ABSTRACT

Perhaps no other region reflects the difficulties and intricacies of the problem of sub-nationalism in India as the North East. Geography gives a deceptive impression about the homogeneity of the region, comprised of the seven states of Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Tripura, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram. It is joined with the rest of India with a narrow land strip, almost providing an impression of independent compactness. But the region's immense diversity, while an anthropologist's delight, is a source of constant problem for the administrators and the policy makers. Discussing the problems of the North-East, L. P. Singh, who had seen the region and its problems from a very close range writes

The region's population, totalling only 26 million has an extraordinary diversity — ethnic, linguistic, religious and cultural. There are 116 scheduled tribes in the region (treating as one all the 13 Naga tribes and not counting separately each of the 37 Kuki sub-tribes). They belong to at least five different ethnic groups, and, with a large part of the nontribal population of Assam and Tripura falling broadly under the IndoAryan group, the number of ethnic types increases to six. The diversity in religious persuasion extends from three major world religions — Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Christianity, the last being the religion of the majority in Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland—to animism and certain traditional religious beliefs and practices which do not fall under any of the above categories. ...No comparable diversity is to be found in any other part of the country. 1