Reinventing the Northeast
In recent years, books and discourses seeking to unravel the problems plaguing the Northeast have become much popular although the scope of utilization of the opinions expressed remains to be seen. I recently chanced to preview upon Falguni Rajkumar’s book, Rainbow People: Reinventing Northeast India, which I feel is just what is needed to fill the gap.
The Northeast region of India is synonymous with serious law and order problems, arising mainly out of the ethno-nationalistic aspirations of the people. When coupled with lack of development and poverty, all these aspects result in the formation of a vicious cycle, which prevents the region and its people to move forward. The author takes a relook at the problems plaguing the region from an entirely new perspective that has not been researched or seen earlier.
From Rajkumar’s analyses, it transpires that various exogenous influences beyond the control of the regional populace, like the role of British Indi Northeast frontier policies, the influence and role of universal religions of Hinduism and Christianity, the unfair partition of the country that segregated the region from the mainland, the post independence policies of the Indian government and a host of other residual consequences arising out of these factors are some of the main causes for the problems.
Based on the findings, Rajkumar suggests a much more efficacious approach and possible way out of the impending disaster by looking at the problems and issues much more holistically from the regional and national perspective. The author postulates that a possible solution lies through reconciling and addressing both the problems of economic underdevelopment and ethnic divide simultaneously. In this effort, the author suggests, apart from other policy interventions, finding an appropriate institution capable of being both the catalyst for the economic development and the peacemaker capable of bridging the ethnic divide in the region.
The author Falguni Rajkumar is a scion of the erstwhile royal family of Manipur. The first direct recruit Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer from among the Meitei community of Manipur, Rajkumar recently retired from professional service as secretary of the North East Council in the rank of secretary to the Government of India. He had also worked in the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas and in the Ministry of Defence in two separate spells of five years each. He also had a long stint in Karnataka where, besides other posts, he had assumed charge of post of Additional Chief Secretary-cum-Development officer. A well know sportsperson, poet and artist of repute, Rajkumar is presently working as Special Advisor of UNIDO, dealing with the Northeast region, and is also a member of the Board of Governors of the Rajiv Gandhi Indian Institute of Management, Shillong.