Skip to main navigation menu Skip to main content Skip to site footer

Assam as a New Economic Space: Colonial Annexation in the Region and its Implications


The current social and political processes of Assam in terms of demographic aspect and frontier area policies cannot be seen to be a development in isolation from British colonial policies. The entire system is linked to a historical process of ownership and inheritance. The British entry into the North-Eastern region of India, at the end of the Anglo-Burmese war, marked the beginning of colonial penetration with the consequence of unanticipated transformation of socio-economic and demographic profile in the region. The profound commercial significance of Assam explored by British colonialism led to the development of the Brahmaputra valley into a new economic space. Accordingly, the colonialists consolidated political interventions through the construction of frontier policies that created a divide between ‘Hills’ and ‘Plains’. The policies of social and cultural subjugation, followed by the colonialists, brought the neighbouring hill tribes under colonial control, and the entire region was being turned into a politico-economic jurisdiction of colonial subjects. Such policies envisaged by the British with a commercial motive, however, anguished the ethnic strife- the existing social landscape, the economic space and the political set-up of the region. The current problem of foreigners’ issue and the frontier issue is, in fact, the continuation of the colonial traditions. An understanding of the colonial pattern of exploitation of resources through social and political control would provide an apprehension of the past causes and present effect relationship. Hence, this study attempts to understand the implications of the colonial era political developments in Assam considering its economic potentiality that has given a whole new dimension to the entire regional set-up.


Colonialism, Subjugation, Demography, Economic Space, Political Set-up, Assam



  1. Acharyya, N. N. (1996). A Brief History of Assam. New Delhi: Omsons Publications.
  2. Barpujari, H. K. (1963). Assam in the Days of the Company, 1826-1858: A Critical and Comprehensive History of Assam During the Rule of the Est-India Company from 1826-1858. Guwahati: Lawyer’s Book Stall.
  3. Baruah, S. (2002). Gulliver’s troubles: State and militants in North-East India. Economic and Political Weekly, 37(41), 4178-4182. DOI: 10.2307/4412711
  4. Borthakur, A. and Thaosen, R. (2012). Rethinking the line system in Assam and its politics. Proceedings of the Indian History Congress, 73, 545-552.
  5. Das, D. (2018). Colonial construction of a frontier: Debating the Inner Line Regulation in Sibsagar-Naga Hills. Economic and Political Weekly, 53(7), 52-61.
  6. Dass, S. K. (1980). Immigration and demographic transformation of Assam, 1891-1981. Economic and Political Weekly, 15(19), 850-859.
  7. Gait, E. (1906). A History of Assam. Calcutta: Thacker, Sprink and Co.
  8. Guha, A. (1977). Planter-Raj to Swaraj: Freedom Struggle and Electoral Politics in Assam 1826-1947. New Delhi: People’s Publishing House.
  9. Gupta, H. L. (1959). An unknown factor in the annexation of Assam. Proceedings of the Indian History Congress, 22, 412-418.
  10. Horvath, R. J. (1972). A definition of colonialism. Current Anthropology, 13(1), 46. DOI:
  11. Jha, B. N. (1996). Politics of Posa: A case study of pre and post-independence scenario in Arunachal Pradesh and Assam. Proceedings of the Indian History Congress, 57, 446-458. Kalita, R. C. (1992). Assam in the 18th Century. New Delhi: Omsons Publications.
  12. Kar, B. (2012). British colonial policy of immigration in Assam (1826-1910). Pratidhwani- A Journal of Humanities and Social Science, 1(2), 219-222.
  13. Leach, E. R. (1960). The frontiers of Burma. Comparative Studies in Society and History, 3(1), 49-68. DOI: DOI:
  14. Loomba, A. (1998). Colonialism/Postcolonialism. London, England: Routledge.
  15. Luthra, P. (1971). North-East frontier agency tribes: Impact of Ahom and British policy. Economic and Political Weekly, 6(23), 1143-1149.
  16. Mackenzie, A. (1989). The North-East Frontier of India. Delhi: Mittal Publications.
  17. Misra, T. (1980). Assam: A colonial hinterland. Economic and Political Weekly, 15(32), 1357-1359+1361-1364. Nath, J. (2014). Anglo-Abor Treaty 1862 and its Significance in Relation to the Inner Line Regulation, 1873 and Arunachal History. Shillong: Singhania Publishers.
  18. Pels, P. (1997). The anthropology of colonialism: Culture, history, and the emergence of western governmentality. Annual Review of Anthropology, 26, 163-183. DOI:
  19. Reid, R. (1944). The excluded areas of Assam. The Geographical Journal, 103(1/2), 18-29. DOI:
  20. Saikia, A. (2011). Imperialism, geology and Assam petroleum: History of oil in colonial Assam. Economic and Political Weekly, 46(12), 48-55.
  21. Sarmah, B. (2016). The cauldron of conflict: Politics of peace, governance and development in India’s North-East. Social Scientist, 44(11/12), 15-36.
  22. Sharma, J. (2011). Empire’s Garden: Assam and the Making of Modern India. Durham: Duke University Press. DOI:
  23. Sharma, N., Madhusudan, M. D. and Sinha, A. (2012). Socio-economic drivers of forest cover change in Assam: A historical perspective. Economic and Political Weekly, 47(5), 64-72.
  24. Sonowal, B. (2018). Immigration in Assam during colonial rule: Its impact on the socio-economic and demography of Assam. International Journal of Innovative Studies in Sociology and Humanities, 3(2), 10-14.
  25. Zou, D. V. and Kumar, M. S. (2011). Mapping a colonial Borderland: Objectifying the geo-body of India’s North-East. The Journal of Asian Studies, 70(1), 141-170. DOI: DOI:


Download data is not yet available.