The fascinating land in the north-east of India continues as ever to haunt historians, sociologists, anthropologists and the more recent exponents of ecology. Numerous treatises have been written detailing the geography, economics, education and administration of the hills and plains of this wonderful area and yet it is hard to collect every bit of basic information about the small administrative units at one place.
What seems onerous to the resourceful data compilers of the electronic age was remarkably achieved by the famous wizard of facts, figures and analyses, W.W. Hunter, who was the Director-General of Statistics to the Government of India when the Statistical Account of Assam was compiled in 1874. The fact that the north-east offers a more diverse universe to the researcher than is the case with neighbouring Bengal, makes the account of Assam probably of greater interest and vitality than that of Bengal which has become legendary in its own right.
Be it sociology, economic life, agriculture, commerce, communication or aspects of administration, the statistics supported by capsule-like descriptions of the minutes details have been collected by Hunter and his competent team of investigators treating districts as basic units.
It would be correct to state that no important research on any aspect of the area described in the two volumes is possible without consulting Hunter's masterpiece.