India: Minority Regions including Nagaland and Sikkim

About the minority regions in India including Nagaland, Sikkim, Andaman, Mizoram, and Nicobar Islands.




Most of India's states and the territories are populated by minority racial, ethnic, or linguistic groups. The following 4 have especially tenuous links to the Federal regime:

1) Nagaland. Nagaland is an Indian state in eastern India. On the Burmese border, it actually lies east of Bangladesh. It is populated by 516,000 Naga tribespeople, 2/3 of whom are Christians, mostly Baptists. When American evangelist Billy Graham visited Nagaland in 1973, he drew over 100,000 people.

Nagaland was not included in Britain's Indian Independence Act, but India asserted authority in 1947. The Nagas never agreed to join India, and they have been fighting for independence ever since. China and Pakistan have both reportedly supplied the Nagas with arms. To mute the Naga independence movement, India made Nagaland a self-governing state in 1963, but it restricted access by foreigners, including missionaries.

2) Mizoram. Mizoram is a union territory not too far from Nagaland. It is sandwiched between Burma and Bangladesh. Eighty percent of its 400,000 Mizo people are Christians. Forty-four percent of the people are literate, a remarkable number for hill tribes.

The Mizos have been in rebellion against Indian rule since 1966. They are allied with the Nagas and the Razakars, non-Bengali Muslims from Bangladesh.

3) Sikkim. The ancient Himalayan kingdom of Sikkim is a vertical country. There are 20 peaks over 20,000' high, but by far the most spectacular is Kanchenjunga, on the Sikkim-Nepal border. This peak is 28,208' high, the 3rd highest in the world. In deference to the ancient belief that a great god resides there, those who have climbed the mountain recently have stopped a few feet short of the very top.

The valley below the sheer, cloud-topped cliffs is a lush forest of flowers: hibiscus, bougainvillaea, ferns, to mention a few. Orchids, of which there are 600 kinds, are so common that they are often used as cow fodder.

In 1974 Sikkim became an Indian-associated state. The Buddhist Chogyal (King) had asked for help from Indian police in 1973, after Sikkim's Hindu majority rioted, protesting the Chogyal's rule. India sent police, restored order, appointed a new Government, and made concessions to the rebels. In 1974-1975 the Indian police deposed the Chogyal, annexing Sikkim as India's 22nd state. Until then, one dynasty had ruled Sikkim since the 14th century. India's action brought protests from 2 other Himalayan nations, Nepal and China.

The majority of Sikkim's 220,000 people are Hindu Gorkhalis (Nepalese), who have immigrated in the past 100 years. Other major groups are the indigenous Lepchas and the Bhutias, originally from Tibet.

4) Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The Andaman Islands and the Nicobar Islands consist of 204 and 19 islands respectively, in an arc between Burma's Irrawaddy Delta and the Indonesian island of Sumatra. They are populated by 115,000 Indians, including many refugees, and an unknown number of Negrito aborigines. For many years the Andamans served as a penal colony for British India. These 2 island groups were the only sections of India occupied by the Japanese during W.W. II. They are governed as a union territory.

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