, Kuki and Mizo – all claimed that Vumson belongs to their own fold. Our actions speak louder than the rhetoric assertions. Beyond this group of people, the Chins can expand their diplomatic circle by reaching out to people of other nationalities. Having more good friends is unambiguously better than being surrounded by unfriendly and strangers.

 

To this end, everyone has equally important role and responsibility. While living far away from home, the permeating trend of love and concerns for one another needs to be deeply rooted in everyone’s heart. Whether we claim to be a U.S. citizen or a citizen of any other civilized nation, we are what we are and will remain to die as who we are. Let us explore what we can do for our people and our country.

 

CND & Education:

 

Personality may add to the beauty of one’s dignity, yet education remains the foundation of an individual. Not only remembering the importance of the day, but organizers and community leaders should also encourage the necessity of educational upliftment; especially in the minds of young and emerging ones on whom the strength of our future generation lies. However, a brain-drain is also a vicinity to futile for one’s community. One must not content with his or her knowledge level to the point of not wanting to learn. There needs to be a paramount concept that “Learning never ends in life.” Always aim to compete with people of higher stratus for good.

 

On the night of 2005 Christmas Eve, I met a lady, whose name was Rosy, from the Halkha speaking group, who came to the states a year ago. As we shared how life is very competitive in this country, she sincerely admitted how tough it is for her to catch up with the rapidly advancing American society. Indeed, this explicit challenge is a daunting task for everyone. There is no doubt about the roughness of the path. Despite the rugged terrain, one needs to have a gut to undertake the task. “We sow shall we reap.”

 

Unlike back home in our motherland under the military dictatorial regime, there are a wide variety of opportunities for people who have the desires for better education. Grants and loans are available for aspiring candidates in every level of education. Everyone may not become a Master’s or Ph.D. degree holder; yet, one still can become a specialist in the profession that interests him. No profession is less important. Let us always attempt to achieve the best and do our best.

 

Meanwhile, it is an ideal thing for young learners to seek advice from seniors and experienced people before exploring any adventure. One other advantage for people living in the states is that educational opportunities remain open for both young and old at our own convenient schedules. As life is always a learning process, never gets tired of learning. When one becomes educated, he is not only for himself, but also is a boon to the society at large.

 

Going to school with the eventual aim of making money is good; but it is even better if one can go to school for building his intellectual capacity and enhancing self-confidence in this competitive global village.

 

Conclusion:

 

One might wonder why this typical message is prepared for the Chin National Day. To them, this is done intentionally and purposefully. Not only understanding what attributes to the ethical background of the day, but also to expedite in the way that will mutually benefit every individual and the community as a whole. To put it in the nutshell, the CND is unambiguously a political event, yet can be ameliorated as a socio-political fantasy.

 

The celebration can also be extended for a diplomatic avenue to establish firmer and healthier foothold of the chin people vis-à-vis other nationalities. Let us not only anticipate, but explore what we can contribute to the welfare and burgeoning of our people. Altruism earns honor while eccentricity and egoism could engender dogmatic stigma. Finally, the event should be invested to motivate the morale of our emerging learners and potential leaders to attain maturity as we uphold dignity, identity and integrity.

 

Thank you!

 

Date: February 12, 2006

Washington, D.C., USA