The Gist of Yojana: June 2016
- Inclusive Growth and Peace: Levers to Opening up Regional Economy
- STAND UP INDIA SCHEME
- Education & Employment in North East: The Way Forward
- Tribal Development In North-East India
(Only For The Subscribed Members)
- North East In Union Budget 2016-17
(Only For The Subscribed Members)
Inclusive Growth and Peace: Levers to Opening up Regional Economy
Although there is much talk about the North-east opening up
to South East Asia – a topic of conversation, official approaches and
conferences since the early 1990s, -- an important factor in opening up the
regional economy surely lies in improved political and trade relations with
This would enable the NER to play a greater role in South and
South East Asia as envisaged by the Prime Minister in his declarations in Dhaka
and Guwahati at different times as well as by other leaders before him. The ease
of business in slowly improving and a trend setter in this is Tripura, where the
state government has got a major Internet Gateway, India’s third, with
Bangladesh Government being supportive. Business delegations from across the
border are often seen in Agartala, the tiny state’s sleepy capital which is
becoming energized. The fact that Tripura a better record of governance than the
other North-eastern state and a government committed to delivery of services
must be a factor. Insurgency is a thing of the post and much-abhorred Armed
Forces Special Powers Act and Disturbed Areas Act were lifted in 2015 by the
state government since the state is at peace.
This is a small but incremental step, as in the past, it was
nightmare to get official permission to visit Bangladesh: the nearest
Bangladeshi consular offices are in Kolkata and Agartala. To get a visa involved
a round trip of two or three days and an expense of thousands of rupees.
Yet, despite all this, there are factors which underline the
challenges of the Act East Policy and connectivity as well as seeking
international investment into the North-eastern region. It is important to face
these issues directly rather than talk about cosmetic ideas which paper over
For one, it is difficult to shake off the image of a
‘disturbed’ area, which has a history of 60 years of conflict and insurgency.
These are among the reasons why the region remains unattractive to investors
despite the government’s hard sell campaign. The Centre’s policy towards the
region has been mandated by security concerns and consequently, there remains a
trust deficit aggravated by sense of alienation. These have been accentuated by
alleged human rights violations by security forces, which have been documented,
and by predatory, armed non-State groups.
A major step in unshackling the NER would be to enable access
to the Bay of Bengal, braking out of its land-lockedness. This could happen
through connecting the rail line from Agartala via Akhaura in Bangladesh to
Chittagong Port. Progress on this has been slow. Discussions about them have
gone on for at least two decades between the two sides, with policy experts such
as the late BG Verghese pushing for such changes.
The National Bamboo Mission has estimated that some 20 million tones to bamboo
can be harvested every year and lakhs of people can be employed in this field.
But there appears to be a lack of urgency at the ground level. The region still
imports almost everything – from razor blades and fish to pencils and food
grain, from cars to television sets. It remains essentially a market and not a
production centre. Raw produce like fruits, vegetables and even cattle are
exported to Bangladesh and Myanmar and there are no major processing units to
add value and shelf life to these products.
Another significant challenge lies in the changes climate
patterns brought by global weather changes, leading to outmigration to other
parts of India. The Brahmaputra Valley is devastated by floods almost every year
and in one recent surge, nearly 350 embankments collapsed. Yet, there is hardly
any public debate in the Northeast or in the rest of the country about the
efficiency of embankments and the need to find alternatives.
In the long run, the challenge of resolving conflict issues between ethnic
groups and the State will be significant in several ways, and not just in making
the region more attractive to foreign travelers and tourists apart from business
(no business group is prepared for the unending strikes and bandhs and cripple
the states of the region, for these impact production and profit.
STAND UP INDIA SCHEME
“Stand Up India Scheme”, approved by the Centre promotes
entrepreneurship among Scheduled Castes/Schedule Tribes and Women. The scheme
provides for composite loans by banks between Rs. 10 lakh and upto Rs. 100 lakh
for setting up a new enterprise in the non-farm sector. These loans would be
eligible for refinance and credit guarantee cover. There will be a credit
guarantee fund of Rs. 5,000 crore for providing guarantee cover for loans under
State Up India in next five years. There is also the provision of initial
capital of Rs. 500 crore to the corpus in FY 2016-17.
The Action Plan for Startup India envisages setting up of 7
New Research Parks modeled on the Research Park at IIT madras. Indian Institute
of Science, Bangalore in Karnataka has been selected for establishment of
Research Park in the Action Plan. Similarly, the Action Plan envisages
setting-up/scaling-up of 18 Technology Business Incubators (TBI) at NITs/IITs/IIMs
etc. NIT Calicut, IISER Thiruvanathapuram and IMM Kozhikode in Kerala have been
selected for setting up of Technology Business Incubators.
Education & Employment in North East: The Way Forward
North East, a region consisting of eight states has a
literacy rate of 77.76 percent which is higher than the national average of
74.04 per cent as on March 2011. In spite of the higher literacy rate, the
education system in the North Eat India is un-organized and suffers from a
number of limitations/challenges, especially in the technical field which has
caused large number of aspirants of higher education to move outside the region.
Largely, the education system is controlled by the State Government which is not
at par with the national level. The States are still following traditional mode
for imparting education. Such a stereotyped educational structure has not only
caused a huge outflow of students from the region, but has also led to a
substantial drop – out rate of 50.05 percent students between Class 1 to 8 as
compared to the national figure of 40.8 percent during 2011-12. The communal
conflicts among the different heterogeneous communities and insurgencies have
destroyed hundreds of villages, killed many people and made many homeless and
orphans. Many of them are internally displaced, may took the risk to migrate
with friends and relatives; and ended up in mega cities like Delhi, Kolkata,
Mumbai and Bangalore.
Furthermore, north-eastern states having small and big rivers
are ravaged by floods and water logging from time to time. Due to inundation of
large areas, there are lots of problem relating to transpiration and
communication resulting in absence of source of income. Hence, eligible and
qualified students without any job opportunities at home are forced to move out
to greener pastures. There is lack of modern facilities like electricity and
In order to reduce migration from the north east to the other
parts of the country, three has to be a paradigm shift in the educational system
entirely. The focus should be on industry training, quality over quantity,
research and encouraging entrepreneurial mindset like what is practiced in
advanced states (industry oriented). Companies can also come forward to equip
the technical and non-technical institutions under CSR initiative to increase
the employability rate.
The presence of institutional problems creates a need for a
strategy to promote community based collaterals for the effective credit
delivery system to take advantage of the locational advantages. The region is
strategically located with access to traditional domestic market of eastern
India along with proximity to the major states in the east and adjacent
countries such as Bangladesh and Myanmar. The region is also a vantage entry
point for the South-East Asian Countries. It is for the financial institutions
to explore the opportunities, and help to create employment facilities through
their banking transactions.
SEZs may be established within the region to capture the
economic advantages, especially for tea, coffee, aromatic and medicinal plants,
and horticulture products. A strong R & D support system is a sine – qua non for
generating demand – driven technologies which are friendly to small holders. For
efficient market system, an effective supply chain model needs to be put in
place with the help of specialized institution like IIM Shillong.