Journal of Social and Political


ISSN 2615-3718 (Online)

ISSN 2621-5675 (Print)

Published: 09 July 2018

Ethnicity and Development – A Civil Society Perspective from North-East India

Susmita Sen Gupta

North- Eastern Hill University, India

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Civil society in northeast India has emerged gradually over the last few decades. It is observed that civil society organizations especially student and youth groups have thrived on the margins of the Indian political system, in the buffer space between political parties and insurgent groups. It is significant to note that most of these organizations in the northeast are based on ethnic affiliations, and hence ethnicity creeps into all civic spheres into which these organizations intervene, prompting some scholars to describe these organizations as “civic representatives” of ethnic groups and communities. In the context of the above, the proposed research paper seeks to examine the role of some major student and youth organizations of Meghalaya, a state of northeast India, as champions of the interests of the respective ethnic communities they claim to represent. The paper also proposes to focus on the developmental agenda of the Indian State and to enquire into the contradictions and dilemmas that have arisen as a result of the vigorous pursuit of ethnic agenda by these civil society organizations. The paper is structured into the following sections. The first section conceptualizes student and youth organizations as important components of the civil society in northeast India. In the second section, development constraints in northeast India have been discussed. The next section highlights the role of some of the student and youth organizations of Meghalaya as champions of ethnic interests. The fourth section identifies a few contemporary issues are dominating the developmental agenda in Meghalaya and focuses on the views of these organizations on the same. The final section examines the contradictions between ethnic sensitivities and the developmental agenda in Meghalaya and summarizes the main observations of the paper.


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