Academic journal article Journal of Community Positive Practices

Identity, Contestation and Development in North East India: A Study of Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland

Academic journal article Journal of Community Positive Practices

Identity, Contestation and Development in North East India: A Study of Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland

Article excerpt

Abstract: The buzz word 'development' encompasses growth with institutional changes. Despite some basic commonalities, India's North Eastern-most three immediate neighbouring states - Mizoram, Nagaland and Manipur have got asymmetric development performances due to asymmetric institutional structures. Of the states, Manipur is quite different from other two and experiencing nearly a complete breakdown of its development mechanisms in the recent years, especially in 1990s. Communal violence, human rights violation, and uncertain law and order condition, etc. are the fallout of institutional failure and consequently these factors led the State's economy to a crippled one. Infrastructure, especially, road and communication aggravates to the present state of condition, and also breaks relationship with the neighbouring states, among the communities within the State. Otherwise, this state should have been one of the most advanced states in the country when we traced the early history and its development trajectory. Why is the government (centre) apparently benign with the states of Mizoram and Nagaland when dealing with public demands while it appears to be malignant in Manipur? What factor(s) led to mass uprising, conflict in the State of Manipur and remains unsettled so long - are also raised in this paper.

Key-words: Development; Institutional Structure; Infrastructure

1. Introduction

The buzz word 'development' relates to less developed regions or economies. It is also a dynamic process which transforms an economy from a relatively backward to a more advanced one (Singha, 2011). In nutshell, it encompasses growth with institutional changes. Therefore, rich in resources (say, economic resources) alone is not sufficient for development of a region, unless they are fully exploited or efficiently utilised. At present, there are number of countries (e.g. African nations, East Asian countries) in the world which have rich natural resources, but are still poor and under-developed. On the other side, the countries like, USA, Japan, and European nations are considered as developed in the world which have relatively limited natural resources. Most of the poor nations, at present, in the world are heavily plagued with upheavals and political uncertainties. Probably, that led them to impoverish. Therefore, development of a state/region requires effective policy measures with strong social, political and economic resources (Singha, 2011).

India's North Eastern Region (NER) consists of eight states1, is a 'mixed bag' of several ethnic groups, covers an area of 262,500 km2 (8% of India's land mass) and its population is 45.6 million. The region is endowed with rich natural resources (NAAS, 2001) and agriculture is the principal sources of revenue of the region and plays a pioneering role in strengthening the region's fiscal backbone (Singha, 2012). Socially, ethnically and topographically, these states have some basic commonalities and anthropologists classify them as Tibeto-Burman speaking communities of Mongoloid race, excepting some sections of Tripura and Assam. However, in a broader homogenous outlook, there are lots of inter and intra differences as well among them, in terms of social, cultural, political and economic structures. Consequently, overall development condition defers from one State to another, one community to another, depending on the policy and accessibility to resources. For the present study, of the region, the eastern-most three States - Mizoram, Nagaland and Manipur have been selected on the basis of their proximity, similarities of physiographical conditions, social and political structures. Of the three, the State of Manipur has been encountering social upheavals, ethnic crisis, and human rights violation, etc. for the last two to three decades. However, the condition is opposite for the case of other two States. As the law and order conditions have improved significantly, these two states have shown a dramatic improvement in the overall development levels in the recent years. …

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