ARUNACHAL PRADESH: Land of the rising sun
Arunachal Pradesh in the Sanskrit language means ‘the land where the light of the sun first falls’ or ‘the land of the rising sun’. This northeastern state of India is the largest in terms of area.
Lying on the foothills of the Himalaya ranges, Arunachal Pradesh is gifted with natural resources. There are gushing waterfalls and rivers. There are snow-capped mountains and also green expanses.
The rich natural resources and the varied flora and fauna of Arunachal Pradesh are reflections of the state's diverse terrain and climate. The range of the forest species varies from the alpine to the subtropical.
The state has a subtropical climate. As one treks higher the mountain ranges, the temperature decreases rapidly.
The average annual rainfall varies from 80 to 160 inches (2,000 and 4,000 mm).
The terrain of Aruncahal Pradesh includes the southern foothills of the Lesser Himalayas as well as the ranges of the Great Himalayas on the Tibetan border.
The main rivers are the Siang (known as the Brahmaputra in Assam) and its three tributaries, viz., the Bhareli, the Subansiri, the Zayu Qu (also known as the Lohit) and the Tirap.
LAND OF THE ORCHIDS
Orchid is exotic to Arunachal Pradesh besides the two other north-eastern states of Assam and Meghalaya. Botanists have identified 500 plus orchid species in Arunachal Pradesh itself.
The animal species include red panda, deer, elephant, leopard and tiger.
The total land area of Arunachal Pradesh is 83,743 sq km (32,333 sq miles).
China and India often trades war of words over a portion of the state’s territory which the both the countries claim as their own.
As per the 2000 census, Pradesh had a population of 1,091,117. The average density was about 12 persons per sq km (30 per sq mi).
Arunachal Pradesh is strategically located what with the state sharing international borders with China and Myanmar. On its eastern, northern and north-eastern sides, Arunachal Pradesh shares a common border with China while on the eastern sides by Myanmar (the erstwhile Burma) respectively.
It is only on the southern and the south-western sides that it is connected with Assam and Nagaland – two other north-eastern states of the Indian mainland.
A CULTURAL MELTING POT
Like all the north-eastern states, Arunachal Pradesh is a cultural cauldron. The varied cultural heritage added to the large following of the Buddhist, the Donyi Polo and other animist faiths have rendered the rich social tapestry an anthropologist’s delight.
ETHNIC GROUPS AND LANGUAGES
More than a score of ethnic groups reside in the state. Of them, 20 are the main ones. The populace use Assamese, English and Hindi as the lingua franca.
EARLY HISTORY OF ARUNACHAL PRADESH
The (the writings in Sanskrit about the beginning of time) refer to the region that is now known as Arunachal Pradesh. However, very little else is known about the state's prehistoric era.
HISTORY OF THE STATE IN THE MIDDLE AGES
The mighty Ahom kings of Assam annexed a portion of the State in the 16th century.
Though the Britishers annexed (by default – via a treaty with Myanmar) Assam in 1826, Arunachal Pradesh remained an independent kingdom till the 1880s.
HISTORY OF THE STATE IN THE 1990S
It was in 1912 that the Britishers made the region an administrative unit called the North Eastern Frontier Tract (NEFT) within Assam.
The NEFT was transformed into the North East Frontier Agency (NEFA) in 1954.
BORDER CONTROVERSY WITH CHINA
The Britishers had unilaterally drawn a line – the McMahon line – on the political map to mark the international border between India and China in 1913.
Nonetheless, the Chinese authorities have repeatedly rejected this line as the border between China and India. The logic of the line was that the border must be in accordance with the crest of the Himalaya ranges.
Since then, the Chinese have not been refusing to accept the line as the de facto border but have also been claiming the major portions of Arunachal Pradesh as its territory – a claim that the Indian government has been repeatedly rejecting with equal vehemence. The claim of the Chinese government has been more vociferous after India became independent in 1947.
ARUNACHAL-DALAI LAMA-CHINA DEBATE
The matter was worsened after the Chinese Communists laid seize to Tibet and threatened the Tibetan Buddhist followers of the Dalai Lama in 1950.
The Dalai Lama is the political as well as the spiritual leader and ruler respectively of the hundreds of Tibetans.
The 14th Dalai Lama – Tenzin Gyatso – fled his kingdom after a failed rebellion against the Chinese in 1959.
The present Dalai Lama, along with hundreds of his followers entered India through the present Arunachal Pradesh that same year. Since then he has been staying in India.
The Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for leading a peaceful non-violent opposition to the continued Chinese occupation of Tibet.
The present Dalai lama came into open conflict with the Chinese authorities in 1995 over the issue of identification of the Chinese sponsored Panchen Lama in Tibet. The Panchen Lama is the second senior-most Tibetan religious authority.
The Dalai Lama published his compilation of essays the following year. Here, he discusses issues of spiritual and political interests. He teamed up with French screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière to bring out the Violence and Compassion. , in which he and consider topics of political and spiritual interest.
THE INSTITUTION OF DALAI LAMA
Followers of Tibetan Buddhism deem as the Dalai Lama as living incarnation of Lord Buddha. Therefore, the Dalai Lama wields not just spiritual but also political influence over his fans.
The institution of the Dalai Lama has been extant since the later half of the 1570s.
A Dalai Lama may die but not the institution (read the soul). So, when a reigning Dalai Lama dies, his followers ardently believe that his soul enters the body of a newborn boy.
The new Dalai Lama is identified after senior Tibetan Buddhist monks resort to some traditional tests to identify the qualities typical of the persona of the Dalai Lama.
THE HISTORY OF DALAI LAMA
The leader of the Gelugpa (Yellow Hat) sect and the grand lama of the Drepung monastery became the first Dalai Lama in 1578. He was Sonam Gyatso, and he received it from Altan Khan – the then the Mongol chief. The custom was to apply the title retroactively to the previous leaders of the sect.
Another Mongol chief, Gushri Khan, installed the fifth Dalai Lama as Tibet's spiritual and temporal ruler in 1642.
The successors of the fifth Dalai Lama governed Tibet — first as tributaries of the Mongols.
The Dalai Lamas ruled Tibet as vassals of the Chinese emperor but from 1720 to 1911.
The Chinese authorities lay claim to Tibet stating this historical evidence.
FALLOUT OF THE DALAI LAMA GETTING REFUGE IN INDIA
The fallout of India offering ‘political asylum’ to the Dalai Lama and his followers was quite serious. The Chinese troops crossed the McMahon line several times between 1959 and 1962. They even temporarily seized the Indian border posts and captured Indian troops.
The Chinese, however, withdrew from Arunachal Pradesh in 1962.
This border dispute has failed to be resolved despite several attempts to negotiate a settlement.
The region became the union territory of Arunachal Pradesh in 1972. Arunachal Pradesh became India’s 24th state in December 1986.
The single-chamber Arunachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly has 60 seats. Three members of Parliament are sent by the State to the Indian Parliament: two to the lower house (the powerful Lok Sabha) and one to the upper house (Rajya Sabha) The local government within the State is based on 12 administrative districts.
THE AGRICULTURAL ECONOMY OF THE ARUNACHALIS
The majority of the Arunachalis are agriculturists.
Since the density of population is quite scarce in comparison to the land area added to the fact that nature is quite beneficial to the land and the people, the residents own large tracts of agricultural land.
THE SLASH-&-BURN STRATEGY
In the earlier days, the residents practiced ‘jhum’ or the shifting cultivation or the destructive slash-and-burn form of cultivation resorted to by most of the tribals of the north-eastern region of India. Nowadays, they are taking to mechanized agriculture in its place.
The strategy is to burn the grasses and trees on a particular hilltop to grow crops for several regions after which they plant seeds there and shift to another hilltop. By the time they return to the earlier hilltop, that region becomes luscious with natural vegetation and other food crops whose seeds were planted earlier.
This practice is due to the abundance of the land area and the lack of modern cultivation system and strategies among the local residents, particularly the tribal populace.
THE INTERLINK BETWEEN AGRICULTURE AND CULTURE
In fact, many of their cultural songs and dances are closely reflective of the agricultural practices when they invoke the blessings of the Almighty for a bountiful crop harvesting.
THE AGRICULTURAL PRODUCES
The staple food is rice. The lands produce many other products like oilseeds, wheat, maize, millet, pulses (edible seeds from bean and pea crops), fruit, sugarcane and potatoes.
ARUNACHAL PRADESH: HUB OF SSI
The State is a flourishing of several small-scale industries (SSIs). Mention may be made of the timber industry. There was, however, a glut in this sector following the ban of the Supreme Court of India on tree felling and timber selling.
The other SSIs are the many oil and rice mills; besides sericulture (raising silkworm raising for the raw silk production); handicrafts as well as candle and soap making firms.
ARUNACHAL MINERAL RESOURCES: A VIRGIN AREA
Mother Nature has gifted the people of Arunachal Pradesh with rich mineral resources like its rich oil, coal, and other mineral deposits.
In fact, the State’s economic potential also lies in its human resources, and the forests and rivers. None have them has been made use of as yet.
ARUNACHAL PRADESH: AN IDEAL TOURIST DESTINATION SPOT
Arunachal Pradesh is an ideal locale for the tourists keen to spend time with nature.
Far from the hustle and bustle of urban life, most of the places of this state – even the state capital, Itanagar – are reflections of the typical carefree and laidback attitude of the general populace of NE India.
Arunachal Pradesh offers eco-tourism with cultural tourism and adventure sports to the discerning tourists – Indian and foreign.
The rough terrain needs to be tapped and transportation and tourism potential rightly exploited to the optimum.
The state was opened up to limited tourism in 1992.