How the Northeast has been transformed in the last eight years

News: There is an upcoming workshop of chief ministers and chief secretaries of Northeastern states along with Union ministers and secretaries on developmental issues of the Northeast.

Since the last eight years, there has been a magical transformation of the eight Northeastern states, shooting N-E to prominence as the Ashtalakshmi of the nation.

Issues in N-E Development So Far

The eight states of the Northeast have not been given the attention they deserved.

The states have been facing the problems of insurgency, difficult terrain, cultural distinctiveness and political apathy.

Potential of N-E

Prime Minister Modi has called the Northeast region as “India’s natural economic zone”. The region has been given a priority. Now, the region is called as “new growth engine of India”.

It is endowed with extraordinary natural wealth, a strategic advantage as the gateway to Southeast Asia and unrivalled economic potential

What have been the developments in the N-E Region in the last eight years?

(1) Militancy incidents have reduced by 74 per cent, civilian deaths have come down by 84 per cent, more than an 800 per cent increase in surrenders by extremists, and AFSPA has been lifted from some districts for the first time in decades.

(2) The budgetary support to the Northeast has risen from Rs 36,108 crore in 2014 to Rs 76,040 crore in 2022 (110 per cent).

(3) The government has launched programmes to increase mobility and connectivity in the Nort—Eastern region(N-E).

(a) In 2014, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya were put up on the railway map for the first time;

(b) Arunachal’s Itanagar, Tripura’s Agartala and Manipur have been connected and in the remaining five capitals connectivity projects are nearing completion.

(c) The Government of India has been focusing on road connectivity. For example, over 38,000 kms of rural roads have been completed since 2014

(d) The number of airports has increased from just six in 2014 to 15. The N-E region have been given priority under the UDAN scheme. There are 46 operational routes in the region.

(4) The tele-density (number of phones per 100 people), especially rural tele-density has significantly improved in the Northeast states.

(5) BSNL has recently commissioned 20 Gbps international bandwidth for the Northeast through Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh. This will address the issues of latency and network congestion in the N-E. The improvement in internet connectivity will open for the establishment of software parks and high-speed data centres in the BPO and IT industry, in N-E Region.

(6) the inherent strengths of the region are being leveraged in sectors like agriculture, tourism, textiles, handicrafts. For example, the North Eastern Regional Agricultural Marketing Corporation has been revived; and the National Mission for Edible Oil (for palm oil) aims to leverage the region’s potential.

(7) The welfare schemes viz. Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PM-GKAY) and the National Food Security Act (NFSA) are being implemented.

Way Forward

Prime Minister Modi has articulated solutions ingrained in the governance philosophy of sewa, sushasan and gareeb kalyaan.

A joint agri task force should be formed which would provide strategic direction to the initiatives. It will also ensure speedy resolution and implementation of various agri and allied sector schemes.

The union and state government should work with the spirit of cooperative federalism. There should be collective responsibility for the development of the region.

There is an ambition of making the Northeast the hub of sports in the world, a leading exporter of exotic horticultural products, a hotbed of startups and the most attractive tourist destination in India.

Source: The post is based on an article “How the Northeast has been transformed in the last eight years” published in the Indian Express on 31st May 2022.

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