Book review: Ashok Pankaj, Atul Sarma and Antora Borah (Eds.), Social Sector Development in North-East India

Published date01 December 2022
Date01 December 2022
Subject MatterBook Reviews
Book Reviews 739
is immensely useful for social science faculty, students, scholars and teachers,
policymakers, administrators, international organisations, think tanks and NGOs
working in the area.
D. Ravinder
Department of Political Science,
Osmania University, Hyderabad, Telangana, India
Ashok Pankaj, Atul Sarma and Antora Borah (Eds.), Social Sector
Development in North-East India. New Delhi: SAGE Publishing, 2021,
xxiii + 404 pp, `1595, ISBN: 978–93–5388–532–8 (HB)
DOI: 10.1177/00195561221097831
It is seen that most books on Northeast India while depicting the diversities of the
region present an essentialised linear narrative as if Northeast India lacks an inter-
nal variation and is all about tribalism, geographical remoteness, insurgency and
economic backwardness. What is missed out is that there might be multiple narra-
tives and contextualised understanding of Northeast India and that there is diver-
sity within diversities in the region. For instance, much of the history of Sikkim is
not similar to the other seven states of the region. Nor does it share the menace of
ethnic insurgency that has beset other seven north-eastern states in varying
degrees. Thus, linear narratives lead to what Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie has
evocatively called the ‘danger of a single story’ (Ted, 2009). It may be noted that
New Delhi’s policy formulation for the Northeast India often ignores the region’s
rich diversities. The book under review edited by Ashok Pankaj, Atul Sarma and
Antora Borah is an exception in that it rejects a one-size-fits-all approach to depict
the Social Sector Development (SSD) of Northeast India. It presents Northeast
India in a new light, debunking several myths that people have towards the region.
It has taken note of the internal diversities of Northeast India while tracing the
trajectory of SSD in the region. SSD issues of the region have not received ade-
quate attention the way they should have. SSD has, as the book reveals, the poten-
tial to become a part of a strategic goal in that it could also give a fillip to the Act
East Policy of India. Sanjib Baruah (2020) has rightly pointed out elsewhere that
the name Northeast India itself and the policies towards it are a result of a series
of security-oriented decisions of the post-colonial Indian state. The editors and the
contributors of the book under review have tried to relocate the development per-
spectives on Northeast India beyond the prisms of security-centric planning and
This riveting book tries to capture the scenario of SSD in Northeast India com-
prehensively. It has fifteen chapters in total (including the Introduction) divided
into seven different sections. The editors and the contributing authors have chosen
parameters such as education, health, governance and socio-economic issues such

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