Chief secretaries of India’s northeastern Assam and Mizoram states to discuss border issues

Photo: PTI

The chief secretaries of India’s Mizoram and Assam states meet today to diffuse escalating tensions along their shared border.

Since Mizoram’s partition from Assam in 1972, disputes concerning the legitimate boundary between the two states have colored their relationship. Such disagreements define inter-state relations in India’s North Eastern Region (NER). The contentious neighborhood relationship inhibits cooperation, stifling progress on issues critical to New Delhi, such as increasing trade connectivity with Southeast Asia and buffering against China.

Given Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Look East policy, the NER will be a hotspot for public investment and attention in the medium-term with an additional hope of patching over border issues. New Delhi will pour billions of dollars into rail, road, electricity and water infrastructure projects as it looks to industrialize the region.

Hydropower will play a critical role in this development. In the short-term, expect the Indian central government–along with foreign governments also seeking to curb Chinese influence, such as Japan–to hasten investment in dams in the Chinese border state Arunachal Pradesh. Beijing is certain to object. It will race to realize its own hydropower initiatives along the Brahmaputra River, likely prompting prolonged legal and diplomatic quarrels between the world’s most populous countries.

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