Delhi Police back to back up the North East people in Delhi

22 Dec. 2015: After the infamous booklet published by the Delhi police on “Dos and don’t” for NE students in July 2007, now the Delhi police is back to back up the North East India people in Delhi. The booklet on ‘Dos and Don’t’ went viral in social networking site and in all the local and national news paper. The good intention of the Delhi Police was assumed (turned out) to be a direct attack to the NE people by many NE people, and believe that the booklet was a discrimination, alienation from NE, prejudice, divisive policy etc.

Today the Delhi police is helping many NE people in Delhi and other cities too.  Their good Samaritan work is now vividly seen and published in many social media and other printed media.  In recent Delhi police recruitment especially for the NE people is encourageable, and it is believe that more NE people recruitment into Delhi police will be able to tackle the various problems encounter by the NE people in Delhi.

A special credit goes to IGP Robin Hibu IPS Nodal Officer for North East Region,  and his team for helping the NE people in Delhii and working out to bring justice for the NE people.


Friday, July 27, 2007

Delhi Police’s Security booklet on Northeast

In every northeast website, the story of Delhi Police’s Security booklet is still a burning story, a breaking news; different opinions from different writers continue to pour on…

The internet is full of prominent newspapers and illustrious NE writers expressing their views on this whole Hibu incident. Given below are just some of the results Google churned out:
Police booklet for NE students betrays prejudices – The Telegraph.
Dos & don’ts in Delhi irk NE students – The Economic Times.
NE students don’t want any diktats – The Times of India.
Delhi Police booklet for NE triggers protests – The Hindustan Times.
Delhi cops tell students from NE how to behave – The NorthEast Tribune.
Local media takes up ‘security tips’ for NE students – Aizol Times.
Social profiling of NE students draws flak – E-PAO
Booklet for NE students triggers protest – The Nagaland Post.
Row over NE students’ dress code – The Assam Tribune.
Delhi cops tell students from NE how to behave – Good Morning Star.
NE in Indian Mainstream – Kangla Online.
Delhi ‘profiles’ to protect – Zogam Online.
Insecuring Cultures – David Buhril @ E-PAO
Alienating the NE – DMT @
Developing the Right Attitude – Donald Tsang @ E-PAO
Unwise Delhi Police divisive policy on NE – Thohe Pao @
Do’s and Dont’s for NE People at Delhi – F. Silkam Sangma @ E-PAO
DISCRIMINATION! Delhi police profiles northeast students– Akangjungla Longchar (The Morung Express) @
‘Delhi police security booklet’ In the eye of the storm– Longrangty Longchar (The Morung Express) @
In Delhi do like the Delhiites do: Delhi Police –
Police booklet for NE Students – mi(sual).com
We deserve an apology from the IPS Officer – Kuknalim Forum.
The NE population may help Delhi locals – assamonline (yahoo groups)
Is it the case of Good intentions going wrong? – Great Indian Mutiny
Sickening Delhi polices 7 sisters – Journalist + Blogger “N”
Battle over the Dress Code for NE Girls –
Opinion on Delhi Police’s “Security Booklet”
Ethnocide: The Great Hibu Fiasco
Kima read the booklet and blogs.
Delhi Police’s Diktats and us
Bidyananda Hanjabam on Robin Hibu’s “booklet”
The Chinky Syndrome
Courtesy : The Sangai Express Editorial
Insecuring Cultures
David Buhril says Culture or Identity is defined by smell, taste and colour
Developing The Right Attitude
Donald Tsang says we need to develop ‘right attitudes’
Unwise Delhi Police divisive policy on NE people
R.B. Thohe Pou vent out at Delhi Police “security booklet”
Do’s and Dont’s for NE People at Delhi
Febroneous Sangma vent out at this “security booklet”

Unwise Delhi Police divisive policy on NE people

By: R.B. Thohe Pou *

We are happy that we have an IPS in Delhi from North East India. He is from Northeast and people from NE may feel good because there is some one from NE who can fight justice for the NE people. But bringing out the booklet, “Security tips for the Northeast students/visitors in Delhi” is unwise booklet, which brings more insecure and division to the NE people from the mainstream India.

Today, there is a booklet on, Security tips for the NE students in Delhi, but I am afraid that tomorrow there may be many such similar booklets for each community living in different parts of India. In every city or town there are some minority people and if we make a separate rule for the minority group with the interest of the majority people, the minority people will have no place to live. Bringing the booklet on, Security tips for the northeast students in Delhi is one of the most unwise booklets.

I am indeed sad to learn that IPS who seems to be educated person is trying to divide the NE people, and divert the NE people from the mainstream Indian. We know that there are many politicians trying their best to bring unity in diversity in India. But he is just enjoying writing to divide the people. Most of the NE people want to have their own state/nation as we observed in last 30-50 decades. So trying to divide and make such kind of discrimination would be added another chance or encourage to go ahead with their agenda to live a separate nation.

I am sure that it is not wise to make rule for some specific people. I think we should always take precaution in writing very critical view or making such of separate rule for those insurgent dominated region. If they are hurt, law is nothing to do and the gun/sword what they have in their hand may be used to find the justice.

I am sad because the Delhi Moral Police is treating us unwisely also they are indirectly destroying the good work of last 20-30 decades of our politicians. Mr. IPS from Arunachal Pradesh might have gone out of his head. How can he insist to make separate rule for the NE and divide the northeast people from mainland India when many politicians are trying to bring the whole northeast people under the mainstream of India, if he continues to insist on his writing, thinking that “Pen is mightier than sword”, I am afraid that some of the insurgents from NE may teach a new lesson that “Sword is mightier than Pen” in this modern world.

We all need to know that in this modern world, no one is the boss to dictate. It is becoming very difficult to use force without the concern of the people. Let’s learn to live together peacefully and share the problems to solve the problems for there is no any human problem, which is too difficult to solve.

Related Article on NE Dress & Behaviour
TSE News 14th Jul ’07 TSE News 17th Jul ’07
Dressed to kill ?? – Jenni Readers Reply
Dress code of NE girls for cops’ failures – Oken Sandham
A Foreigner In Own Country – Jimmy Wahengbam
Dress Code In Delhi University? – Hopson Sapam
On discrimination in Mainland India – Hahat Melchior
A Manipuri in New Delhi – Alberto Mangsatabam
Northeast Students Protest Rally In Delhi – Lalremlien Neitham
The Clogged Space – David Buhril

* R.B. Thohe Pou contributes regularly to . The writer can be contacted at thohepou(at)rediffmail(dot)com . This article was webcasted on July 20th, 2007

Fighting for India, and Against Prejudice

KomNEW DELHI — MANGTE CHUNGNEIJANG MARY KOM, the most celebrated female boxer in India, grew up fighting.

She fought convention as the eldest child of a landless farmer in the fractious northeastern state of Manipur, where she drove steer across rice fields, work that boys in the village let her know, derisively, belonged to men.

She fought lack of means when she trained in the state’s capital as a teenager — buying knockoff sneakers in a black market bordering Myanmar, making do with two meals a day, shadowboxing her reflection in a mirror.

She fought her own body after undergoing one cesarean section for twin boys, then another for a third boy, then going back to train through postpartum sluggishness and her legs’ sudden unwillingness to bounce step.

It is perhaps not surprising then, that Ms. Kom, 32, who goes by the name Mary, cannot seem to give up the fight.

She is a five-time world champion, was the Olympic bronze medalist at the London Games, and gold medalist at this fall’s Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea. Her autobiography, “Unbreakable,” was released in 2013 at a ceremony hosted by the Indian actress and former Miss Universe, Sushmita Sen, who called it a story of “a woman’s road to emancipation and empowerment.” She was the subject of an operatic Bollywood biopicreleased in September that was a commercial success, perhaps the chief indicator of having arrived in India.

But her rise has been punctuated by deep grievances, often against what she describes as a sports bureaucracy stacked against her and fellow boxers. At the Asian Games medal ceremony in October, another Manipuri boxer, Laishram Sarita Devi, tearfully refused her own bronze in the 60-kilogram category, protesting the judges’ decision to award the victory in a semifinal match to her Korean opponent. Ms. Devi was suspended by the International Boxing Association for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Her colleagues, including Ms. Kom, stood by her, and India’s sports ministerwrote a letter to the amateur boxing federation pleading for the revocation of her suspension.

For Ms. Kom, a devout Christian from the tiny Kom tribal community, who has remained somewhat of an outsider in India and who has railed against bias in judging, Ms. Devi’s suspension reflects deeper fissures in the sport.

“Of course she won the bout,” said Ms. Kom, in a hotel suite not far from the presidential palace in New Delhi, asserting that the referee cheated, wanting to advance a Korean candidate to the finals. “We are always facing the same problems. Sarita was facing internationally. I was facing nationally.”

Some say Ms. Kom has used her grievances to her advantage, and they have certainly added color to her underdog story. But they have also isolated her, limiting her impact on India’s sporting culture.

“What is the use having a women’s boxer like Mary Kom?” said S. Sabanayakan, a sportswriter who has followed Ms. Kom’s career. “I hardly see Mary Kom talking to other boxers, giving tips. She only wants to be Mary Kom. Mary Kom is an iconic figure in Indian women’s boxing. Why can’t she motivate all the boxers in India? Why only Manipur?”

Her opponent, she said, had “never, ever beaten me. But the referees don’t favor me, they don’t give any points to me.”

Ms. Kom added, “In India, there is this problem facing most of the boxers from the Northeast.”

INDIA has struggled to contain multiple insurgencies within its cluster of northeastern states, thinly tied to the mainland by a 14-mile stretch of land in West Bengal. Most of the states are dominated by tribal populations with ethnic ties to their Southeast Asian neighbors. When they come to Delhi or Bangalore for school or work, many complain of discrimination.

Ms. Kom is no exception. On a Sunday several years ago, Ms. Kom was walking to church in a South Delhi neighborhood with friends, all Koms. A bus pulled up beside them, and the conductor called them Nepalis, implying, she said, that they were part of a migrant servant class. She does not remember who threw the first punch, but before she knew it, her male friends were fighting with passengers, while others fled.

Among northeastern Indians, she said, “the face is mostly similar, they think that we’re from Nepal, and they really look down on us. That’s the main problem. They don’t know where we are from.”

Many deflect criticism of judging bias in India based on state origins. But Ms. Kom represents a bit of a puzzle for the country — the pride and joy of Indian boxing, in the shape of a woman who bears little stamp of its dominant culture.

“People love Mary Kom,” said Mr. Sabanayakan, who attended the 2009 match. Mary had recently given birth, and Ms. Jangra “pounced on Mary like a lion on prey.”

Her complaints, he said, were an extension of the caginess she deploys inside the ring.

“It’s the psychology of a boxer to keep everyone under pressure,” he said. “She has a knack of creating this psychological pressure on the judges.”

But even as judges defend themselves against accusations of bias, some reveal deeply entrenched attitudes in India’s heartland about Manipuris.

Mr. Sabanayakan said that there were a large number of boxers from Manipur because tribals tend to fight by nature. Jay Kowli, recently named the head of Boxing India, a national amateur boxing organization, said that Manipuris come from a martial society, and are “hot-blooded.”

“She comes from a tribe which is genetically aggressive,” he said. “They’re warriors. You don’t expect a man on the front, a soldier on the front to be like a gentleman.”

Ms. Kom, for her part, seeks a change in the boxing establishment through representation. She recently met with the sports minister and suggested three men who could be named as independent observers of matches, including one of her first coaches in Manipur.


From Homjong Matcha People of erstwhile Tirap district have no ethnic names. Though communities described or knew themselves as Nocte, Tangsa and Wancho in the past, the Constitution of India had shoved them into an unsorted miscellaneous can, called ‘Any Naga Tribe’. Therefore, people want to be identified by a specific ethnical name, not as ‘Any Naga’. But it is still dangling around their neck, like a locket, even after 65 years of the Indian republic. Isn’t it denial of right to ethnic identity?
Glimpse into history As early as 1958, elder guardians of this district of NEFA wrote a letter with presents to the first prime minister of independent India, Jawaharlal Nehru, introducing their ethnic identities as Nocte, Tangsa, Wancho and Singpho, to which he responded scribbling in his own hand, dated 18.11.1958, which is still alive, welcoming any reader. It reads: ‘To Nocte, Tangsa, Wanchoo and Singpho. My dear children, thank you for your letter and the beautiful presents you have sent me. I like them very much. My love to you all.’ This surely was the first attempt from elders of the tribes for official recognition of their ethnic identity. But they had no idea and means to pursue it further.
It got buried deep under passage of time. There was no one in New Delhi to stir it up to fruition. Question arises as to when and how the term ‘Naga’ or ‘Any Naga’ came into existence in regards to people of the then Tirap district. Gazetteer of India, Arunachal Pradesh, Tirap district reveals that the Ahom who came from upper Burma through Pangsau Pass in the thirteenth century and ruled in Assam from 1228 AD and came into contact with these tribal people, was first to call ‘Eastern Naga’ or ‘Noga’. Before that, probably no contemporary outside world knew about these tribes.
It appears, British inherited the term straight away from Ahom when Assam came under British rule, and then passed it further on to Independent India. But, no author’s writing on origin and history of Naga has come to the knowledge, as yet. Challenges to nomenclature If the Ahoms coined the term ‘Naga’, what did it stand for, in Ahom or Tai language? Why was it termed so? Wherefrom the word ‘Naga’ derived? Why should a race or tribe accept the name given by foreigner? These are the questions, answers of which are yet to find.
The last one question is probably, the ideology many others had already posed, and challenged too. Take the example of Indian cities that have been changed to local names; such as: Calcutta to Kolkata, Bombay to Mumbai, Gauhati to Guwahati, etc. Even country’s name had been changed to suit local term and meaning. The nationality of Burma was called ‘Man’ which Burmese perhaps, pronounce as ‘Myan’. Therefore, the country was rechristened as ‘Myanmar’. Every term has its origin and meaning. So, people of undivided Tirap too, have for their ethnic tribes; such as Noc = village, te = people; so Nocte means ‘village people’.
Similarly, Tang = hill, sa = children. So Tangsa means ‘children of hills’. On other hand, ‘Any Naga’ suggests nameless, unexplored, insignificant human species that might still be dwelling in the forest of Nagaland hills. Does it not imply derogatory and disgracing meaning? The aforementioned gazetteer describes, “the term ‘Naga’ is a generic name applies to large number of tribes and sub-tribes living in the then Tirap district and Nagaland.” But there’s no mention about origin and evolution of the term ‘Naga’. For reason of obscurity of its origin, today people take the term ‘Naga’ for ‘naked’. Information gleaned from Wikipedia throws light that Naga people were snake-worshippers of Sri Lankan Hindus who migrated to Pandya kingdom in third century BCE, and assimilated to Tamil culture, and lost their separate identity. This makes a sense and meaning to the term ‘Naga’.
Further, H Parker, a British historian and author of ‘Ancient Ceylon’ considered the Naga tribe to be an offshoot of the Nayars of Kerela. These Nagas are, other than Naga tribes of present Nagaland, and come under category of ‘Any Nagas’. So, does it mean Noctes, Tangsas and Wanchos are descendents of Sri Lankan or Kerelian Nagas?
Dr Horam, a Naga scholar wrote: “Some people believe the present group of Nagas came from Philippines where there is place called ‘Naga’.” But, this appears to be an assumption, not backed by definite historical references. Delving into the bottom The gazetteer of India, Arunachal Pradesh, Tirap district which is considered to be authentic official record, provides at chapter 11 as follows: “… placed between the plains of the Brahmaputra on the west and the valley of the Irrawaddy on the east, this area witnessed movement of people from across the Patkai ranges from time immemorial. Hordes of migratory tribes of the Mongoloids called Kirata in the ancient Indian scriptures, were drifted to Assam through this district (then Tirap).
It was in Assam and its neighbouring regions that these tribes were absorbed.” We have not come across any historic record and reference that Mongoloid kiratas had further migrated out from this region to elsewhere directions, or had any other tribe came to replace them. There’s no mention of the term ‘Naga’ either, during those period of history of great migration. Whereas Hindu scriptures and mythology in the Mahabharata, has a mention about Kiratas as dwellers of the eastern Himalayas where ‘Bhima meets Kiratas to the east of Videha.’ The area of Kiratas is said to have extended from Eastern Nepal to North Eastern India. In Vasistha too, Lord Rama referred to Kiratas as ‘mountain dwellers who laid trap to catch roving deer, by digging pitch’.
But RB Thohe Pou, in his article ‘The Myths of Naga Origin’ quoted JH Hutton who wrote, “All sorts of origins have been connected with the Head hunters of Malay and the races of Southern Seas on the one hand, and traced back to China, on the other hand.” In the article, the author has presented more discussions about Nagas of British period from 1832 AD, rather than attempting to discover systematic history of Naga origin as a race or tribe which matters most.
Free encyclopaedia sources reveal that “the Kirata is a generic term in Sanskrit literature for people who lived in mountains, particularly in Himalayas and North East India, and who were postulated to have been Mongoloid in origin.” Because of their living in mountain, it has been theorised that the word Kirata or Kirati meant ‘people with lion nature’. Tanka Bahadur Subba in his ‘Politics of Culture: A Study of Three Kirata Communities in the Eastern Himalayas’ wrote about a Kirata scholar, Narad Muni Thulung; “…to him, it is derived from two words: ‘Kira’ meaning ‘Lion’, and ‘ti’ meaning ‘people’, or ‘’ People with Lion Nature’.”
The same source goes on to reveal that “The Kirata people practised shamanism, they call it Kirata religion. In animism and shamanism, they worshipped Nature and believed in primeval ancestors. They had two main festivals: one during plantation and another during the time of harvest.” These traits of cultural and religious believe system of Kiratas fully agree with that of the systems professed by present North-Eastern tribes’, except those who became Buddhists, Christians and Muslims.
Given the similarity in physical features of the people, culture and religious belief systems between Mongoloid Kiratas and hill tribes of North Eastern India, particularly across Patkai ranges, it may be believe that they are the descendents of Kiratas who migrated in different periods, settled in different geographical areas by different ethnic names; independent to one another. As Pablo Bartholomeo in his article ‘Naga: Hidden Hill People of India’ wrote,
“While Naga cultures share many traits, each is distinct indeed”; and as a Naga author Ayinla Shilu Ao wrote,
“Every tribe could virtually be a nation unto itself”, all the ethnic tribes of so-called ‘Nagas’ are independent to each other, and hence, they need to be identified and recognised by their respective ethnic tribe, accordingly. To this, some people may be snubbing what was wrong in identifying as ‘any Naga’. It’s only affected people who understand and carry the brunt of it, ever since Naga nationalist movement had extended its arms to these ‘Any Naga’ districts, making development a bottomless effort. Once, people of these districts in NEFA days were in peace, though not in prosperity, they have now been made to forget the concept of peace, freedom and liberty.
End anonymity Therefore, Noctes, Tangsas, Wanchos and Tutsas – the Nature worshippers, who were independent by birth, deserve to be recognised as independent tribes among scheduled tribes of Arunachal Pradesh, and once for all, end their anonymity. For that matter, New Delhi, or Arunachal Pradesh, or people themselves, or any other stake holder has nothing to lose. (The views expressed are the writer’s own and not necessarily of this daily)

Delay in NSCN-K truce talks

Kohima, April 27: The extension of the ceasefire between the Khaplang faction of the NSCN and the Centre has been delayed because of disagreements, an insider in the outfit said.

The yearlong ceasefire between the Centre and the outfit expired today but further talks on its extension have stalled because of some hiccups, the source said.

The talks were scheduled for Tuesday.

Khaplang Photo by Rajeev Bhattacharyya

Photo by Rajeev Bhattacharyya

However, sources in the group said the outfit’s chairman, S.S. Khaplang, has deputed a few of his functionaries, including spokesman P. Tikhak and Wangtin Naga, to meet representatives of the Centre to sign the truce extension. Nagaland-based functionaries of the outfit have recently returned from Myanmar after meeting Khaplang, sources said. The delegation will leave for the national capital tomorrow via Dibrugarh in Assam.

The Centre and the NSCN (K) had signed a ceasefire agreement on April 27, 2001, and since then they have been extending the truce every year.

Other outfits in Nagaland have been insisting on talks with the Centre but the government has said it will not engage in dialogue with other groups till there is resolution of the talks with the NSCN (Isak-Muivah).

NSCN (I-M) chairman Isak Chishi Swu and general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah have threatened to pull out of the peace process if the Centre initiates an inclusive dialogue. The duo do not recognise other outfits and have branded them “anti-Naga”.

Prior to signing of the ceasefire with the NSCN (I-M) in July 31, 1997, the Centre had assured the outfit that it would not engage in dialogue with other Naga outfits and stated that the NSCN (I-M) was the only legitimate Naga group.

The NSCN (I-M), which was engaged in reconciliation process with other outfits, ruled out taking other groups on board for the peace process.

Shambu Singh, joint secretary (Northeast) in the home ministry, said the Centre would not hold talks with other groups till the talks with the NSCN (I-M) reach a conclusion. The statement was likely to have ramifications in the reconciliation process and in the efforts being made by the Forum for Naga Reconciliation (FNR) to form a united Naga government comprising all major outfits. The forum has the support of various Naga, national and international organisations.

The NSCN (K) has been arguing taht it is the only legitimate outfit which can represent Nagas living in India and Myanmar but the Centre was not willing to engage in dialogue with Khaplang, who is a Burmese national. The outfit has two designated camps in India — at Suruhoto in Zunheboto district and in Mon district. – Telegraph, Kolkata

Tribes and Tribal Studies in North East: Deconstructing the Politics of Colonial Methodology

By: Raile Rocky


British colonial administrator-ethnographers in India were pioneers in surveys and carried out intensive expeditions on tribes. Nevertheless their methods were and remains questionable. Their survey reports and documents became the source of invaluable information about varied regions and at the same time a tool for insidious expansion of their colonial administration. However by using official machinery and tours for documenting realities they bypassed the ethical considerations of research. Their writings in many ways ended up contorting many indigenous communities which they collectively ascribed as ‘tribes’ as being synonymous with being backward, uncivilized and barbarous. This paper critically analyse the notion of ‘tribe’ in India as perceived and studied by colonial anthropologists. It also interrogates the Ontology and Epistemic premises of their Knowledge Production on tribes in India and concludes by deciphering the politics of their methodology.


The multiethnic, multilingustic, multi religious, and multicultural nature of Indian society is both a boon and a bane. Cultural pluralism adds colour and dynamism to Indian society but at the same time it is also a stumbling block to economic integration and societal cohabitation. Due to the varied geographical topography and social groupings that inhabit India, no two social groups would have a comprehensive knowledge about the others. This misinformation becomes more pronounced in the context of the understanding of ‘tribes’ in India whose history for long has been documented and interpreted by others. For a community that constitute 8.6% of India’s population the label of barbaric, savages, uncivilised, backward, criminals etc. thrust upon them by the Britishers, anthropologists and Indian administrators alike has been slow to erode and continues to colour the perception of the general populace on tribes in India. As Smith notes, ‘They continue to frame the discourses on indigenous issues of a particular society and account in part for the very specific use of language, including terms of abuse, the sorts of issues which are selected for debate and even the types of resistance being mounted by indigenous peoples’ (Smith 1999:79). Misra (2012) further adds, one cannot deny the fact that colonialism was the cause of large scale dissemination, displacement, pauperization and creation of a deep sense of inferiority among indigenous population the world over. This paper critically analyse the notion and characterization of tribes in India as perceived through the writings of colonial administrators cum ethnographers with special references to the Naga tribes of North East India. It also interrogates the Ontology and Epistemic premises of Colonial Knowledge Production on tribes in India. The paper concludes with a discussion on the politics of methodology.

Positioning and Categorizing Tribes in India

‘Tribe’ is one of the most contested terms particularly in India, no official definition exists till date. ‘There has been more concern with the identification of tribes than with their definition. These criteria ranged from such features as geographical isolation, simple technology and condition of living, general backwardness to the practice of animism, tribal language, physical features, etc. The problem however lay in the fact that they were neither clearly formulated nor systematically applied’ (Xaxa, 2006). Essentially the word tribe is a relic of the colonial writers that referred to certain groups of people who were largely cut off from the rest of the larger society and mainly resided in the forest or its vicinity or in other remote areas. ‘Colonial administrators used the term tribe to describe people who were heterogeneous in physical and linguistic traits, demographic size, ecological conditions of living, regions inhabited, stages of social formation, and levels of acculturation and development’ (Xaxa 2005, 2008: 2). The term is synonymous with being primitive and with savagery and hence is derogatory in many ways. ‘Tribes are primarily seen as a stage and type of society. They represent a society that lacks positive traits of the modern society and thus constitute simple, illiterate and backward society’ (Xaxa 1999).

In India the Constitutionally recognized term for this particular category of people is Scheduled tribe; these tribes are spread across the country, they are highly concentrated in the central and peninsular and north eastern of the country. Generally, three widely accepted terminology for the group of people referred to as Scheduled tribes are: a) Tribals b) Adivasis and c) Indigenous People. This can be clearly observed from the fact that the tribals in the Central, Western and Southern part of the country prefer calling themselves Adivasis rather than Tribals. The term Adivasi however have little acceptance amongst the tribals in the North eastern part of the country with the term generally being used by them to refer to the tribes who work in the tea Gardens in Assam. “The term ‘Adivasi’ therefore, remains a generic name in East and North-East India for identifying the migrant tribal laborers and small peasants from central India. The local tribes in these States find it humiliating to identify themselves as ‘Adivasi’ ” (Burman, 2009).

The beginning of the tribal studies or documenting and writing monographs on tribal can dates back to 1774 with the setting up of the Asiatic Society of Bengal by Sir William Jones. Anthropologist has divided cultural studies of tribes into four chronological phases of development as per with the Indian anthropology, viz. (i) The Formative Phase (1774-1919), (ii) The Constructive Phase (1920-1949), (iii) The Analytical Phase (1950 -1989), and (iv) The Evaluative Phase (1990-present). In the ensuing section, I will highlight the various arguments on the construction of the category of ‘tribes’ by anthropologists in India.

The British administrators were the pioneers in documenting and preparing monographs on tribes in India with the motive of promoting their interest and enhancing their power. The works of J.H. Hutton a British administrator cum anthropologist on the Nagas particularly the Sema’s and Angami, Christoph von-Fuhrer Haimendorf on the Gonds of Adilabad are two notable examples of such endeavors. As far as anthropologists in India are concern, Verrier Elwin remains one of the most influential anthropologists on tribal policy in India. Elwin initially came to India as a Christian preacher but later abandoned it and went to write extensively on tribes in India starting with the Baiga tribe and later on the tribals of North East India particularly on tribes of present day Arunachal Pradesh then known as NEFA. V. Elwin was a fervent advocate of the ‘isolationist’ framework for tribes which basically argued for tribes to be left alone and be kept separate from mainstream Indian society.

In direct opposition to Elwin’s ‘isolationist’ framework was G.S. Ghuyre, it was he who advocated the policy of assimilation of tribal with Hindu society. He argued that ‘almost all the so-called aboriginal tribes of the region have a Hinduized section, small or large, that they been in fairly intimate contact with the Hindus for a long time, and that they have common interest with the Hindu in matter of religion and gainful occupation’ (Ghurye: 1963:18). Essentially for him tribals were nothing more than Backward Hindus. Some of the notable categorization of tribes by anthropologist in India includes tribes as ‘nationalities’ by Burman, ‘ethnic group’ by Doshi, ‘Aborigines’ by Pathy, ‘ethnic minority’ by BK Roy Burman, ‘Nation and Nationalities’, ‘primitive to post primitive’, vulnerable by Oomen, ‘culturo-political entities’, adivasis by Devalle and ‘indigenous people’ by Xaxa. To summarize Vidyarthi (1977) notes that as far as tribes in India was concern, they have been categorized by i) region, (ii) language, (iii) race, (iv) their level of integration with rural folk to which they are connected, (v) their economy, (vi) their cultural pattern as a whole, and (vi) their level of education. The next section of the paper will deal with delve into the writings of British colonial administrators on the tribes of the North East India with special reference to the writings on the Naga tribals. An attempt will be made to highlight their overt euro centric biasness as they set about recording, decoding and labelling what they saw as a lesser people and civilization.

Tribes in North East

North East India comprises of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura, and Sikkim. What distinguishes these states from the rest of country is the sensitive geopolitical location with the existence of diverse ethnic groups with different historical backgrounds. Predominantly there are two views of the North East viz. outsider’s and insider’s view. The former sees the region as a relatively unitary entity, delimited by India’s boundaries with other countries and the latter sees it as an extreme diversity: of tribes, communities, languages, religions, customs, traditions and histories (Miri 2007). However diverse the views about the region may be, the fact remains that the North East as a whole is not a single entity with a common political destiny; rather it comprises of eight states. The region covers a geographical area of 2.55 laks, which is just 7% of the total country’s area. It is connected to India just by a narrow corridor known as the ‘chicken neck’ between Nepal and Bangladesh. The region is a gateway to South East Asia as it is bordered by Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Nepal and China. The North East Region (NER) of India is perhaps one of the most vibrant and complex areas to administer; of the 600 odd ethnic communities that inhabit India, well over 200 ethnic groups are found in this region.

‘Tribal communities in Northeast India are living on the fringe of three great political communities-India, China and Burma. Historically, some of them played roles of buffer communities, and others the roles of bridge communities in between these three great political communities’ (Toppo 2000: 73).

After East India Company extended help to Ahom Kingdom to defeat the Burmese invasion, they signed the Treaty of Yandaboo, by which the Ahom King ceded a part of his territory to the British East India Company as a reward. Thereafter British continuously expanded their administration in the region. ‘The history of the North East until independence in 1947 is a history of the expansion of British rule and of social, economic and political changes in the region’ (Inoue nd: 17). According to Elwin (1960), the British Government was inclined, on the whole to leave the tribesmen alone, partly because the task of administration, especially in the border areas, was difficult and unrewarding. Until 1874, Assam was part of the Bengal Province. The two princely states of Manipur and Tripura after British conquest in 1891 came under the British paramountcy. The expansion of colonial rule into the hill region took shape in reorganization and demarcation of geographical area as Gangmumei Kamei points out,

Another aspect of the British expansion was the conquest of the hill tribes and establishment of their areas into various districts. For example, the Naga areas were constituted into Naga Hills District and the Mizo (Lushai) areas into Lushai Hills District. The tribes living in the southern slopes of eastern Himalayas were brought under political control and later on brought under the North-Eastern Frontier Agency (p: 66).

The British rule in India followed the policy of non-interference when it came to the hill communities particularly in North East. Moreover, ‘the policy of non-interference was followed by area expeditions that were resorted to in order to quell opposition of the hill communities to the colonial extension of commercial activities in and through their land ’(Shimray 2001:3674). Subsequently, tribal communities who predominantly inhabited the hills area were forcefully merged with the princely state and into different districts for so called ‘administrative convenience. Eventually the hill communities in North East India were brought under different territorial administrative authorities and hence the concept of territorial politics was thus introduced, hitherto unknown to the hill communities (ibid.)

Situating the Context: Nagas

Nagas are not only confined to a political boundary of Nagaland State but can be found in the neighboring states like Assam, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and even Burma owing to the geographical demarcation set by the Indian government who at that time were ignorant and indifferent to the place and its habitants. The present Nagaland state has undergone tremendous alteration due to, not only by the colonial rulers, but also by Indian state as well as by Burma. The confusion and conflict regarding the geographical area of Nagaland state and subsequently the demand for Greater Nagalim arose due to callous nature of the colonial rulers, Burma and the Indian state that were oblivious of Nagas and their homeland yet divided and demarcated Nagaland without the consent of Nagas.

Nagas and Nagaland state are riddled with various complex issues among which the origin of the word “Naga” is intensely debated, discussed and contested, and yet, there is no universal explanation which “Nagas” adhere to. Perhaps the earliest reference to the Nagas occurs in Buranjis, the officially compiled chronicles of the Ahoms (Horam 1975). He further writes regarding the nature of ambiguity in the name Naga,

“The Nagas themselves- and specially the border Nagas, as in all probability the name was first used for them by the plainsmen- are unable to throw much light beyond a few stories regarding the meaning of the word” (1975)

The origin of the word ‘Naga’ has been a source of much debate among different scholars (Sema 1986). The word “Naga” itself is shrouded in mystery and it is, most probably, a name given by non-Nagas (Chasie 2000). The Nagas are a result of the age-old contact between the Mongols and Caucasic people (Horam 1975). The people known as the Nagas, comprised of many tribes, are of mongoloid stock (Chasie 2000). Regardless of the various paradoxical theories regarding the origin of the word “Naga” hitherto it has been used to refer to various tribes inhabiting Nagaland, few districts in Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, and Parts of Myanmar (Burma).

As soon as one confronts the complex and vague narrative of the word ‘Naga’ and its origin he/she is faced with another equally complex issue i.e. the number of tribes. As we have seen the usage of the word ‘Naga’ to represent various tribes, yet we are still unsure about the exact number of tribes i.e. the number (exact) of tribes falling under the umbrella ‘Naga Tribe’. In literature we can find that the number of tribes has been increasing, Sema (1986) has given 20, Horam (1975) 32, Shimray (2005) has listed 40, Asoso (cited in Chasie) lists 50 tribes. The complexities don’t end here; in fact it is riddled with other complex issues such as language, culture, geographical location etc. The Nagas have no common language but speak different dialects belonging to the Tibeto-Burman linguistic group. The dialects not only vary from tribe to tribe, hill range to hill range but also from village to village in many cases.

The beginning of the 19 th century that marks the epoch of modernity initiated the process of change and transformation among the Nagas. The early 1830s saw the British explorers surveying the Naga Hills, which was immediately followed by the Christian missionaries. Subsequently Nagas were introduced to modernity through the invasion of the colonial rulers and the wide spread of Christian ideology. The free homeland of Nagas which was never conquered by outsiders was just divided along the so called Indo-Burma boundary by the Britishers’ under the Yandabo Treaty in 1826 without the knowledge and consent of the Nagas.

Nagas in the year 1929 submitted a memorandum to Simon commission stating their desire to remain independent. On August 14, 1947 Nagas declared independence and the message was sent through telegram to the United Nations as well as the Indian government, yet it was ignored by the newly formed Indian government and the Indian state suppressed the wishes and decision of the Nagas violently. There was a voluntary plebiscite on May 16, 1951 at Kohima whereby 99.9% of the voters voted for a sovereign independent Naga Nation. The Naga movement for independence is one of the oldest and longest movements in India. “It is a process of absorption of various tribes into a common generic name “Naga” for the different tribes brought under a single administrative roof and law, accompanied by introduction of English education and Christianity spread by the supporters of the colonial rule” (Kamei, 2012:72).

On Colonial Methodology

The British were keen to survey the tribal area to know about its material wealth, which could eventually be siphoned off to build industries back home (Majumdar 1994 as cited in Saksena et al. 2006: xv). ‘The British were also interested in studying tribal people and their institutions, not only for making an academic contribution to the understanding of the other, but also for administering these societies better, so that peace could prevail in them and they remain subservient to the colonial rule’ (Saksena et al. 2006: xv). Colonial ethnographers were deeply embedded with positivist approach and as such they considered social facts as things as propounded by Durkheim. For them ‘reality is out there’ and one has to just merely collect it rather than unravelling reality within the society. For instance, the assumption that colonial administrators like Hutton had was that people were changing very fast and therefore information on them had to be collected before all was lost. The information he collected would be of historical value in future. For him, reality has to be captured before its influence by others or before it changes as time pass by and document it and preserve it for future references. But how objective they were in this endeavour is questionable.

It is best to quote Elwin himself about how the colonial ethnographers collected for their monographs and also the limitations of their approach. He writes,

The men who wrote these extracts found it difficult to get information. The Naga languages in those days, before English or even Assamese had become popular, were some of the most complex and difficult in the world. Visitors to the Naga Hills nearly always had to go under escort and Dr. J.H. Hutton points out how difficult this made inquiries even in his own case as late as 1923. He and his party could go nowhere, he says, during a tour in what is now called Tuesang without armed sentries standing over us like warders guarding a recaptured convict. Captain W.B. Shakespear, who commanded his escort and who should at least have had a sort of family feeling for ethnology was sympathetic but took no risk (Elwin 1969: 2).

In agreement with this point, Hutton himself admitted about the difficulties he faced while on tour cum data collection for profiling Nagas. Even though their methods of data collection were not clearly mentioned in their monographs, nevertheless one can conclude that participant observation would not have been the case as they did not speak or understand local language which they themselves admitted. Their methods of data collection were solely based on ethnographic survey and non-participant observation. For instance, Hutton was escorted by armed personnel and coolie for his entire tours cum data collection expeditions. To quote Hutton, he states, ‘one advantage we had, which does not always attend such trips; our escort included two pipers and a drum, which in the shyest of villages succeeded in luring from obscurity a few of the more curios or musically inclined’ (Hutton 1986: 1). This is rather ironic as when the ruler visits their subject, and when their subject knows that they are been observed, one cannot rule out the possibilities of fake behaviour and demeanour, a facade so to speak. The authenticity of data here is questionable and more so when their visits were officially communicated.

Overall there is a lack of clarity as to how did they know what they documented in their monographs. The discourse generated by colonial ethnographers needs to be critically revisited to examine the authenticity and interpretation of data by comparing against the lived experience of Nagas. As the Nagas have no written history, it is essential to understand the meaning attached to specific practice such as head hunting, various rituals and rites etc. to capture the multiple epistemologies and position it against the interpretations of these ethnographers.

Interrogating the Ontology and Epistemic premise of Colonial Knowledge Production

It is crucial to examine some fundamental questions on the nature of colonial administrator-ethnographers construction of reality with pertinent questions such as how did they see the world of the Nagas? What exist in the world of Nagas according to them etc? This section explores the colonial ethnographer construction of reality with regard to the Nagas. For the administrator cum ethnographers, the Nagas socio-cultural life was a field of study. Along with their official tours, they collected data with the help of interpreters and wrote extensively on what they observed in the field. Well known colonial ethnographers who make an extensive documentation about Nagas includes— J.H. Hutton who wrote The Angami Nagas (1921) and The Sema Nagas (1921), J.P. Mills, wrote on The Lhota Nagas (1922), The Ao Nagas (1926) and The Rengma Nagas (1937). These writings provided a comprehensive account of the Naga tribes covering physiological traits, village economy, village administration, social organisation, customary laws and practices, religious beliefs, rites of passages, folklore, domestic life, food habits, dress, ornamentation, housing styles etc. A complete ethnographic account of many of the tribes has been documented by them which till date remains widely quoted. In the absence of any other authentic written documentation on the tribes either by the tribesmen themselves or by other Indian writers these accounts are taken as an authorative description of the tribes. So influential are these accounts that they continue to be widely quoted and referred to by academics across the North East.

Granted that such accounts are fairly comprehensive documentation of tribes and are invaluable but their writings in many ways are reflective of their biasness and euro centric valuation of people and societies so much so that it out rightly racist in many cases. One cannot but notice the air of cultural supremacy in many of the colonial writings. As argued by Bhabha ‘The objective of colonial discourse is to construe the colonized as a population of degenerate types based on racial origin, in order to justify conquest and to establish systems of administration and instruction’ (Bhabha 1994: 66). On reviewing the literature on Nagas by colonial ethnographers, we find that the discourse is frequently flooded with terrifying stereotypes as ‘savages’, ‘wild’, ‘untameable’, ‘witch doctor’, ‘heathen tribes’, ‘barbaric’, ‘uncivilised’ etc. These characterizations are best exemplified by their accounts of the head hunting practices, physical beauty and personal character of the Nagas.

The many accounts of the head hunting act as barbaric and savage among the Nagas are indicative of the British ethnographers’ inherent value system guiding their judgements over contextualized valuation of such acts as honoured acts. To quote Hutton (1921) ‘There is, after all not so much to separate a sportsman’s desire for, say, a fine buffalo head and a Naga’s desire for the head of a man’ (p: 158). Further while writing about Angami Nagas, Hutton describes them as ‘bloodthirsty omnivorous’ knowing no distinction between heads. He writes,

It is agreed by all Angamis, as well as by other Nagas, that head taking was essential to marriage in so far that a buck who had taken no head, and would not wear the warriors’ dress at festival, not only found it exceedingly difficult to get any girl with pretensions to good looks or to self-respect to marry him, but was help up to ridicule by all the girls of his clan (Hutton 1921: 165).

“The general perception of the British about the people in the Naga hills and beyond was that they were all wild savages, continuously at war with each other, seeking all the ‘heads’ of their enemies as trophies” (Misra 2012: 63). Another colonial writer Woodthorpe term the Nagas as ‘bloodthirty, treacherous and revengeful all Nagas,’ even the best are, and the Angamis, though in many ways, perhaps the finest and best of their tribes, is no exception. With them, as with the others, it is an article of faith that blood once shed can never be expiated except by the death of the murderer or some of his relatives (cited in Elwin 1969: 55).

Such conclusions are however far removed from the actual purpose of such acts, in the Naga tradition, bringing the heads of an enemy to his village by a warrior was not a game as perceived by colonial ethnographer it served many intrinsic purpose. Elwin measured reasoning on the prevalence of head hunting practice among the Nagas is perhaps closest to the truth, he writes;

The reasons for head-hunting are complicated and interesting. The practice is probably based on a belief in a soul-matter or vital essence of great power which resides in the human head. By taking a head from another village, therefore, it was believed that a new injection of vital and creative energy would come to the aggressor’s village when he brought the head home. The Nagas have always been a warlike race and the warrior, especially the young warrior, who had taken a head held a great advantage over his fellows in attracting the most beautiful girl of his village for marriage (Elwin 1961:11).

Moving forth with Elwin’s rationalization; for the Nagas the act of cutting of heads and bringing them home are usually accompanied by chants invoking the Gods and not some senseless act as it is made out to be. It was a customary practice that had over time gained recognition and was widely acknowledge as a sign of bravery and in many ways intrinsically connected with religious rites and ceremonies of the Naga tribes. In retrospect the following points with regard to head hunting practices are widely agreed upon by Nagas themselves. These points are detailed rationalization for head hunting practice against what the British ethnographers’ notes as being barbaric. These rationalizations are derivatives from an emic perspective; a rationalization from the lived reality of the tribes themselves.

The enemies’ heads were chopped off and brought home for the purpose of religious ceremonies and rituals. There was widespread belief that the vital power resided in human head. ‘…by taking a head from another village, it was believed that a new injection of vital and creative energy could come to the aggressors’ village when he brought the head home. This was valuable for human and animal fertility’ (Thong 2012:15).

Head hunting was also done whenever a chief’s house or Morung (Boy’s dormitory) were to build or ceremony of new chief’s, a head was needed to appease ancestral ghosts. Head hunting was practiced so that individuals could be conferred the right to wear certain dresses and ornaments which ordinary man were not entitled to consequently, thus recognition by society played a key role for the practice of head hunting. Additionally head hunting was also associated with proving oneself as a warrior for superiority status among peers and also to attract respectable bride for marriage. To appease gods in worship and also for human sacrifice of their deities for their general well being For acquisition of more natural resources and land for cultivation, hunting, fishing etc. As an attribute to clashes and rivalry owing to illegal trapping of domestic animals or sheltering an outcast or for non-fulfilment of a promise. Headhunting as a barbaric practice, done solely with the intention of sadistic pleasure is a construction of the colonial administrator; their description of this act would ordinarily lead a reader to view head hunting as simply barbaric and done simply for the pleasure of it. However as evident from the points made above, chopping the heads of an enemy and bringing it are closely associated with many factors of establishing well being and propriety, the practice was to say the least a rational act and not just a game for pleasure.

Physical appearance is another area which reflects the deep rooted biasness of the colonial ethnographers, Hutton again in the context of Sema Naga writes: ‘The women, except in one or two villages, are seldom really pretty’ (1921a: 21). Further he writes, ‘Many have quite fair skins and among the men good features are often to be met with, sometimes even handsome ones. Among the women, however, ugliness is the rule, a pretty Sema girl is hardly to be found, though the exceedingly plainness of the majority of the sex makes the few who are less ill-favoured sometimes seem almost pretty by comparison. The women are generally very short, squat and horny-header. In fact, beards among men are about as rare as beauty is among women’ (ibid as cited in Misra). Hutton’s measure of beauty is not clear but his statements are downright derogatory by any measure, it only reflects his euro centric notion of beauty.

A third aspect of such over sweeping generalization are comments on the character of the Nagas, for example on the character of the Sema, a Naga tribe Hutton writes, ‘As far as his untruthfulness is concerned it must be admitted that the Sema readily takes a false oath’ (ibid. :26). He further commented that ‘the charge of thievishness that is frequently brought against the Sema is likewise well founded … it is doubtful, however, if he is as bad as the Ao, who is at least as big a thief and a bigger liar’ (ibid. 26). One is not sure as to how Hutton arrive at such generalization in the absence of substantive recorded data on ‘thievery’ among the Nagas in colonial record.

There are many other instances of such generalization, which in effect reflect colonial biasness against ‘uncivilized’ people so to speak. A holistic approach to understand multiple realities was ignored in totality by colonial ethnographers as they objectified facts and undermined contextualised generalisation. Identification of practices, issues and understanding of meanings from the perspective of tribes is not reflected at all throughout their ethnographic work, as the Colonial ethnographers observed as a third party and solely relied on interpreters for their descriptive ethnography. Moreover, their description contains many negative connotations about the people under observation and many a times they smack of deep prejudice and disdain of their world view. To be able to capture the reality of social and cultural practices of tribes or be it any society, one needs to be embedded deeply into the field, take the position of tribal epistemology rather than just treating the subjects as things.


What makes research different from a work of fiction or everyday knowledge is its methodology. No research would be considered as good research without its methodology or the logic of inquiry. It is natural that the debate on different approach of research will emerge as we are dealing with human society with all its complexities. While engaging on knowledge production and discourse, neither methodologies nor methods are constructed or chosen in isolation from ontological and epistemological positions. Thus, the way we get at knowledge and the techniques we use to collect evidence are directly related to our image of reality and the way we think we can know it (Jayaram 1989, 2006). Smith (2005) argued that ‘the notion of research as an objective, value-free and scientific process for observing and making sense of human realities is taken for granted by many social scientist’. It is also true when it come to research on tribes by various scholars; often their epistemological position tends to be of researchers and not on the standpoint of researched.

While researching on tribes by anthropology, the very term tribe becomes synonymous with problem or backwardness in the eyes of researcher. Accordingly research questions are framed around the problem, and tribals are blamed for their backwardness, being disinclined to modernity, etc. For us, the issue is not just that we are blamed for our own failures but that it is also communicated to us, explicitly or implicitly, that we ourselves have no solutions to our own problem (Smith 2005). It remains a challenge to confront the popular tribal discourse as postulated by anthropologist or any other researchers who do not as yet give credence to the world view of the ‘researched’. Another crucial area of contestation on the methodology of anthropologists is attachment of meanings and interpretation of tribal folklore, folk tales, narratives etc. as the vocabularies of tribals cannot be truly presented in third language and vice versa. The essence of meanings diverts it away from the original concept when it get translated in the process of research. This is also due to the fact that the vocabularies of researchers and researched are limited and cannot be replaced. So given the situation of tribal oral history and non availability of tribal script, how do anthropology comes to know what they know and claimed to know in totality? To unravel this aspect, one need to be culturally sensitive and comes out from within.

“Eventually by 1872, the British Government arbitrarily redivided the land of the Nagas who were then ignorant of their homeland being bifurcated. Some parts went to Assam; some went to Manipur; some to the erstwhile NEFA (Arunachal); and the central part was formed as Naga Hill District. Finally, Eastern Naga went to Burma (Myanmar) which was divided into three, with the north-east drawn into Kachin state and the south to Sagain Division, leaving the central portion as “Naga Hills”. However, when General Ne Win came to power, his regime abolished the Naga Hills unit of administration and divided it between the Kachin State and Sagain Division without the consent of the Nagas” (Shimray, 2005)


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NE situation cause for concern: PM

NEW DELHI, NOV 23 (IANS): Security situation in the northeastern states continues to remain complex, with insurgency, extortion and agitations being the main disruptive elements, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said here on Saturday.

“Persistent efforts on part of the government have resulted in considerable progress in the dialogue with insurgent and ethnic separatist groups,” he said in his address at an annual conference of top police officials.

“Further, the susceptibility of lower Assam areas and Karbi Anglong region of the state to ethnic and communal tensions, the growing mistrust between tribals and non-tribals in Bodo areas, the Garo insurgency in Meghalaya, the increasing targeting of non-Manipuris in Manipur are also areas of considerable concern,” he said.

He said these needed to be tackled with collective resolve and firm determination. Touching upon naxal problem, PM lauded the successful conduct of polls in the naxal-affected areas of Chhattisgarh. He called for improving the quality of governance and the pace of development in those areas.

Singh also stressed on the need to sensitise the security forces deployed in any of the naxal-affected areas.

“As I have said on a number of occasions, there should be nothing which affects the role of innocent citizens in leading their normal lives, and our attack on naxals and other such bad elements, should not in any way affect or disturb the livelihood patterns of local people,” he added.

The Situation of Migration from Manipur and Nagaland to Delhi

People from North East India continue to choose Delhi, the National Capital Territory, as their favourite migration destination despite of atrocities, injustices, discriminations and prejudices invariably done by “selective” Delhites to them, particularly the ill-fated ones, due to racial differences in appearance. North East people continue to subdue such incidences and continue to migrate and remain in Delhi because mainly they know that all Delhites are not the same as there are many migrants from other parts of India and settled there, and they want to explore better opportunities in terms of job or education. Large portion of these migrants are among the youth (15-29 years of age). For example, 2001 census of India recorded that 64 and 51 percent of them from Manipur and Nagaland respectively were youth. Migration arises due to the prevailing unrest situations resulted from social violence, poor economic performance (infrastructure, technology, output, and market), limited quality education and most importantly unemployment issues besides political volatility in these states. Migration mitigates the unrest situation at the place of origin. However, it aggravated at the destination. They choose Delhi because of better systems of education, infrastructure, transportation, amenities including health facilities; wider job opportunities, higher salary and better working environment; fast moving lifestyle etc.

Migration from the two states is rapidly increasing from just 1300 people (migrants by place of last residence) in 1981 to just over 2000 in the following period. Later in 2001, it has substantially increased to close to 24 thousand. It was growing at the rate of over 24 percent annually during 1991-2001. Of these, in the 1980s and 1990s, about 62 percent were from Manipur. However, only 24 percent were recorded from Manipur, and the rest from Nagaland, in the later decade. Sadly, migration data for 2011 census is not yet available. However, assuming migration continues to grow at the rate of 1991-2001; then, the interpolated figure of migrants in 2011 is 2.69 lakh that appears to be high. Hence, by making a slight adjustment by assuming 50 percent of them return back to their place of origin or migrated further elsewhere arrive the estimated figure at 1.4 lakh from these two states in Delhi at present. Moreover, male continues to dominate in migration as sex ratio is still low at 716 in 2001, which has improved from 678 two decade back. The ratio could have improved significantly because increasingly females from rural areas are migrating to Delhi for employment in particular.

Census data shows that migration for employment and education from these states to Delhi has increased from about 40 percent in 1981 to 45 percent in 2001. Migration for employment as a reason is even much greater than for education. For instance, in 2001, over 36 percent of them migrated for employment whereas about nine percent migrated specifically for education. Moreover, census of India 2011 might show a greater level of migration for employment and education as unemployment problems aggravated and educational system remains relatively poor in these states. It suggest a situation of distress migration as involuntary unemployment worsened and higher educational system fails to accommodate students who aspires for higher study due to the apathy by the government of these states in expanding its infrastructure.

The result of the field study conducted by me (2008) in Delhi shows that migrants from North East engage largely in the modest profiled jobs such as in the shops, parlour, hospitality and call centres where job security and career advancement is a constraint. Recently, in Delhi, police figured ten thousand fake call centres indulging in illegal activities of cheating innocent people (Times of India, 21 Jan 2013). Many of those working in call centres may not be aware that they are working in fake call centres. They may find difficulty in exiting from it, even if they know, as they may be involuntarily unemployed again.

In Delhi most of the migrants from North East pursue a conventional arts subjects followed by science. Few trail for commerce or accounting. People studying job oriented professional courses (medical, engineering, management, CA or CS or for that matter vocational courses) are still negligible. This situation needs to be reversed. Unemployment issue is reasoned with their educational background which is arts centric. Student migrants choose subjects which require less effort/study for appearing in examinations. Ultimately, they remain unemployed or became employed in low profile job. In Delhi, student migrants effortlessly get admission into higher studies because of the reservation policy for Scheduled Tribes and Castes as well as Other Backward Classes. The educational system (subject options, syllabus, class lecture, examination standard) is relatively better in Delhi than these states; so the prospect of becoming employed is greater apart from other exposure like scholarship abroad. Recently, many new courses mostly professionals and or specialised are being offered. Delhi has a wider opportunities or openings not only for jobs but for education too.

Students mostly after completing their studies continue to stay back in Delhi with the financial support from their parents, sibling and even self by doing a part time job (like in call centres) and continue to seek for better and secured employment. Of course there are return migrants, who return back to their place of origin after failing to get their aspired job or after completion of their education or after financial supports are withdrawn or return for marriage and settlement, which aggravated the unemployment problem at their place of origin i.e. Manipur and Nagaland. Additionally, it is difficult to estimate the level of remittances. However, there is a significant amount of money remitted to their place of origin and improves their household standard of living, there are many instances in remitting money for construction of their house and for daily expenses. Interestingly, sibling who works in Delhi supports their sibling’s studies in Delhi itself. Therefore, migration from these states is not only for private benefit to get employment or learn in better educational system but also for social benefit  to lower social problems and improve economic conditions.

 bY: Dr. Marchang Reimeingam, Faculty, Institute for Social and Economic Change, Bangalore