Assam's unique geopolitical location make it a sensitive area. Assam is linked with the rest of India by the narrow stretch of 'Chicken's Neck' and has proximity to a number of international borders. Its ethnic identity is heterogeneous to a way that defining an Assamese is a real task. Like in the rest of the northeast, Assam's cultural identity is in dissonance with that of the mainland India. Given this background, the state's task to build up a viable administrative base in such a diverse unit becomes key.
Indian state has missed the actual problem
The problem with the Indian state is that it either pours money or resorts to counter-violence when the softer step to tackle problems like insurgency do not pay off. The important aspects have been left overlooked in between.
First: Development. Because of the long history of xenophobic tendency and the insurgency, outside investors have avoided the state and as a result, the problem of underdevelopment has persisted. But this is despite the fact that Assam has a great potential in terms of petroleum and tea. We must keep in mind that the northeast has a geographical disadvantage.
It is a landlocked region and have difficult accessibility. With cities like Kolkata, considered a gateway to eastern India, losing its financial importance, the northeastern states have not reaped any dividends either. At the commoners' level also, Assam has not seen much the sons and daughters of the soil paying back for its economic development after reaching good heights elsewhere. Because of all this, possibility of Assam's economic development has turned pale and this has given impetus to insurgent forces. The problem is similar in many other parts of eastern India, where development has not occurred along the expected lines.
Second: Ethnic Confrontation. While Assam continued to see a talented generation moving out in search of better opportunities, poor Bangladeshis and medium-level workers from places like Bihar have continued entering the state for economic opportunities, putting the limited economic resources under strain. This put the local natives, who perhaps did not have easy access to the new economy outside the state, in a spot of bother and soon the tradition of ethnic confrontation was revived.
Some insurgent groups even fought for Assam's sovereignty in the past but they have mellowed down gradually after finding that the Indian state is too powerful to be defeated in such battle. But the continuing socio-economic problems have not settled the issue either. The government must address the problems of infiltration from Bangladesh and counter-violence in the north-eastern and other parts of the country.
Military approach no solution
A military approach by the state will never solve the Assamese problem for presence of heavy military stifles the prospects of a democratic growth. Sometimes, the state is accused of implementing a 'divide and rule' policy to keep ethnic groups at war, something which exposes its double standards in addressing the key question of autonomy. Denial of justice inevitably breeds more violence.
New Delhi too far?
The problem is that officials in New Delhi mostly talk on northeastern issues without actually understanding the reality. While India is being projected as the future destination of the world, thanks to an emerging economy, age-old ethnic fissures have continued to plague some of its parts. The northeast, including Assam, needs a strong socio-political institutional growth and democratic milieu for a liberal political movement replacing the tradition of violence and counter violence.