The year 2020 unfolded a series of events that will go down in history. The developments were nothing less than a roller coaster ride not only for the Northeastern region of India but for the entire world. As we are at the last juncture of this tumultuous year, Mumeninaz Zaman recalls the anecdotes of the journey so far.

The wave of the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act, CAA, 2019 was still prevalent in the nation, when the news of a new strain of the virus that emerged in Wuhan, China just started seeping in throughout the world. A political crisis that the CAA ignited could have been reached to a certain conjecture, it was then the pandemic COVID-19 came into the picture. Although people were reeling under the pandemic and juggling between lockdown, being in quarantine and adapting to the new normal they have been fighting several other battles. Racial discrimination, amendment of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), Baghjan Oil Well blowout, illegal coal mining in Dehing Patkai, interstate and international border dispute, and the extension of Armed forces are some of the issues from Northeast India that have weathered the year. While demands for political prisoners of the CAA movement are being raised time and again, the government on the other hand took the opportunity to pass and amend several Bills and Acts that have stoked protests in the region.

Here are the newsmakers that have grabbed the spotlight in the Northeast in the year 2020.

(Peace) Accords and Talks

As a result of the historic BTC (Bodoland Territorial Council) accord signed on February 10, 2003 (formerly) Bodoland Territorial Autonomous District BTAD was formed.  To bring peace and stability in the region which has witnessed violence and insurgency for over four decades, the third Bodo Accord was signed on January 27 this year. The Ministry of Home Affairs, Assam Government and Bodo Groups including the All Bodo Students’ Union and militant outfits signed the agreement. The agreement was signed just ahead of the Bodo election which was scheduled to be held in April this year but was later postponed due to COVID-19.

Even though the issue was compounded by the existence of several militant groups and the demand for separate statehood, however, this time all the groups came to the table and signed the third Bodo Accord.

After the implementation of the Accord, the BTAD region is now known as Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR). The agreement that was signed to bring in peace has rather set a political discourse in the region. While the Assam Government is adamant that no other statehood will be granted, the Bodo majority is claiming for the same. Moreover, the Accord has brought forth a paradigm shift in the political arena as the signatories of the Accord planned to take part in active politics and have contested in the recently concluded BTC elections. The developments have further dented the saffron party’s alliance with the regional party Bodoland People’s Front (BPF). As top leaders from the BPF have joined BJP, now both the parties contested against each other.

 

On the other hand, the decades-long Naga Peace Talks for a peaceful reconciliation remain hanging after differences erupted between the Government of India and the NSCN-IM.

Despite the efforts, the talks remain inconclusive and rather raised speculations without any fruitful outcome. The matter escalated three pertinent concerns that have slimed the chance of curtailing the issue at the earliest. Firstly, the demand for a separate flag and constitution by the outfit has been termed as a rigid demand by the GoI. Secondly, it has raised speculation among the neighbouring states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur, as they are fearing that the territorial integrity may be affected by the peace deal, as the creation of Greater Nagalim encompasses parts of the three Northeastern states. Thirdly, the inclusion of other civil society organizations and groups in the peace talks has been opposed by the outfit group.

In August 2020, the differences were fuelled when interlocutor cum Governor of the state R N Ravi in a letter written to Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio described the Naga political problem as a law and order issue and Naga nationalist workers as “extortionists” and “anti-social elements”.

Efforts at reconciliation and securing an early solution have intensified in recent months. Moreover, with the delay in the final solution, the gap for a peaceful and amicable outcome is only widening.

 

The Pandemic

In 2020, lockdown and quarantine seemed to be the buzzword. The year was mostly dominated by the news of the COVID-19. Although Northeast India had witnessed the wrath of the deadly virus lately compared to other states, the virus eventually made its way to the region.

The first COVID-19 case in North East India was detected on 24 March 2020 in Manipur in a 23-year-old student who returned from the UK.

Mizoram had reported its first coronavirus case on March 24 after a 52-year-old pastor, with a travel history to the Netherlands, tested positive for the infection.

The first confirmed case of coronavirus in Assam was reported on 31 March 2020 in Badarpur, Karimganj, after a 52-year-old man returning from Nizamuddin Markaz, New Delhi tested positive at Silchar Medical College.

India’s far eastern state Arunachal Pradesh has reported its first COVID-19 positive case on April 1 who attended the religious congregation in Nizamuddin in New Delhi.

Tripura became the fifth state in the Northeast after Manipur, Mizoram, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh to report coronavirus. The state reported its first Covid-19 case when a 45-year-old woman tested positive on April 6. She had travelled from Assam.

A doctor from Bethany Hospital in Shillong on April 14 became the first person from Meghalaya to test positive for COVID-19, he later succumbed to the disease. Nagaland officially reported its first COVID positive case on May 25 (an earlier case that was diagnosed in April was migrated to Assam). Sikkim has reported its first positive case on May 23, with a travel history to New Delhi. Assam remains the most affected state followed by Tripura, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Sikkim and Mizoram. While Sikkim and Mizoram have shown exemplary efforts in containing the virus by adopting early measures in a disciplined manner.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared a nationwide lockdown from March 24 to May 17, the lockdown was eased in a phased wise manner.

During early May the states of Sikkim, Mizoram, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura achieved “Covid-19 free” status after all their patients have recovered. As the country entered the third phase of lockdown, most of the Northeast was still in the Green Zone. However, this status was short lived, with the lifting of the inter-state movements, there has been a surge in the number of the cases and the region has recorded fresh cases. A significant chunk of this surge can be traced back entirely to returnees, or those who have come back to their home states after the opening up of inter-state borders.

Due to prolonged lockdown entire Northeast India has faced many difficulties and challenges. There have been huge losses in the Tea Industry, Tourism Industry, agriculture and rural economy etc. Lockdown has also led to technological reform in the Northeastern states. Online Education and Work from Home became the new normal. Nevertheless, poor internet connectivity was another hurdle for the students in the remote and hilly areas in the region.

The pandemic also brought to limelight the harsh reality of the poor health infrastructure in the region which has now ramped up its efforts in providing better healthcare facilities.

 

Racial Discrimination: Old Wounds Resurfaced

While the entire world was grappling with the rapidly spreading outbreak, people of the Northeastern region of India, living in different parts of the country were struggling with another social disease- ‘racial discrimination’. Since the virus emerged from China, xenophobic and racist attacks were frequently coming to the fore targeting the Northeastern people for their resemblance to the Chinese.

A group of boys from Arunachal Pradesh were not allowed to enter a supermarket just because they looked like Chinese. Another girl from Manipur was spat on while she was labeled as Coronavirus. In another shocking incident, a group of girls from Nagaland serving as healthcare workers were asked to leave their rented apartment just because they looked like Chinese and hence would spread the virus. Racist slurs such as ‘coronavirus’, ‘chinky’, ‘momo’, ‘coronavirus go back’ was used to target the people of the region. A series of such attacks were reported in various parts of the country as people were harassed, abused and traumatized. Though the attack on the people of the Northeast is due to their looks, it is not a new phenomenon in India, such hate crimes multiplied within a short period amid the pandemic.

Despite the call from the influential people and political leaders, the discrimination continued that has negatively impacted the students and working class people who travel to other parts of the country for work and education.

 

Politics: An affair to remember

Politics has been a game-changer in Manipur this year, this can be fathomed from the fall and rise of the coalition government between the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) and the indigenous parties in Manipur.

The BJP led coalition government faced a major political turmoil after nine MLAs, including three BJP MLAs, four MLAs from the NPP, one from Trinamool Congress and an Independent MLA resigned from the party on June 17, just ahead of the Rajya Sabha election which was slated to be held on June 19. The MLAs has withdrawn support to the BJP-led coalition government and expressed support to the Congress. The Ministers cried foul over the developments unfolding in the Manipur government, hinting at it as a political game.

As Congress staked claim to form a government under the leadership of senior Congress leader and former Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh in the state with a majority in the assembly, he was summoned by the CBI in connection with an FIR registered in November 2019 for alleged misappropriation of state government funds. Accordingly, NEDA Convenor and BJPs trouble-shooter Himanta Biswa Sarma along with Meghalaya CM and NPP President Conrad Sangma swung into action to address the grievances of the ministers following which the NPP leaders have decided to withdraw their resignations and submit a letter of support to the BJP-led government.

On August 11, Congress faced another setback when six Congress MLAs have submitted their resignation from the Legislative Assembly and also quit the party citing a lack of trust in the leadership of Ibobi Singh. This led the BJP to win the vote of confidence in the Assembly.

The CAA initiated a revolution in Assam. The Government’s betrayal of implementing the Act in the state has invoked a sense of distrust among the citizens of the state. Civil Society Organisations and intellectuals vehemently opposed the Centre’s decision of defying the Assam Accord and granting of citizenship to immigrants of the neigbouring countries. With Assembly elections scheduled next year, the anti-CAA stir has given birth to new regional parties that claim to stand for the interest of the region.

Amongst all the two most influential parties are: First, the Asom Jatiya Parishad, launched by the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and the Asom Jatiyotabadi Chhatra Parishad (AJYCP)– the apex student bodies in the state. Second, the Raijor Dol, floated by the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti, (KMSS) a peasant group led by Akhil Gogoi, who has been in jail since December 2019 when he was slapped with terror charges for his participation in the anti-CAA protests. The Raijor Dol is backed by 70 ethnic groups that had banded with the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti to oppose the changes to the citizenship law.

Another issue from Assam that has stirred a political debate is a proposal made by Congress MLA Sherman Ali Ahmed for the establishment of “Miya Museum”-a museum that would highlight and reflect the culture and heritage of the people living in the char-chaporis (river islands or sandbars), in Sankardeva Kalakshetra- a centre in Guwahati showcasing the State’s cultural heritage.

While the MLA defended his stand in the name of preserving the culture and heritage of a particular community, politicians, intellectuals and common men have ridiculed it as a vested political interest.

It has been claimed that MLA Ahmed’s proposal will allow the BJP to gain political mileage, while the opposition called it a strategy of polarization.

 

Annual Catastrophes

Northeast India is afflicted with three main natural disasters- floods, landslides and earthquakes. Like every year the region has faced the havoc of mother nature along with the pandemic.

In Assam flooding started in May 2020 due to heavy rainfall affecting 30,000 people and destroying crops across 5 districts. As of October 2020, according to the state disaster management data the floods affected over five million people, claiming the lives of 123 people, with an additional 26 deaths due to landslides, 5474 villages were affected and over one hundred and fifty thousand people found refuge in relief camps. Assam which is home to prominent wildlife sanctuaries and world heritage sites has also been affected by the floods this year. As per reports, a total of 151 animals including 12 one-horned rhinos have died in Kaziranga National Park due to the flood since May in Assam.

At least 13 people have died in floods and landslides in Meghalaya since heavy rainfall began around 22 September. According to the State Disaster Management Authority, 5 people were missing while a total of 985 people in 37 villages across East Khasi Hills, West Khasi Hills and Ri Bhoi districts have been affected.

In Arunachal Pradesh, at least 8 people have due to floods and landslides. Incessant rains have triggered landslides and floods, leaving a trail of devastation in the state, damaging roads and houses and inundating low-lying areas. Chief Minister Pema Khandu said on 10 July that the state capital, Itanagar, witnessed heavy rainfall of 142 mm which triggered landslides in many places. Four people died after rain triggered a landslide in the Modirijo area between Itanagar and Naharlagun, while 4 members of the same family died after a landslide in Papum Pare district. Flash flooding was also reported in areas around Itanagar.

In Sikkim, multiple landslides due to heavy rain have resulted in the closing of a stretch of a national highway NH 10 that connects Sikkim with the Darjeeling district of West Bengal. The NH-10 is notorious for landslides and accidents due to dislodged rocks during the monsoon season. This road is Sikkim’s sole source of connection to the rest of the country. On June 27 a major landslide took place at a dam of the NHPC Teesta Stage-V project site at Apdara, East Sikkim causing heavy damage, while also causing Lum and Lingtyang villages of Lower Dzongu, North Sikkim to be cut off from the rest of the state.

Frequent earthquakes in Mizoram have resulted in fear, panic and psychological distress among the affected people. Earthquakes measuring 4.2 and 5.5 on the Richter scale have jolted two districts of Mizoram more than 100 times between June and August. The frequent tremors, experienced mainly in Champhai and Serchhip districts bordering Myanmar, since June 22, have not only partially damaged churches and houses, but compelled residents to spend sleepless nights.

The fear compelled the Mizoram government to seek help from the Centre and send a team of experts to confirm the exact cause of the frequent tremors, offer compensation to the affected people and suggest ways to reduce impact in case of a major earthquake strikes the frontier state.

Meanwhile, geology researchers from a local college discovered that the area was caught between two subterranean faults or cracks underneath.
Mizoram chief minister Zoramthanga too urged the Centre to carry out an extensive study by seismologists and geophysicists and suggest measures to reduce the impacts of the jolts. He also sought the Centre’s help for the installation of earthquake observation centres in the eastern Mizoram for real-time seismic telemetry for earthquake disaster preparedness.

 

Man-made blunders

Apart from the natural disasters the region was also jolted with man-made blunders, the Baghjan Oil Well blowout was a case in point. On 27th May 2020 a gas and oil well of Oil India Ltd., maintained by John Energy Ltd., known as Baghjan-5 had a blowout leading to a massive release of gas, crude and condensate into the environment. Thereafter, on 9th June 2020, the said well caught fire leading to large scale destruction in the adjoining areas that have threatened the ecosystem and its endangered species, left many homeless and claimed three lives. The Baghjan incident rather speaks about the lack of OIL’s preparedness levels in controlling such an untoward situation. This also raised the question on the drilling and oil exploration in biodiversity hotspots which have led to a catastrophe. On November 15, OIL announced that the Baghjan Gas Oil Well has been successfully doused after 172 days of long struggle. The National Green Tribunal revealed in November that OIL had failed to obtain legally required clearances to operate the oil field at Baghjan, and had failed to comply with provisions of environmental laws as well as with internal safety procedures concerning drilling at the oil field. The findings reiterated a report by the Assam State Pollution Control Board, which had also reported that OIL did not obtain the necessary clearances before drilling.

In May this year, an outrage took place amongst the people of Assam and the Northeast towards a cause of saving the largest stretch of tropical lowland rainforests in India- the Dehing Patkai also known as the ‘Amazon of the East’. Amid the lockdown on April 7 the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL), permitted a coal-mining project in the Saleki reserve forest which is a part of the Dehing Patkai Elephant Reserve. This allows the use of 98.59 hectares of land of the Sanctuary for coal mining by Coal India Limited. Saleki lies along the Assam-Arunachal border. Since the forest spreads over in the Tirap and Changlang districts of Arunachal Pradesh, it is trans-border in its geographical characteristic. Dehing Patkai forms the largest stretch of lowland rainforests in India.

The Sanctuary encompasses 111.19 sq. km but the stretch of 500 sq. km of rainforests is the storehouse of some of the diverse species.

This move by the Government sparked protests among environmentalists and young activists of Assam.

PILs were filed opposing the government’s move for approving the coal mining project. Accordingly, the state government initiated an inquiry and decided to upgrade the Wildlife Sanctuary to a National Park. However, even though the proposed expansion of the Dehing Patkai Wildlife sanctuary to a larger area may indeed be a welcome step, but it would not bring any permanent solution if corruption and illegal mining continues.

 

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) impact

The recently proposed draft of the EIA, 2020 by the Central Government has been strongly opposed by environmentalists, student organizations and civil society organizations, from all over the country as well as the Northeastern region of India. The EIA notification 2020, which aims to replace the existing 2006 EIA by altering many of its earlier clauses, has been regarded as a regressive draft by several intellectuals. Some of the provisions that come under the ambit of the new draft include diluting the scope of public participation, legalizing post-facto environmental clearance, and removing the requirements of EIA study for several categories of projects, which weakens the provisions of reporting by companies.

Northeast being prone to environmental damages has already paid big environmental prices in the name of development and modernization.  The region has suffered from big projects related to hydro projects, coal mining, oil extraction, etc. both in the distant and the recent past.The latest being the Baghjan oil well blowout incident and then the alleged illegal mining in the Dehing Patkai.

Provisions and status

To protect the indigenous rights of the people the Arunachal Pradesh Government has been vouching for the implementation of the Sixth Schedule in the state recently. The state govt came under the scanner when various civil society organizations and students’ associations were vocal against the demand for the creation of the Mon Autonomous Region, which, according to them would impact other communities and initiate division among the tribes of the state. The state government led by Chief Minister Pema Khandu has been widely criticized for its alignment towards a particular community and the resignation of the CM was also demanded.

However, the state government in consultation with various groups is now vouching for the implementation of the Sixth Schedule in the state, following which the state Assembly on August 27, passed a resolution to include the frontier state in the Sixth Schedule of Constitution and amend Article 371 (H) to protect the rights of its indigenous population. From the recent development, it can be assumed that the state is in the process of decentralization of power and empowering various tribes and communities in the state.

 

The issue of granting Scheduled Tribe (ST) status to six indigenous communities, viz.,Chutiya, Koch-Rajbongshi, Matak, Moran, Tai-Ahom and ‘Tea Tribe’ in Assam, once again came to the limelight with the state assembly elections just a few months away. The delay in granting the same has been termed as a “poll gimmick”, by intellectuals. However, the state government formed a Group of Ministers that had been tasked by the central government to counsel on the rights and privileges of the new STs after the introduction of the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order (Amendment) Bill in Parliament. The GoM constituted by the state government for finalising the modalities for granting ST status to the six ethnic groups has initiated consultations with the stakeholders and October 30 was set as the last date for the submission of the report. Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who heads the GoM, told media that the Centre will take its decision on the basis of the report submitted.

 

Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, AFSPA

Terming the entire Nagaland as a “disturbed area”, the Union Home Ministry has extended AFSPA in the state for a further period of six months with effect from June 30 this year.

The Act has also been extended for six more months in Assam with effect from August 28. The State has been declared a “disturbed area” on account of recent insurgent attacks on security forces in the Northeast and the recovery of illegal arms and ammunition from different areas of the state.

Apart from Nagaland, Assam, parts of Manipur, and parts of Arunachal Pradesh comes under the controversial law.

Of late, the draconian law was implemented in Assam at the backdrop of CAA Movement when the BJP led Assam Government declared the state as a disturbed area that could exploit the law and order situation in the state.

Moreover, in Nagaland it has not been withdrawn even after the framework agreement was signed on August 3, 2015 by Naga insurgent group NSCN-IM general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah and government interlocutor R N Ravi in presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

 

Borders and Beyond

On September 3, five youths from Nacho in Upper Subansiri District in Arunachal Pradesh who reportedly went for hunting were alleged to be abducted by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Prompt action from the government resulted in the release of the youths. However, the abduction has unfolded the crucial border issues with the Chinese. While India and China have engaged in frequent face-offs and skirmishes, the border issue in the easternmost region is bound to be more worrisome as China does not recognize Arunachal as a part of India, and its movement near the border has raised an alert of its old tactics of occupying neighbouring territories.

Henceforth, the people of Arunachal demanded that the centre and the state government take concrete measures to tackle the problem of frequent intrusion near the border area. The student body has reiterated that a more inclusive approach of development like all weather roads and other infrastructure in the border area is the need of the hour.

Another major border conflict that resurfaced this year is the interstate border dispute between Assam and Mizoram. Tensions flared up in the interstate border areas on October 9 and 17, this was followed by an accusation of encroachment by both the states, an alleged abduction and custodial death of one Intazul Laskar in Mizoram, bombing of two schools in Assam and an economic blockade that led to a severe shortage of essentials in Mizoram.

However, the main issue that led to the violence remains in oblivion. As the tension escalated demand for an early resolution has been raised so that the long-standing border dispute is resolved at the earliest.

The border issue has remained relatively calm despite the disputed nature, except in a few instances. But because of timely intervention by the Central Government, a major crisis was averted. Owing to the complex terrain comprising of the hills, forests, valleys and rivers both the states are not fully aware of the boundary demarcation. Moreover, on the basis of perceptional differences, they have created an imaginary line, which often becomes the cause of conflict.

While on the international border skirmishes, infiltration and abduction have continued to be a regular affair. In the Northeastern part of India, the region’s complex terrain is attributing to the conflicts that are at the helm of Northeasterners standing against each other.

 

Ethnic Complexities

In the wake of CAA protest, on February 28, a clash broke out between the influential Khasi Students Union (KSU) and non-tribals in Ichamati, a small town in Shella, near the Indo-Bangladesh border. The ethnic violence triggered in the state has left three dead and several injured. With tensions coming to the fore, the violence highlights the ethnic complexities of Meghalaya.

The state which mostly comprises of the tribals, including the Garos, Jaintias, Khasis and other minority tribes has also seen the settlements of non-tribals- Bengalis, Punjabis, Marwaris and Nepalis. On the southern side, it shares borders with Bangladesh and on the northern side, it borders Assam. Hence, Meghalaya has seen decades of migration from areas that are now in Bangladesh, as well as from various Indian states via Assam.

The incident echoed once again on October 22, when the KSU put up posters in Shillong targeting the Bengali community in Meghalaya. Police, however, brought down the banners and warned of legal action against those trying to “incite communal disharmony”.

The issue cropped up after some people recently wrote to the NCPCR and Governor Satya Pal Malik alleging harassment of Bengali settlers by locals in Ichamati.

On the other hand resettlement of the Reang community, locally called “Bru”, in Tripura has evoked violent protests in the state that have killed two people and has left several injured in November this year.

Owing to the ethnic clashes in Mizoram, in 1997 around 37,000 people flee to the neighbouring state of Tripura.

Accordingly, an agreement was signed between the Government of India, Government of Tripura and Mizoram and Bru community representatives in New Delhi on 16th January 2020 to put an end to 23 years old imbroglio. The agreement is part of continuous efforts being made by the Central government in assisting two state governments since 2010 for Bru rehabilitation. The Centre has also sanctioned a Rs 600 crore rehabilitation package to help resettle the existing 5,400 families along with the Tripura government in different places of the state.

The Tripura government last year agreed to accept the tribal community and promised they will be listed as voters.

However, things took a violent turn this November, between the Bru’s and the non-tribal community over the resettlement plan. The Joint Movement Committee (JMC) an umbrella group of non-Bru community in Tripura citing a threat to their indigeneity and demography opposed the Central government’s decision to rehabilitate the Bru’s from Mizoram back to Tripura.

Even though the agreement was signed to bring lasting peace in the state the recent clash speaks about the ethnic complexities prevailing in the region.

 

Obituary

Former Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi has passed away on November 23. The 84-year-old politician was suffering from post-Covid complications. Gogoi was the MLA from the Titabor assembly constituency since 2001. He was also a six-time parliamentarian and a Union minister twice. He was the longest serving Chief Minister of the state from 2001 to 2016. During his tenure as the chief minister, he is credited with ending militant insurgency and mitigating violence in addition to improving the state’s fiscal condition.

 

Former Sikkim chief minister Sanchaman Limboo died after a prolonged illness on November 8, 2020. He was 73. Limboo was the fourth Chief Minister of Sikkim. He was the Chief Minister in Sikkim for 179 Days (17 Jun 1994 to 12 Dec 1994 from Sikkim NB Bhandari led Sikkim Sangram Parishad SSP). During his period the central act of Other Backward Classes was enforced in Sikkim.

 

Conflicts and complexities have been part and parcel of the Northeast India. Despite being located strategically with international borders, the region has its share of ethnic complexities, environmental consequences, militant and political issues. The year 2020, has been a crucial year toppled with the pandemic. Nevertheless, the unexplored paradise has shown restraint that has been a trait in fighting against the odds.

Setting an example to combat the virus, these states have been able to successfully combine their traditional ways of life with the lifestyle required to keep the virus at bay. The new political parties formed in Assam in view of the CAA, deciphers the peoples concern in terms of regionalism keeping away any political gains. The handling of the Assam-Mizoram border issue even though a complex one has been handled with maturity by both the states without igniting any further escalation but with the willingness to curtail the problem with dialogue. The region has been hard hit economically, however, tremendous efforts have been put in by all the states in reviving its economy through tourism. The death of the former CM of Assam, Tarun Gogoi has disseminated the message that a respectable politician can bring the people across the political line together and celebrate his contribution towards the state. Although it was a gloomy year, with the lockdown in place a lot of positive news also came across the region- Mizoram’s shop without shopkeepers, Arunachal’s self help libraries, uplifting traditional products, for instance, Tripura’s bamboo Bottles, cookies, rice etc. are some case in point that depicts the regions eagerness to learn, grow and prosper.