- By Salai Ban Roe Htan
Peaceful, beautiful and virtually untouched by the hands of urbanization, Chin State hosts authentic natural scenery and is the home of nearly five hundred thousand inhabitants. A lot of intellectuals have also sprung forth from here. The development and future of the state currently rest on the shoulders of its young generation. Thus, they need to bring out the next generation of intellectuals with hearty does of nationalism. It is up to the young Chin people to preserve the ethnic race’s traditions, customs and unique language.
A people of migrating workers
Since 1996, Chin people have been going abroad for work and the number is ever increasing. Some even migrate with their entire household. While the number of migrant Chin workers was high, those traveling for further education were few and far between.
This was partly due to parents taking out their children from 8th to 9th grade and sending them in the prime of their youth to work abroad, as the income of the family was insufficient to continue their education.
They were more interested in finding employment overseas than passing the matriculation examinations. However, some Chin people do continue their education after some time abroad. Generally speaking, one person from ever Chin household was working in a foreign land. This was roughly 30 per cent of the entire Chin State population.
Underlying cause for working abroad
Families and individuals with a secure job overseas are living a comfortable life in the eyes of those back in Chin State and this is one the factors for fresh university graduates and potential scholars to seek similar opportunities out of their hometown. But the main reason driving young people and entire households to travel overseas is due to the exceptionally low job opportunities in Chin State. This is the answer every Chin individual will give on why they had to begrudgingly leave their homes.
Migrating numbers drop
In 2010, more civil servant positions were offered in Chin State and the number of youths leaving for another country decreased. The government and NGOs called in more young Chins to increase their staff and they are now serving the national interest across Myanmar. Staff of government departments in Chin State are also provided with additional stipends to accommodate their costs of living.
Continued increase of civil servants
Chin State needs to continue developing itself to increase the number of jobs available for its youths. Currently, the government has increased civil servant positions and provided jobs to people in rural
This has markedly decreased the unemployment rate in Chin State. The Union Government and Chin State Cabinet will continue to increase civil servant positions and hire more Chin youths.
Transportation is quite difficult in Chin State as its terrain is mostly steep hills and mountain ranges. The rest of Myanmar also refers to Chin State as its own little world. They mainly import goods from Central Myanmar and India. The difficulty of traveling to Chin State means logistics will cost more and thus the price of commodities there is a bit more expensive than the rest of the nation.
One of the main exports of Chin State is the elephant foot yam, farmed extensively in almost all corners of the state. They also cultivate other crops for consumption. The locals continue to plant on the steppes as they have done traditionally. They only cultivate crops once a year. Rice is planted on the farms while elephant foot yams and other crops are planted in each household’s little garden.
Improving roads & transport
Transportation infrastructure plays a pivotal role in the development from villages and townships all the way up to states and regions. Hence, the Chin State Cabinet keeps improving transportation as its first priority.
They are also improving the roads used as trade routes between Chin State and India and constructing airports in Loilempi and Falam. This will brighten the future of Chin State and its people.
Returning back home
Lots of Chins working abroad are now returning to their homes in Chin State and working in whatever jobs are available. This is without a doubt a positive sign for the state. As a developing state, there will be more jobs available there.
If all Chin expatriates were to return to Chin State and aid in every sector of its development, then perhaps one day the only reason to leave to find employment overseas will become a choice rather than a necessity.
Translated by Pen Dali