Located in the North East of India and practically isolated from the rest of Indian land mass but for a narrow corridor, the eight North Eastern states comprise a Region that has long been a confluence of Indo, Sinic, Tibetan and Myanmarese cultures and ethnicities. Over the millennia, the Region was a land bridge to the greater South East Asian Region referred to as Indo-China. Post India's independence from colonial rule in 1947, this Region went through a long process of assimilation with the modern Indian nation-state that saw several phases of both separatist insurgency as well as violent ethnic conflict. As the conflicts of the last century appeared to settle down, expectations arose of this Region once again being in the vanguard of a more comprehensive engagement with South East Asia, now bound together as ASEAN. The Look East Policy of 1990s and the more contemporary Act East Policy seeks to build upon the potential of the Region and its age-old ties with South East Asia.
The intersection of the Act East Policy, the imperative of regional development and a deeper engagement with India's immediate neighbourhood East and South East Asia could well change the narrative of conflict that has dominated the Region over the last seven decades This work examines the deep well-springs of identity that determine the politics of North Eastern India, its past of violent conflict, its potential for economic development that would enable the Region to engage meaningfully with SE Asia and the challenges faced in building connectivity and trade through the Region.