North east is situated in the eastern part of India. It is comprised of the 7 sisters mainly (Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura) Sikkim also. It is ethnically distinct and has strong cultural ties with East Asia and South Asia.
Formation of North eastern states were that during the British period in India, North East India was ruled as a part of Bengal Province. Assam came into existence in 1874. After the Indian Independence from British Rule in 1947, the Northeastern region of British India consisted of Assam and the princely states of Manipur and Tripura. Subsequently, Nagaland in1963, Meghalaya in 1972, Arunachal Pradesh in 1975 and Mizoram in 1987 were formed out of Assam. Manipur and Tripura remained as Union Territories of India between 1956 until 1972 when they attained fully-fledged statehood.
Sikkim was integrated as the eighth North Eastern Council state in 2002. The city of Shillong acted as the capital of the Assam province created during the British Rule. It remained as the capital of undivided Assam until formation of the state of Meghalaya in 1972.Later the capital of Assam was shifted to Dispur, a part of Guwahati, and Shillong became the capital of Meghalaya.
39 million people of Northeast India constitute only about 3.8 per cent of the total population of the country (2001 census). Over 68 per cent of this population (26.64 million) lives in the state of Assam alone. Mizoram has the lowest population of less than a million, i.e. only 0.891 million. The density of population varies from 13 per sq. kilometer in Arunachal Pradesh to 340 per sq. kilometer in Assam. The predominantly hilly terrain in all the states except Assam is host to an overwhelming proportion of tribal population ranging from 19.3 per cent in Assam to 94.5 per cent in Mizoram. The region has over 160 Scheduled Tribes and over 400 other sub-tribal communities and groups. It is predominantly rural with over 84 per cent of the population living in the countryside.
According to 2001 census, the total literacy rate of the population in the region at 68.5 per cent, with female literacy rate at 61.5 per cent, is higher than the country’s average of 64.8 per cent and 53.7 per cent respectively. Of course, there are significant variations in the literacy rates among different states with Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya below the national average.
The economy in the entire Northeast India is agrarian in nature, although little land is available for settled agriculture. The inaccessible terrain has made rapid industrialization difficult in the region. Along with settled agriculture, jhum(shifting cultivation) is still practiced by a few indigenous groups of people.
Over 220 ethnic groups and equal number of dialects makes it a hugely diverse region. The hill states in the region like Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland are predominantly inhabited by tribal people with a fair degree of diversity even within the tribal groups. Various folk dances are the Bihu dance from Assam, Naga dance from Nagaland, Hajgiri dance from Tripura, Thang-ta & Dhol-Cholom dance from Manipur, Nongkrem dance from Meghalaya, Cheraw dance of Mizoram, folk Dance of Arunachal Pradesh and Folk Dance of Sikkim.
Various groups are involved in the Insurgency in Northeast India. Some groups call for a separate state, others for regional autonomy while some extreme groups demand complete independence.
Article by Pranami Khaund Tamuly