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‘Personal perspective of an outsider’: New book delves into ‘changing’ story of new Northeast

Published by HarperCollins India, “A Resurgent Northeast: Narratives of Change” by Ashish Kundra will be released on 22 March on ThePrint's Softcover.

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New Delhi: When IAS officer Ashish Kundra landed in Mizoram in the early 2000s as part of his job posting, he met with a “cultural shock”. He saw an egalitarian society where politeness was valued and a sense of community reigned among everyone. Two decades later, he got posted to the same state again and this time, he sensed a new vibe led by “an aspirational new generation”. 

It’s this story of the growing and evolving nature of the region Kundra attempts to tell in his book, “A Resurgent Northeast: Narratives of Change”.

“For decades, an imagery of violence, strife, underdevelopment, and backwardness stuck with the Northeast. The reality of the new Northeast, a remarkable story of transformation, deserves to be shared with the rest of the world,” the author says. 

Published by HarperCollins India, “A Resurgent Northeast: Narratives of Change” will be released on 22 March on ThePrint’s Softcover.

Kundra doesn’t restrict himself to a particular state, but instead dives into history and politics of the region as a whole, which he sees as a hotbed of change and being on a precipice of uncharted growth.

“A spirit of enterprise has fired the imagination of its youth. Start-ups are mushrooming in diverse spaces across the Northeast. Farmers in the region are waking up to the immense possibilities of their fertile land. People are now opening up to welcome tourists from around the world. Hydropower potential, which has so far remained trapped in controversy, is finally delivering on its promise. Trade across the borders can become a harbinger of economic change,” says the civil servant, in the introduction of the book. 

Kundra sees the region to be “racing to success in every possible arena” but underlines the menace of drugs and the hold corruption has over the Northeast. 

In his book, Kundra also touches upon the cultural influences that play a role in shaping people’s lives. “Technology and the internet boom have reinvented cultural idioms. Young women in Aizawl style themselves along chic Korean designs. The hills of Shillong, Itanagar and Kohima reverberate with catchy K-pop. An evident ‘Easternization’ of society is underway,” he writes. 

While Kundra’s personal experience is limited to Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh, he attempts to weave similar threads around all seven states. 

The book has been receiving praise across the board. Congress politician Shashi Tharoor says the book “offers an intricate exposition of the region’s history, politics, people and growth” from an author who possesses a “broad insider’s perspective”.

“His detailed account of the efforts, achievements and gaps in the governance and development of the Northeast presents not just the story thus far, but also the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead,” said Tharoor.

Also read: Importance of free speech rights, new book offers scrupulous look into sedition law in India


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