Northeast is connected with the rest of India by the thin chicken-neck Siliguri Corridor. Northeast is a bounty both in terms of human resources as well as natural resources. Coming specially, to natural resources it is rich in liquid-gold in terms of petroleum oil as well as coal, cement etc. to name a few. Moreover it is the producer of a lion share of tea produced in India. As regards water resources Northeastern states have the hydro-electricity to lit up the whole of India which remain still today mostly unutilized.
As far as human resources, is concerned this part of the country where sun rises first, it can be said that it is a store-house of talent be it literature, music, sports or any other fields of activity. This can be proved by citing the name of Lt. Mamoni Raisom Goswami, the icon of academics and literature, Dr. Talimaren Aao, the great football captain of 1948 Olympics of London of the Indian Football Team. Dr. Bhupen Hazarika who left this world in 2011 has been and still is the greatest icon and ambassador of Northeast with the rest of the country and world as far as music and creativity is concerned. At present be it any reality show on satellite T.V. channels of our country, what becomes the ultimate reality is the blossoming of Northeast youths in it. Singer Debojit Saha, Dancer Jitu Kalita and female singing sensation Naheed Afreen are a few names in this regard. All in all it is a reality without much debate that Northeast is a store house of talents.
In spite of all these plenty both in terms of human and natural resources Northeast is still lagging behind in comparison to the rest of the country. Assam in particular is the state which holds the dubious distinction of having the most number of neo-natal and infant mortality deaths in the whole of the country. This is a dubious distinction of the state as far as health sector is concerned. Moreover there is lack of employment avenues in the Northeastern states with minimal industrialization in this part of the country in spite of a bounty of natural resources. In a nutshell, it can be said that, Northeast states are states which are poor in spite of having a bounty of natural resources.
As far as flora and fauna is concerned, it is the land where we have many National Parks and Wild Life Sanctuaries like Nokrek National Park, Kaziranga National Park, Manas Wild Life Sanctuary to name a few in this regard. In spite of having all these flora and fauna, it is the land where in recent years deforestation is a common phenomenon. Moreover another grave problem in recent years has been the threat posed in these Northeastern states due to exodus of these states youths to the rest of the country due to lack of employment avenues in these states. Couples with it, still today though insurgency is in its decadency still Northeast today is not terror and terrorism free.
Now the question to ponder about is why Northeast needs special attention from rest of the country does. Northeast is a place which is a land of poverty amidst plenty. Moreover, it will not be an exaggeration to say that due to its Distinct Culture, Ethoes, Traditions, social values from the rest of the country which is peculiar for them (i.e., rest of India) we the Northeasterners are psychologically still today after six-decades of independence are not one with the rest of the country. Moreover as a majority of Northeastern people are of Mongolian origin, due to which there physical appearance are different from rest of India and they can be distinctly identified being from the Northeast. Due to this reason they are sometimes in places like metros of our country are assaulted and abused. The ‘chinky’ phenomenon is the natural fallout of all these developments. Moreover Northeast needs special attention because due to lackadaisical pace of development of this region in comparison to rest of the country especially after the liberalization of India’s economy, we Northeast needs special attention as far as industrialization is concerned. The recent process of handing over 12 petroleum fields in Assam to private companies may be considered as the beginning of privatization of Northeast economy .All steps taken by the Government of India as well as State Governments to improve these states should be done by taking the people of this region into confidence. At the same time, the people of Northeast too should be like a watch-dog of the Government initiatives with all patience and a feeling of cooperation whether it is the Union Government or the State Government.
I think, rest of India should give special attention for the all round development of Northeast. In this regard according to me the three core areas which should get top priority are firstly, development of tourism, as it is a pollution free industry. Moreover all steps should be taken to stop poaching in the forests of the Northeast by stopping the media-led mud-sledging and blame game on one another as far as poaching is concerned. Secondly, halting the inter-state and intra-state terrorism should get top priority. In this regard, there should be rethinking over application of draconian law like AFPSA in Northeast which is applied to curb terrorism. At the same time, youths are the perpetrators of terrorism. So the state Governments of the Northeast and the Union Government should frame special youth policy for Northeast youths, thinking about all the pros and cons of the issues of youth unrest in Northeast. In this regard, I think the politics of giving special package to Northeast states by New Delhi are merely temporary relief measures with no long term solution in this regard. At the end, I would like to state the most grave problem that Northeast faces which is my third core issue which needs special attention from rest of India and that is infiltration from neighbouring countries. Here strong border-fencing is the need of the hour with strong vigil. Moreover a state like Assam where there has been a large scale infiltration of foreigners’ needs special attention from the rest of India in particular. Hence urgent steps needs to be taken in this regard to detect and deport foreigners from Assam in particular and the whole of the Northeast in general by the rest of India so that, the identity of the original inhabitants of these states could be protected. As far as Assam is concerned Assam Accord signed in 1985 can be a guide in this regard.
- JNANDEEP BORA