NE development: Lean on regional planning techniques

Dr BK Mukhopadhyay *

Whither NER? Being a real resourceful region NER calls for appropriate planning so that the latent talent could be explored, which, in turn, can help flourish the national economy in a big way. Large cardamom of Sikkim, pineapple and orange of Tripura, strawberry and haldi of Meghalaya, grapes of Mizoram, vegetables of Assam, among others, still remain cloud-covered, why not to target silver-lining!

Backward region development essentially calls for exploring the existing and potential resources. Human resource management backed by marketing strategies always stays at the top of the agenda on this score. While the resources availability is not that difficult under the ongoing business environment scenario, more often than not appropriate utilization itself remains a laggard.

As a result the result achieved in the next period remains sub-optimal in spite of creation of institutional facilities. Time has come to see that the latent resources – human, technological and physical – are bolstered over time so that the markets [domestic and overseas] offer excellent opportunities to forge ahead by recognizing the competitive skills.

Creation of facilities over time and space is the starting point since a lot depends on how the same is absorbed in as much as business is a continuous and spontaneous process. In this paper an analysis is made mainly been focusing on North East Region of India which continues to struggle against number of odds that have been holding back the overall development process.

Stressing On The Development Indicators

Actually, any study / scanning of development is important and at the same time interesting. It is important because in any economy, developed or developing, the scope for further economic and social development is always there through optimal utilisation of resources over a finite time and space. The challenge before the biggies is how to maintain the level of development already reached for ensuring a better life to its citizens and to aid trailers so that the latter can climb upon the development track.

For the developing block the challenge is all the more crucial and at the same time difficult especially considering the complexities of the globalization process. Newer techniques and innovention [innovation plus invention] process call for continuous searching and unearthing. Thus, the arena is interesting, more so because the process of development today is not well defined nor there exists any short cut routes!

Especially, as of now the change has been so fast that it has become increasingly difficult to adapt quickly to the ever changing processes where one technology is being fast substituted by the next one. The orthodox view - considering development as relating to the process of increasing the relative and absolute wealth of LEDCs [least economically developed countries] usually through notions of increased output of either industrial or agricultural goods – has also been under scanner.

The modern age economists contend that development of LDCs [least developed countries] to the wealth levels of the richer OECD [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development] nations, using extractive production and trading processes similar to those of OECD nations, is untenable because of the ecological and environmental damage which would ensue. New paradigm of development has no doubt, reasoning and validity considering the reality that has been increasingly there globally.

Who thought that the cheaper flights will be contesting with the railways, sub prime crisis paving the topsy-turvy way to global meltdown, Satyam be under scanner??

In fact development means ‘upward drift of the entire social system’, as rightly opined by Prof. Samuelson. Truly, development studies as an area calls for an inter-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary approach where the economic factors are equally important as the non-economic factors so that all of the relevant issues of concern to developing economies in particular are addressed in an hole some manner – regional studies, demography, economics, anthropology, management and essentially sociology, pedagogy, social policy, migration, human security, philosophy and ethics, international relations, gender issues.

The crucial need remains: to learn lessons of past development experiences of Western countries. Harry S. Trumann rightly stated that ‘for the first time in history, humanity possess[ed] the knowledge and skill to relieve the suffering of these people’. Time stays, we go out. Ecological and environmental damage was not there on tea-time discussion table, whereas the same has now been talk of the town.

It has the especial focus on issues related to social and economic development and the relevance goes to communities and regions beyond the developing world. That is one of the foremost reasons why the area is attached much of importance by the leading global institutions – the World Bank, United Nations, Asian Development Bank and the like. Non-government Organisations as well as the private consultants have also to borrow a lot from this discipline.

The Saviour : Regional Planning

Actually, emergence of development studies as a separate discipline started emerging from second half of the last century, mainly emerging out of concern hovering around economic and social prospects for the trailers [ third world] after decolonization when it was largely felt that economic aspects alone could not fully address the development requirements [viz. educational provisions; political effectiveness] and thereafter it could reasonably assume an inter-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary area of thought. That encompasses variety of social scientific fields.

Clearly speaking, the very overall objective of a regional Plan is to achieve sustainable development harmonizing social, economic and environmental needs through appropriate planning and management of land and its resources in as much as regional planning deals with the efficient placement of land-use activities, infrastructure, and settlement growth across a larger area of land than an individual city or town. Regional planning is a sub-field of urban planning as it relates land use practices on a broader scale.

Regional development refers to the provision of aid and other assistance to regions which are less economically developed. The implications and scope of regional development may therefore vary in accordance with the definition of a region, and how the region and its boundaries are perceived internally and externally.

Especially, in today’s world the severe shortage is there especially in Asia for skilled personnel who could join the team that shoulders the responsibility of ensuring not only growth but development as well ensuring a balanced regional growth - drifting apart from the incidence of rural exploitation for urban growth! In fact it is the very incidence of regional imbalances that go on keeping the rural counterpart as the depressed corridor.

Skilled personnel with a better understanding of the growth-environment can only be the instrument for developing the backward regions and ensure creation of lasting assets as well as the human factor utilization and thus ease social tension, terrorism and destructive politics.

What is more, human security aspects have emerged to be an area where there exists a high degree of correlation between security and development aspects. Clearly, as on this day, inequalities and insecurity in one region have definite direct and indirect bearings on global security and development of the global economy.

Today’s happenings – sub prime crisis, financial crisis, food insecurity, distributional hazards, corruption, communal disharmonies are hindering the growth process in many ways. So, the traditional thinking is to be heavily replaced by the latest regional planning techniques in as much as regional development and regional policies have to pursue two overarching aims: - increasing economic growth and / or augmenting social justice by reducing spatial disparities hierarchically, temporally, sectorally and functionally.

So, why not to lean on regional planning techniques for overall development of the NER? Let it be resumed with segmentation, followed by targeting and finally settling on positioning.

Obvious enough development efforts can be divided into short-term and long-term. Needless to say plan is always the starting point, followed by proper implementation which, in turn, cannot be there in the absence of supervision and follow up on a regular basis. Piecemeal efforts simply cannot have overall impact.

* Dr BK Mukhopadhyay wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The Writer, a Noted Management Economist and International Commentator on ongoing Business and Economic Trends, can be reached at m(DOT)bibhas(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on November 19 2019.

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