This article assesses the evolution of territorial management in India across time. It shows how India gradually moved away from a relatively ‘integrationist’ territorial strategy at independence towards a more ‘accommodationist’ strategy’ in recent decades. The deepening of democracy, and more recently, liberalization have opened up more room for state political and economic autonomy. However, the limits of an accommodative strategy are clearly exposed in relation to the small but significant border states of the North East which can be seen as ‘minority nations’. I argue that the flexibility of the Indian constitution which enabled an accommodative response in the context of linguistic reorganization during the early decades after independence contrasts with a more repressive centric strategy in relation to India's minority nations. The article seeks to explain why the bargaining position of the latter states has been comparatively weak and why the centre has been comparatively less accommodative in its approach to these states.