Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, while chairing the 67th plenary of the North Eastern Council (NEC), a Regional planning body of eight northeastern states, in Shillong on July 9, 2018 admitted that India’s northeastern states have suffered from lack of adequate private investment. However, he said that the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government led by Narendra Damodardas Modi is committed to ensure socio-economic development of the region as per its potential and to also ensure peace and prosperity to the citizens.
The meet attended by Governors and Chief Ministers of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland, Sikkim, and Tripura - who are also members of newly reconstituted NEC.
Rajnath had also reminded the members that Modi Government is taking keen interest to act as a link with the South East Asian countries so as to push economic development in the region. He also said the Look East Policy’ has been changed to ‘The Act East Policy’, as the central government are trying to ensure in all eight States, sectors such as infrastructure strengthening, manufacturing, trade, tourism, skill development, urban renewal, smart cities, and ‘Make in India’ get emphasized.
It may be reminded that the NEC, a regional planning body of the eight northeastern states, has recently been brought under the direct control of the Union Home Ministry. The Home Minister is the ex-officio chairperson of the council while Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) Minister is the vice chairman. Rajnath also suggested the NITI Forum for the North East to meet on a regular basis and decide on the action to be taken on recommendations by October and for this, he even advocated calling a special Session of the NEC.
Right from the 2014 General Lok Sabha elections, Modi had made it clear that North East is an important component for inclusive national growth. On November 3, 2017, he invited global investors to do business in India, claiming that the NDA government has repealed archaic laws and launched attractive fiscal incentives making it easier to do business in India. He also stated that India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world; Modi said it was an opportune time for global businesses to invest in the country. He was speaking at the gathering of global businessmen at the inauguration of World Food India 2017 in New Delhi.
Modi also said that India has jumped 30 ranks this year in the World Bank’s (Ease of) Doing Business rankings. India was ranked number one in the world in 2016 in greenfield investment.
He said food processing is a way of life in India that had been practiced for ages. Simple, home-based techniques, such as fermentation, have resulted in the creation of our famous pickles, papads, chutneys and murabbas that excite both the elite and the masses across the world.
Meanwhile in Meghalaya where traditional business transactions are being practiced, venturing into business or the start-up with proper projects reports are rare in the state. It also needs to be noted that at present, simple trade and commerce too is trying to deal with the new era of goods.
The retailers here in Meghalaya are worried about the slow sale and are making all efforts to push their sale, while the nation is contemplating to allow Wall-Mart to set up its stores here in a few selected states. This also means that India is a big market, more for imported products. The consumers are more brand conscious these days, hence more innovative and apt products are in demand, while the traditional products not seeing brisk sales.
A large number of young entrepreneurs have done management courses, some gone out to study while others went out to explore the avenues for setting up business in the state. Some returned while others have given up hope and settled outside the state.
According the preliminary studies conducted, almost all the businesses in the state are set up without proper market survey. Most business establishment set up both in commercial areas and residential areas are without any proper survey; it was just replicated others who are thought to be doing well in a similar line of business elsewhere.
A lot has been said about the poor work culture in Meghalaya. The educated youth, who only look for government job, refusing to take up any other work, have created artificial unemployment in the state. Moreover, the educational institutions here have failed to produce youth who are employable. It is time the state government stresses on employment generation, which will not only improve the economics of the state but will also keep the youth occupied such that they do not drift towards an armed struggle out of frustration.
There have been various Self Help Groups formed across the state; however the employment avenues are mostly restricted to self employment amongst the members. Same is the case of clustering of villages which is failing to provide mass employment. The cause is simple – the state government has failed to help the artists and artisans to market their products outside the state even as consumption within the state is limited.
Secondly, the introvert attitude of the people here is preventing the investors and consumers to reach the grass roots in the name of checking influx, at the same time, refusing to venture out to market the produces is having a very adverse effect.
Be it state government or social organizations, all are simply imparting skills via workshops or seminars. No one stresses on how to produce the handicrafts which are in demand outside the state, also as per the demand and requirement of the buyers outside. It is time the training programmes stress on marketing and also help the locals to establish links for marketing the products from here.
Better finishing and packaging is yet another sector that needs attention, such that it can create more demand both inside and outside the state. In most cases, the demand and taste of the consumers outside the state were not taken into considerations.
This also shows that there is not much ground study being done as projects are taken up with the intention of helping educated youths.
Same is the case of many government aided projects like Self Help Groups, clusters for handicraft and weaving and textile. It mostly ends only in few exhibitions, but very difficult to open up the showroom in the state, and worst in the case of exports.
The state government should streamline the Industries department; more research should be conducted for the viability of production and sales. The government should also recognize various creative works which can have mass production as Industry so that more benefit can be provided to such fields like Newspaper Houses, Music and Film Production, entertainment industries and pickle making unit and similar production houses as Industries.
The educated unemployed youths should be sent for training to set up such industries; this will not only help in bridging the gap of unemployment, it will surely help in strengthening the economy of the state.
The slow trend of sales in the state should be the warning bell for the government; this could lead to more unemployment in the state. More so, most of the qualified youths have migrated to other states to earn a decent meal for themselves, as the avenues here are equal to nil.
The Industries development corporation here should conduct more research to find out viable projects, keeping in mind the availability of raw materials, which will also develop the state in terms of infrastructure and setting up of more industries. Otherwise the state will never be able to attract investors.