Insurgency-hit Manipur, India’s safest state for childbirth (Special to IANS)

The first part of this three-part series on the eight northeastern states analysed economic indicators, and the second part physical infrastructure.

The third part looks at social indicators, such as literacy, infant mortality, school enrolment, and crimes against women and children.

Mizoram has the highest literacy rate in the northeast at 91.3 percent, according to the 2011 Census, up from 88.8 percentin 2001.

Mizoram is India’s third-most literate state, following Kerala and Lakshadweep that have literacy rates of 93.91 percent and 91.8 percent, respectively.

Mizoram also leads the northeast – and India (Goa with 84.7 percent is second) – in female literacy, with 89.3 percent of women literate, attributed to the efforts of non-government organisations (NGOs), church schools in remote areas and village councils. Tripura has the northeast’s second-highest rate of female literacy at 82.7 percent, fifth in India.

Arunachal Pradesh had the lowest literacy rate among the eight north-eastern states with 65.4 percent in 2011, the second-lowest in India.

About 77 percent of Arunachal Pradesh’s population is rural, where the literacy rate is 59.9 percent. It also has the lowest female literacy rate in the northeast at 57.7 percent.

Assam has the second-lowest literacy rate among the eight north-eastern states 72.2 percent.

Nagaland’s primary school drop-out rate more than four times national average

Nagaland has the highest primary school (grade I to V) drop-out rate at 19.4 percent, more than four times the national average of 4.3 percent.

Nagaland’s drop-out rate is the highest in upper primary (VI to VIII) and secondary (IX to X) school, too, with 17.7 percent and 35.1 percent, respectively.

Nagaland also has a low transition rate(1) from primary to upper primary level, with 78.7 percent (equivalent to Uttar Pradesh with 78.5 percent) in 2013-14, lower than the national average of 89.7 percent.

Only 41 percentof schools in Nagaland have electricity, lower than the national average of 60 percent. It also has the second-lowest percentage of schools in India and the northeast with drinking water at 78.2 perccent. Meghalaya has the lowest percentage of schools, 63 percent, with drinking water, both nationally and within the northeast. States such as Bihar and Jharkhand are performing better when it comes to drinking water in schools, with 92.7 percent and 91.9 percent respectively.

Only 31 percent of schools in Manipur have electricity. Assam has the lowest number of schools with electricity in India at 22.4 percent.

About 64 percent of schools in Meghalaya had separate toilets for girls in 2014-15, which is low compared to the national average of 93 percent.

Crimes against women are increasing, particularly in Assam

The number of crimes against women in Assam is highest within the eight states at 19,139. The state has 15.2 million women, according to Census 2011.

The northeast, with 3.8 percent of India’s population, reports 7 percent of the country’s crimes.

Assam also had the second highest rate of cases pending investigation in the whole country at 58.8 percent. Manipur had India’s highest rate of crimes not investigated, 87.2 percent, according to 2013 National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data.

Tripura had the second highest rate of crimes against women in the northeast at 1,615, but no more than 13.8 perccent of cases awaited investigation in 2013.

Mizoram has the northeast’s highest rate of crimes against children at 48; Sikkim is second with 45.8.

Infant mortality very high in the northeast, except in Manipur

Assam had India’s worst infant mortality rate (IMR), with 54 deaths per 1,000 live child births in 2013; the same as the African nation of Burundi, according to the World Bank.

Almost 41 percent of Assam’s children are stunted (below normal height for the age); the national average is 38.7 percent; 9.7 percent are wasted (underweight and short) and 22.2 are underweight (below normal weight for age), according to the Rapid Survey of Children (RSoC) report of 2013-14.

There are variations in IMR across the north-eastern states.

Insurgency-wracked Manipur – often termed a failed state – is the safest place for childbirth in India, with the country’s lowest infant mortality rate, the same as Andaman and Nicobar Island, and equivalent to that of Oman and Bahamas, according to the World Bank and the Indian government.

Manipur’s progress in reducing infant deaths is attributed to (a) better medical facilities (the doctor-to-population ratio in Manipur is 1:1,000, against the all-India figure of 1:1,700 and the trained nurse ratio is 1:600, compared to the all-India figure of 1:638); and (b) the statistically acknowledged empowerment of women.

In contrast, Meghalaya has a high IMR of 47 deaths per 1,000 live births, the same as Rajasthan; 42.9 percent of the state’s children are stunted, 13.1 percent wasted and 30.9 percent underweight.

(In arrangement with, a data-driven, non-profit, public interest journalism platform, where Prachi Salve is a policy analyst and Sanjana Pandit is an intern and a student at St. Xavier’s, Mumbai. The views expressed are those of India Spend. The authors can be contacted at

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