ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Tantalisingly Intertwined and Complex

The Eastern Gate: War and Peace in Nagaland, Manipur and India’s Far East by Sudeep Chakravarti, Simon and Schuster India, 2022; pp 399, `899.

The Mirror Has Many SidesFor some time, many of us have been looking forward with anticipation to the latest book by Sudeep Chakravarti on the North East, The Eastern Gate: War and Peace in Nagaland, Manipur and India’s Far East. The book essentially focuses on the complex politics and political games in Nagaland and Assam, with a deep dive into the vortex of ethnic and insurgency politics in these states with glimpses of it in Assam and Tripura. I was fascinated by the title because it reminded me of my first book on the region, Strangers of the Mist, Tales of War and Peace from India’s North East, published 28 years earlier. The title for the blurb on the inside flap also appears to be a play on John le Carre’s bestselling novel on espionage and the Cold War, “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.” Here it is “Traders, Pushers, Soldiers, Spies.”

Chakravarti has written some outstanding books on insurgency, culture and history—these include Red Sun: Travels through Naxalite CountryHighway 39: Journeys through a Fractured Land; and The Bengalis: A Portrait of a Community. Of these, I regarded Highway 39 as one of his most engaging work as it tells many stories of conflict, tragedy, and oppor­tunity and opportunism built around a road that ploughs through the states of Assam, Manipur and Nagaland, connecting governments and rebels, people, and contesting ideas. He refers to his conversations for that book and meets some of the protagonists of those stories again, as do many of us when we go back to learn about change and continuity, minor and epochal transitions in society, systems and individuals, as new priorities, new politics, new ideas and new work emerge. It is a time-tested way of undergirding, understanding, and affirming both the micro and the macro picture.

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Updated On : 17th Jul, 2022
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