Reorganisation of North Eastern Council (NEC)
- Part 1 -

Prof N Ram Singh *

The physiographic division of India is very important for Resource Planning and effective strategy for infrastructural development. Depending upon the geopolitical economy and the socio-cultural factors and depending upon the method of combining them we can have different type of regions in India. The concept of regional planning has assumed great significance in modern times. It has a particular importance for countries having a vast area.

“Super-imposed on the national plan, and becoming part of it, there must be a regional plan in each area for dealing specifically with the large local residue of unemployment,”. The need of regional planning has been felt both by advanced as well as by under-developed countries of the world. In the U.S.S.R. regional decentralization has been carried out to a remarkable extent. They have restricted the development of new industrial plants in Moscow, Leningrad, Kiev, Kharkov, Rostov and other old, concentrated and developed regions.

There has been a move to develop the eastern region of the U.S.S.R. Besides, in the sphere of administration and management, regional decentralization has been practised to a great extent. In Yugoslavia, she collects extensive data on a regional basis. In Italy where there is much diversity between the northern and southern regions, regional planning has been adopted to an adequate extent. France and Scandinavian countries have also made their plans with particular emphasis upon the development to their backward regions. Germany is known to be the place where a regional economy was born. In the U.S.A. the T.V.A. is the most outstanding example.

(i) It may mean an independent scheme of economic development pertaining to one particular area or region as a self-contained whole. The best example of regional planning in this sense was the Tennessee Valley Authority (T.V.A.) in the U.S.A. initiated by president Roosevelt because there was none at that time in the U.S.A. The Tennessee Valley Scheme was executed within the framework of an unplanned national economy.

Regional planning in this sense, is carried out mainly to bring about the economic development of backward areas or regions in the national economy. It can, therefore, make a great contribution to the economic progress of the country concerned. Its objectives are limited but well defined. It does not pretend to super-impose a new structure on the existing economy.

Nor does it propose to change the existing socio-economic structures in any way. It intends mainly to bring into existence some new giant public works such as electric power stations, irrigation system or some great industrial plant for the purpose of developing the economic resources of a region and raising the living standards of its inhabitants.

This type of regional planning is regarded by some as a “laboratory of planning for the future” where the nation can experiment with planning with a view to securing valuable knowledge about the technique and problems of national planning.

(ii) It may mean regional decentralisation in the formulation, implementation and supervision of national plan. This type of planning is carried out within the framework of a national plan with the object of giving special attention to meeting the need of a particular area or region. To do this, the central government gives special powers to the regional authorities to draw up, to implement in a large sized country with several regions and wide regional differences in regard to factor-endowments and the wants and desires of the people inhabiting those regions.

The regional authorities under this scheme of regional decentralisation are generally given powers to plan agriculture, handicrafts, consumer goods industries and local services within their jurisdiction. The regional plan so formulated has further to be related to the national plan as a whole. Such a type of planning assumes a special importance in a multi-national State like the U.S.S.R. where different nationalities inhabit different regions or areas. Planning, in order to be successful, requires the whole-hearted co-operation among the states and regional planning is the only means to secure public co-operation in the implementation of the plan.

Regional distribution of industrial activity brings
(i) the even distribution of local resources of the country as a whole;
(ii) the application of economic, social and strategic considerations for maximizing efficiency in rational utilization of resources;
(iii) the concentration of limited and exhaustible resources for the benefit of posterity
(iv) an equitable distribution of employment opportunities; and
(v) the attainment of certain social objectives, such as avoidance of migration of labour and equalization of the per capita income in different parts of the country.

Regional planning is particularly necessary for the development of small and medium scale industries, as they are by nature regionally widespread and local conditions in their case are to be studied separately. For inter-regional adjustments, transportation system and freight policies may be used as useful instruments for successful operation of the economic plans.

Means of transport must be developed in under-developed regions and separate schemes be made and executed. There should be co-ordination of different forms of transportation. With the growing emphasis on industrialisation and development of electric power in various regions, regional planning becomes more important. In Indian plans there are various schemes-multi-purposes, river projects, power projects, construction of dams, and such other-which require local and regional study as well as decentralisation in their formation and execution.

The North Eastern India as a Planning Region

The eight states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura is termed as the North Eastern Region of India. The region can be considered as a Planning Region for special attention because of the following factors that:

1. There is possibility of development of outstanding unexploited resources, either of a limited type such as multipurpose lake and river basin development project and exploration of minerals and underground water, etc. or of a broad type involving a large spectrum of activities such as utilisation of land, forest, human and animal resources, development of transport and communications, industrialisation and modernisation of agriculture, etc.

2. There is severe and nationally threatening problem such as an extremely depressed area and within land-locked and a socio-culturally backward area and area threatening to break away the present political system of the country.

3. There is combination of both significant potentials and tough problems, such as the planning of major metropolitan centres for stock and flow of commodities and market linkages.

4. There is abundance of the three primary requirements of generating economic activities; land, raw materials for industrial development and power. The region has also a very vast scope for mobilisation or formation of capital for economic development from inside and outside of the region.

5. A proper planning of the region would increase the economic growth of the nation, and the political and the strategic development of the country.

To be continued....

* Prof N Ram Singh wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on November 16, 2017.

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