Knowledge Corner

Arunachal Pradesh is one of the twenty-nine states of the Republic of India. Located in northeast India, it holds the most north-eastern position among the states in the north-east region of India. Arunachal Pradesh borders the states of Assam and Nagaland to the south, and shares international borders with Bhutan in the west, Burma in the east and China in the north. Itanagar is the capital of the state. Arunachal Pradesh has territorial disputes with both the PRC and ROC due to its cultural, ethnic and geographic proximity to Tibet.

Most of the state, formerly called the North-East Frontier Agency, was ceded to Britain by the Tibetan government with the Simla Accord (1914). China does not recognise the legality of that treaty, and claims most of the state as South Tibet. The state is seen to have major potential for hydropower development.

Arunachal Pradesh whose name means Land of the Dawn-Lit Mountains in Sanskrit, is also known as the Orchid State of India or the Paradise of the Botanists. Geographically, it is the largest among the North-east Indian states commonly known as the Seven Sister States. As in other parts of Northeast India, the people native to the state trace their origins to the Tibeto-Burman people. In recent times, large number of migrants from various parts of India and other lands have built extensive economic and cultural ties with the state’s population.

No reliable population count of the migrant population exists, and the percentage estimating the total actual population accordingly, vary. Arunachal Pradesh has the highest number of regional languages in the Indian subcontinent, enriched with diverse culture and traditions.

History

Prehistory

Neolithic tools found in Arunachal Pradesh indicate that people have been living in the Himalayan region for at least eleven thousand years. The earliest inhabitants of Bhutan and adjoining Himalayan areas of South Asia were the people from Indus Valley Civilisation, whose history predates the onset of Bronze Age in South Asia around 3300BC before the coming of other ethnic groups from Tibet and South China some 2,000 years ago.

Early history

The history of pre-modern Arunachal Pradesh is unclear. Oral histories possessed to this day by many Arunachali tribes of Tibeto-Burman stock are much richer and point unambiguously to a northern origin in modern-day Tibet. Again corroboration remains difficult. From the point of view of material culture it is clear that most indigenous Arunachali groups align with Burma-area hill tribals, a fact that could either be explainable in terms of a northern Burmese origin or from westward cultural diffusion.

According to the Arunachal Pradesh government, the Hindu texts Kalika Purana and Mahabharata mention the region as the Prabhu Mountains of the Puranas, and where sage Parashuram washed away sins, the sage Vyasa meditated, King Bhishmaka founded his kingdom, and Lord Krishna married his consort Rukmini.

Recorded history from an outside perspective only became available in the Ahom and Sutiya chronicles. The Monpa and Sherdukpen do keep historical records of the existence of local chiefdoms in the northwest as well. Northwestern parts of this area came under the control of the Monpa kingdom of Monyul, which flourished between 500 B.C. and 600 A.D. This region then came under the loose control of Tibet and Bhutan, especially in the Northern areas. The remaining parts of the state, especially those bordering Myanmar, were under the control of the Sutiya Kings until the Ahom-Sutiya battle in the 16th century. The Ahoms held the areas until the annexation of India by the British in 1858. However, most Arunachali tribes remained in practice largely autonomous up until Indian independence and the formalisation of indigenous administration in 1947.

Recent excavations of ruins of Hindu temples such as the 14th century Malinithan at the foot of the Siang hills in West Siang were built during the Sutiya reign. Another notable heritage site, Bhismaknagar, has led to suggestions that the Idu (Mishmi) had an advanced culture and administration in prehistoric times. Again, however, no evidence directly associates Bhismaknagar with this or any other known culture but the Sutiya rulers held the areas around Bhismaknagar from the 12th to 16th century. The third heritage site, the 400-year-old Tawang Monastery in the extreme north-west of the state, provides some historical evidence of the Buddhist tribal people. The sixth Dalai Lama Tsangyang Gyatso was born in Tawang.

Drawing of McMahon line

In 1913–1914 representatives of China, Tibet and Britain met in India ending with the Simla Accord.However, the Chinese representatives refused the territory negotiation. This treaty’s objective was to define the borders between Inner and Outer Tibet as well as between Outer Tibet and British India. British administrator, Sir Henry McMahon, drew up the 550 miles (890 km) McMahon Line as the border between British India and Outer Tibet during the Simla Conference. The Tibetan and British representatives at the conference agreed to the line and Tibet ceded Tawang and other Tibetan areas to the British Empire. Thus, the Chinese representative refused to accept the agreement and walked out. The Tibetan Government and British Government went ahead with the Simla Agreement and declared that the benefits of other articles of this treaty would not be bestowed on China as long as it stays out of the purview. The Chinese position was that Tibet was not independent from China, so Tibet could not have independently signed treaties, and per the Anglo-Chinese (1906) and Anglo-Russian (1907) conventions, any such agreement was invalid without Chinese assent.

Simla was initially rejected by the Government of India as incompatible with the 1907 Anglo-Russian Convention. However, this agreement (Anglo-Russian Convention) was renounced by Russia and Britain jointly in 1921. However, with the collapse of Chinese power in Tibet, the line had no serious challenges as Tibet had signed the convention, therefore it was forgotten to the extent that no new maps were published until 1935, when civil service officer Olaf Caroe called attention to this issue. The Survey of Indiapublished a map showing the McMahon Line as the official boundary in 1937. In 1938, the British finally published the Simla Convention as a bilateral accord two decades after the Simla Conference; in 1938 the Survey of India published a detailed map showing Tawang as part of North-East Frontier Agency. In 1944 Britain established administrations in the area from Dirang Dzong in the west to Walong in the east. Tibet, however, altered its position on the McMahon Line in late 1947 when the Tibetan government wrote a note presented to the newly independent Indian Ministry of External Affairs laying claims to (Tawang) south of the McMahon Line. The situation developed further as India became independent and the People’s Republic of China was established in 1949. In November 1950, with the PRC poised to take over Tibet, India unilaterally declared that the McMahon Line is the boundary—and, in 1951, forced the last remnants of Tibetan administration out of the Tawang area. The PRC has never recognised the McMahon Line, and claims Tawang on behalf of Tibetans. The 14th Dalai Lama, who led the Tibetan government from 1950 to 1959, was quoted in 2003 as saying that Tawang was “actually part of the Tibetan administration” before the Simla Accord. He clarified his position in 2008, saying that as far as Tibet was concerned “Tawang is part of India”. According to the Dalai Lama, “In 1962 during the India-China war, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) already occupied all these areas (Arunachal Pradesh) but they announced a unilateral ceasefire and withdrew, accepting the current international boundary.

Sino-Indian War

The NEFA (North-East Frontier Agency) was created in 1955. The issue was quiet for nearly a decade, a period of cordial Sino-Indian relations, but the re-emergence of the issue was a major cause of the Sino-Indian War of 1962. The cause of the escalation into war is still disputed by both Chinese and Indian sources. During the war in 1962, the PRC captured most area of Arunachal Pradesh. However, China soon declared victory, voluntarily withdrew back to the McMahon Line and returned Indian prisoners of war in 1963. The war resulted in the termination of barter trade with Tibet, although in 2007 the state government has shown signs to resume barter trade with Tibet.

Tawang

Tawang Monastery (Tibetan Buddhist)

In recent years, PR China has occasionally made statements in conjunction with its claims on Tawang. India has rebutted these claims by the Chinese government and the Indian Prime Minister has informed the Chinese government that Tawang is an integral part of India. India reiterated this to the Chinese prime minister when the two prime ministers met in Thailand in October 2009.

China objected to the visit of the Dalai Lama to Tawang in November 2009 though the Dalai Lama had previously visited Tawang several times since he fled from Tibet in 1959. India rejected the Chinese objection and said that the Dalai Lama is an honoured guest in India and could visit any place in India. The Dalai Lama visited Tawang on 8 November 2009. About 30,000 people including those from neighbouring countries, Nepal and Bhutan, attended his religious discourse.

He was received and welcomed by the Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh and the people of Arunachal Pradesh. The residents of Tawang painted their houses and decorated the town.

Current name

NEFA was renamed as Arunachal Pradesh by Late Sri Bibhabasu Das Shastri, then the director of research, on 20 January 1972 and it became a Union Territory. Arunachal Pradesh became a state on 20 February 1987.

More recently, Arunachal Pradesh has come to face threats from certain insurgent groups, notably the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN), who are believed to have base camps in the districts ofChanglang and Tirap. There are occasional reports of these groups harassing local people and extorting protection money.

Especially along the Tibetan border, the Indian army has a considerable presence due to concerns about Chinese intentions in the region. Special permits called Inner Line Permits (ILP) are required to enter Arunachal Pradesh through any of its checkgates on the border with Assam.

Geography

Arunachal Pradesh is located between 26.28° N and 29.30° N latitude and 91.20° E and 97.30° E longitude and has 83,743 square kilometre area. Most of Arunachal Pradesh is covered by the Himalayas. However, parts of Lohit, Changlang and Tirap are covered by the Patkai hills. Kangto, Nyegi Kangsang, the main Gorichen peak and the Eastern Gorichen peak are some of the highest peaks in this region of the Himalayas. The land is mostly mountainous with the Himalayan ranges running north south. These divide the state into five river valleys: the Kameng, the Subansiri, the Siang, the Lohit and the Tirap. All these are fed by snow from the Himalayas and countless rivers and rivulets. The mightiest of these rivers is Siang, called the Tsangpo in Tibet, which becomes the Brahmaputra after it is joined by the Dibang and the Lohit in the plains of Assam.

The Himalayan ranges that extend up to the eastern Arunachal separate it from Tibet. The ranges extend toward Nagaland, and form a boundary between India and Burma in Changlang and Tirap district, acting as a natural barrier called Patkai Bum Hills. They are low mountains compared to the Greater Himalayas.

Skill Test

1. Who is the Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh
2. State the year when Arunachal Pradesh was separated from Assam
3. What is the total amount of area that makes the state of Arunachal Pradesh?
4. Which is the state animal of Arunachal Pradesh?
5. Which is the capital of Arunachal Pradesh?
6. On which date the Arunachal Pradesh state was formed?
7. In which year was the state of Arunachal Pradesh created?
8. Which country is situated west to the state of Arunachal Pradesh
9. In which year did Arunachal Pradesh got its Railway Link?
10. What is the number of Loksabha seats from the state of Arunachal Pradesh?
11. What is the total number of the districts present in the state of Arunachal Pradesh?
12. With which country does the Arunchal Pradesh share its border with?
13. Name the country which refers Arunachal Pradesh as the South Tibet
14. Name the line that separates Arunachal line from Tibet
15. Name the highest point of Arunachal Pradesh
16. Name the river that flows from the state of Arunachal Pradesh
17. Arunachal Pradesh was formerly known as?
18. Which is the state tree of Arunachal Pradesh?
19. Name the state flower of Arunachal Pradesh
20. Which is the state bird of Arunachal Pradesh?