Reports from india's northeastern states—Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Tripura—rarely deal with the positive aspects of their institutional development processes. The national media mainly concentrates on the disquieting stories of unrest, insurgence, and violence. The negative portrait of this region offered by both the press and scholarly studies in India and abroad must be distressing for the people of the Northeastern region.

This paper suggests that an excessive preoccupation with violence and a narrow reading of the implications of insurgent violence on the part of the observers are responsible for a substantial misunderstanding of the Northeastern political processes. As a result, the positive aspects of community formation, the linkage of communities in wider political institutions as parts of the Northeastern administration and representative systems, and the contribution of these processes to the national systems remain largely unexplored. The history of insurgence is rarely narrated in the context of an equally long history of peace, social collaboration, political reconciliation, democratic participation, and innovations in institution-building and sustenance. Even the received narrative of violence is deeply flawed due to its frequent inability to attend to the possible rationality of forced desperation, and its insensitivity to the long-term constructive implications of many anti-authority struggles.

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