AGARTALA/AIZAWL, April 4 (IANS) - Tripura and Mizoram - the two northeastern states once ravaged by terrorism - have successfully become front-runners in India's literacy movement.
According to provisional data for the 2011 census, literacy level is 91.58 percent in Mizoram and 87.75 percent in Tripura. They are only behind Kerala (93.91 percent), which continues to occupy the top position in the literacy chart. The national literacy rate is 74.04 percent.
In Mizoram, the second most literate state in the country, literacy rate has gone up from 88.49 percent to 91.58 percent.
Female literacy stands at 89.40 percent of the 538,675 women and male literacy at 93.72 percent of 552,339 men.
In the 2001 Census, Mizoram's literacy rate was 88.49 percent.
"Serchhip district (98.76 percent) in northern Mizoram and Aizawl district (98.50 percent) have recorded highest literacy rates among all districts in India," a census official in Aizawl said.
The Christian missionaries and the influential NGO - Young Mizo Association (YMA) - are the main promoters of education in the mountainous Mizoram, which witnessed over a decade of terrorism till 1986.
"The Mizos came under the influence of the British missionaries in the 19th century, and now most of the Mizos are Christians. One of the beneficial results of missionary activities was the spread of education," renowned Mizo academician K. Liantlinga said.
"The missionaries introduced the Roman script for the Mizo language and formal education. The cumulative result is the present high percentage of literacy in the state, bordering Myanmar and Bangladesh," he added.
The Tripura success story is attributed to the involvement of local government bodies, including gram panchayats, NGOs and clubs.
"Our efforts are on to achieve 100 percent literacy in Tripura," Education Minister Tapan Chakraborty told IANS. Had there been no militancy, he added, Tripura would have attained 100 percent literacy long back.
"Education and development have been affected due to terrorism in the state until 2009," he stated.
Senior census official Dilip Acherjee said in Agartala: "In Tripura, increase of female literacy is better than their male counterparts."
"The literacy rate of Tripura has gone up from 73.19 percent (of the total 3.1 million population) in 2001 Census to 87.75 percent (of the total of 3.6 million population) in the 2011 Census, showing an increase of 14.56 percent," he said.
"Interestingly, literacy rate of females during the same period rose from 64.91 to 83.15 percent with an increase of 18.24 percent while in case of male the increase was just 11.18 percent - from 81 to 92.18 percent," Acharjee said.
While Mizoram and Tripura are among the toppers in literacy in India, another northeastern state Arunachal Pradesh (66.95 percent) placed the second lowest position in literacy in the country after Bihar (63.82 percent).