In This Review

In the Name of the Nation: India and Its Northeast
In the Name of the Nation: India and Its Northeast
By Sanjib Baruah
Stanford University Press, 2020, 296 pp

The part of India known as “the Northeast”—a raised fist of land connected to the state of West Bengal through a corridor that runs between Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh—is separate from the rest of the country in ways that are more than geographic. Some six dozen different ethnic groups and tribes populate its eight states, and many are predominantly Christian. Arunachal Pradesh is partly populated by ethnic Tibetans and is claimed by China. About one-third of the people living in Assam are Muslim, most of them viewed as “illegal” immigrants from Bangladesh. There are at least half a dozen armed insurgencies in the region that New Delhi has been battling for close to six decades under a harsh security regime authorized by the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. A program of targeted assassinations eliminated one Assamese rebel group, but the government continues to coexist uneasily with long-running rebellions in Nagaland and Mizoram, among others. Baruah’s intimate history and ethnography shows how neglect, corruption, uneven development, and repression—and recently the rise of Hindu nationalism at the federal level—have intensified the Northeast’s alienation from the rest of the country.