North-East India is truly a gateway to one of India’s rich pools of cultural and natural diversity. The region holds tremendous potential when it comes to sustainable economic development. Also, this ‘Paradise Unexplored’ holds the potential to change the way we look at India. Therefore, it becomes important for different stakeholders to recognize and appreciate the region. The need of the hour is to step forward and do our bit. The goal is to transform the region’s dormant prospective into a successful economic venture.
Discoveries, like resources, may well be finite: the more we discover, the more we are able to discover.Julia L. Simon
When we go ahead discovering a place and exploring its potential, we move towards one of the two ends. First, it might appear promising giving us the ability to see a sustainable ecosystem. Second, it could be in a state of disrepair. The ecosystem may collapse and decline even before efforts are actually made to make it grow. So, in which of the above two categories would a place fall? This depends solely on the economic potential of the place.
This potential depends on a variety of factors. Some of these are capital, land, skilled and unskilled labor. Not just this, transport infrastructure, energy facilities and physical investments play a crucial role. Also, habitable weather conditions, natural resources are other factors that count.
North East India: A Charm to Behold
North-East India refers to the cluster of 8 states in the northeastern part of the country. They are Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Sikkim and Tripura. The area has undergone dramatic political changes in history. Let us explore some of them.
It started with the Ahom and Manipur kingdoms falling prey to the British Raj for nearly ninety years. After this, the region fell under the Bengal province. Post the British Raj, it gained the independent status of princely states. Later, it evolved into five states and two union territories, prior to the inclusion of Sikkim in 2002.
Without a doubt, the NER is an integral part of the country. Yet, it has forever been a “Land of unexplored opportunities and unsaturated avenues.” (Words of Union Minister Jitendra Singh).
Why is North East India a Paradise Unexplored?
The reason is simple – rich resources but inadequate utilization. The area is abundant in greenery, ethnic delicacies, hilly terrain, ethnic groups and dialects. Also, dance forms, different genres of music, and a population with a large prospective abound.
This means the region offers a large potential which is unmatched as compared to the whole country. Following are few of the many promising features that the region possesses. As is evident, their proper utilization might lead to great inflow of returns.
North-east India is home to uncountable natural wonders which offer a fascinating view to nature-lovers. Most of these states are bordered with snow-capped mountains and are home to touristy waterfalls. Not just this, they have forests with thick green cover and are abundant in hills, valleys, forests, wetlands and lakes. Besides, they host a wide variety of flora and fauna.
- Mount Kanchenjunga located in Sikkim is the third highest mountain peak in the world.
- Cherrapunji and Mawsynram in Meghalaya are the wettest places in the world.
- The Mawlynnong Village in Meghalaya which is also known as ‘God’s own garden,’ is the cleanest village in Asia.
- The cultural capital of Assam, Majuli, holds the record of being the largest river island in the world.
- The Kaziranga National Park is a UNESCO World heritage site and is home to the endangered one-horned Rhino.
- The Nohkalikai Falls in Cherrapunji, Meghalaya, is the fourth highest waterfall in the world.
Art and Crafts
The art and crafts of the north-east are symbolic in value. They are very different from the mainstream craftwork produced at other places. The reason is that NE India has been a hub of arts for centuries. The artwork ranges from bamboo craft, cane art, metalwork, earthenware, textiles and wood carving.
Of all art types, the bamboo and cane art distinguish the north-east from the rest of India. They are used to make all types of products. These include basic necessities like furniture, cutleries, lanterns and window-screens. Not just this, decorative items like wind-chimes, garden fountains, jewelry, musical instruments, cradles are symbolic and intricate.
These states have preserved their culture as various performing arts. Actually, it is their legacy since ages. Each of the states has unique dance forms performed by trained dancers on festivals and other occasions. Bardo Chham, Bihu, Laho, Dhol Cholom, Cheraw Dance and Singhi Chham are a few of them.
North Eastern India is a part of the Indo-Malayan biodiversity hotspot. It is home to one of the largest avian biodiversity in the Indian subcontinent. Not just this, several of flora and fauna are exclusive to the region. It is one of the richest biomes of the world. This richness lies in numerous endemic plant and animal species.
Yes, the terrain is pretty difficult. Yet, a total of 977 species of birds and 300 species of mammals live here. Besides, 100 species of amphibians, 10000 species of flowering plants and 422 species of fishes have been found.
The region has a thick forest cover which covers 54.16% of its geographical area. This cannot be compared to the national average of 19.39%. Not just this, rivers run at a length of 19976 kilometer. The agricultural land covers 3.91 million hectares. Out of the available crop species diversity of the country, 47% are available here.
The Centre’s Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority conducted a study. They said that “the region possesses several comparative advantages like fertile soils, favorable climatic conditions…”. Besides, “rich biodiversity, forest wealth, educated manpower” play a strategic role. This is why it serves as “a geographically strategic location (for) the Southeast Asian countries and China.”
The NER has mineral reserves worth more than Rs.10 lakh crores. These have not yet been exploited to the fullest. Also, deposits of minerals like coal, bauxite, limestone, feldspar, iron ore, granite, uranium and a lot others have been located. Hence, the region naturally has a first-hand in the mineral industry.
The Paradise Unexplored: Final Words
There is no doubt that the NER has huge potential. However, we cannot deny that it’s exploration since ages does not bear much. Without proper efforts from the government and the people, huge resources have gone waste over time. This shall continue to occur if its potential remains untapped in the future.