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Nagaland

CAPITAL KOHIMA
AREA IN Sq. km 17,000
PRINCIPAL LANGUAGES ENGLISH, AO, ANGAMI, CHANG, KONYAK etc.

 

Nagaland, state in extreme northeastern India, bordered on the west and north by Assam state, on the east by Myanmar (formerly known as Burma), on the north by Arunachal Pradesh state, and on the south by Manipur state. Nagaland is one of India's smallest states, with a total area of 16,579 sq km (6400 sq mi). The Naga Hills run through this small state, which has Saramati as its highest peak at a height of 12,600 ft. The main rivers that flow through Nagaland are Dhansiri, Doyang, Dikhu and Jhanji. The terrain is mountainous, thickly wooded, and cut by deep river valleys. There is a wide variety of plant and animal life. Nagaland has a monsoon climate with generally high humidity; rainfall averages between 1800 and 2500 mm (70 and 100 in) a year.

Nagaland has a single-chamber Legislative Assembly with 60 seats. The state sends two members to the Indian national parliament: one to the Rajya Sabha (upper house) and one to the Lok Sabha (lower house). There are seven local government administrative districts - Mokokchung, Tuensang, Mon, Wokha, Zunheboto, Phek and Kohima. The capital is Kohima.

History

Little is known about the early history of what is now Nagaland, including the origin of several large sandstone pillars at Dimapur. British rule was established over the area by the 1890s, and headhunting, then a traditional practice, was outlawed. The Naga territory remained split between Assam and the North East Frontier Agency after Indian independence in 1947, despite a vocal movement advocating the political union of all the Naga tribes; one faction called for secession from India. In 1957, following violent incidents, the Indian government established a single Naga administrative unit under Indian rule. The Naga people responded by refusing to pay their taxes and by conducting a campaign of sabotage. In 1960 the Indian government agreed to make Nagaland a self-governing state within India; the state was officially inaugurated in 1963. Naga separatists, however, continued to show violent opposition; they have been demanding autonomy and creation of a single administrative unit comprising all the Naga inhabited areas spanning across some of the north eastern states. Naga rebels and the Indian government have agreed on a ceasefire and peace talks are going on.

Society and Culture

The Nagas, inhabitants of Nagaland, are said to belong to the indo-mongoloid stock, a race whose presence was first noted ten centuries before Christ, at the time of the compilation of the Vedas. The Nagas form more than 20 tribes, as well as numerous subtribes, each having a specific geographic distribution. Though sharing many cultural traits, these tribes have maintained a high degree of isolation and lack cohesion as a single people. The Konyaks are the largest tribe, followed by the Aos, Tangkhuls, Semas, and Angamis. Other tribes include the Lothas, Sangtams, Phoms, Changs, Khiemnungams, Yimchungres, Zeliangs, Chakhesangs (Chokri), and Rengmas.The principal languages are Angami, Ao, Chang, Konyak, Lotha, Sangtam, and Sema.

The Nagas are a handsome and friendly people. High cheek bones, almond eyes, sparkling teeth and bronzed skin set the Nagas apart. In colourful tribal outfits, with bamboo shields sheathed in bear skin and decorated spears, the Nagas are simple people, almost entirely tribal. The social position of a Naga is borne out by the number of bone necklaces he wears

Weaving is a traditional art handed down through generations in Nagaland. Each of the major tribes has its own unique designs and colours. Warm and colourful Naga shawls, hand-woven shoulder bags, decorative spears, table mats, wood carvings and bamboo works make magnificent souvenirs. Tribal dances of the Nagas give us an insight into the inborn reticence of these people. War dances and dances belonging to distinctive tribes, form the major art form in Nagaland. In colourful costumes and jewellery, the dancers go through amazing mock war motions, which could prove very dangerous, if one were to be a little careless. Festivals, marriages, harvests, or just the joy of the moment - are occasions for the Nagas to burst into dance. Some of the important festivals are Sekrenyi, Moatsu, Tuluni andTokhu Emong.

The traditional Naga religion is animistic, though conceptions of a supreme creator and an afterlife exist. Nature is seen to be alive with invisible forces, minor deities, and spirits with which priests and medicine men mediate. In the 19th century, with the advent of British rule, Christianity was introduced, and Baptist missionaries became especially active in the region. As a result, the population now is predominantly Christian.

Nagaland is a rural state. More than four-fifths of the population lives in small, isolated villages. Built on the most prominent points along the ridges of the hills, these villages were once stockaded, with massive wooden gates approached by narrow, sunken paths. The villages are usually divided into khels, or quarters, each with its own headmen and administration. Dimapur, Kohima, Mokokchung, and Tuensang are the only urban centres with more than 20,000 people.

Economy and Infrastructure

Agriculture employs about 90 percent of the people of Nagaland. Rice and corn are the main crops. However, the state is not self-sufficient in food. Shifting cultivation (also known as slash-and-burn agriculture) is widely practiced. Food needs have caused the fallow, or idle, period to be cut to a couple of years, causing erosion and a loss of soil fertility and crop yields. The forests, which cover about 17 percent of Nagaland, are its most important source of income. There are varied mineral reserves, including oil deposits, but little exploitation. The state has adopted an industrialization program since the 1970s.

Until the early 1970s, only cottage industries (e.g., weaving, woodwork, basketry, and pottery) existed in the state. Lack of raw materials, financial resources, and power, as well as poor transport and communications, all hindered industrial growth. Dimapur, the state's leading industrial centre, now has a sugar mill and distillery, a brick factory, and a television assembly plant. Other industries in the state include a khandsari (molasses) mill, rice mills, fruit-canning plants, a paper and pulp factory, a plywood factory, and cabinet and furniture factories.

Chromium, nickel, cobalt, iron ore, and limestone are found in Nagaland, but only low-grade coal deposits are mined at present. Boreholes drilled in the western district of Wokha have yielded oil, and seepages in the Dikhu valley, near Assam, suggest the presence of exploitable oil reserves. Power generation depends mainly on diesel plants, though hydroelectric output has increased. More than 50 percent of Nagaland's power is generated in Assam.

Nagaland depends mostly on roads for transportation. A national highway runs from Dimapur to Kohima and then on to Imphal in Manipur. Another main road links Mokokchung with Amguri in Assam. A short stretch of the Northeast Frontier Railway passing through Dimapur from Assam is the only rail link with the rest of India. Air service is available from Dimapur to Guwahati in Assam and to Calcutta in West Bengal.

The state also possesses natural oil reserves. Infrastructure bottleneck has been an outstanding problem of the state the CMIE index being 71 compared to the All India Average of 100 in 1992-93. It shares border with Myanmar and hence has huge potential to develop border trade

Tourist Centres

The remote hilly area is covered with luxuriant vegetation, the climate is cool and bracing, the people friendly and hospitable. In season, the landscape is a riot of colour wild flowers, thick forests, huge trees, tall grass, a wide vriety of of wild animals and brilliantly coloured birds. Tourist attractions include War Cemetry in Kohima, historic ruins of Kachari Kingdom, Dimapur, Chui village and Dzuko valley