Decades of State and non-State violence in India???s landlocked North-east have taken a heavy toll on livelihoods, incomes, governance, growth and image, besides lives. Despite vast amounts of money being pumped into the region, basic needs and minimum services are yet to be met in terms of connectivity, health, education and power. What are the possible ways forward as the region stands at a crossroads? These fifteen personal essays provide an insider???s take on wide-ranging issues: from the Brahmaputra and the use of natural resources to peace talks in Nagaland; from the Centre???s failure to repeal the hated Armed Forces Special Powers Act, threats to the environment, corruption in government and extortion by armed groups to New Delhi???s Look East Policy and much more. Yet, as these essays make clear, hope, though distant, is not absent or lost. Restoring governance through people-driven development programmes, peace building through civil society initiatives, assuring the pre-eminence of local communities as evident in Hazarika???s conversations with the legendary Naga leader, Th. Muivah, and simple economic interventions through appropriate technologies ??? boats and health care, community mobilization and micro-credit ??? hold promise for solutions to the web of violence, poverty and marginalization.
Writing on the Wall is a passionate call to all stakeholders in the North-east to embrace dialogue and use given platforms for peace, to go beyond the politics of tolerance to that of mutual respect. Only such multi-disciplinary, innovative approaches, rooted in realism, can bring stability and sustainable change to the region.