Dialogue  October - December 2005 , Volume 7  No. 2

Development Disparity and North-East Region

Saswati Choudhury & Ratna Bhuyan

I. Introduction

Regional disparities in development are a ubiquitous phenomenon across both developed and developing countries. Disparity, inter- regional and intra- regional, is partly due to resource endowments and partly due to policy framework and execution. There are pockets of highly developed centres in countries with poor resource endowment as much as underdeveloped areas in countries with strong resource endowments. The initial works on disparity upheld the view that differences in income level across countries or within regions in a country led to development disparity. But over the years, the spatial studies revealed that income by itself was not a sufficient measure of disparity1- rather it was often misleading. It was seen that mere income level did not portray the real picture – a high per capita income and a high inflation rate meant low real income and hence low disposable income at hand, on the other hand, a low money income with no inflation meant a higher real income. Surfeit of literature available on spatial disparity in India has taken many different indicators. In 1968, the Working Group of the Planning Commission suggested six indicators, again based on the 1961 Census data, Ashok Mitra attempted classification of districts into four levels of development, yet the socio-economic classification of districts was attempted by Biplab Dasgupta in 1971 where a correlation matrix of 24 variables was prepared in order to examine the extent of variation among the different variables and factor analysis was used. S.K. Rao attempted a similar analysis in 1973 by taking states as regions and taking six variables into account. In the Indian context, studies on regional disparity have used various indicators focusing on several socio-economic dimensions.  
    In India, the northern and the western regions of the country are fairly developed
2, the eastern region, especially the northeastern region, remains the most backward. Besides inter regional differences, there is also intra-regional disparity among the states of northeast India. The nature and extent of place-to-place variations in resource endowments and regulations therefore need to be explored. An understanding of the space hence not only helps in making a pragmatic assessment of the resource endowment but also the steps required for canalizing the same to desired lines for socio-economic development of the region.
3, while analysing the development disparity among the Indian states for the post reforms period showed that states like Maharashtra and Gujarat which had a lower growth rate compared to Punjab and Haryana in the pre reforms period in fact achieved very high rates of growth in the post liberalisation period. This change over according to him is due to the conducive environment derived from the new policies in the two states of Maharashtra and Gujarat in the post reforms period. It has also been shown by Ahluwalia that inter state disparity among the states of the Indian Union have narrowed down in the post reforms period. Investments on human resource development and availability of quality infrastructure and policy environment and governance are important pre requisites for development of a region as noted by Ahluwalia, it but needs to be emphasised that without proper effective policies and good governance no amount of development initiatives can augur the required thrust for growth of a region. However, Ahluwalia’s study excludes the states of northeastern region of India due to paucity of reliable and sufficient data.

II. The Northeast India: A Glimpse Per Se

Comprising the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Tripura the northeast India accounts for 7.8 per cent of the total land space of the country, of which again 70 per cent is hilly terrain. It shares considerably large international boundary with China, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Myanmar.
    The partition of the country in 1947 broke the natural and age old linkages with rest of the country and this land locked region is connected to mainland India through a narrow corridor in north Bengal, popularly known as the ‘Chicken’s neck’ or the ‘Siliguri neck’, having an approximate width of 33 km. on the eastern side and 21 km. on the western side. 
    The socio economic and political settings of the northeastern region bear direct linkages and fit in the order where the tribal form of society and economy occupy the vantage positions. The demographic profile of the region is characterized by high birth rate, high level of population growth induced by migration and the young age structure of the population composition. The other less typical demographic characters are low level of urbanization, the prevalence of agricultural occupations and the plurality of languages and vernaculars. According to the 2001 census, the population of the region is 3.85 crores of which 88 per cent is rural as against the national average of 75 per cent. The decadal growth rate of population in the region has also been significantly higher at 22.16 per cent compared to the all-India average of 21.34 per cent during 1991-2001. This variation which was around 20 per cent in the first half of the last century, increased sharply above the national average in the next four decades (1951-1991) which coincides with the post independence period. The population growth in the region was highest during the decade 1951-61 when population increased by 41.31 per cent against the overall rise of 21.51 per cent in the country. However, during the last decade the population growth in the region has significantly come down compared to 1981-91 when the estimated growth rate was 27.48 per cent. The region is marked by uneven spatial distribution of population among the constituent states, the primary reason being that plain areas in the states of Assam and Tripura offer a congenial surrounding for absorption of large influx of population than the hills and the difficult terrains which have offered virtually isolated existence to tribal communities. Assam as the largest unit accounts for some 75 per cent of the total population while Mizoram with less than 2 per cent of the population stands at the extreme. In fact Assam, with 266.38 lakh and Tripura with 31.91 lakh people together, accounts for 83 per cent of the region’s aggregate population. Consequently, Assam has the highest population density of 340 persons per sq. km., which is higher than the national average of 324 persons per sq. km, and next to Assam, Tripura is obviously the other most densely populated state in the region. The hill states, on the other hand, are sparsely populated e.g. Arunachal Pradesh, which is the largest in terms of geographical area, has the lowest density of population (13 persons per sq. km. as per the 2001 census). The region is marked by diversity in its religious demographic composition as well. While the Hindus are the majority in the three states of Assam, Tripura and Manipur, Christians are the dominant majority in the hill states.  
    The urbanisation process in the region has been very slow although significant growth has taken place in the urban centres of the region in the course of last fifty years. The urban population in the region which was 11.93 per cent in 1991 (the national average being 23.31) has remained the same in 2001 while the corresponding figures for the national level have gone up (25 per cent). The entire region has only 248 towns with an area that spreads over a little more than quarter million sq. km. The region’s share in the country’s total geographical area is about 8 per cent, in towns 4.75 per cent and in urban population 2 per cent. The mean distance between towns in the northeast works out to be 49.23 km as compared to 33.51 km. in India. Further, a town in the northeast on an average serves an area of nearly 2000 sq. km. as compared to 1000 sq. km. in the country which clearly reflects the remoteness of urban services from the rural areas. Even within the region there is wide variation among the states, a town in Tripura serves on an average 456.1604 sq.km. area while in Arunachal Pradesh the corresponding figure is 4926.059 sq.km. as per the 2001 census. The remoteness of the rural areas from urban centres is more pronounced in the hill states due to poor physical connectivity owing to hilly terrains.

III. Development Strategies and Spatial Disparity: Synergy or Synchronicity

The history of modern economic development of the northeast region started with the discovery of oil, coal and tea in Assam by the British East India Company. The discovery of the two mineral resources and the tea plantation in Assam required adequate and good transport connectivity both within and outside the region for their proper economic utilisation. Consequently, the British Government invested in the development of transport infrastructure in the region through expansion of the railways and the road transport system in the entire oil, coal and tea belt of upper Assam. Navigation was also developed through the Brahmaputra and the Barak river system via Bangladesh. The British policy was therefore pursued in the line of what Hirschman’s theory on development prescribes - investment in social overhead capital (SOC) preceding the directly productive activities (DPA). The agro climatic conditions of Assam contributed to the growth of the tea industry and the concept of market economy brought about by the Britishers led to its commercial cultivation. Even though the expansion of the tea and oil industries were suited to sub serve the British colonial interest, it never the less introduced Assam for the first time to commercial production and the world trade market.
    The British economic policy thus encouraged development of localised economic spaces in the region in the context of regulationist perspective. Regulation theory is sensitive to the space in the way that the stress upon national specificity enables one to appreciate that because of their histories, different region responds to the same processes in different ways
4. The question further arises of how local spaces of regulation relate to national space and how their relations are mediated through structural forms and modes of regulation? Is there a mode of macro regulation, which accord different smaller sites their place within some overall regulatory strategy, or does macro regulation simply emerge from the interaction of lower level of parties5? The development of the northeast economy during the British rule was charted more in tune with the resources available and the commercial interest of the British government. Therefore, within the broad policy framework of British commercial interests, the local economic space of Assam found its due share. Elsewhere in the region (especially, the hilly terrains with tribal societies) where commercial interests of the British did not have an economical ratio of investment-output, the local space in its social and economic forms continued with their own nuances of barter transactions among different tribes and the hills and valleys. Hence in the context of British economic history of the region, it is Assam that found more attention and prominence due to its tea, petroleum and the riverine navigation system for cargo movements.
    At the time of India’s independence in 1947, all the tribal areas of the northeast India excepting Manipur and Tripura were within the state of Assam. Arunachal Pradesh then known as NEFA (North East Frontier Agency), had a separate arrangement, it was kept as an Agency and hence centrally administered. However, with the passage of time demand for separate statehood from different tribal groups viz. the Nagas, the Khasis and Jaintias and the Mizos led to the emergence, first of Nagaland as a state in 1964 and subsequently of Meghalaya as a state and Mizoram and NEFA (renamed as Arunachal Pradesh) as Union territories in 1972. The region continued with this set up for a long time until 1987 when both Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram were declared as states of the Indian Union.
    In the post independence period, a number of institutional agencies have been working towards the region’s economic and overall social development. Along with the rest of the country, the region has been brought under the coverage of five-year plans for economic development. Considering its strategic geographical location, the Northeastern Council (NEC) was set up in 1972 to give a holistic approach to the entire developmental process of the region. However, the paradox of NEC is that it has been put under the Ministry of Home Affairs rather than the Ministry of Finance. The socio-economic development in the region at present is guided by the three-tier macro planning: Central plans, the plans of the States and the plans of the Northeastern Council (NEC). Of late, in order to monitor the development initiatives of different government and semi government agencies in the region and in view of the growing insurgency problems often hampering the works of large development projects, the Department of Development of Northeastern Region (DoNER) had been set up in September 2001. It acts as the nodal Department of the Central Government addressing the issues of socio economic development of the seven states of the region. Another interesting feature of the northeast India’s political and administrative set up is the Autonomous District Councils (ADC) embodied in the Sixth Schedule. To fulfill the political aspirations for autonomy and self rule demanded by the various tribal communities of the region for preserving their democratic traditions and cultural diversity, the Constitution of India conceived the instrument of tribal self-rule under the ADCs.
    If one analyses the development discourse in the region since independence then to quote Jairam Ramesh, the Hon’ble Member of Parliament, there are four discernible development paradigms for the northeastern region
6. In the decades of fifties till mid sixties the culture paradigm dominated the scene. It was believed that northeast India is a syncretism - a ‘diverse mosaic of cultures’, which had to be preserved and the development discourse in the region therefore emphasised on marinating the ethnic diversity of the region. The second paradigm since the mid sixties following the Chinese invasion brought to the fore the security paradigm. Together with the external security threat, some of the growing secessionist forces from within the region (the Nagas and the Mizos) forced a security oriented defensive approach in all the developmental efforts put in the region. In the seventies this security paradigm of development approach was complimented by growth of the political paradigm when the demands for right to self-determination of the secessionist forces were pacified by new state formations. The Central leadership in consultation with the local dissident community leadership had pacified the demands of these individualist ethnic groups by creating new administrative arrangements - Assam had been bifurcated into three states for enabling a fair socio-economic development of the various tribal and ethnic groups. After this political arrangement of the various ethnic groups into new states, the fourth paradigm viz. the economic development paradigm was introduced when huge investments were pumped into the region since the eighties. Yet, economic growth continues to be sluggish and the region is caught in a flux. Therefore, it is evident that a particular regulation and economic order guiding all sub national and spatial scale cannot deliver equitable growth. Here, one has to examine whether it is possible to mediate nationally hegemonic regulations at the sub-national scale, creating local modes of social regulations. Different social regulatory mechanisms are still very active and decide the economic and social spaces in the northeast7. These were in existence even before the existence of government laws and policies. There should be ways to induce these regulations to the national scale. To quote, L.C. Jain8,     
    The North – East has its own traditional local institutions, and the starting point for a poverty removing growth endeavour must be to allow the ideas, innovations and resources of these institutions to lead and direct development village by village - the centre only supplementing their efforts rather than imposing a standard format from far away. This is by no means a sufficient condition, but certainly a necessary first step.
    The pertinent question therefore is can activities that have grown over the years based on inherent strength in some localised space ensure their competitiveness at the national level? Again, to what extent these efforts support the development initiatives? Control exercised on the growth and development process may therefore be from the society, institutions or from the law, i.e., the regulations imposed. The recent work of M.S. Ahluwalia
9 while looking into the conventional variables like income, industrial production, infrastructure, demographic factors in understanding the spatial disparity too makes a reference to governance and policy implications.

IV. Contextual Plain of Spatial Disparity in Northeast India

As pointed by Satish Jha10, the basic cause for regional disparity is to be sought in India’s planning development strategy itself. This strategy centred on rapid industrial development through investment in heavy industries, which would uplift the living conditions of the entire Indian population. But, the strategy failed as it was wrought with mismatch of approaches. The development policies of the successive governments were more in tune with the socio-political consideration rather than socio-economic distributive justice and economic efficiency criteria. As Myrdal11 points out, on a low level of economic development with relatively low spread effects, the competitive forces in the markets will tend to increase regional inequalities which in turn will hamper economic development and at the same time weaken the egalitarian polices of the governments. But a higher level of development will bring about higher spread effects and this will bring about a reduction in regional inequalities and herein lies the possibilities of convergence in inter regional growth. Unfortunately, in the Indian case, there has been no realisation of such convergence. This could be permanently attributed to continuous low national economic growth performance. The key for realising such convergence is the degree of infrastructure and human capital development, which must come on a priority basis from the state government, with reasonable support from the Central Government. If convergence does not take place, regional disparity would tend to widen.
    Unfortunately for northeast India as per the latest UNDP estimates on the Human Development Index (HDI) and the Infrastructure Index, all the states of the region are ranked in the lowest category in respect of infrastructure index among the states of the region while in respect of HDI, Mizoram ranks among the highest category while rest of the states are all clubbed in the lower middle category. Therefore, the malaise for the region’s disparity is to be sought in the poor index for human development and infrastructure development. In fact, in the post reforms period, where the development expenditure of all the state governments in the region has decreased significantly, the non developmental expenditure has increased sharply. All the seven states of northeast India are significantly different from each other in respect of their social and economic spaces. While the size of net state domestic product (NSDP) in Assam is highest among all the northeastern States, the per capita income (PCI) is the lowest. This variation in the NSDP and the PCI is due to the large size of the population wherein 69.20 per cent of the region’s total population is concentrated in Assam. It is significant to mention here that at the start of the first five year plan in 1951, the per capita income of undivided Assam of Rs.290.70 was higher than the all-India figure of Rs.246.00. Twenty years later in 1970-71, the per capita income of Assam standing at Rs.538.60 fell significantly below the national average of Rs.627.50. A grouping of the states excluding Assam on the basis of their NSDP shows that rest of the six states of the region can be broadly classified into two groups. The first group comprising Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram whose NSDP are approximately the same and the second group comprising the four states of Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura. This disparity in respect of NSDP between Assam and the other six states is due to the size of the economic bases of the states. The economic base of Assam is stronger and expanded compared to the other states of the region. Among the remaining six states, Tripura has the highest NSDP in the region. A recent study in respect of inter state disparity among the seven states of the region with respect to income and banking indicators
12 reveals that in rank ordering the states in groups in terms of their per capita income (PCI), the three states viz. Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland constitute the high income group, while Meghalaya and Manipur fall in the middle income group and Assam and Tripura comprise the low income group. Despite the fact that both Assam and Tripura rank as the first and second largest states in the region in respect of NSDP estimates, the high population density in these states leaves a lower share of the pie for each person and hence the PCI is low in both these states compared to the hill states13. The spatial dimensions of disparity within the northeast states of India indicates that while the plains and river valleys provide the ideal conditions for human habitation with a diversified economic base and market access, however, the large size of population settlement in the areas leads to an overall pull down effect at the average income at the micro level vis-à-vis the hill areas in the region.
    One of the important agencies in ensuring effective allocation of resources is the market. As pointed by Neog
14, the role of market forces in the Indian economy was given a wider space only since the eighth plan. Market is said to be a good servant but a bad master. The market excludes those who lack purchasing power and are backward. Suitable social norms and legal framework are prerequisites for an efficient market, which however are lacking in backward areas. The biggest impediment in economic growth of northeast India is therefore market imperfection15. Both labour and land markets which form the basic inputs of production are imperfect in northeast. The primary reasons for imperfection in land market are: one, clan ownership of common property resources (CPR) including land under the tribal customary laws and absence of any cadastral survey in the hill states and second, even though cadastral survey has been done in Assam and parts of Tripura, the tenancy laws have created market distortions. In respect of labour market, the absence of contractual labour in the hill economies have induced migrant labour force comprising immigrants mostly from Bangladesh to capture the growing market for labour derived from various construction and other activities under infrastructure investment projects. This presence of migrant labour force has led to income leakage and also distorted labour participation rate in the region. The presence of market imperfection also shies away institutional investment and entrepreneurial growth. Therefore growth and effective play of market forces are essential for inducing the growth impetus in the region. They act as countervailing forces for reducing regional disparity by introducing the backward regions to a new realm of diversified opportunities in every field of social, economic and political interaction.

V. Governance and Issues in Economic Growth in Northeast India

The political autonomy demanded by the Nagas, Mizos and the Khasis since the early 1960s culminated in three new state formations from three districts of Assam16. Also, the sixth schedule has been in operation in the region to address the issues of ethnic tribes. The formation of new states and districts were aimed to devolve more political autonomy and right to determine economic development. The northeast states, which are part of Special Category States, receive 90 per cent of the plan allocations as Central grants and only 10 per cent of the development finances are met by the states themselves. From time to time the region also receives special economic packages from the Central Government - in 1996, it was H. D. Deve Gowda, the then prime Minister who announced an economic package of Rs. 6,100 crore for specific projects in northeast states. Mr. I. K. Gujaral who followed Gowda as the Prime Minister assured the implementation of the package. In the year 2000, Mr. Atal Behari Bajpai, the next Prime Minister of the country further announced a Rs.10, 271.66 crore package for the region. But these packages have failed to generate tangible viable development opportunities. Lack of local governance and people’s awareness on the level of local governance has contributed to its failure in emerging as a strong vibrant region in the country. Too much of reorganisation of states in the name of democratic and federal structure based on western political theories has failed to deliver the desired results for northeast where the sense of exclusiveness in-group identities is stronger than political consciousness of a democratic federal order with public accountability. These bifurcations and reorganisations have created two dangers – one, with respect to financial discipline and the second, with respect to demand for statehoods by various ethnic and tribal groups in the region on an ideological framework of right based approach to development. The Central financing in the region has tried to inject a make believe trust into the people of northeast that the region receives top priority from the Central Government (though these funds come with no requisite supportive policy changes given the distinct socio-economic differences within the region and its strategic location with international boundaries) which has led to rent seeking channels at the local governance level which has created the problem of opportunism. The existing situation today is ‘rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer’- the absolute number of people below poverty line has increased in the region by 1.26 lakhs during 1993-2001. There has been an increase in marginal workers while there has been a gradual decline in the main workers category as revealed by the NSS data17. This indicates that the sustainable livelihood opportunities are becoming increasingly limited in the region. The virtual shrinking of employment opportunities in the organised sector has left huge reservoir of human resources unutilised or underutilised. The alternative opportunities for self-employment are also severely restricted with poor market linkages and connectivity especially in the hill economies.
    The loss of opportunities has far reaching social consequences apart from the economic losses. The ethnicity problem in the region is one such direct outcome. The past precedence of bifurcation has fuelled the imaginations of other ethnic groups to demand for new states to ascertain their ‘right to development’. The protagonists of such populist demands are yet to realise that growth and development of any region cannot be realized by redrawing the boundaries based on political considerations only. One need not study management or economics to understand the fact that gains of development are reaped best by well-integrated states and nations rather than by small entities with poor utilisation of resource bases. The various groups in the region demanding for new states for asserting their own right to development have to realise that the more the bifurcations further is the curtailment on resource base whose potential gains of utilisation will be uneconomical. The obvious casualty of this is none other than the very objective of new state formation- growth and development of the so-called deprived group. Therefore, it is not new state formations within the region that can be panacea for the development of the region.
    It is important to note that the northeast as a physical or social space was far less integrated into the mainstream Indian polity even during the freedom movement and the region had very little presence at the national politics. The narrow physical connectivity and socio-cultural differences perhaps has some bearing on it. These socio cultural differences of the region have also underscored the economic significance of the region to the nation. The region with its low infrastructure base including poor transport connectivity has never been an attractor for capital investment. Besides, the fragile security along the international borders exposed during the Chinese aggression of 1962, also has some bearing on the present trends of development in the region. The official border trade along Manipur (Moreh) is very low but the unofficial trade between the region and its immediate border countries has been increasing. Therefore though substantial funds are generated through such trades and business but ‘un-official’ nature of the funds have led to investment leakages. The region is therefore virtually dependent on Central funds. At a time when the rest of the country has been a serious attraction for foreign institutional investors (FII), the northeast remains isolated. A host of clearances are still required from the Central Government to start a new venture by any FII in the region. Such practices raise the transaction costs, which in fact stand much higher than the expected rates of return, and under such situations economies of scale obviously do not permit any institutional investment.
    Government funds have never been a constraint in ‘northeast’ rather it is problem of plenty where the local leadership devoid of long term perspective is at a loss to deploy the funds for effective income generating and development activities in the region. The region has vast potential for development of tourism but this has long escaped the attention of the local leadership. Sikkim which has been recently included in the northeast region has generated the growth impetus through tourism industry. A similar approach can be evolved for the seven states given the rich bio-diversity of the region. The ‘northeast’ is a fragmented entity within itself but it still has its collective strength if the internal differences can be removed to emerge as a strong force in the mainstream development dynamics of India. As ‘northeast’ its strengths and opportunities are its diversity in social, cultural and economic sphere, which are the required capital for the development of tourism industry. Its weaknesses and threats are poor local governance with no visions for development of the region and factional ethnic rivalry the corrective measures for which cannot be obtained from Central doles but from a strong local leadership with social awareness and a reasonably ‘aware and informed population’ on the local governance and discourses of development. 
    The development paradigm of heavy financial investments has been supplemented by the present wave of the ‘Look East Policy’ of India. If the northeast India is to benefit from the regional cooperation, the scope for which is offered under the ‘Look east Policy’, it must set its house in order- a strong political governance with social accountability with a vision to canalise investments for basic infrastructure and create a conducive economic climate to attract foreign capital into three core sectors of the region - agro based industry, handloom and handicraft and tourism which can in the process develop the service sector as a backward linkage effect. It may be noted here that the Asian Development Bank recently approved a $150 million loan to the Assam government for managing its fiscal and revenue deficits. The loan will support the state government in strengthening public finances, fiscal governance, and core governance through a series of reforms at various levels - policies, legal, regulatory and institutional. It is only hoped that the utilisation of resources begins with good governance or else it will be rewriting old history with new jargons of rent seeking governance.


     1.   Chattopadhyay, M., Mukherjee, R. and Ashok Rudra (1990), “Disparities in Income and Level of 
           Living”, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. XXXV, No. 15, April 14, pp. 789-790.
2.   Sarkar, P. C. (1994), “Regional Imbalances in Indian Economy over Plan Periods”, Economic and 
           Political Weekly,
Vol. XXIX, No.11, March 12, pp. 621- 634.
3.   Ahluwalia, M.S. (2000), “Economic Performance of States in Post-Reforms Period”, Economic and 
           Political Weekly,
Vol. XXXV, No.19, May 6, pp. 1637-1648.
4.   Tickell, A. and J.A. Peck (1991), “Regulation Theory and Geographies of Flexible accumulation: 
           Transitions in Capitalism, Transitions in Theory”, Working Paper, Spatial Policy Analysis (SPA), 
           School of Environment and Development, University of Manchester.
5.   Jessop B. (1990), “Regulation Theories and in Retrospect and Prospect” Economy and Society, Vol. 
           19, No.2, May.
6.   Ramesh, J. (2004), “Towards a New Asia: Transnationalism and Northeast India”, CENISEAS 
           Forum, Key Note Address, September 10-11 2004, Guwahati, Assam.
7.   Sarkar, J. and B Datta Ray (ed.) (1990), Social and Political Institutions of the Hill People of 
           Northeast India,
Anthropological Survey of India, Government of India, Calcutta.
8.   Goswami, A. (eds.) (2001), Regional Disparities in India, Akansha Publishing House, New 
9.   Ahluwalia, M.S. (2000), “Economic Performance of States in Post-Reforms Period”, Economic and 
           Political Weekly,
Vol. XXXV, No.19, May 6, pp. 1637-1648.
10.   Goswami, A. (eds.) (2001), Regional Disparities in India, Akansha Publishing House, New Delhi.
11.   Myrdal, G. (1957), Economic Theory and Underdeveloped Regions, London: Gerald Duckworth 
           and Co. Ltd.
12.   Choudhury, S. (2004), “Intra Regional Disparity in Northeast India: Commercial Banks”, Working 
           Paper Series, No.3, Omeo Kumar Das Institute of Social Change and Development, Guwahati, 
13.   ibid.
14.   Goswami, A. (eds.) (2001), Regional Disparities in India, Akansha Publishing House, New Delhi.
15.   Sarma, A. (2005), “Why Northeastern States Continue to Decelerate”, First Atul Goswami Memorial 
           Lecture, Omeo Kumar Das Institute of Social Change and Development (OKDISCD), Guwahati 
           and North Eastern Economic Association (NEEA), June 10.
16.   Goswami, A. (eds.) (2001), Regional Disparities in India, Akansha Publishing House, New Delhi.
17.   National Sample Survey, 50th and 55th Rounds.

Total and rural population of Northeastern States (In ‘000 Persons)

   States                                        1991                                     2001                                                                                                     Total              Rural                  Total                 Rural                             
(1)                                  (2)                  (3)                      (4)                      (5

Arunachal Pradesh         859             754                      1091                   868                         
Assam                       22295         19824                    26638                23429                    
Manipur                       1826           1321                      2389                  1818                    
Meghalaya                   1760           1432                      2306                  1853
Mizoram                        686             369                        891                    450
Nagaland                     1212           1005                      1989                  1635
Tripura                        2744            2326                      3191                  2648                    

Source: Census of India, 1991 & 2001

Table 2

Proportion of Rural Landless Households and Households without Cultivable Land in the N.E. States (In Percentage)
States                            Households                             Households without

                                                            without Land                             Cultivable Land

                                                 1993-94         1999-2000             1993-94         1999-2000

  (1)                                                (2)                   (3)                         (4)                   (5)

Arunachal Pradesh                     15.38                  19.81                  22.81                  25.38
Assam                                       11.77                  14.37                  34.55                  35.38
Manipur                                      0.56                    1.53                  24.74                  16.18
Meghalaya                                  8.90                    6.89                  17.89                  12.42
Mizoram                                     1.29                    2.39                  10.25                  14.43
Nagaland                                     3.66                    1.51                    6.35                 10.54
Tripura                                        7.23                    3.50                  54.01                  57.8
Source: NSS 50th and 55th Rounds

Table 3

Road Density in the Northeast States (2004)

                        States                                                 Road Density

                                                                               (per 100 sq. km.)

                         (1)                                                             (2)

                        Arunachal Pradesh                                     21.96

                        Assam                                                     114.15

                        Manipur                                                     51.27

                        Meghalaya                                                 42.69

                        Mizoram                                                     24.09

              Nagaland                                                  126.89
              Tripura                                                     155.37

                                         Source: CMIE, Infrastructure, 2004

Table 4

Net State Domestic Product (NSDP) and
Per Capita Income (PCI) of Northeastern States

State                                 Net State Domestic Product                Per Capita  Income
                                           (NSDP) (Rupees in Crore)                      (PCI)  (In Rupees)

                                            At Current Prices                                 At Current Prices

(1)                             (2)                  (3)              (4)                     (5)                (6)             (7)

                              1998-99     1999-2000                              1998-99   1999-2000      2004

Arunachal                 1286            1533     1740 (2001-02)      12335          14338          18821
Assam                     22710           25333   31721 (2002-03)     8826            9720           13343
Manipur                    2311            2554     3047 (2002-03)     10520          11370           14968
Meghalaya                 2467           2806     3842 (2002-03)     10607          11678           18061
Mizoram                   1139            1359     1645 (2001-02)     13712          12535           22720
Nagaland                    2184             -         3427 (2000-01)     12408               -              22223
Tripura                       3473           3813     5660 (2001-02)       9613         10213            21796

Source: NEDFI Data Bank, Quarterly, Vol.1.Issue I, July, 2002 & Handbook of Statistics on the Indian 
             Economy, RBI, 2003-04

Note: For column 4, figures in brackets indicate respective years

Table 5

Average Distance Served by a Town in Northeast States
as per 2001 Census (in sq.km)

                            States                                     Average Distance

                                                                                (in sq.km)

                             (1)                                                     (2)

                            Arunachal Pradesh                         4926.06

                            Assam                                             627.50

                            Manipur                                          676.58

                            Meghalaya                                     1401.81

                            Mizoram                                          948.5

                            Nagaland                                       1842.11

                            Tripura                                             456.16
                          Source: Census 2001

Table 6

Index of Fiscal Self Reliance in Northeast States

                    States                 Own Revenue/                 Relative to                 Improvement
Revenue Expenditure         All States (ratio)            Index (ratio)
                                                (per cent)
Average      Average        Average     Average 
                                    1993-94         2000-2001    1993-1994  2000-2001  
                                    to 95-96         02-03            95-96           to 02-03
Arunachal             20.27         9.51                0.36                0.19                0.53
            Assam                  30.24        32.66               0.53                0.65                1.23
            Manipur                 9.45          7.49                0.17                0.15                0.90
            Meghalaya           19.74        19.35                0.35                0.39                1.11
            Mizoram                6.55          5.60                0.11                0.11                0.97
            Nagaland               9.44          6.85                0.17                0.14                0.82
            Tripura                 10.22        13.76                0.18                0.27                1.53  
Source: Twelfth Finance Commission

Table 7

Northeast States Grouped according to Selected Indicators

                    Human Development Index                                 Infrastructure Index

                     High                                                                    High


                      High Middle                                                     High Middle

                      Manipur, Nagaland

                      Middle                                                              Middle

                      Arunachal Pradesh,

                      Meghalaya and Tripura

                       Lower Middle                                                  Lower Middle


                        Low                                                                 Low

                                                                                                Arunachal Pradesh, Assam,         
                                               Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, 
                                               Nagaland and Tripura

                            Source: UNDP for HDI and IDFC for Index of Infrastructure

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