50 Glorious years of Arunachal Pradesh By –Denhang Bosai Dy Director, IPR, Arunachal Pradesh – From an unknown entity to becoming one of the prominent states of India, holding promises galore, Arunachal Pradesh has traversed a long and arduous journey. The state has completed 50 glorious years from 1972 to 2022, taking a giant leap forward in all spheres of life. Gone are the days when the many ethnic tribes of the state lived in almost naked and semi-naked condition, far removed from the light of development and winds of change blowing across British India. Gone are the days when the simple and innocent tribals lived in complete isolation, blissfully oblivious of the big world outside their small cocoon. Gone are the days when the tribals lived a primitive life solely dependent on shifting cultivation, hunting and fishing, completely unaware of modern education and development. However, today, Arunachal Pradesh is forging ahead along with the other states of India and the state is making its presence felt thanks to the tremendous progress it has made over the last 50 years in myriad fields. Essentially Arunachal Pradesh is a predominantly tribal state and thankfully, the tribals are still deeply rooted to their age-old culture and traditions in spite of the material advancement. They love their tribal ethos and are carrying forward the great and rich legacies handed down to them by their ancestors. The tribals who have unique and beautiful systems in all aspects of life are making an honest effort to safeguard and preserve their unique traditions for the posterity. Arunachal Pradesh is a multi-ethnic, multi-culture and multi-dialect state, professing different faiths but closely bound by the inherent tribal instinct and spirit of love, unity and fellow-feeling. The tribals celebrate their festivals with traditional fervour and gaiety every year thereby show-casing their rich culture and also fostering love, peace and unity among themselves. In fact, festivals are a medium not only to preserve their rich legacies but also to express themselves as tribals belonging to a particular ethnic entity. In spite of the differences in dialect, customs, costumes, faith, cultural practices etc, the tribals of the state are bound in a single thread of love and harmony. There are scores of festivals signifying different occasions. This is why the state is often called ‘a land of festivals.’ Arunachal Pradesh is indeed a serene and yet mystique land in its pristine glory, endowed with many splendoured things of life. Arunachal Pradesh is an enchanting land blessed with many unexplored and unexposed treasures. Historically the land is shrouded in myth and legend. It emanates an aura of vibrating cultural life of the tribal people and throbs with the lovely rhythm of their music, dances and traditions. Arunachal Pradesh with so much to offer shall soon become the numero uno tourist destination. The future of Arunachal Pradesh is indeed bright and promising.
The year 1972 has a great significance for the state of Arunachal Pradesh and it is inscribed in golden letters in the annals of the state’s history since incipience. It was in the year 1972 when Arunachal Pradesh (formerly NEFA) got recognition as a Union Territory of India and a democratic form of government took shape. It was also in that year when North East Frontier Agency (NEFA) was re-christened as Arunachal Pradesh: The Land of The Rising Sun. The state has witnessed a sea change between 1972 and 2022 in terms of development, both material and human resource development. In order to commemorate the period from 1972 to 2022, the state is celebrating 50 Years of Arunachal Pradesh which will include many events involving the entire populace of the state, especially the youth. Little wonder then the year 2022 is going to be a year of both retrospection and introspection for the state. Today, the state stands at a critical and crucial phase of transition. This is the time to compete against the more developed states by equipping the youth with the entire wherewithal, physically, mentally, academically and also morally. Agreed, the state has made rapid strides in all sectors but this is not the time to be complacent and rest on our laurels. We have miles to go before we sleep. The state of Arunachal holds promises in Agri-Horti sectors, Hydropower,Tourism and Sports. The sky is the limit for the people of the state with ample avenues, opportunities and possibilities to explore. Indeed, Arunachal Pradesh can shine like the brightest star in the firmament with so much of precious gifts from the benevolent Mother Nature. The state can potentially become a paradise on earth if all the natural resources are gainfully harnessed and tapped through meticulous planning and diligent execution. The untold miseries and hardships the tribals faced during the pre-NEFA and NEFA days due to lack of road connectivity are indeed things of the distant past. Today, trains including luxurious Vistadome whistle in and out at Naharlagun Railway station. Passenger planes land and take off at Pasighat and Tezu advanced landing grounds. Even the remotest border like Kaho, the first village of India in Kibithu circle of Anjaw district is connected by a good road which is fully black-topped.
The tribals of Arunachal Pradesh had always been fiercely protective about their land, forests and rivers. They treated any intruders as their enemy in the past. Though there is no mention of names of freedom fighters from the state in the history of ‘India’s Freedom Movement,’ there are hundreds of unsung heroes who contributed their mite and laid down their lives while resisting the Britishers from entering the then NEFA. The British led expeditions in an attempt to annex the territories of the Adis. The local inhabitants resented these moves of the British and loathed the superiority complex displayed by the Britishers. The locals did not like the interference of the Britishers in their affairs in their own land. In order to stop such anti-tribal policies of the Britishers, the Adis waged a series of wars against the British which is famous as ‘Anglo-Abor (Adi) War.’ In the historic Poju Mimak War in 1911-12, many Adi villages put up a united fight against the much superior Expeditionary Force. Matmur Jamoh and his fellow villagers killed Noel Williamson, Assistant Political Officer of Sadiyas at Komsing village on 31st March 1911. Officially, the ‘Anglo-Abor (Adi) War (Poju Mimak) of 1911-12 began on 6th October 1911 and ended on 11th January 1912. Many Adis sacrificed their lives during their fight against the Britishers who are unsung heroes today. It may also be mentioned here that prior to ‘Anglo-Abor (Adi) War ( Poju Mimak) in 1911-12, the ‘Anglo-Abor (Adi) Wars’ of Bitbor Mimak in 1858, Bongal Mimak in 1859 and Nijom Mimak in 1893-94 took place. Here Mimak refers to War with Britishers. Similarly, Lieutenant Holcombe along with 75 other British-Indian Sepoys was massacred by the Wanchos of present Longding district at Nginu village on 2nd February 1875 when the survey team entered the village and misbehaved with the villagers. The unsung heroes of that eventful episode are Nokdon Wangpan, Chonley Wangsa, Mikbong Boham, Janchoi Thangkhoham and Janpho Wangpan. Moji Riba and Moje Riba were among other unsung heroes who first hoisted the national flag on 15th August 1947 at Dipa village in present Lower Siang district. These unsung heroes are a testimony to the fact that Arunachal Pradesh also contributed to the Freedom Movement in no small measure. Scholars and researchers of the state are on the job to find out more unsung heroes for due recognition.
The wheels of development had been set rolling by the architects of modern Arunachal Pradesh since 1972 and there is no looking back for the state. Today, the state has witnessed many watershed development projects being implemented by the state government and ably assisted by the GOI. The Chief Minister Shri Pema Khandu and Deputy Chief Minister Shri Chowna Mein have put wings to the dreams of every Arunachali and are steering the ship of Arunachal Pradesh towards the safe shore of unprecedented development and prosperity, free from the obnoxious smoke of hatred, malice, jealousy and divisive forces. The development activities are moving at a faster pace under the present state government. In the not too distant future the state will reap the fruits of methodical planning and execution by the present regime. Thanks to the great and visionary leadership, the Arunachal Pradesh is surmounting all the stumbling-blocks in the way and is all set to become one of the most progressive and vibrant states thereby finding a pride of place in the country. The state celebrates the 50 glorious years of its existence with great enthusiasm and fanfare from the month of January 2022.
(The writer is Deputy Director, DIPR.)