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 intregal 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 as a whole 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 still 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. More...

Attempting at Social Inclusion through Constitutional Amendments: Efficacy of 73rd and 74th Amendments in the Context of India’s North East

The Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) after the 73rd Constitutional Amendments brought in several measures to overcome past indignities related to the caste or creed and provided reservation within the seats and offices of the Panchayat. Though the caste hierarchy and rigidity is rather lax in Assam, domination of the Upper Castes in the PRIs cannot be ruled out completely. Moreover, identity based exclusion of the marginalized groups and minorities may occur in the system as there is a lack of ethnic cohesion among the people. The Institute has taken up this study in the two states, Assam and Tripura, to understand and analyze the diverse forms of social hierarchy and its relation to social exclusion.

The study has completed the field survey in the two states besides conducting a number of Focus Group Discussions with the members of the Panchayat in the two states.

State Society Interface: Autonomy and Governance in India’s North East

The research will cover all the North Eastern States (excluding Sikkim) and will be based on ethnographic study of the local governing institutions. Here the governing institution implies both the traditional system that has been practiced and the modern institutions of governance. The study will focus on the administration of justice or justice delivery system in the society, the continuity and the change in the post-Independence period. To be more focused, the project will be narrowed down on field investigation by selecting at least two tribal communities each from every state, which can represent the larger society as a whole. The main objective of the research project is to comprehend the interface between the state and the society in the context of the present situation where duality exists in the governing institutions – one that represent the state and other that continues the traditional institutions. Thus, deep inquiries will be made on the nature of autonomy and governance on the communities that come under the Sixth Schedule and the State Act.

A Study on NRC and Citizenship Act:

The issue of immigration from East Pakistan/ Bangladesh has been causing political ferments ever since the Independence. The Bangladesh war of Independence during 1971 greatly complicated the issue. Due to the reign of terror unleashed by Pakistani army, a large number of people had to take refuge in Indian territory. Looking at the vexed issue, IMDT act was enacted in 1983which got struck down in 2005 by the Supreme Court of India. The Foreigner Act 1946 is applicable in the matter of in the matter of illegal immigrants and most recently the Citizenship Amendment Bill has been moved in Loksabha to deal with the matter. With this backdrop, it can be clearly seen that there are different political and social issues involved in this subject and needed to be explored and considered very seriously to avoid any kind of arbitrariness on the procedure. Moreover, in the international prospective, there are many convention and declaration by the United Nation since 1951 on immigrants and eradication of statelessness in world of which India is a signatory. Hence a close investigation is necessary to see the complex issue by taking different aspects into consideration. The study proposes to look carefully whether the documents needed to claim registration in NRC are easily available or not particularly in the case of aged people, destitute women, orphans, children etc. It wants to look at the issue of D-Voters and its legal implications. The issue of human rights would also be looked closely of the people who have been lodged in the detention camps.

  • Recent Studies

    Functioning of Traditional Local Self Governing Institutions The study was conducted in Manipur, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Mizoram. With a historical perspective, this study attempts at analysing the legislative framework of the village councils in the post colonial Indian polity. It has given its suggestions in the light of the 73rd Amendment of the Constitution. The study has uniquely explored the possibility of achieving the maximum benefits of democratic decentralisation in these Hill States without interfering in the traditional systems of belief and heritage.

    Development of Judiciary in Assam-Law, Law Courts and Lawyers in Assam The study carried out in collaboration with All Assam Lawyers Association, attempted at locating the interface of state, society and law in the context of the North East India at present or Assam in the colonial period. The study also tried to understand historiography of jurisprudence in the context of legal structures in colonial Assam; and while seeking to locate continuity and change, the study also attempted to understand the legal structures that emerged in the post independence period. A book is forthcoming out of this study.