Sanjib Baruah, In the Name of the Nation: India and its Northeast, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2020.
Reviewed by Thongkholal Haokip
The scholarship of Sanjib Baruah on North East India studies is well-known in India and beyond in the last two decades. Many benefitted from his earlier works on various issues of the Northeast – from the politics of subnationalism to citizenship, ethnic conflicts to peace process, territoriality and indigeneity. However, in this latest work under review he mainly draws from the existing studies on India’s Northeast to further explain the prevalent problems together in the region in the last one decade. Baruah introduces the book by explaining the directional name “the northeast”, and its derivate term northeasterner as an expression of “a certain hierarchy and relation of power”, and the attempt by postcolonial Indian state to “turn an imperial frontier space into the national space”. In this process, through the imposition and creation of a special security regime, a situation of democracy deficits emerges in this regime of othering. Within the region, the “other others” responded by trying to identify themselves in certain terms, for example Gorkha, to assert Indian citizenship. Baurah continues the discussion on the colonial origins of indirect rule in the northeast frontier as a mode of governance during the British rule and its continuation in independent India.