What if Northeast India became a separate country?


Ruata Lungchuang

Northeast India is a geographical region located at the extreme eastern corner of India and is basically a panhandle of mainland India. Being connected to the rest of India by only a narrow strip of land called the chicken neck, the region is culturally distinct from the rest of India. the racial makeup of the region is also distinct from the rest of India being more closer to eastern Asia both in culture and race.

Because of these factors and the central government’s neglect of the region in the past, Northeast India has experienced some of the most powerful secessionist movements in India and currently harbours the most number of underground secessionist organizations out of all-region in the country. With most big underground outfits coming into terms with the Indian government things have improved a lot in northeast India and the separatist movements have largely subsided. However, have you ever wondered what it would be like if northeast India gained independence from India? I mean its highly unlikely but let us look at what it would actually look like just for the fun of it. Here are 5 likely scenarios

A union of nations


Okay, first of all, what we must remember is that there have never been any widespread united northeast independence movements. Most separatist movements in the northeast are confined to state boundaries and based on ethnic land boundaries. you have the erstwhile MNF advocating for an independent Mizo homeland, Nscnim for a naga country, various Manipur underground outfits for various ethnic homelands so on and so forth. So we won’t be seeing one single independent Northeast Indian country. What’s more likely is a union of several independent states, its hard to guess how many independent states would become members of this union but it would certainly be more than 8 different countries since states like Manipur, Assam, and Meghalaya currently have their own internal separatist movement that mainly demands new states under the union of India, it is very likely that these regions become independent states of their own if India decided to leave. We don’t exactly know what the union would be called or how it will function but it would probably be called WESEA( Western South East Asia) which is a name used by many separatist outfits of Northeast India to describe the region. The union may function somewhat like the European Union since the region will need heavy cooperation on defence and trade but will most likely maintain strong regional independence among member states.

Shillong will be the Headquarter

Shillong City

Every International union has headquarters, cities like Addis Ababa and Brussels are headquarters of the African and European Union respectively. If an independent union ever comes to exists in Northeast India, it will most likely have its headquarter in Shillong. Before Meghalaya became its own state in 1972, Shillong was the capital of the undivided Assam, which covered most parts of northeast India. Shillong has remained the most important administrative city in the Northeast, being the headquarter of The Northeastern Regional Council and several other pan Northeastern institutions. The city is also the most cosmopolitan city in northeast India, as a melting pot of Northeastern cultures, it is diverse and has a multi-ethnic population. Besides these factors, Shillong’s pleasant climate and geographical location make it an ideal place for diplomatic meetings and negotiations.

Poor but better social indicator than India

Most northeastern states depend heavily on the Central funds for survival. With the exception of Assam, the Northeastern economy is largely underdeveloped and has not been industrialised, leaving its GSDP very low. At the same time, Northeast India also has some of the fastest-growing economies, the GSDP growth rate of many northeastern states are higher than the national GDP growth average with states like Mizoram topping off at a growth rate of 9.5% in 2015. With the exception of Assam, Meghalaya and Manipur other northeastern states have higher Per capita income than the national average, this is reflected in  Northeast India’s good performance on social indicators which describes the general well-being of the citizens. Sikkim, Manipur, Mizoram, and Nagaland have high Human development index scores way above the national average. So even though the region would have to start up as an underdeveloped economy, it’s likely that it would eventually catch up and be able to offer better opportunities and living standards for its people with its plentiful untapped natural resources and its large human resources. The region could also benefit largely from China’s One belt road Initiative project, making China its largest trade partner.

Religious Diversity

A Temple and a Church coexisting side by side in Dimapur Nagaland

The largest religion followed in this regional union will be Hinduism, followed by Islam and Christianity. Northeast India is often considered to be the most Christian region of India. States like Nagaland, Meghalaya, and Mizoram are predominantly Christian. But when we study the religious demography of Northeast India we come to know that Christians accounts for only around 17% of the total population, making it the third largest religion in Northeast India after Hinduism and Islam. The bulk of Hindu and Muslim population in northeast India are concentrated in the state of Assam, a state whose population is twice the size of all the other northeastern states combined. It’s interesting to note that two third of the population in this union will live in Assam. Buddhist and  Animist will account for 1 % of the population each.  

Political instability

Although our hypothetical Union of independent northeastern states seems to look very promising, it is very unlikely that it will ever come into existence in real life. Apart from the absence of a popular northeast independence movement, the region is plagued with political as well as ethnic-related problems, which will make unification or agreeing on political boundaries very difficult. Many parts of the region in an event of independence will fall into a cycle of civil wars turning the region into a battleground that will create multiple humanitarian crises. The threat of Chinese invasion is also very much present and real. Arunachal Pradesh would probably be invaded by China soon after it declares its independence which then will dramatically affect the overall politics of the union. So a unified independent Northeastern union is most likely to collapse before it sees daylight. Individual states, however, may survive and even prosper. Separatist ideologies often stem from the feeling of being repressed, neglected and not being represented. Let us all hope that India continues to up its games on integration and mends undressed wounds in the northeast so that everyone may feel homely in India and prosper together.

The Mizos

The Mizos is a one-man team news blog, that brings you news and stories from Mizoram, Northeast India and the rest of the World.


  1. In true sense if the northeast region has to become independent then it should politically negotiate with India and each region should do it separately. One thing is true that China will take over Arunachal. But all the other regions can be friends with both India and China. Arunachal too, if they can come to some aggreement with China go on to be a new nation.

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