Notes on Nagaland’s area

Azim Premji University,


Empirical research in economics and, to a lesser extent, in other social sciences is largely dependent upon government statistics. It is generally assumed that governments are committed to collecting and disseminating correct statistics. As a result, the mutually constitutive relationship between politics, economy, and statistics, and the possibility of systematic manipulation of statistics-driven by the structural features of this relationship, has received insufficient attention within economics. This paper examines the implications of the absence of shared preferences over the quality of statistics within a government. It explores the multiplicity of conflicting maps of the State of Nagaland issued by different tiers and wings of the government to underscore the lack of attention paid to a statistic as crucial as area. The paper situates the cartographic-statistical confusion in its political and economic contexts, and suggests that political-geographic arguments are being used to advance political-economic interests along contested borders. It argues that the confusion is not amenable to a technical resolution as it is linked to the dispute over Nagaland’s place within the Union of India and the border disputes between Nagaland and its neighbouring states.