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North-East on the Development Horizon

 5/13/2016  2986

Articles of importance

1. Inclusive Growth and Peace: Levers to Opening up Regional Economy

2. Tribal Development in North-East India

3. Sustainability and Prosperity through Eco Friendly Harvest

4. Infrastructure Scenario in North East

Analysis of the issue - Editor's Note

The Yojana - April edition contains an overall picture of the issues plaguing north-east region of India. All these articles hve dealt with different problems/challenges. My endeavour is to summarize the abov mentioned articles in order to save student's time and motivt a spirit of dialoque. These issues must be taken into account while attempting any question on North-East. A bird's eye view of all problems and potential will make a complete answer instead of focusing on just a few.

Factsheet from the editorial desk

1. Population in northeast: 3.1% of the national population

2. Areal cover: 8% of the overall national area

3. Tribal percentage: 12% of total national tribals

4. 10% of the budgetary funds are allocated under the non-lapseable pool to North-East

Specific Issues of the North-East

1. Political Aspect:

1. North-Eastern realm of the nation finds special status under the Constitution of India in Schedule 6. Tribals areas have been ear- marked in states of Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya and Mizoram (ATMM) which have Autonomous District Councils to safeguard cultural ingenuity.
This gives additional powers to governor with respect to application of a central or a state law in the areas. He may declare an area to be a scheduled area, increase or decrease its size, etc.

2. Article 371-A,B,C,F,G,H

contain provisions

for special status to states of North-East allowing customary rights to be protected in the areas.

3. Political Evolution:

1963: Nagaland f

ormed by separating Naga hills and Tsuensang areas of Assam

1969: Meghalaya granted the status of a sub-state within Assam.

1972: Meghalaya attains full statehood. + States of Manipur and Tripura which were earlier Union Territories, get statehood too. New Union Territories of Mizoram and North Eatern Frontier Agency(NEFA- erstwhile Arunachal Pradesh) .

1975: Sikkim attains full statehood

1987: Mizoram and NEFA get full statehood.

2. Geo-Political aspect:

The region has been an area of focus under the diplomatic policy of Look-East. Lying on the overlapping zone of Indian, Chinese and Indo-Cinese cultures, it could be a potential link to the Eastern Indian neighbours rich in oil(Myanmar), power(Bangladesh) and market potential(ASEAN).

The shift from Look-East to Act-East represents a recognition of need of a strengthened action in pursance of the increasing connectivity and integration with the Eastern partners. Steps taken in this regard include:

1. Opening up of a Bangladeshi consulate at Bagdogra saving time on a round trip from Kolkata or Manipur.

2. Developing Tripura as the Internet Gateway to encourage investment

3. Special projects on infrastructural connectivity(see economic potential above)

4. Special Ministry on North-East to ensure political integration of the region that has a history of alienation and separatism.

3. Problems of tribes:

Though only 12% of the country's tribal population lives in the North-East, what makes tribes important here is that in some states they constitute more than 80% of the total population.

Consequently, tribal issues form the most important issue of political determination of the area.

Recent trends:

1. Article 19 (Freedom of movement) and influx of illegal refugees from the neighbourhood have altered the demography of the region.

E.g. Tripura held 56% tribal population in 1950 which has come down to 30% in 2011.
Similarly Arunachal Pradesh has witnessed a reduction of tribal populace to 64% from earlier 90% of its total population.

Subsequently, tribals today face cut-throat competition from non-tribals in politics, bureaucratic posts, etc.

This creates a feeling of indignation at appropriation of benefits by 'foreigners', ultimately culminating in demands for Inner-Line permits or at worse, secession.

2. Problem of Autonomous District Councils today:

The purpose behind enactment of Scehdule 6 was to allow address the threat perception faced by minorities residing in pockets of Non-tribal Assam.
That is why, once Nagaland attained separate statehood it gave up the status under schedule 6. Similarly Mizoram retains this status only for tribal minority areas within Mizoram.
In Meghalaya however, the ADCs continue even beyond its attainment of statehood. They today form redundant institutions with overlapping jurisdications creating governance bottlenecks.

3. Problems of tribal women:

The application of customary laws means that women of the region are still denied of the right to inheritance. Those who demand the same are branded as witches which is the reason of increasing incidents of witch burning in the region.

4. Economic Potential:


Roads: 2 phased Special Accelerated Road Development Program(SARDP) has been launched.

Aviation: The area finds itself in the Regional connectivity Scheme(RCS) of the newly announced National policy on Aviation. This means it will be cheaper for people of the area to travel to and from north-East via the aereal route.

Railways: An overall Boost to rail tourism.
-Special East-

West corridor to connect East and West ends of Assam.

Waterways: Waterways Act which identifies 101 waterways apart from the 5 Waterways, has provisions for 18 waterways from the region.

-Though the region has large potential of water transport, non-navigability of rivers makes it necessary to take planned action to ensure their use as a transport medium.

Port Connectivity: Kaladan Multi-modal project: Landlocked nature of the north-east is further complicated by the 22 km wide narrow corridor linking it to the rest of the country. It leads to a an ever present threat of its jamming by miscreants or situational issues.
This is sought to be resolved by developing an alternate mode of connectivity via Myanmar. The Kaladan Multimodal project connects the state of Mizoram via Myanmar port-Kaladan and Bay-of Bengal to Kolkata.

It is a combination of rail, inland water and sea-route transport lines.


ps: To give boost to start-ups in the region, a 3 year income tax-free period is granted to them. Other rebates compliment the efforts.

Tourism potential:

  • Presence of beautiful hill stations and valleys
  • Popular Cuisine like Momos(Dimsums) and Thukpa.
  • nature tourism
  • Wildlife santuaries, Natural parks, UNESCO world heritage sites, etc. which showcase a unique kind of floral and faunal diversity.
  • Agriculture:

1. Potential of sustainable agriculture model.
2. Potential of organic horticulture in NE(Sikkim has been declared as the first organic state of India)
3. Arunachal Pradesh: special rice-cum-fish cultivation practice.
4. Zabo method of cultivation in Phek district of Nagaland. In it water is channeled to flow through reserved forests to harvesting tanks to cattle yars to cultivating fields . This means that water flowing to fields is rich in manure and nutrients.

5. Security Issues of North-East:

1. Proximity to International

borders leads to cross-border terrorist activity, militant separatism, etc.
The disturbed security position of the North-East led to the enactment of Armed Forces Special Powers Act(AFSPA) in the region.

Controversial aspects of the act include complete immunity to armed personnel in any action under AFSPA. Any prosecution of any personnel requires a permission of GoI. This provides blanket immunity even against crimes like rapes, murders, etc. widening the feeling of 'us' vs 'them' among North-Eastern residents against Indian government.

Status of AFSPA in NE:

Repealed from Mizoram after Mizo-accord(1987).

Repealed from Tripura(2015)

Applicable in Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh only in regions bordering Assam.

Almost whole of Assam(except Guwahati region), Manipur and Nagaland are under AFSPA.

2. Also, Golden Triangle (Thailand, Laos and Myanmar) nearby creates easy access to drugs.

3. Difficulty of terrain and shifting river beds make border management a problem. Illegal migrant influx in a consequence of this. Another consequence is inadequacy is checking cross border terror outfits who make use of grey areas of territorial jurisdictions.

6. Social Sector aspect in North-East:

The region enjoys a relatively higher level of literacy(75%) than the national average(74.04%) with some states like Mizoram having 90% literacy rate.

Another asset lies in the vast english speaking population.
Health indicators however show a poor performance in the region.
Problems in education in NE:
General challenges face by education in the whole country
Education in the region is mostly state monitored which fails to meet national standards.
Exogenous factors like bandhs, strikes and militant activities at times leads to loss of 100 working days in schools and colleges.



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