The scholars working on the Northeast India have often identified governance and democratic decentralisation as one of the most important research areas requiring in-depth understanding. A major portion of the region is administered under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution. Besides, customary laws and practices continue to be an integral part of the society in the region. This presents numerous challenges to governance. So, the issues pertinent to the processes of democratic decentralisation and governance in the region have been a major thrust area identified by the Institute. It has contributed significantly towards both furtherance of understanding and operationalisation of the process of democratic decentralisation by way of undertaking more than fifteen major studies in this thrust area.
The region of Northeast India is a unique store house of experimentations of myriad models of democratic decentralisation. The region has areas governed by Local Government Institutions as amended by 73rd and 74th Amendments to the Constitutions. Besides, there are substantial areas in the region governed by the provisions of the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution with various modifications within it. Further, many areas of the region continue to have traditional institutions of self-governance. To add to the complexity, some of the state governments have come up with the idea of granting autonomous councils to some of the communities. Under such circumstances, political mobilisation for autonomy and politics of ethnic identity has become a salient feature in the region for last couple of decades. The Institute, therefore, created a dedicated cell for understanding the process of democratic decentralisation and surfeit of issues related to it.