TODAY -

Understanding India's Northeast a Reporters' Journal :: Review

Ninglun Hanghal *



As a North-easterner from Manipur, I realised after reading Rupa Chinai's Understanding India's Northeast a Reporters' Journal that there is so much to know about my neighbouring states and the region as a whole. Quite aptly titled, the book is informative, contextual and contemporary, and touches on the essence of issues thereby putting things in perspective.

Apart from academic books and memoirs, most tomes written about North-east India are related to insurgency, conflict or violence. But only a few so far have offered a comprehensive read covering socio-politics and development by providing analytical observations and narrating real life stories.

First up, Chinai's book stands out for its "not-so-sensational" title and cover photograph. The latter doesn't have the oft-depicted representations of the North-east think Kalashnikovs, burning villages or a humanitarian disaster. Instead, one sees the picture of a winding road and people going about their daily lives. That instantly sets it apart from what other books on the region have.

Chinai presents the North-east and its diverse people sensitively and sensibly. Moreover, her book does not merely compile a few journalistic experiences, travels in remote jungles and villages, or interviews of some high profile "militant leaders". It comprises three decades of her work in the region presenting issues and real lives from forgotten corners. Notably she provides an important concluding chapter, "Building a Future: Sustainable development and livelihood in the Northeast".

With history as the backdrop, Chinai focuses on the contemporary, which is relevant and makes for an insightful read. The book captures the crucial period of the 1980s and 1990s the years that saw great bloodshed and violence and links the region's history and its people with the prevalent situation by adding post scripts. Simply by turning the pages, one can feel the physical strain she must have undergone to travel the North-east.

Instead of writing a critique, I would like to point out a few insights that Chinai succinctly provides in her 350-page narrative. While beautifully capturing the ethos, ethics, values and ways of life in the tribal villages, the book comprehensively presents important aspects of the region education, health, socio-politics, communal and ethnic relations.

Besides the broad issues, Chinai also provides thought-provoking backgrounds into the causes and consequences of unrest, alienation and lack of development including how corruption plays out at various levels and how things really work on the ground.

Chinai has analysed the peace processes in the region like the Tripura Accord and Bodoland Accord and shown how they have not been able to contain tribal unrest. The only achievement of the Tripura Accord, the author says, was "to bring three additional reserved seats for tribal MLAs in the state assembly" with no permanent solution still in sight as extremists continue to operate along the Bangladesh border. She mentions that the Bodoland Accord did not seek a consensus from Bodo society itself or take militant groups on board. Though the Accords sought to provide autonomy, the alienation of tribal people has continued, the author states.

Chinai says that the thread that has held the North-east and mainland India together is the Constitution. She writes, "India's Constitution is held to be amongst the finest examples in the world for protection of minorities. It demonstrates a unique sensitivity to issues of minorities, particularly in the North-eastern region. For instance it provides special safeguards for the development of India's tribal groups through protection of their land, cultural and natural resources, freedom to control and run their own affairs.

Even if this remains largely on paper, the Constitution still makes the promise." According to the author, Constitutional safeguards have had positive impacts in the region and its people, in terms of protection of natural resources and its sustainable use. However, as rightly stated by Chinai, "The tribal groups of the Northeast base their expectations of India on those Constitutional commitments".

Any uprising or social movement has been a reaction to the Constitution be it land, greater autonomy or statehood demands. It is also the foundation for dialogue and negotiation with rebel groups. The author's frequent mention of the Constitution (the Sixth Schedule in specific) is indeed food for thought and needs to be critically examined.

Natural resources may not have been exploited due to such Constitutional protective mechanisms but the question is, haven't they lead to the absence of infrastructure in the region? Does "autonomy" lead to failure of governance and administrations? Chinai observes, "India's Constitution implementation has failed to match up to the ideals".

Evidence from Tripura shows how in fact Constitutional safeguards have been actively subverted, she writes. The book mentions tribal leaders saying that the Tripura Tribal Autonomous District Council is a "laughing stock". One can relate to Chinai's observations in light of recent happenings such as the call for scrapping of Article 370 that gives autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir.

Similarly, a ruling Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party legislator in Nagaland reportedly attributed the lack of development in the state to Article 371(A) that safeguards the customary rights of Nagas. Chinai's critical examination of Constitutional provisions and peace accords raises important questions that invite further debate and discussion.

Understanding India's Northeast a Reporters' Journal will serve as an informative document, a guide for students, researchers, development practitioners, policy framers and most importantly, governments both at the Centre and in states. It is also a must-read for the present generation to understand the issues that has gripped the region in recent times and find an alternative from pointers mentioned therein


Published at The Statesman


* Ninglun Hanghal forwared this article which was published at The Statesman
The writer can be contacted at hanghal(dot)ninglun(AT)gmail(DoT)com
This article was webcasted on July 11, 2019 .



* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of e-pao.net. We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.




LATEST IN E-PAO.NET
  • Condolence for AMAND Pune Founder
  • Key Words: Indigenous to Nagaland
  • Political crisis sideline people problem
  • Ibudhou Pakhangba Haraoba #1: Gallery
  • What do Nagas think about Indo-Naga talks
  • Mass Media & National Integration :: Book
  • The adjective called- Biren
  • KVPY Aptitude Test : Imphal included
  • Remedy for Unemployment in Manipur
  • Not everything right within Govt
  • Naga solution rests on flexibilities: Ravi
  • The Great June Uprising #5: Gallery
  • Kanglen Kang Chingba #1 : Gallery
  • nupi ko_Iba :: Seireng
  • Village administration of Zeliangrongs #3
  • The Naked Smile :: Poem
  • A road journey from New Delhi to Imphal
  • National Lok Adalat at Lamphel
  • The bloody mind & the Nature's kindness
  • The Killing Fields 2013-18 : News Timeline
  • Kang Chingba @ Konung #3 : Gallery
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • Slow Food Nation :: Book Review
  • Naga National Movement & AFSPA
  • Struggles of parenting teenagers
  • L Sadananda wins gold at Commonwealth
  • Naga Peace Process :: News Timeline
  • Downward spiral of Congress
  • Chadong, lake of tears or site of tourism
  • UN Human Rights: Manipur Experience #3
  • Fashion Show @Sangai Fest #4: Gallery
  • Chingkhong, Khuplianmang :: eMing
  • Cry of a Dying River - 84 :: Poem
  • Hilly NE to rely on Rain Water Harvesting
  • Manipur a mirror of Nagaland
  • Net-work Marketing
  • Tough stand of rebel MLAs
  • Mysterious slaughter of livestock re-visits
  • I am Mary Kom's biggest fan: Chhetri
  • Folklore of Hao communities #1
  • Seram Nirupama : Gold at Commonwealth
  • Manipuri & Chinese Language Connection
  • Understanding NE a Reporters' Journal
  • Budget according to common man
  • Democracy and Behaviourism
  • Child Friendly Rooms at Police Station
  • Ghost of CAB hangs over North East
  • Legitimizing misappropriation of money
  • Trekking to Dzukou Valley #1: Gallery
  • HSLC Compartmental Exam Result 2019
  • Mirabai, Bindyarani & Rishikanta win gold
  • Understanding :: Poem
  • Doubling agri-exports by 2022
  • Are our Journalists Safe & Secured ?
  • Jobs @ Horizon Design Studio, Gurgaon
  • Of Territorial Council and Nagalim
  • ..sacrificing Manipur's land to Myanmar?
  • Neli Chachea: Dolls out of Maize Husks
  • Freedom of Press : Freedom of Speech
  • Village administration of Zeliangrongs #2
  • Crack CDSE and join defence services
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand :: Timeline
  • National Workshop on Mathematica
  • Teachers required at Vagdevi Vidyapeeth
  • NAD Review Meeting at Manipur University
  • Attack on Human Rights Defender
  • Quixotic land that Manipur is
  • Wishes of common man
  • Poumai Paoki Wrestling #2: Gallery
  • Kang Chingba @ Konung #2 : Gallery
  • Khariksing Adonis Tangpu at Asian cycling
  • Management of harmful weed, Parthenium
  • Maisnam Meiraba wins at Russia
  • Cry of a downtrodden State 4 :: Poem
  • Condemns the act of life attempt
  • Sharing the same stage
  • Pakhangba Cheng-hongba #2 : Gallery
  • Social Evolution of Meiteis
  • Happy Club Moirang
  • Cry of a Dying River - 83 :: Poem
  • Nirmala Sitharaman's budget: It is different
  • Some uneasy windfall
  • Arts/Culture Students Day #1 : Gallery
  • Kasanu bing rwan lang pi : Inpui Poem
  • Workforce Management : Book Review
  • Dr. Ksh Vedmani : Faculty Iconic Award
  • When pandemonium will stop in RS
  • Watermelon beauty benefits
  • General Body Meeting of AMWJU
  • frisk Dzukou trekkers for plastic items
  • Call for distrubance free education
  • The clarification and the inaction
  • Kang Chingba @ Konung #1 : Gallery
  • Sangai Festival : Stalls : Gallery
  • The Jewish connection to AIR Tune
  • Van Mahotsav 2019, celebration of life
  • Are we inviting "Pyaar" & poll
  • Digital India - A New India
  • Understanding red, green and yellow lights
  • Lai-Harouba @ JNMDA #1 : Gallery
  • Yanglem Mangi Devi :: Sangeetbhusan
  • Whose game is it anyway ?
  • Kang Festival :: Photo Gallery
  • Village administration of Zeliangrongs #1
  • Cry of a downtrodden State 3 :: Poem
  • Workshop : Six Waste Management Rules
  • Mountain Echoes, Bhutan Festival
  • Now it is no longer 'internal dissent'
  • The greed
  • UN Human Rights: Manipur Experience #2
  • World Music Day @Yaiskul #2: Gallery
  • Face book's messenger :: Poem
  • Kang Chingba / yatra Festival : Book
  • Financial assistance to Joute's family
  • Security studies in Manipur University
  • Miss / Mister North East audition
  • Ambulance provided to Bishnupur/CCpur
  • Downward spiral all the way for Cong
  • Chayom Thupki (Meetei Philosophy) #6
  • Behiang Police station @Singhat : Gallery
  • Why I did not renew my driving license?
  • Sarungbam Athouba: Aquathlon Gold Medal
  • Data entry as career options
  • Akanba Maong Da Condemned Touba
  • Attending roll call at New Delhi
  • Giving life to Nambul River
  • The Great June Uprising #4: Gallery
  • July Calendar for Year 2019 :: Tools
  • Shiksha Abhiyan @ Pune : Gallery
  • Daniel Chabungbam: RK Sanatomba Award
  • Cultural relation -ethnic groups of Manipur
  • CII - 9th Manufacturing Innovation Conclave
  • AMAND Shiksha Abhiyan launched at Pune
  • From poppy cultivation to heroin production
  • Nutritional benefits of Black Rice
  • Manipur: 2nd Runner-up in Natl Pencak Silat
  • Cashless Economy: Issues : Book
  • Good Teaching for better Learning
  • Forty Winks :: Poem
  • Cut-off marks in St. Stephen's College
  • Awaba Fongdokpa : Manipur Journalists
  • Mattress, Blankets donated to villages
  • Speaker in Politics: better think before leap
  • Aliyah #1 (Film Scenes) :: eRang
  • Look at the Sky: Best Short Film IDSFFK
  • A New Dawn for Banking
  • Condolence Message: Hill Journalist
  • 'PIL against ILP is a threat to Nagas'
  • Yoga, overdraft & stability
  • Eat for beauty
  • On issues pertaining to ILP & filing of PIL
  • Let Chennai story be wake up call
  • Some Legislators will face the music
  • To Bee Or Not To Bee
  • Fashion by Kumarjit Laishram #3 : Gallery
  • Cry of a Dying River - 82 :: Poem
  • Growing career opportunity at Yoga
  • Interaction with Legal Aid Clinics
  • Awareness program on Child Rights focus
  • On PIL against ILP coverage to Dimapur
  • Internal storm after a brief lull
  • Understanding Reality
  • Mukna Changdamnaba : Gallery
  • Tapping innovation to secure water future
  • Mouri's Story :: WJ
  • Denounce JNU's hindi imposition
  • Lecture: Drug Abuse & Illicit Trafficking
  • Heart Camp at Sanjenbam Khunou
  • 'Rio leadership of immoral political tactics'
  • Lessons from Nagaland : Ban on plastics
  • Report on signing of peace deal- IM & GOI
  • BAMCHAS Convention @ Sylhet : Gallery
  • BAMCHAS Sylhet, B'desh: Grand Convention
  • Abdul Hamid : Kamini Kumar Gold Medal
  • Did Manipur Experience Cultural Genocide
  • Health for justice: Justice for health
  • Beauty benefits of baking soda
  • Course in Domestic Data Entry Operator
  • Protect non-locals in Dimapur call
  • Legitimizing the pocketing of public money
  • UN Human Rights: Manipur Experience #1
  • Maring War Dance : Gallery
  • Bird sanctuary & its importance
  • Of wonders & spirituality at Ambubach
  • Misundertanding within Zeliangrongs
  • JD (U) merged with NDPP in Nagaland
  • Of history & geography: Tourism ..
  • For environment- together we can make it
  • Jhum cultivation & green Manipur
  • Chayom Thupki (Meetei Philosophy) #5
  • Yoga Day at Pune : Gallery
  • The demand for ST, need for a unified path
  • Mass Media & Library Services : Book
  • Towards a modern budget of Manipur
  • On the unseen river :: Poem
  • Environment - Let your actions speak
  • 5th International Yoga Day at Pune
  • World Music Day @Yaiskul #1: Gallery
  • Let us make schools better
  • Zeliangrong settlement at Heibokching #2
  • King - makers & king - savers
  • A Shadowy Figure :: Poem
  • Naga MPs feted in Delhi
  • Job Opening @Globizs Web Solution
  • Sanamahi Cheng Hongba #1: Gallery
  • Ambassador of Japan with CM : Gallery
  • Moirangthem Kumar Singh: Sangeetbhusan
  • Research Scholars Day at Manipur Univ
  • The Great June Uprising #3: Gallery
  • Mutum Somorjit cracked IIT
  • Meiteis & Meiteilon are not Tibeto-Burman
  • Uttamkumar Ningthoujam: Achievers Award
  • Cry of a downtrodden State 2 :: Poem
  • Chayom Thupki (Meetei Philosophy) #4
  • Poumai Paoki Wrestling #1: Gallery
  • Tolloi, Ukhrul :: 360 Panorama View
  • Daniel Chabungbam in 7 best NE Journalist
  • Lai Lamthokpa, Thangjing #3: Gallery
  • Id-ul-Fitr @ Hatta #2 : Gallery
  • Thangjing Lai Haraoba : Beyond optics
  • Urmila Shagolsem : Miss India : Gallery
  • 2019 HSLC Exam Toppers :: Gallery
  • Hr Sec Exam 2019 Toppers #2: Gallery
  • Featured Front Page Photo 2019 #2: Gallery
  • Purnima Moirangthem : 5th in Commerce
  • Jiribam Bazaar :: 360 Panorama View
  • Manipuri Calendar for 2019 : Download
  • SPONSORED ADS