Dialogue April-June, 2006, Volume 7 No. 4
Political Culture and Development in North East India
American political sociologists, Gabriel Almond and Sydney Verba, developed the idea of political culture as part of political system within their strategy of understanding the working of the governments in the various parts of the world in the period of cold war (Almond, G and Coleman: 1960; Almond and Verba: 1963; Almond, G: 1965). For them, a political system includes empirically observable behaviours and norms. In this way, political culture provides stated and un-stated ethos as the mental backup of the political actors in a political system. For example, in a democratic system, basic human equality is the first law on which the entire political edifice stands. Similarly, in a feudal system a ruler rules, because of his/her birth in a given family, clan, community, etc.
Coming to the aspects of political culture in the present political dispensation in India, though drawing heavily from the rich Indian cultural pool, the role of the first generation policy makers cannot be ignored. Imbued with the experiences of the multi-cultural and multi-ethnic past, the Indian freedom fighters derived lessons from the past. Many of them were highly educated in terms of the university degrees and thus, were aware of and exposed to world -wide political stirrings. In particular, they had studied the on- going and past freedom struggles and many a times, modelled their actions after them. For example, Turkish leader, Attaturk Kamal Pasa, was a model for many of the Indian leaders in 1920’s. Similarly, V I Lenin led Russian revolution of 1917 turned out to be an inspiring moment for many of the Indian freedom fighters. Specially, Russian experiment with Five-Years Development Plans came to be handy to a resource starved newly independent Indian Union. Needless, to add that the Indian Constitution, drawing upon the varied experiences from world over and inspired by the many of the positive aspects of rich Indian traditions, presents the rock- back of the Indian political culture.
Based on varied experience, experiments and understanding, there are many approaches, concepts and theories of development, which are available to be replicated, by those who may be in search of models of development. But it is normally believed that development is not only desirable, but it is also essential for a quicker result and a better quality of life. In many ways development came to be synonymous with growth in the gross domestic product (GDP) in statistical terms. Nearer home to the North East India, the Royal Government of Bhutan is canvassing its own variant of development, Gross National Happiness (GNH) as the measurement of its national achievement.
The above stipulations, though freely available as a source of knowledge, have to be weighed in the light of the norms, values, and capital available and human and technological excellence of the recipients. Adoption of a particular model of development is conditioned by the above-mentioned package of conditions, which we shall like to term as the ‘traditions’. Traditions are collective inheritance of the social entities, which are again a package of practices, good or bad, progressive or repressive, supportive or retarding of the change. Development in most of the cases is considered desirable, but social traditions have to be supportive of their success, which may not be the case in many cases. In such a situation, where the package of traditions and chosen model of development do not go together, development, instead of leading to progress, may lead to disharmony, discord, conflict and even undesirable results. Development without co-operation, support and collaboration of the beneficiaries is difficult to be achieved without causing pains to the recipients. Howsoever desirable may be the co-ordination of the chosen developmental path and the resilience of the traditions, there is no known recommended mix of the development and the traditions. And there are a variety of factors, which need to be taken in to account by the ‘experts’ or the policy makers before making a choice among the several of developmental paths.
The problem arises when the chosen path of development comes on the way of the valued traditions and leads knowingly or unknowingly to violation of the social boundaries. In such a situation, objectives of development may not be achieved totally; it may lead to tardy implementation; non-co-operation, opposition, and even hostility from the members of the communities. Many a times, hasty, insincere and imposed development has led to open conflict from the affected communities and thus, there are instances, where developmental schemes were abandoned after making huge invests of scarce resources.
National Commitment to Planned
Development of the Country
During the phase of the freedom struggle, the future Prime Minister of free India, young Jawaherlal Nehru, visited Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in 1927 and he was inspired by time bound planning process of resources, regions, communities and sectors of economy in the newly emerging Socialist State. In course of time, the Indian National Congress took up various resolutions pertaining to the planned development in future India. Once India attained independence, the Government of India under Nehru’s leadership established the Planning Commission under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister as the ultimate authority to organise, allot and monitor resource utilisation for a planned all rounds development of the country. And that’s how the five-year plans were envisaged. Among others, there were three main considerations for the planning process: upliftment of weaker sections of the society such as the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, special provision for the backward and frontier regions and the neglected sectors of the economy to be given special and due attention. Agriculture, heavy industries, infrastructure such as roads, irrigation channels, railways, aviation and host of others were undertaken systematically. It was a new dawn of a brave new world, presided by an idealist, visionary and internationalist soul, Jawaherlal Nehru.
In this context, Nehru’s emphasis on three areas are specifically note worthy: i. taking cue from Tennessee Valley Corporation (TVC) in USA, a series of multi-purpose river valley projects such as Bhakhra Nangal, Hirakund, Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) and so on were constructed; ii. Heavy industries such as steel plants (Bhilai, Bokaro, Durgapur, Rurkela), a number of Chemical and fertiliser factories, machine building factories, naval shipyards, aeronautical factories, electric power houses were built and iii. Scientific and industrial research and teaching institutions were established. Nehru had put so much faith on them that he had termed them as the ‘temples of new India’. No doubt, in that phase of cold war, Nehru chose non-alignment as a policy and strategy of international interaction and an independent way of economic development. The national concern under the Nehruvian approach to weaker sections of the Indian society and tribal and frontier region was in the tradition of liberal humanism.
North Eastern India on the Eve of Indian Independence
Before one talks about the North Eastern region, it is imperative to understand what does a region mean. A region has a location; it has its distinct areas; it has its limits. In another word, it is conceptually a short hand way of describing the variable characters of an area dissected deliberately from the extensive landmass. Among the significant factors that on which a region is identified, mention may be made of physiography, ethnicity, social, political and economic systems, language, religion, degree of mobility, urbanisation, cultural-historical evaluation and many others. Considered from all these points, North Eastern region of India, because of its geopolitical disadvantages, has achieved an integrated insularity. Furthermore, its under-development is an aspect of the larger scenario of unequal and uneven development in the various parts of the Indian Union.
What was known as the British Assam was an amalgamation of 8 districts in the
plains of Brahmputra and Barak valleys and 6 hill districts on the frontiers. The Governor of Assam was also answerable for the affairs of the two princely states of Manipur and Tripura. The Assamese were proud of the fact that the Mughals, as elsewhere in North India, had never ruled their land. Ahom rulers, in fact, had evolved an intricate procedure to interact with the neighbouring hill tribes. But with the coming of the British, things began to change. Apart from the armed expeditions for the pacification of the hill tribes, the Christian Missionaries were instrumental in causing an epochal change in the life style of the tribesmen. They reduced their dialects to written languages in the Roman script, produced sacred literature, and introduced a new pantheon of Christian theology in which there was an image of a benevolent and loving God against the tribal belief in a religious order of hostile spirits. This was secured after a long process of theological and missionary efforts to wean away the tribes from their indigenous faith. This was achieved in various tribes at different pace. For example, among the plain tribes of Assam and Karbi Anglong district, Christianity is still not the dominant form of faith. On the other hand, almost hundred percent Christianity was achieved within six decades in Mizo Hills district.
The British also attempted separating ‘Assam Hills’ along with the tribes in Burma in a separate dispensation of Crown Colony, which ultimately failed to come through. But the damage was done for the fact that a message was left behind that the tribes were possibly different people from that of the Assamese and Bengalis living in the plains. Besides, British Assam was infra-structurally integrated to Chittagong port in erstwhile Bengal Prsidency for trading in tea, timber and oil, which was snapped after the partition. Further more, the south-eastern part of the region, Manipur and Nagaland, was part of the Eastern Theatre of the Second World War, where pitched battles were fought between the British and the Japanese forces, in which people of these States not only suffered, but also took sides. It was also instructive for their future vision to see invincible Imperial forces getting vanquished by relatively ill-equipped adversaries. Many of the denizens of these areas worked in the coolie corps during the World War and had been to various parts of the world in course of their duty, where they witnessed various forms of political stirrings.
Once independence was achieved, the hill men were apprehensive and the Assamese had a few experienced hands to handle the situation in the hills with empathy and tact. Bitterness led to armed clashes and Nagas and Mizos rebelled against the real and putative injustices (Rustomji, N K: 1971). There was little left for the Centre, but to create four new States from the erstwhile hill districts of Assam.
There has always been demand for a faster pace of development, but what type of development do we expect in the absence of locally skilled manpower, basic infrastructure, capital and market for the produce at a competitive price. With Christianity, literacy had also been introduced and with the better welfare measures population of the Hill States began to increase phenomenally. One point need to be kept in mind, in spite of the services rendered by the Christian Church and various Non-Governmental-Organisations in field of education, there is a strong feeling that the State has to ‘develop’ these under-developed regions. So it has to come from distant New Delhi. Unfortunately, there are very few public men of stature, calibre, wisdom and commitment to lead their people in the region, who may be able to get these States a fair deal at present.
Catharsis of the Euphoria
Under the Nehruvian humanistic paternalism, Verrior Elwin, the self-taught ethnographer and social worker, was appointed, after J P Mills and Nari Rustomji, as the third advisor to the Governor of Assam on tribal affairs. As the democratic administration was to be extended to the far-flung difficult and isolated un-administered ‘excluded tribal areas’, Elwin undertook extensive arduous tours to every nook and corner of his charge. K L Mehta, the Advisor to the Governor, suggested that there should be a clear policy as to what they were pursuing on the name of extending administration in the erstwhile excluded areas (Elwin, V:1956). Elwin, in interaction with the Prime Minister, worked out a set of concepts, which came to be known as the ‘tribal panchsheel’ enshrined as the “Philosophy for NEFA”. Nehru’s vision of the tribal people may be inferred from the following: “I am alarmed, when I see how anxious people are to shape others according to their own image or likeness, and to impose on them their particular way of living. We are welcome to our way of living, but why impose it on others? “The approach to the tribal people should be one of learning from them and having learnt, to try to help and co-operate…They are extremely disciplined people, often much more democratic than most others in India. Without a constitution and the rest, they function democratically and carry the decisions made by their elders or their own representatives almost without exception” (Nehru, J L: 1952)
Bowing to the dominant desire among the Nagas, State of Nagaland was created in 1963 on the principle of ethnicity. 1960’s were the troublesome period for the Indian Union. Among many problems, it had to face a devastating draught in major parts of the country leading to food scarcity; engaged in two wars with the neighbours and ethnic upsurge in the North East India. At the end of that decade, North East’s bug bear, East Pakistan, was caught in a massive upheaval leading to over millions of refugees crossing across the international boundaries and taking shelter in the region. And this was also the period, when India lost its first and second Prime ministers and was experimenting with its third reluctant Prime incumbent in Indira Gandhi. With a view to accommodating the emerging ethnic aspirations in the region, the North Eastern Areas (Re-Organisation) Act, 1971 was passed by the Parliament, by which States of Meghalaya, Manipur and Tripura and Union Territories of Arunchal Pradesh and Mizoram were created in 1972. The two Union Territories were elevated to Statehood by middle of the 1980’s. In this way, the erstwhile British Assam was divided into five Indian States plus two former princely states of Manipur and Tripura and very soon another princely State, Sikkim, joined the rank within North Eastern Council, created as co-ordinating point for development of the region.
These state formations were accomplished undoubtedly on popular ethnic demands in the region, but it created havoc to psyche of the people. There was a strong feeling of being cheated in Assam. Creation of new States must be justified on various grounds, but this process also created numerous financial and administrative problems. They also raised a host of inflated and unreasonable aspirations. As the economic base of these newly created States has been extremely weak; their internal revenue is meagre. Consequently, they are unable to support their huge service sector through internal sources financially. In such a situation, there is nothing left as saving for investment for a vigorous economic development in the State. More over, their basic economic structure is entirely dependent on an extremely subsistence agriculture, which is unable to generate an appreciable surplus. In this given situation, these small, but highly literate States, are the biggest employers of their idle youth.
The Indian Union may not be faulted on that line, because it had visualised the situation and found a way out to develop the region through the creation of North Eastern Council (NEC) in 1972 as the common forum of States for the mutually beneficial regional resources. But the individual States have been so zealous of their individual autonomy that NEC is left with a limited agenda of inter-state networking of roads, rails, power and some sundry services like medical and scientific research. North Eastern States are treated as special category States because of their location on the difficult frontier region and they receive ninety percent of their expenses as grants-in-aid from the Central exchequer. Even for development purposes, money has not been a problem (Murayama, M ET al:2005:4 ), but every State is so exercised with their unique autonomy that no meaningful economic development has been achieved and the region remains on the economic margin of the Indian Union. Their own raw materials may not be sufficient for big industrial enterprises and their own internal market may not be big enough to consume their potential products, but they could have pooled their common resources for at least some regional industries, but there is nothing worth reporting on the record. And their oil, tea, timber and water, apart from other resources, are being drained away from the region to their very limited gain.
States, Communities and Individuals as Isolates
While all the frontier States have a series of silent and informal trade with their immediate foreign neighbours, officially they live behind a bamboo curtain thinly separated from immediate but foreign neighbour. Look at the situation. Myanmar borders on Arunachal, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram. Bhutan borders on Arunachal, Assam and Sikkim. Bangladesh have a common border with Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura. Tibetan region of People’s Republic of China shares its southern borders with Arunachal and Sikkim and Nepal is located on the western border of Sikkim. On the other hand, the only Indian State bordering the region is that of West Bengal, which shares its borders with Sikkim and Assam. None of these foreign countries have any office in the North East region for either trade or visa purposes and for that one has to go to Delhi or in some rare cases, to Kolkata. It is cruel to send the little exposed residents of the region to the Indian metropolitan cities for negotiating their bamboo, timber, coal, fruits, fish and other agricultural and horticultural products to be exported to their literally next door neighbours. Every State in the region is doubly handicapped, as they are economically neither integrated within the sister States of the Indian Union, nor are they officially permitted to trade with their next door neighbouring foreign countries. In these days of globalisation, to think that eight federating units of the emerging world economic power are cut off from their next door neighbours, who share their ethnicity, geography, history, language, literature, market and even an imagined profit is simply mind boggling to say the least. Moreover, Nepal and Bangladesh have been exporting their citizens to the region in a menacing way causing havoc to the fragile ethnic balance within the region. One need not have to go to the region to know the explosive ethnic situation caused by Bangladeshi and Nepalese immigration. Instead of using ethnic groups residing across the international boundaries as potential bridge of opportunity and taking advantages of their linkage to our favour, we have turned them into our security risk.
North East India is the home of over two hundred communities administratively known as the scheduled tribes, dozens of scheduled castes, ‘Other Backward Communities’ (OBC), and high caste Hindus, indigenous and migrant Muslims, Christians of a variety of denominations, Hindus divided among different sects and there are very many numerically small communities living in a relatively ‘isolated’ corner of the region. On the other hand, there are communities such Asamiya, Bangalis, Marwaris, and various occupational castes from north India functioning as the link communities. There are many languages spoken, written and some of them work as link languages among communities in the region. The region and its various communities have their rich myths, stories of migration, and hoary tales of past ethnic migration. There are many wonderfully imaginative concepts of creation of the universe, human beings and animals, inter-relations among the hill and plains peoples. Similarly, the people of the region are profoundly rich in their art and craft, material culture, house-hold and agricultural implements, weaving and textiles and a variety of other skills. The communities have their own names and others too occasionally address them differently. There are skilled terrace cultivators on topographically most difficult locations; there are fisher folk and silk weavers known for their long distance trading traditions. There are communities such as Dimasa Kacharis, Ahom, Jaintia, Meiteis, etc. which had established States in the past; there were communities in Nagaland such as Ao and Angamis, which were near village republics; there were hunting, gathering and pastoral communities in the past and there have been communities, which were not part of a centralised state system. This suggests an extremely differential past political experience among the communities of the region, leading to a variety of political problems.
This entire human multitude was left behind by the British colonial power to the Indian Union with right to choose their rulers through a democratic process. Thus, began an arduous process of nation building in an uneven and politically inexperienced and less acculturated mass of Indian citizens. Demands were many; resources were limited; leaders and policy makers were idealist agitators with good intentions, but they lacked experience of statecraft. Thus, there were many honest efforts to come to the expectations of the masses, but there were lapses too. But one thing must be noted that that was the age of the rising aspirations and exploding frustrations. There were many good reasons for not meeting at least some of the commitments to the masses, but political education to the masses was uneven and there were occasions, when the people lost patience with the democratic dispensation and took to arms and rebelled. In this way, an uneven tract of nation building began on a poorly and ill-prepared ground, in which mice and elephants, to borrow from the regional biodiversity, were supposed to carry the same burden to the given destination.
A gulf came to be created between the region and the rest of the country. So much so that a casual visitor of North Eastern region from other parts of India is baffled by the harmless query: ‘when did you come from India?’ This may be heard in Nagaland, Mizoram, Manipur, Meghalaya, of late in Assam. The other side of the coin is the reception meted out to the visitors of the region to the Indian metropolitan cities, where they are mistaken for foreigners from the Far East Asian countries. To the rest of India North Eastern region is vague, distant and amorphous. There is no quick, effective and convenient (and even least comfortable) means of communication between the region and other parts of the country. In this context, one may remind the readers the commitment made to the nation during the Janata rule after defeat of Indira Gandhi in 1977, to bring all the States of the region on the railway map of India. Even after three decades that commitment remains unfulfilled. In such a situation, those who go to the region, consider themselves something of a pioneer, explorer and adventurer. The white -collar functionaries come to the region on punishment, occasional promotion and out of turn posting. And why should he do so? After all, no significant decision, even the one, affecting the local situations, is taken in the region. Consequently, a frontier functionary, who lives a deprived and an inconvenient life, marks his time and takes little interest in the long term involvement in the region (Sinha, A C: 1993).
Paradigms of Development: National and Regional
There have been various approaches to regional development tried at different time by the specialists in the Indian Planning Commission. No doubt, the North East India gets mentioned in the national planning process of India. But there are features of its size, ethnicity, and resources, handicaps and micro-level assets, which do not attract adequate attention. With the exception of Centre sponsored schemes, there are very few proposals for developing the common resources, exploiting potentialities and sharing experiences between the States. The States do not acknowledge the existence of the next door neighbours, Indian or foreign, and compete for funds from the Union allotment. Again, in terms of their priority, there is very limited loud thinking and demanding support for exploiting their untapped potential; rather the easy way out is to replicate the nationally approved schemes, possibly more suited elsewhere.
There is a need for shift in paradigm of development. We feel there should be a three-pronged strategy for development in the region considering its peculiarities: i. States’ own unique potential of resource base; ii. Inter-State sub-regional Urban-Industrial corridor, for example, Dimapur-Bokajan-Golaghat-Jorahat corridor or Shillong-Guwahati-Bongaigong corridor in Assam; iii. Commercial and Industrial Axis across the international boundaries. Here mention may be made of Nathula border trading mart with its linkage to Gangtok-Kalimpong- Darjeeling-Paro-Siliguri-Biratnagar- Katihar-Kolkata or Chittagong- Akhaura-Agartala-Silcher- Aizawl—Jiribam-Imphal- Moreh. Kunming initiative or opening of Trans Asian Railways (TAR) and Asian Highways (AH) have immense potentialities for this beleaguered region.
There has been so much talk on regional resources over decades that they need not be repeated. However, one potential, which remains untapped till date, requires some mention. And this is the potential of the hydel power generation. In this context, Bhutan has shown the way by generating power for exporting to electricity Indian plains. There has been talk of generating power from Brahmputra, Barak and Dihang rivers. Similarly, various stages of Teesta hydel power project are being implemented. Among all these one may mention only three: Dihang and Subansiri in Arunachal, Teesta in Sikkim and Tipaimukh on tri-junction of Manipur, Mizoram and Assam. However, a strict environmental accounting must be undertaken so that a healthy growth of the region is secured at large.
Potential for development in the Region
Our analysis below will have a bearing on the region at large, but we prefer to go in details of certain developmental issues of Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim.
Trade, Business and Trans-Border Trade: Arunachalis and Sikkimese are inveterate traders. There used to be two significant trade routes on the its western and eastern extremities of Arunachal. There was a trade route passing through Tawang, Bomdila and Sela from Tibet to the Brahmputra valley, which used to pass through Guwahati, Hajo, Khasi hills and then to Bengal. On the foot hills near Dewangiri, there used to be a three months long fair, in which traders from up to Dacca in the south and Lhasa in the north used to participate through a process of barter system. Tibetans used to barter relatively light commodities such as precious stones, yak tails, borax, silk and woolen cloth and other handicrafts. From south it was mainly cotton cloth, glass, brassware, imitation ornaments, rice and salt. There was a less frequented trade route in Upper Assam from Sadiya in the foothills to Wallong, Rima and then to Unnan province of China. This was the famous silk route, which was followed by famous traveller F M Bailey as late as 1909 on his way from Peking to Sadiya ( Bailey, F M: 1945). The British organised a series of markets way back in 1860’0 for the tribes of Arunachal at suitable locations in the foothills, where they could exchange their commodities with the factory produced consumer goods required for their daily use. These markets were used as venues for taming the ‘hostile’ tribes. Those of the communities, which proved difficult to the British, were debarred from trading in the markets as a punishment.
Like the Nathu-la pass in Sikkim, there is ‘Kumning initiative’ in Arunachal, which has all the potential to open the “Eastern Gateway” to the Brahmputra valley to Yunnan province of People’s Republic of China of Myanmar across Shan and Kachin States, of Myanmar. This was the shortest road from India to China, 483 miles long from Ledo in India to Wanting in China, which was used for transporting supply to the armed forces during the Second World War. Since then, this road has fallen to disuse and the area has tuned in to hot bed of insurgency in India and Myanmar. China has developed its Yunnan province adjoining Myanmar and part of the famous road has been turned into a four lane super highway; the Myanmarese part of it is in bad shape, but it can easily be repaired. About 50 miles stretch from Ledo to the border in Arunachal Pradesh is in good condition, as it is the National Highway. So with a little initiative, this famous historical road can be made operational. But the most important point to be noted that all through the stretch of land in three countries has a thin population. With exception of Mytkyina in Myanmar, there is no major town ship all the way. The Allied Forces used this Stillwell Road the Second World War for transporting gasoline, arms and military hard wares and food for the forces. It had not been used for civilian and commercial purposes since then. So it requires careful planning for creating infrastructure, services, linkages and will of the three entirely different political regimes to make it a success.
Up to 1962 there was a thriving Indo-Tibetan trade across the border in Sikkim through Nathu-la, Gangtok, Kalimpong, Darjeeling and Calcutta. This trade was carried with the help of coolies, ponies, yaks, and other animals across Himalayan divides through road less terrain. Tibetan aristocrats, lamas, commoners, Sikkimese Kazis, Newar traders, Ladakhachi caravan pliers, and Marwari whole sellers - all had their establishments at the above towns. And there was an intricate net work to supply commodities from Calcutta to Lhasa in Tibet and like-wise Tibetan wool, gold, precious gems, borax, dogs, yak tails and other light and luxury item brought to the Indian markets. The British had an eye on Tibetan tea market and they had even planned a hundred years back to stretch the Indian railways from Siliguri to Chumbi valley to facilitate this border trade. There were occasions in old good days, when the Chinese, travelling from Tibetan locations to China, and Tibetan dignitaries going back to Tibet from China, were facilitated through this route. Kalimpong, located on a nodal point, was the closest market town to Chumbi Valley, Bhutan, Gangtok and Darjeeling, and thus it developed in to an ideal border-trading mart. The border dispute between India and China led to discontinuation of this regional lifeline in 1962. It is hoped that border trade across Nathu-la pass will revive after the proposed reopening of the route. Expectations are high from this trade route and if it is opened, it has potentiality to provide a new corridor to Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal from Tibet besides boosting the regional economy of Sikkim and Darjeeling.
Ranching and Meat Processing Industry
Animal husbandry has a great potential for Arunachal and Sikkim, especially for the upper reaches of Kameng and North districts of the two States, as land-man ratio is favourable. They may even have to think of developing ranching system, which will be a unique thing for India. This may lead to canning and meat processing industry in a predominantly non-vegetarian population base. It may be remembered that grazing of the cattle and maintenance of the herds of animal has been a traditional occupation in the region. Similar efforts for ranching and meat processing industrial enterprises may be made in some parts of Meghalaya, Nagaland and Karbi Anglong district of Assam with great benefit.
Prospect of Eco and Adventure Tourism,
Winter Games and Sports and Tourism
Similarly, Eco-tourism has a great potential for development. There are a large number of tourists on pilgrimage, who would like to visit Tawang monastery along with similar places of interests in Eastern and Western Bhutan, which may be ideal for pilgrim tourism for the Buddhists. For that investment in infrastructure and manpower planning will be required. Arunachal possesses fantastically breath taking natural beauty within its limits, which very few States in India command. Tawang in particular and former Kameng district in general commands famous Buddhist sites, which have an instant international attraction to the potential tourists. It may be an ideal location for winter games and sports in India, once the relations with China are normalized. Similarly, Tsangpo- Brahmputra river system does not only have the possibility of generating only electricity and providing irrigation water to the parched agricultural fields, but will also lead to adventure tourism across the boundary in the region. Incidentally, this is also the region, where bird and wild life sanctuaries (specially Manas and Namdhapa wild life sanctuaries) are located in which gibbons, spectacle monkeys, rare breed of squirrels and a number of birds, not found any where in the world, abound. Arunachal has a great potential for tourism and for that creation of reasonably priced infrastructure is necessary.
Development of the region must be seen in a large perspective; larger than mere economics and politics. The region must preserve its natural assets and embark on selective and careful exploitation of its resources inclusive of human beings. The regional societal unit of smallness should be turned into an advantage provided we forge meaningful and cautious alliances and linkages across the political boundaries with our neighbours.
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