Seven Sister States
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These states cover an area of 255,511 square kilometres (98,653 sq mi), or about seven percent of India's total area. As of 2011[update] they had a population of 44.98 million, about 3.7 percent of India's total. Although there is great ethnic and religious diversity within the seven states, they bear similarities in the political, social and economic spheres.
When India became independent from the United Kingdom in 1947, only three states covered the area. Manipur and Tripura were princely states, while a much larger Assam Province was under direct British rule. Its capital was Shillong (present day Meghalaya's capital). Four new states were carved out of the original territory of Assam in the decades following independence, in line with the policy of the Indian government of reorganizing the states along ethnic and linguistic lines. Accordingly, Nagaland became a separate state in 1963, followed by Meghalaya in 1972. Mizoram became a Union Territory in 1972, and achieved statehood - along with Arunachal Pradesh in 1987.
The region has suffered from insurgency and intra-tribal warfare, including terrorism, for decades; from 2005 to 2015 about 5,500 have died from political violence. The Indian government passed a law, the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 that applies to just the seven states and grants security forces the power to search properties without a warrant, and to arrest people, and to use deadly force if there is "reasonable suspicion" that a person is acting against the state; a similar law applies to Jammu & Kashmir.
Ethnic and religious composition
Except for Assam, where the major language is Assamese, and Tripura, where the major language is Bengali, the region has a predominantly tribal population that speak numerous Sino-Tibetan and Austro-Asiatic languages. Meithei, the third most spoken language in this region is a Sino-Tibetan language. The large and populous states of Assam, Manipur and Tripura remain predominantly Hindu, with a sizable Muslim minority in Assam. Christianity is the major religion in the states of Nagaland, Mizoram and Meghalaya.
The main industries in the region are tea-based, crude oil and natural gas, silk, bamboo and handicrafts. The states are heavily forested and have plentiful rainfall. There are beautiful wildlife sanctuaries, tea-estates and mighty rivers like Brahmaputra. The region is home to one-horned rhinoceros, elephants and other endangered wildlife. For security reasons, including intertribal tensions, widespread insurgencies, and disputed borders with neighboring China, there are restrictions on foreigners visiting the area, hampering the development of the potentially profitable travel tourism and hospitality industry. The North Eastern Council developed a marketing tagline, "Paradise Unexplored".
A compact geographical unit, the Northeast is isolated from the rest of India except through the Siliguri Corridor, a slender corridor, flanked by foreign territories. Assam is the gateway through which the sister states are connected to the mainland. Tripura, a virtual enclave almost surrounded by Bangladesh, strongly depends on Assam. Nagaland, Meghalaya and Arunachal depend on Assam for their internal communications. Manipur and Mizoram's contacts with the main body of India are through Assam's Barak Valley. Raw material requirements also make the states mutually dependent. All rivers in Assam's plains originate in Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and western Meghalaya. Manipur's rivers have their sources in Nagaland and Mizoram; the hills also have rich mineral and forest resources. Petroleum is found in the plains.
The plains depend on the hills also on vital questions like flood control. Flood control in the plains requires for soil conservation and afforestation in the hills. The hills depend on the plains for markets for their produce. They depend on the plains even for food grains because of limited cultivable land in the hill.
To provide a forum for collaboration towards common objectives, the Indian government established in 1971 the North Eastern Council that nowadays includes Sikkim too. Each state is represented by its Governor and Chief Minister. The Council has enabled the Seven Sister States to work together on numerous matters, including the provision of educational facilities and electric supplies to the region.
Origin of "Land of Seven Sisters" sobriquet
The sobriquet 'Land of the Seven Sisters' was coined to coincide with the inauguration of the new states in January 1972 by Jyoti Prasad Saikia, a journalist in Tripura, in the course of a radio talk show. He later compiled a book on the interdependence and commonness of the Seven Sister States, and named it the Land of Seven Sisters. It has been primarily because of this publication that the nickname has caught on.
- "The Seven Sisters". Retrieved 2015-07-30.
- Krishna Pokharel for the Wall Street Journal. Jan 7, 2015. Indian Activist Presses 14-Year Hunger Strike to Protest Abuses; Court Postpones Decision Whether Irom Sharmila Chanu Should Be Charged Again
- "The ‘Incredible !ndia’ of the Northeast: ‘Paradise Unexplored’". blogs.wsj.com - India Real Time. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2015-07-30.
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