Yojana Magazine: Issue December 2010
While December is not the end of the
fiscal year in India, it however
provides a very good occasion to do a
cross check on often untouched themes.
One of them is a review of the North
East India, the region of eight states
that is the new economic frontier for
India. In the year 2010, there is an
even better reason to do a stock check
for the region. The Prime Minister has
asked for a massive push for the
development of the road network of the
entire region. A road is not just a
means of transport in this hilly region.
Roads are the underlying foundations for
the entire economic development of the
North East. The region, for geographic
and sometimes strategic reasons has very
thin railway network and air service
cannot be the means to take care of the
humungous transport needs of even one
state, forget eight states. Thus how the
road network shapes up is more than an
integral part of the story of the
development of the region, it is also a
very key index.
The North East states conceal some interesting paradoxes. Some of them have
excellent demographic characteristics like a high literacy rate and consequent
access to education. Yet at the same time they all suffer from high infant
mortality as hospital care for the mother and child are few and far between. The
region has splendid swathes of forests harbouring massive varieties of fauna and
flora. Yet development of the states could mean cutting into those regions, as
there are few alternatives to not do so.
The other issues are of course maintaining of the tribal way of life, key to
understanding the diversity of the region. The development imperatives often
bring up challenges of how to protect the tribal culture, while at the same time
help use modern science and education for the benefit of the region.