Northeast's Growth Potential (1 August 2020)
Northeast's Growth Potential (1 August 2020)
Why in News:
Northeast has the potential to become India’s growth engine, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi on July 23 while asserting that peace has now been established in the region.
Speaking after laying the foundation stone for the Manipur Water Supply Project , through video conferencing, the Prime Minister highlighted that modern infrastructure is being built to improve connectivity. India’s Northeast, in a way, is the gateway to our ancient cultural relationships with East Asia and the future of trade, travel and tourism.
India’s North Eastern Region stretches from the foothills of the Himalayas in the eastern range and is surrounded by Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Nepal and Myanmar. It includes the seven sisters – Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura, along with a small and beautiful cousin in the Himalayan fringes, namely, Sikkim.
Summary of the Debate
Importance of the Northeast region:
- The previous and current Indian government has continuously emphasised the importance of Look East Policy. So, this region has lot of potential for growth in itself as well as being a vehicle for connections with rest of Southeast Asian territory, which is very important from strategic and political point of view.
- There is huge potential for development of this region because this is one of the mega diverse biodiversity spots in the world.
- This is amongst the most heavily forested areas of the country.
- The social and educational attainment levels of people in this region are very high compared to the rest of the country. Their status of women and child welfare is extremely high.
- It is the gateway to our ancient cultural relationships with East Asia and the future of trade, travel and tourism.
- It has the potential to replace India’s bamboo import with local production.
- Connectivity of Northeast will strengthen our social and trade relations with Myanmar, Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh, while also strengthening India’s Act East Policy.
- The region is covered by the mighty Brahmaputra-Barak river systems and their tributaries providing great opportunity for hydroelectricity, irrigation etc.
Challenges that are currently being faced:
- They lack employment opportunities.
- They lack geographical connectivity with rest of the country.
- They had lost the sense of political power after partition.
- The private sector and the industrial investment are very low here.
- The younger generation of this region is much more exposed to the rest of the world, their educational attainment levels are better because large number of them have been studying outside so they have different kinds of expectations from society unlike their previous generations.
- Lack of quality education has been a major cause for out migration of the students from this region.
- The conflicts in the past have blocked the investment and the potential of the region.
Steps taken by the Government:
- It was in 1996, when the Central Government announcements of "New initiatives for the North Eastern Region" included a number of measures for the development of North Eastern Region.
- Since 1999 most of the Ministries/ Departments of Government of India are earmarking at least 10% of their annual budget, less allocation for externally aided schemes and local or event specific schemes /projects for expenditure in the North Eastern Region.
- There are 52 non-exempted Ministries / Departments at present, which earmark funds for the NER.
- Under the National Bamboo Mission major investments are being invested for bamboo farmers, artists associated with handicrafts and other facilities. This will benefit the youth of the region and the start-ups.
- Many institutes are now being built in the region for health, education, skill development, start-ups and other training.
- With the formation of sports universities and world-class stadiums, Manipur is becoming a major hub for the country’s sports talent.
- Modern infrastructure is being built in the Northeast emphasising that connectivity in the region is important, not for only ease of living, but also for achieving the goal for self-reliant India.
- Efforts have been made to connect the four capitals of the Northeastern states, 2 lanes to the district headquarters and all-weather road to the villages.
- To give enough opportunities to younger generations for growth and give them as much help as possible, which will help to bring normalcy to the region and getting the entire region integrated with the rest of the country.
- But it is not enough to rely on younger generation only on the basis of their integration, it is necessary to keep them engaged profitably and positively by giving them enough employment opportunities.
- The government has to look at possible areas to invest in this region.
- There is adequate opportunity in terms of natural resource based growth. It is time to look at natural resources which this region offers in abundance, for example Bamboo is one particular material which can be used not only for making furniture but also for making bio fuels and sustainable bio fuel is one of the sunrise industries.
- The government must need to keep the politics in this region stable, balanced and appropriate.
- We must have a proper water management and flood management policy in this region.
- It is also important to take care of ecological aspects of the unique features of this region.
- There is not only need to see the physical aspects but it is also need to think about the service based sectors where the region has high potential, for example; this region also has higher proportion of people who can speak comparatively better English than many other parts of the country. So, their English speaking skill can be used for service based activities which includes BPOs and KPOs as well as we can have IT based activities in this region.
Important points made by the Guests
R. R. Rashmi, Former Chief Secretary, Manipur
Indraneel Bhowmik, Associate Professor, University of Tripura
Gautam Sen, Former Advisor, Govt. of Nagaland