Editorial

Publication Date01 July 2016
AuthorMahendra Prasad Singh
DOI10.1177/001955612016030vii
Date01 July 2016
SubjectArticle
EDITORIAL
The term 'North-East India' refers to the severi contiguous states
of
Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland,
and Tripura. Colloquially referred to the 'seven sister states', they are now
joined
by
an eighth member, Sikkim, since it joined the Indian Union in
1975, though it
is
geographically interspersed from the region by a part
of
West Bengal. A frontier region, it borders Bhutan, China, Myanmar, and is
linked with the rest
of
India by a narrow 27 km-wide corridor. A complex
mosaic
of
ethnic and linguistic groups, the region harbours more than 166
tribes living in ecologically diverse hilly and forested tracts. The region
is characterised by marked cultural differences from the cultures
of
the
mainland India in terms
of
linguistic, tribal, religious, and caste textures.
Among the four linguistic families oflndia, North-Eastern languages belong
to the Tibeto-Burman stock.
In British India, Sikkim remained a protectorate and Manipur and
Tripura princely states that merged with India in 1949, while the rest
of
the North-East was amalgamated with Assam with incomplete integration,
which
is
signaled by terms like 'excluded' or 'partially excluded' areas.
Fuller integration
of
these excluded areas was attempted only by the
independent Indian state with asymmetrical federal arrangements like
'Union Territories' graduating to full 'Statehood' and special provisions
for administration and control
of
'scheduled areas' and 'scheduled tribes'
under the Fifth and Sixth Schedules
of
the Constitution
of
India. While
the Fifth Schedule is applicable to the scheduled tribal areas and scheduled
tribes
of
the various states
in
India, the Sixth Schedule is restricted to the
States
of
Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, and Mizoram. Besides, North-East
region
is
probably the only political region in the country where every
large State is a region unto itself within a sub-continental nation. This
uniqueness
is
signified
by
the facts
of
the legislations and institutions like
the North-Eastern Council Act, 1971, setting up a nodal agency for the
economic development
of
the region, with a Secretariat
of
its own, and a
separate Union Ministry
of
Development
of
North-Eastern Region created
since 2004.
Ethnic identities with tribal linguistic and religious markers in the
North-East have been historically as well as presently undergoing complex
processes
of
discoveries and 'constructionism' (to differentiate the term from

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