Northeast India: Linguistic Diversity and Language Politics

IDSA Occassional Paper No. 5

The language problem in a multilingual region like Northeast India involves larger issues of re-asserting and reconstructing identities. Different linguistic groups that compete for control over resources and power, very often use language not only to define their identities but also to strengthen their ideological claims. The fear of possible exclusion and the inability of the political establishment in coping with the challenges of linguistic diversity, often lead to mobilisation and violent confrontation along linguistic lines. The language issue has the potential to explode into ethnic conflicts and as a result it requires critical analysis and farsighted action from the government and the linguistic groups in question. The solution to the language problem in the region needs a careful study of the situation, of the needs and aspirations of the people as well as of the subject of identity politics within the region.

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