Thursday, November 5, 2009


Time to honour the northeast population for their patience

There is probably no other region in the entire country which has faced so much of neglect, than the states of north-east. The tale of a unique set of unending predicaments seems to start, sustain and stop at north-east itself. This region has been ridden with every possible adversary one can think of - ranging from uncongenial topography, perforated borders, derisory means of communication, retarded telecommunication infrastructure, to teacher-less schools and colleges, non-existent medical facilities! This region is bestowed with rich natural resources and mineral wealth. Yet this wealth has not been transformed into socio-economic development, which has been painfully slow. Few leading dailies of the country revealed that the income in seven of eight north-eastern states is now below the national average. Four out of these eight states had income levels higher than national average.

Going by the data provided by Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI), per capita net state income in Arunachal Pradesh is below the national benchmark by 15 per cent. In order to develop this region, all central government ministries have been allocating 10 per cent of their annual budget to this region. As per the Ministry of Development of north-eastern Region, between 1998 and 2006, more than Rs 42,600 crore was kept for the north-east. Out of the total Rs 1,100 crore allocated for development of this region, only half has been released! The central government has decided to invest nearly Rs 5000 crore in projects relating to road connectivity over a span of five years during the 11th plan. In order to bring the rail connectivity in place, the Prime Minister has recently announced a package of Rs 19.8 billion. These initiatives may seem too impressive on paper, but when it comes to implementation, the whole planning falls flat on account of bureaucratic system which is rife of corruption and nepotism! It is so unfortunate that despite the region having hydropower potential pegged at 60,000 megawatt, only about 2 per cent has been tapped so far.

On account of lack of development and any intent of the same, almost the entire north-east region is riddled with drug abuse and insurgency. The development divide has been pretty stark, when compared to rest of the nation. (Take for instance; the north-east region has only about 50,000 Internet connections). This has forced migration of north-east population to more developed parts of the country in search of better living, education and employment opportunity. But here again, things have not been even for them. There is not a day that passes wherein in the news escapes hostility in myriad forms meted out to them from fellow countrymen. Every now and then, our north-east population is exploited (physically and mentally) and most unfortunately, to a large extent, treated as outsiders. Thus, neither they find recourse in their homes, nor are they provided with same in other parts of the country. What is most surprising is the fact that despite numerous predicaments the region has shown uncompromising patience and resilience. But then their patience should not be taken for granted so that we realise that in no time we have created another monster like Kashmir there. It is time for India to have a comprehensive Look East policy, which can be attained by creating an enabling environment for business to flourish. Introduce the right kind of sops and incentives to encourage investments in the region, which would ensure opportunities for the region and also ensure the much needed dignified living for them.


No comments:

Post a Comment