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E-Pao! Essay - Northeastern Youngsters Bag The Limelight

Northeastern Youngsters Bag The Limelight

By: Aiyushman Dutta *



Time and again, there comes a time, when the people living in the northeast region of India rue the central government's apathy towards them, the inefficiency of their own elected representatives and the slow rate of development and progress in the region.

With the evolution of an entirely new generation of educated, dynamic and worldly knowledgeable lot of young people raring to go, the sheer nuisance of lack of jobs and job opportunities often act as a deterrent to their dreams and aspirations. Some of these people migrate to the metropolitan cities and even abroad so as to pursue their cherished dream and more importantly, to become independent financially, while the rest resign themselves to the hands of fate and gets absorbed in the same dirty and corrupt business which they had once looked down with distaste.

The situation in the northeast is indeed very distressing taking into account the rich cultural traditions and hoard of natural wealth that the entire region enjoys. Apart from a few stray factories and small time businesses, there has been no real development in the region over the last decade.

An entire ministerial department known as DONER had to be set up to look after the developmental projects in the region. Funds are being sanctioned for various development projects but they cannot be used as scrupulous ministers, government employees and of course the breed known as Contractors, take away the giant share of the entire amount as commission.

It is sad, but true, that unemployment and corruption at each and every level in the government hierarchy has started to question the very existence, capability and strength of the Indian Administration system, in one way or the other.

Coming back to where we left of earlier, there is again another group of young people in the region coming back from a similar low to middle class economic background who are sad with the employment scenario in the region, sad because they have no regular jobs or business opportunities; who however refuses to take the existing scenario with their hands down and instead employs his own resources and capabilities for the benefit and development of his own fellowmen.

One such budding and resourceful entrepreneur is twenty five year old, Sanjit Chakravorty hailing from the small northeastern state of Tripura. A postgraduate in Political Science with a commendable track record, Sanjit was a disturbed man a few years back when he found that even with his qualification, there were no job opportunities for him. He became depressed and slowly withdrew into a shell of his own.

The phase, however, soon passed when he realized that until and unless he learnt to help himself, there was simply no future for him. With apprehension in his mind, he decided to devote his entire time and energy to the development of his village handicraft industry and give it a more economically viable look by using value addition, modernization and aggressive marketing as his main tools.

That was four years back. Today, Sanjit can look back with pride at his efforts as he has managed to give the much needed momentum to the many mushrooming small scale industries and Self Help groups which are helping create jobs in many rural as well as urban areas of Tripura. Sanjit's handicrafts have an unique appealing as he cleverly blends new designs and colour into traditional handicrafts and ethnic handlooms.

Presently, Sanjit employs thirty five people working full time in his own factory while he also imparts training to the many educated, unemployed youths of his native state.

Talking to this writer in New Delhi at the NSIC 2006 exhibition, Sanjit had this to say-"I am happy because now I have got a purpose in life. It is easy to get frustrated and complain about the lack of basic amenities in life. But it is more worthwhile to try and help ourselves with the resources that we have at our disposal.

In this regard, mother nature has been very benevolent to all the northeastern states of India." Ataur Rahman is another example in this regard. Having completed his post graduation, Rahman was unable to find a decent job. He didn't let the scarcity of jobs deter him and instead got right down to work. He decided to blend orthodox tea with CTC and market it outside Assam and accordingly invested a sizeable amount of money in this venture.

His gamble paid off, as today Rahman is the proud proprietor of Trinayan Enterprises and his firm exports Assam tea to countries like Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Russia. In December 2005, Rahman attended the first ever 'Export Linkage and Export Marketing' seminar held at NESEIT, Hyderabad. When I met Rahman for the first time, he showed me a unique, hand crafted jug used to make green tea and made out of bamboo which he intends to export to the Russia and Japan in the near future keeping in mind the immense popularity of green tea in those countries.

His foray into production has gone smoothly enough as in the recent ITTF and NSIC exhibitions held in the capital, all his tea sets were sold in the first two days itself. A delegation from the Russian embassy even offered him a huge marketing contract, which he in contemplating upon at present. Juti Bhattacharjee, at first sight, gives one the impression of being a sweet, docile and gentle housewife.

She is all that and more. Behind the mask of modesty and tradition laity, there lies a creative and patient mind with a talent for artistry, which is evident in her creations. Juti started off waste material like the stumps of dry leaves and trees, which she used as raw material for her intended creations. Torn and ragged pieces of cloth, bamboo chips and similar waste materials were gradually transformed into beautiful bags, decorative items, wall hangings, ornaments and even pens with miniscule hand carved decorations on it!!

Juti markets her products through the Assam Emporium and NHDC and has travelled throughout the length and breadth of the country showcasing her products. She employs around fifteen people in her firm - Nandanik -which she got registered three years back.

Another innovative entrepreneur whom I came across recently at an exhibition is Naseem Alam Ahmed. Naseem tried his hand working with traditional Assamese handicraft items when he saw the dismal educational scenario in his state. Adept with bamboo, Naseem has evolved an entirely art form by substituting bamboo, linen and precious stones with rice grains!

He has practically manufactured an entire collection of lockets, necklaces, 'toramondal', shringar, kopali, etc. by using grain as his only raw material. Naseem has travelled to Bangalore, Delhi and Hyderabad to market his products. As of last heard, young Naseem was vying to seal a marketing deal for his grain ornaments with an internationally renowned fashion designer.

Sanjit, Ataur, Juti and Naseem are all normal human beings differing in outlook and behaviour. The one personality trait common to all of them is the will and determination to carry on even through the toughest of challenges.

They tried to wean away from the traditional and established dictum and they have succeeded. If you have the will then you will definitely succeed.

This is what these people believed in and I believe that this is what every human being should believe in.


* Aiyushman Dutta is the in-house editor for an U.S. based publishing house.
Having his roots in the northeast, he regularly contributes to many local news dailies and magazines.
He can be contacted at adutta_29@yahoo.com
This article was webcasted on 5th May 2006.


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