India has always been described as a ‘melting pot’ of races, ethnic groups, and cultures. About the oldest cultures, the cultural anthropologists have used the words like primitive, indigenous, aboriginal, native, tribal,  the first people, and the fourth world. Unfortunately, the amazingly heterogeneous mosaic of human affairs that the India society is, also dotted with ugly spots of outright exploitation, harassment, lack of tolerance. Tribal India is the most glaring example of this exploitation indifference and lack of appreciation for our divergent minority group.

Sprawling over 16,579 sq km and having a population  1,980,602 (2011) with a density of  119 persons per sq km is the second smallest state of India in the area after Sikkim. The state comprises of eleven administrative districts. The sex ratio is 931females per one thousand of males,  the literacy rate 80.11  percent while the decadal growth rate between 2001 and 2011 was only  0.47 percent which is the lowest in the country.

The major tribes of India are Aos, Angamis, Changs, Chakesang, Kabuis, Kacharis, Khein-Mangas, Konyaks, Kukis, Lothas (Lhotas), Maos, Mikirs (Mikhirs), Phoms, Rengmas, Sangtam. Somas, Tankhuls, Yimchungar, and Zelliang. English is the official language of the state for administration and education. The common language used by the masses is however, Nagami.

Nagaland is a mountainous state characterized with ridges, spurs, and peaks of Naga and Pataki Hills which are the southward extension of the Himalayan folded mountain system. Barring a few hundred kilometers of plains around Dimapur, along with the foothills and along the river beds, the entire state is hilly and mountainous. The general elevation of the state ranges from 914 meters to 3840 metres above the sea level. The terrain is highly complex. The Brail Range locally known as Radhura, enters the state from North Kachar and after passing through Kohima runs in the direction of Wokha. Japava which lies to the south of Kohima is the highest peak of Brail (Radhura). The Patkai Range forms a watershed which constitutes the international boundary between India and Myanmar.

Each and every elevation of Nagaland has its own climatic characteristics, owing to which the mean maximum and mean minimum temperatures vary from place to place. Each elevation also has a distinctive form of variation of temperature during the year, and daily range of temperature also differ from altitude to altitude. Great variations are also found in the mean monthly and mean annual rainfall in different parts of the Nagaland State.

In general, the climate of Nagaland is modified tropical monsoon type. In this climate, the temperature at low altitudes remains high throughout the year, excepting the months of December and January. The summer monsoon is strong which generally lasts from June to October in Nagaland. The climate of Nagaland is healthy and invigorating.  It is only in the low lying plains around Dimapur and the valleys of rivers in which the temperature is high with relative humidity high. These hot and humid areas are infested with mosquitoes, rendering the areas less conducive to human settlements.

Peopling of Nagaland: The arrival of Naga tribes in Nagaland, and their ancient history are shrouded in obscurity. The anthropologists, archaeologists, and historians hold different opinions about the place of their origin and the time of their arrival in their present abodes. 

The origin of Naga word, though applied to the tribes of Nagaland  State, is not known and disputed by the social anthropologists.  There has been endless controversy and speculation over this intriguing word (Naga) and how it came to be? A brief description of the various theories regarding the genesis, meaning, and history of the word ‘Naga’ advocated by scholars may not be out of place which, therefore have been given in the following:

Hutton, the leading expert on the tribes of North-East India is of the opinion that the ‘Naga’ means ‘mountaineers, dwellers of hills. Hutton originally thought that ‘Naga’ was a corruption of the Assamese word ‘Noga’ probably meaning a ‘mountaineer’ from the Sanskrit Naga, mountain or inaccessible areas. Later,  he recorded this opinion in view of the fact that Ptolemy and Shyahb-al-Din Talish (16th century A.D.) both speak of Nagas as ‘Nanga’ or ‘naked’. This theory has little credibility as it is based on assumption. If the term means mountaineers, then why the other neighboring hill tribes are not called ‘Nagas’. 

Another theory which is also based on reasonable conjecture traces the origin of Naga word back to ‘Nangta’ i.e. ‘naked savages’  applied to hill tribes, e.g. ‘Noga-Manuh’ means ‘naked man’. In the opinion of Hutton ‘all along the foot of the hills an Assamese may still be heard daily addressing to the scantily dressed man with ‘Oh Nanga’.  He says ‘ the change of the long ‘o’ lot to a short a (pronounced o) is typical to the Assame dialect in which the Bengali ‘Taka’ (Rupee) becomes ‘Toka’ and ‘Raja’ as ‘Roja’. Hence Nanga (the second ‘n’ is nasal) becomes Naga pronounced Noga.

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