North-East India is indeed a gateway to one of India’s rich pools of cultural and natural diversity. North East India, for instance, holds tremendous economic potential when it comes to sustainable 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, thus, to transform the region’s dormant prospective into a successful economic venture.
In the words of Dr D. Bhalla, an IAS officer, “Economic reforms have taken deep roots in India and in the days to come, the economy should be stronger because of stronger fundamentals. What is now required is the right policies and the right execution for delivering their benefits to the very last men.” Thus, it has become increasingly important to execute well-designed plans to explore the unexplored.
What is now required is the right policies and the right execution for delivering their benefits to the very last men.Dr. D Bhalla | IAS Officer
North East India Economic Potential: Indicators
A comparative study of the North East India economic potential , with the rest of India is given below. It shows that the GSDP of the region is lesser than that of all the states combined.
|Sl.No.||Year||GSDP (at constant prices) – NER||% Growth over previous year – NER||GSDP (at constant prices) – NER||% Growth over previous year – NER|
From the table, we can see that although the GDSP of the North-east has increased considerably through the years (Rs. 87742cr to Rs.139140cr) from 2004 to 2011 (annual average growth rate 7.39%). Yet, the amount of growth has been smaller as compared to the whole of the country (Rs. 2971464cr to Rs. 5222027cr) which has an average annual growth rate of 9.46%.
Below are few of the ways in which the government can tap the right keys. Thus, it can bring out the most of the unexplored resources of the place.
Paradise Unexplored: Funding Tourism
Tourism in the North-East has the potential to be one of the major sources of revenue for the area. Also, tourism has no substitute. Thus, it is important to fund the development of tourist spots, infrastructure, improve marketing and allocate proper means of transport. In this way, tourism becomes a significant economic activity of the eight states.
In the early 1950s, many governments in the Caribbean took active steps to utilize the potential of the place. They improved upon areas of tourism and simultaneously, the Caribbean Tourist Association was formed in 1951. FDI was encouraged and infrastructure was improved. Also, active steps were taken by the newly formed ministries to make it an important industry.
In a matter of ten years, it resulted in an increase in 52.1 % increase in tourism. Besides, the region garnered 25 million visitors, contributing to 14% of its GDP. The industry contributes to 11.3% of the employment of people. Therefore, it is termed as the “most tourism dependent region of the world.”
Insights and Suggestions
A dedicated platform engaging multiple stakeholders like government officials, businessmen and public enthusiasts could thus serve as the starting point. The organization could also take care of the much needed accumulation and utilization of statistical data of the industry. Besides, concepts of health and fitness, environmentalism and natural trails can be propagated to draw more visitors.
Besides, investments in transport and accommodation infrastructure along with marketing strategies by the stakeholders would be a welcome move. The focus areas for improvement, therefore, could be hospitality, gastronomy, cultural and natural places of interest.
Paradise Unexplored: Promoting Art and Crafts
It is no unknown fact that cultural diversity can also be successfully translated into a promising industry. Besides, it holds potential for enriching community development and avenues of employment. It would act not just toward propagating cultural tourism but also boosting unique local identities.
In 2020, a Design and Crafts Council in Ireland had been formed, to extract economic benefits from the Irish crafts and design. The “Make Local” campaign as it was hence named, is aimed at boosting sales of these craftworks and generating revenue from it. A registration of a whooping 3000 clients even in the difficult months of worldwide lockdown in 2020 has been possible because of this.
Insights and Suggestions
The prospective ‘Creative Industry’ of the North-Eastern states holds a lot of potential. For instance, distributing prominent media industries, as opposed to their concentration in West and South India, can be a good start. Conducting training and entrepreneurial workshops in conjunction with the industry, promoting collaborations between local, national and international artists and public-private partnerships can thus multiply the existing prospects.
Infusing the industry with higher education organizations can also act as a catalyst in forming a larger pool of youth inclined toward arts and crafts. Inter-state exhibitions, trade fairs and cultural diversity programs with an aim to preserve and showcase the same can be held, for instance.
Paradise Unexplored: Capitalizing on Natural Resources
The real wealth of any nation, which streamlines other economic activities and industries, undoubtedly lies in its natural resources. Therefore, North-East India’s rich treasure trove of natural resources can prove to be a solid foundation of its economic prowess in the years to come. The key lies in proper planning and valuation besides a sustainable development approach.
The Dominican Republic stands 66th in the world in terms of gross domestic. This is because of the execution of economic plans by the government. It is rich in natural resources like forest cover, fishes, arable land, minerals and livestock.
The Department of Regional Development has assisted Dominican Republic in maintaining a sustainable ecosystem. It has conducted research, created an information base to expand, update and improve utilization of such resources. Besides, it has defined resource management policies and provided technical assistance to execute such strategies.
Insights and Suggestions
Striking a balance between conservation and extraction of natural resources is of utmost importance for any place, and especially so for the North-East. Therefore, creating a sensitive council with diverse stakeholders will help include insights of not just top administrators but also grassroots level voices.
Organization of prospective resources and their translation can also be achieved with the help of a sound Environmental Impact Assessment. Thus, practices like introduction of tradable permits, focus on value-additional activities like processing and manufacturing and stress on secure digital payment systems can act as game-changers.
Special markets for the produce from this corner of the country can also be planned for, followed by gradual inclusion in the mainstream. They can also be placed at the fore when it comes to export handling and trade fairs on international bases. Also, budgetary allocations for human capital, in this case toward skill development, staff training and agricultural practices, can be more generous. Flexibility and transparency are, therefore, a must.
North East India Economic Potential: Final Words
North-East India is indeed a gateway to one of India’s rich pools of cultural and natural diversity. The region, among several others in the country, holds tremendous potential when it comes to sustainable economic development.
What one sees as a secluded part of the country because of geographic and ethnic barriers, is gradually getting its long due recognition as a resourceful region of the nation. No wonder, several ongoing and future propositions by the government, from small infrastructural interventions to mega projects, have also found a home in the North-East.
Therefore, it becomes increasingly important for different stakeholders to recognize and appreciate the potential this region holds. The need of the hour is thus to step forward and do our bit. This could be in the form of ideas, awareness and participation. Thus, we need to transform the region’s dormant prospective into a successful economic venture.
If active steps are taken to direct its resources in the correct direction, the North-East India will soon be a leading contributor to the development of the nation. Thus, this ‘Paradise Unexplored’ holds the potential to change the way we look at India.
 Currently serving as the Chief Resident Commissioner at Nagaland
 Source: Directorate of Economic and Statistics of respective State Government and Central Statistical