NOTE/ ELA MUKHOPADHYAY*
Arunachal : The Changing Profile of a Closed Culture
The object of this brief paper is to understand the process of opening up of certain aspects of the closed social milieu of Arunachal Pradesh. I shall seek to explore a sort of profile of this process. I do not have, in my possession, enough data to enable me to arrive at a series of definite conclusions. Paucity of information notwithstanding, the major part of the data was collected through the method of participant observation dovetailed with case studies in the course of six painstaking visits to Arunachal over a period of seven years, 1982 to 1989. As the earlier visits took place before the statehood of Arunachal Pradesh (th^ region was declared a separate province on 20.2.1987), necessary permission had to be obtained from the competent authorities (such as the local government) for my entry into the territories where tourists and visitors were not, then, normally allowed to travel. The Indian army sometimes provided me with transport and occasional protection during the journey across remote districts. However, in certain distant areas, I often had to walk for days at a stretch, particularly in faraway tracts adjacent to the borders of Tibet, Burma and Thailand. At times I spent days together in secluded villages in order to build up rapport and communicate with the local inhabitants with the help of make-shift interpreters. But I must declare that in most of the places I was received with refreshing warmth and sincere goodwill. The relevant data, though not voluminous in quantity, began to emerge out of this journey, which had to be supplemented with general information available from government publications and secondary works. With this brief introduction, perhaps personal, I would like to pass on to the natural environment of Arunachal—the environment which permeated the culture of the inhabitants, both materialistic and reflective.
The natural setting is ruggedly picturesque, enmeshed in the network of mountain ranges of the eastern Himalayas, thick rain forests and interlacing valleys decked with turbulent rivers. Since elevation tends
Centre for Cultural Resources and Training, Bahawalpur House, Bhagwandas Road, New Delhi.
Social Scientist, Vol. 20, Nos. 3-4, March-April 1992.