In the Name of the Nation: India and its Northeast is a new book by Sanjib Baruah and published by Stanford University Press. It is reviewed for JCA by Ganeshdatta Poddara of the Foundation For Liberal And Management Education (FLAME) University in Pune, India.
The book is a critical and historical account of the country’s troubled borderland region comprising the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Mizoram, Manipur, Tripura and Sikkim. The reviewer notes that several vexed issues fester in the region: demands for secession; the citizenship of migrants; colonial legacies; and the continuance of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in the region. In addressing such issues, the author’s “roots in the region and drawing heavily on his personal experiences gained through extensive travels in the region over the last three decades, Baruah provides readers with rare insights into the region’s political history and political economy.”
The book is a magnificent work of scholarship and is most timely. Though the book is well organised, the arguments are intricate, and it is not always easy reading. Even so, it rewards the reader. The author’s main contribution lies in raising awareness about the issues faced by the Northeast and its people and in highlighting the need for alternative politics in the region. It is indispensable for social scientists interested in understanding the society and politics of the region and for policymakers dealing with the issues of Northeast India.