Arunachal Pradesh: Development at the foothills of the Himalayas

Arunachal Pradesh is one of the 29 states of India and is the northeastern-most state of the country. Arunachal Pradesh borders the states of Assam and Nagaland to the south and shares international borders with Bhutan in the west, Myanmar in the east and is separated from China in the north...

State Profile: Arunachal Pradesh

Key Facts

Capital: Itanagar

Area: 83,743 km2

Population: 1.3 million

GDP: USD 2 billion

Literacy Rate: 66.95%

Languages: English 

Largest city: Itanagar

Statehood: 1954 (as North-East Frontier Agency), 1972 (as Arunachal Pradesh)

Background

Arunachal Pradesh is one of the 29 states of India and is the northeastern-most state of the country. Arunachal Pradesh borders the states of Assam and Nagaland to the south and shares international borders with Bhutan in the west, Myanmar in the east and is separated from China in the north by the McMahon Line. Itanagar is the capital of the state.

With an area of 83,743 km2, it is the largest of the “Seven Sister States” of North-East India.

After the independence of India in 1947, NEFT became a part of Assam state. In 1948, Sadiya Frontier Tract was bifurcated into two districts: Abor Hills district and Mishmi Hills district. In 1950, the plain portions of these tracts, (Balipara Frontier Tract, Tirap Frontier Tract, Abor Hills district and Mishimi Hills district) were transferred to the Assam state government and the rest became one of the Tribal Areas in Assam state (under part-B of the table appended to paragraph 20 of the sixth schedule of the Indian constitution). In 1951, Balipara Frontier Tract, Tirap Frontier Tract, Abor Hills district, Mishmi Hills district and the Naga tribal areas were together renamed as the North-East Frontier Agency (NEFA).

On 26 January 1954, the North-East Frontier Agency was divided into six frontier divisions: Kameng (formerly Sela Sub-Agency), Subansiri (formerly Subansiri area), Tirap (formerly Tirap Frontier Tract), Siang (formerly Abor Hills district), Lohit (formerly Mishmi Hills district) and Tuensang.

On 1 December 1957, Tuensang was separated and attached to the newly formed Naga Hills district to form Naga Hills-Tuensang Area. On 1 August 1965, the administration of the agency was transferred from the Ministry of External Affairs to the Ministry of Home Affairs. Consequently, on 1 December 1965, the five frontier divisions (Kameng, Subansiri, Siang, Lohit, and Tirap) became its five districts. A deputy commissioner became the administrative head of these districts in place of a political officer. In 1967, an Agency Council was constituted for better administration. Until 1972, it was constitutionally a part of Assam state and was directly administered by the governor of Assam as an agent of the President of India. On 21 January 1972, the North-East Frontier Agency became the Union Territory of India and was placed under the charge of a Chief Commissioner.

A major part of the state is claimed by the Republic of China, and the People's Republic of China referring to it as "South Tibet". During the 1962 Sino-Indian war, Chinese forces temporarily crossed the McMahon line, the borderline between the state and China.

Profile

Arunachal Pradesh is strategically located and has been the subject of multiple incursions from Chinese military personnel since the late 1980s. China terms Arunachal Pradesh as part of its Tibet province while India has always maintained a steadfast claim of sovereignty and authority over the entirety of the state. Our assessment establishes the following risks Arunachal Pradesh faces today which should ideally be the talking point for voters.

1) Border issue: The most pressing issue the state faces is the repeated claims of China over the entirety of the state. The territorial integrity of AP has been the priority of all incoming Central Governments and the voters must also keep in mind recent encroachments by Chinese soldiers across the AP border.

2) Education: Like all states in the region, AP is in dire need for more education investment, expansion of existing educational facilities such as secondary schools and universities. Like the rest of the North East, AP is lacking in quality educational institutions which drive its youth population to neighbouring states of West Bengal and Bihar.

3) Infrastructure: The geography of the region hinders infrastructure development on the levels achieved in other states. As such, AP is in need of innovative designs, environmentally-friendly construction methods and durable structures to weather adverse climate. The border issue is somewhat addressed if AP has sufficient roads and bridges to access the remote border areas, which have been sites of illegal Chinese occupations.

Assessment

Our assessment is that AP is in need of attention from the central government for the most basic services and facilities. We feel that the BJP-ruled state may vote for both of its Lok Sabha seats to candidates from the BJP, especially considering that the incumbent Minister of State for Home Affairs, Shri Kiren Rijiju, was elected from one of AP’s Lok Sabha constituencies.