ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Stresses of Modernisation in North-East

The Problem of Change: A Study of North-East India by B P Singh, Oxford University Press, Bombay, pp 222 + xii, Rs 110.
ASSAM and the north-east have been the subject of close scrutiny ever since political movements aimed at asserting the identities of the different ethnic nationalities of this region took shape. While scholars and journalists have come out with their own accounts of the developments in the northeast, yet some of the more readable and realistic accounts seem to have come from persons who have been directly involved in administering the area. The author of the book under review is a member of the IAS and he states in the Prologue that his study "attempts to share perceptions of the process of historical change particularly in the light of recent -history and the issues confronting the people in general and political and administrative institutions in particular after 1947", This, no doubt, is a tall claim. For, any attempt to tackle such a wide subject with its myriad complexities arising out of the process of change in the seven northeastern states in 200-odd pages is bound to be an incomplete one. Singh, however, succeeds in highlighting some of the major contradictions arising out of the problem of change in the north-east and his "traditional district officer's approach" often proves to be of advantage in probing the stresses and strains faced by the different ethnic societies when confronted by the modernising process in their socio-political life. But, such an approach is also bound to have its limitations and, while discussing several important issues relating to the state's confrontation with the people, the author seems to be handicapped by official blinkers.

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