Union Budget 2022-23 provided for a new scheme, Prime Minister’s Development Initiative for North East (PM DevINE Scheme), which will be implemented through the North-Eastern Council.
- About: PM DevINE Scheme will fund infrastructure, in the spirit of PM GatiShakti, and social development projects based on felt needs of the North-East states.
- Objective: PM-DevINE scheme is being implemented with the following objectives-
- To enable livelihood activities for youth and women
- To filling gaps in various sectors
- Implementing Agency: PM-DevINE scheme will be implemented through the North Eastern Council.
- Funding: An initial allocation of Rs. 1,500 crore will be made for the PM-DevINE scheme.
- Project Selection: Under PM-DevINE scheme, projects can be recommended by Centre and North East States as well but priority will be given to projects posed by the states.
- Significance: PM-DevINE scheme will enable livelihood activities for youth and women, filling the gaps in various sectors, the Minister explained.
Projects under PM DevINE scheme
- Establishment of Dedicated Services for the Management of Paediatric and Adult Haemotolymphoid Cancers in North East India, Guwahati (Multi-State).
- Construction of Aizawl bypass on western side, gap funding for passenger ropeway system for Pelling to Sanga-Choeling in West Sikkim.
- Gap funding for eco-friendly Ropeway (Cable Car) from Dhapper to Bhaleydhunga in South Sikkim.
- Pilot project for the construction of Bamboo Link Road at different locations in various districts in Mizoram.
- NECTAR Livelihood Improvement Project (Multi-State).
- Promoting Scientific Organic Agriculture in North East Indian (Multi-State).
About North Eastern Council
- The NEC is the nodal agency for the economic and social development of the North Eastern Region which consists of the eight States of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura.
- The NEC was constituted in 1971 by an Act of Parliament.
- The constitution of the Council has marked the beginning of a new chapter of concerted and planned endeavour for the rapid development of the Region.
- Over the years, NEC has been instrumental in setting in motion a new economic endeavour aimed at removing the basic handicaps that stood in the way of normal development of the region and has ushered in an era of new hope.
North East region of India:
- The Northeast (NE) region of India is of great strategic significance. The region comprising Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura and Meghalaya encompasses all territory east of theSiliguri Corridor, a 22km wide rail and road link wedged in between Tibet in the north and Bangladesh in the south. Sandwiched between Bangladesh to the west, Myanmar to the east and Bhutan and China to the north, the northeastern states of India remain geographically isolated from the rest of the country.
- They are also ethnically, culturally and linguistically distinct, predominantly speaking Sino-Tibetan and Austro-Asiatic languages (around 220 of them), rather than the Indo-Aryan languages of northern India, also with a strong Christian presence.
- However, the region has seen major unrest, especially in Nagaland and Manipur, for years now. The Naga insurgency, the ‘mother of all insurgencies’ has festered since Independence. It has given impetus to other insurgent movements. India’s hostile neighbours took advantage of tribal misgivings and wanton neglect of these areas.
Reasons for Isolation and Underdeveloped of North East:
- Historical Legacy: The region never got the warranted focus and attention because of its isolation. Communication during pre-Independence era was primarily through East Bengal (now Bangladesh). The British permitted a large deal of autonomy to the tribal regions. On seeing the birth of an independent India, the tribal populations wanted to retain their independence. The whole area, except for Sikkim, was under the State of Assam which was progressively hived to create new states and now comprises one third of its former territory.
- Human issues: The Nagas are not a homogenous collective. There are 17 major and 20 sub tribes amongst them. Each Naga tribe has its own dialect, traditions, culture and region of influence. The multitude of tribes with conflicting interests makes negotiation difficult.
- Economic Neglect. The states are under-developed with poor communication. There are no railway lines, although a line is now being laid up to Imphal, the capital of Manipur. Road connectivity is also poor and prone to disruption due to inclement weather, land-slides and human intervention. The economic aid being funnelled into NE states is also diverted to the coffers of a few powerful politicians and do not benefit the common citizens. A large part ends up as ‘taxes’ to insurgent organisations. So, in effect the central funds are bank-rolling insurgency. Insurgency has become an industry.
- Separatist Movements: To push the agenda of Naga separatists, the ‘Naga Club’ was formed in 1918. This demand was totally unacceptable as it would have fanned similar demands in other regions. The government of India launched counter insurgency operations to quell this demand.
- Infrastructure Bottlenecks: Infrastructural development in the NER lags behind that in other states. For example, although Sikkim and Tripura have gradually caught up and surpassed the national average, they are still behind Maharashtra. Poor infrastructure and lack of investment are mutually reinforcing, and hamper economic development in the region.
- Predominance of the Informal Economy: There are several reasons why official border trade between the NER and India’s neighbouring countries is limited. The primary one being the dominance of the informal economy in the NER. There is rampant narcotics trading, as well as other illegal activities like weaponry trading and trafficking of rare animals and poaching.
Why North East Region is Important for India?
- Strategic Location: Sandwiched between Bangladesh to the west, Myanmar to the east and Bhutan and China to the north, the north-eastern states of India remain geographically isolated from the rest of the country.
- Gateway and Links with Southeast Asia: With ASEAN engagement becoming a central pillar of India’s foreign policy direction, NE states play an important role as the physical bridge between India and Southeast Asia.
- India’s Act East Policy: The India’s Act East Policy places the north-eastern states on the territorial frontier of India’s eastward engagement.
- Economic Significance: The North East region is well endowed with natural resources, like oil and gas, agro- horticultural resources, s mineral deposits , immense hydroelectric potential and significant forest resources. The Government of India has been making concerted efforts for economic development of the North East. The NER has immense natural resources, accounting for around 34% of the country’s water resources and almost 40% of India’s hydropower potential.
- Tourism Potential: North Eastern Region (NER) of India has immense resource potential to develop tourism. The study reveals that Assam is the leading state in terms of overall inflow of tourists’ in the region while Sikkim proves to be preferred destination of foreign tourists among NESs. Northeast of India is home to many wildlife sanctuaries like Kaziranga National Park famous for the one horned rhinoceros, Manas National Park, Nameri, Orange and Dibru Saikhowa in Assam.
- Cultural Significance: They are also ethnically, culturally and linguistically distinct, predominantly speaking Sino-Tibetan and Austro-Asiatic languages (around 220 of them), rather than the Indo-Aryan languages of northern India, also with a strong Christian presence. Tribes in NER have their own culture.
Government Initiatives for North East Region
- NITI Forum for North East: Focussed attention for development of NER: On February 21, 2019, the Government issued orders to create an exclusive forum at the NITI AAYOG to prepare plans for the development of the North East Region. The forum examines various proposals both at the Central and the State levels and prepare plans for the speedy development of the North Eastern Region.
- Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project which aims to connect North East India with Kolkata through the Sittwe Port of Myanmar via the Bay of Bengal, is almost nearing completion within the Mizoram- Mizoram.
- North East Industrial Development Scheme: The Govt. of India announced “North East Industrial Development Scheme (NEIDS),2017 for industrial units in the North Eastern Region comprising of States of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura to boost industrialization.
- North Eastern Region Vision 2020 document provides an overarching framework for the development of the North Eastern Region to bring it at par with other developed regions under which different Ministries, including Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region have undertaken various initiatives.
- Science & Technology Interventions in the North East Region (STINER): It aims to bring relevant technologies developed by the academic, scientific and research institutions to the artisans and farmers especially women.
- Separate ministry: Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region is responsible for the matters relating to the planning, execution and monitoring of development schemes and projects in the North Eastern Region. Its vision is to accelerate the pace of socio-economic development of the Region so that it may enjoy growth parity with the rest of the country.
- North East Rural Livelihood Project: It is a World Bank aided project, being implemented by the Ministry of DoNER, provides skill development training, vocational training to unemployed youths & Self Help Groups (SHGs) in North East States namely Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura.
Source: Times of India