North East Region (NER) of India-Problems and Remedies
India is a diverse country. The central elected government replaced the British Raj, but the legacy of the ‘mai baap’ culture has lingered. The central leadership has worked with the approach that it is more competent to take decisions in the long term interests of India, rather than the regional leaders. This approach has been a cause of many a problem.
The 8 states of the North East Region (NER) have great intra-state & interstate diversity. A discussion about them as a group, based only on geographic contiguity is a flawed approach for many reasons. However, there are a large number of common issues which make the analysis sensible. The blog discusses “North East Region (NER) of India-Problems and Remedies”
Vital Data about North East Region (NER)
- NER has approximately 8 % of India’s land & 3 % of population. It is sparsely populated in the hilly regions.
- In facial appearance people of NER have greater affinity to Chinese-Tibetans-Burmese, rather than North Indians. Culturally they are very different.
- 2/3rd of NER is hilly. NER receives an average of over 1000 cm of rain, is flood prone & has high seismic activity.
- NER has 98% international border & 2% border with India (21 km Silliguri corridor).
- NER has over 60% population engaged in agriculture for livelihood as compared with the national average of below 50 %.
- The population below poverty line in the region is higher than the national average.
- Unemployment rate in NER is 12% while the national average is 7.7%.
- NER is a net importer of food grain.
- Euphoria of independence from the British Raj experienced by the entire country was not shared by the NER. Prior to independence the NER was more open & had greater trade & cultural relations with foreign countries. Post independence it got blocked out, except for the 2% border with India. Thus independence resulted in the NER feeling hemmed in, rather than experiencing freedom!
- Post the 1962 war with China, the central government had been reluctant to invest in infrastructure & development, owing to security concerns. This policy has changed only after 2000.
- Several past decisions of the central government have not regarded the aspirations of the people NER.
- Separatist feelings exist in Nagaland, Manipur, Assam, Tripura, Mizoram & parts of Arunachal Pradesh. Internal security situation in the NER has hampered economic development.
- Hydro-electric power generation potential of NER can make it an exporter of power to other regions.
- The hills are not conducive to development of railways.
North East Region (NER) of India-Problems
There are several problems. Major problems are listed below:
- Racial discrimination in other parts of the country.
- Central government decisions & policies have often not regarded popular aspirations of the population.
- Past & current illegal immigration from Bangladesh into Assam supported by politicians & aided by the BSF.
- Inadequate development & job creation in the NER.
- Poor road connectivity in large parts of the region.
- Dislike for AFSPA & popular sentiment against operations by security forces.
- Wealth creation by Tea industry has contributed very little to the economy of the region (Owners & managers are from outside states; labour is predominantly from Orissa, Bihar & Andhra Pradesh).
- Ineffective state governments, often supported by central government, characterized by corrupt politician-bureaucrat- contractor nexus.
North East Region (NER) of India- Remedies to Major Problems
The following are the remedies to the problems of NER:
- Improvement in road, inland waterways & air connectivity.
- Development of hydro-electric power projects to create cheap power for the NER & promote industry.
- Greater audit of functioning of security forces.
- Improvement in law & order situation.
- Improvement in functioning of administration & greater check on corruption.
- Resolving the issue of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants into Assam.
- Opening the NER to renew trade & cultural ties with contiguous foreign countries.
- Increase in road and rail transit through Bangladesh to overcome the problem of being cut off from the World. Utilising port facilities of Bangladesh for foreign trade.
- Promote oil & gas exploration & refining.
- Promote tourism, sericulture, horticulture & floriculture.
- Promote traditional pharmaceutical industry.
Anticipated Impact of suggested Remedies for (NER)
- Improve economy of the NER, create jobs & encourage migration of entrepreneurs & managers from other states & foreign countries.
- Reduce migration to other states & reduce dependence of the population on agriculture as a source of income.
- Attract FDI.
- Reduce separatist feelings & attraction towards joining the terrorists for the youth.
- Increased migration of people from other states to the NER will speed up the process of uniting India’s diverse population.
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