Arunachal Pradesh - Background
Because of the remoteness, the state of Arunachal has not been overtaken by urban ethos. Yet the fine balance between advancement and keeping in touch with ones roots is nowhere as clearly manifest as in this state. Most of Arunachal Pradesh has primary jungles, deep gorges and villages in really remote places. The changing colors provide a constant reminder of diversity and cheerful spirits. Cane bridges, swaying precariously over roaring white waters we often the only means of moving from one place to another. Itanagar is the capital of Arunachal Pradesh. One can travel along National Highway 52 and keep branching off to visit places like Ziro, Daporijo, Along and Pasighat.
The Inner Line Act continues to be operational even today and people who do not belong to Arunachal need a permit [an ILP] to enter the State. They cannot own any land nor any fixed assets in this State.
Only very recently have foreign tourists been permitted to visit Arunachal. This long-standing isolation is partly due to cultural considerations, and partly to political factors, as the border with the Chinese is still under dispute. The major source of resentment against the Center is not the serious developmental neglect, but rather the settlement in Arunachal of Chakma and Hajong refugees of Bangladeshi origin in 1964, and their continued presence in the state. Arunachal has significant potential in hydropower, forestry and tourism but these are unlikely to be developed quickly until a political consensus is reached on the fundamental question: Does the state want tribal cultural isolation or economic development?
Proponents of the state's indigenous people's interests are torn between bringing modern education, health and other civic amenities to the tribes and keeping them pristine, isolated from the world by geography and the regulations of the Inner Line. Many claim that the Government of India deliberately did not build road infrastructure in the state for fear the Chinese Army might use it in an invasion. In any case, given Arunachal's frontline position vis-`-vis China, the GOI does not seem ready to press fresh initiatives in the region, with the possible exception of some hydropower for export to "mainland" India. The net result is that Arunachal Pradesh remains, and is likely to continue to remain, isolated from the Indian mainstream.
Today, Arunachal stands at a crossroads. The winds of change are blowing quickly, traditional economies and systems that have survived for generations are rapidly changing. As the world grows smaller, few places can remain resistant to change. Arunachal has seen more change in the last 25 years, than it has seen for centuries. Until now, the people have shown a remarkable absorptive capacity, they continue to be rooted in their culture, while adapting to the modern world, and recognising the exceptional situation that is before them. Arunachal is poised at a critical juncture and has to make a choice regarding the kind of development it wants.
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