During my visit to the region last year, I noted down a few observations which I thought will be important for the development of the NE.
1) Infrastructure: Currently most of the infrastructural spending esp. for roads and communication lines is dictated by the defense forces. For any state to develop, basic facilities should be there.
2) India should understand that the region is more geographically connected with the neighbors than the main-land and open road and rail links. Before independence the passes and road links were well connected. There were border markets. (Markets at the LOC where small traders of both countries can freely cross and buy/sell goods.) But with the deteriorating international relations these channels of commerce were closed and it was logistically expensive to transport the goods to Calcutta/ Silligudi (the two nearest markets).
3) There has to be a shift from raw materials to manufacturing units and help the economy to move up the value chain.
4) It’s ironical that most of the time we discuss about the hydro electric potential of the region, but most villages do not have micro-hydro power units and use DG sets and burn diesel for meeting the lightning needs.
5) The cooperative movement has to be supported to enable the local population get access to credit, technology and also increase the sense of community and the negotiating power.
6) The scenic beauty, flora, fauna, and diversity of cultures found there is not found anywhere else in India. Promote tourism; it’s the fastest way of earning good revenues for virgin lands like these.
7) A campaign has to be run to remove the mindset of people that NE is troubled land, region of conflict instead of land of peace and growth.
8) Encourage a sense of citizenship and democracy. Revoke the “Armed Forces Special Powers Act.”
9) Discourage the Jhum (slash- burn agriculture/ shifting agriculture) it leads to a lot of soil erosion and make the natives aware of the modern plantation method like step agriculture, drip irrigation.
10) It’s ironical that the awareness level of various schemes is very low. The poor don’t know the subsidies and support govt. provides and the most of the development assistance funds lapse year after year.
11) Get a banking system in place and remove the postal banks. Govt. opens up the postal banks in every nook and corner of the country and all the deposits that they mop up is send to Centre for funding the deficit. The local saved money should be reinvested there only and various micro credit and community loan schemes should be started to spur up the economic activity.
12) START COLLECTING STATE TAX: The people have enjoyed enough of a tax holiday. The state govt. should start collecting taxes no matter how miniscule it is.
Cont…..Next will be a post of the naxalites.