3. Why is India’s northeast a complex regional challenge for the Indian state? Analyse.
भारत का पूर्वोत्तर भारत राष्ट्र के लिए एक जटिल क्षेत्रीय चुनौती क्यों है? विश्लेषण करें।
“India will be successful when the North East develops at par with the other developed states of India” – Narendra Modi.
India’s North Eastern region includes 8 states covering 8% of the country’s landmass and 4% of the national population representing one of the diverse cultures in the country.
Why northeast is a complex regional challenge?
The northeast has several constraints which are acting as hindrance to the regional development and mainstreaming of the society. They are:
- Historical reason:
- British policy of north eastern states virtually disconnecting them from the mainland.
- Partition blow to the northeast: creation of East Pakistan resulted in
- Virtual disconnection of the northeastern region from the rest of India connected through a narrow Siliguri corridor.
- Loss of natural sea route through the port of Chittagong restricting the economic activities.
- Geographical challenges:
- About 99% of the region has international border along Bangladesh, Myanmar, China and Bhutan which create complications in international diplomacy.
- Over 70% of the region is forest area which makes the economic development difficult. Further, the region is host to an overwhelming tribal population ranging from 19% in Assam to 94% in Mizoram.
- The region is predominantly hilly in all the states except Assam. This creates difficulty in utilization of natural resources.
- Cultural/societal challenges:
- The region has over 160 scheduled tribes and over other tribal and sub-tribal communities and groups. The varied culture creates alienation from the mainland and hinder development.
- The region is predominantly rural with around 84% of the population living in the rural areas.
- The presence of different ethnicities has made it difficult to cater the demands clamoring for recognition of their distinctive identity.
- Though the literacy rate is high, the employability is low. High dependency on agriculture has also resulted in low per capita income.
- Different ethnic groups have caused conflicts and insurgency due to tribal rivalry, migration, control over local resources and so on. E.g. inter-tribal conflict between Kukis and Nagas, insurgent groups like NSCN etc.,
- Resentment to the central government: Economy depend on the patronage of the central government resulting in lack of economic activities. Also, the deployment of the armed forces has caused phycological resentment in the society.
Thus, for the above reasons, even the steps taken by the successive governments have produced slow progress. Yet, the steps are being taken towards fast development of the region and integration with the rest of India.
Note: This is a paper 1 question. So, focus on society, geography, historical points. If one write more governance or security related arguments, they will get relatively lesser marks.