TODAY -

Reorganisation of North Eastern Council (NEC)
- Part 2 -

Prof N Ram Singh *



Problems of Regional Planning in NER

On the basis of the physiographic division of India, the entire states of the North Eastern India can be considered as a region for different purposes. But, there would be limitations or disadvantages through which an economic plan of the region has to pass for its successful working. The problems can be pointed out on the basis of the following particulars.

(a) Formation of states and districts on the basis of languages:

The North-Eastern Region of India is made up of different linguistic states. The formation of districts in every linguistic state of the region is also on the basis of different dialects. As most of the states and districts are demarcated on the basis of languages and dialects, the criteria of economic viability for the purpose of state or districts level planning do not fulfil.

There are many problems of ethnic tensions and lack of mutual understanding among the different linguistic groups of the region. There are examples of disputes and parochial claims among the states for location of public sector plants and demand for Central Assistance. The desire of the language group to consolidate their economy coupled with the demand for the extension of benefits to less developed areas sometimes grows into a tendency towards economic autarchy posing a threat to the economic progress of the region.

(a) Lack of proper statistical data: The statistical organisation of the region is the decentralised type with the state statistical departments as the co-ordinating agencies. The states are autonomy; they are the proper agency for collecting statistics relating to the subjects falling within their sphere. As the number of state is many in the region, the collection of data and scrutiny of the data cannot be completed at one point of time even for a time bound planning.

The statistical data of different states of the region are not statistically uniform. There are many material fluctuations in its main characteristics over the whole field of observation. Because of the lack of homogeneity of data the statistical results might lead to fallacious conclusions.

(b) Heterogeneous Socio-Economic aspects: There is no homogeneity in per capita income, pattern of production and consumption and the system of land utilisation among the states of the region. Religion and socio-cultural identities of different communities are not identical and further sub-divisions among the different ethnic groups of the people are not uncommon. In some section of the society there is a strong belief on superstition and worshiping natural resources.

(c) Multiplicity of political behaviours : The prevalence of multiparty system of politics of the country creates more diversification in the administrative and economic policy and planning of different states of the region. There is a regular wave of the emergence of state level political parties and regional political parties along with the development of National Level Political Parties in the region. The policy and programmes to be taken up by different political parties of the region are not identical and it effects on the economic development and programme implementation for common benefits of the region as a whole.

(d) No geographical contiguity : Geographically the North Eastern Region of India is not a contiguous to any of the metropolitan growth centres of the country. At present Calcutta is the nearest growth point of the region but, the transport and communication between the region and Calcutta city are interrupted by a very long Indo-Bangladesh borders. Within the states of the region and even within the districts of the states of hill areas of the region, there is no geographical contiguity between the mini-growth points and production centres due to the transport bottlenecks, rugged mountains dense forest, cliff and gorges, etc.

(e) Ignorance of people’s participation : There are many difficulties in the organisation of various developmental agencies for peoples’ participation in the economic development of the region. Most of the people particularly of rural and hill areas of the region are poor, ignorant, lethargic, less informative and neglected to the active participation of the masses in developmental programmes.

Some of them are too busy working for survival and therefore they cannot spare their working time for any other purposes than that of some socio-cultural activities. The distribution of population in the hill areas is very sparse and the road links between the villages and the District Headquarters are not motorable in most cases.

(f) Entrepreneurs are inefficient. In a mixed economy like India, the role of a sound entrepreneurship towards economic development is very important. But the activities of the private sector organisations and the performance of the private entrepreneurs are not satisfactory in the North Eastern India. It may be because of the shortage of capital and efficient manpower and high risks and uncertainties in the economics of management.

Regional planning in a capitalist economy also plays a very vital role. By concentrating on regional development, it helps to narrow down regional disparities and thus tends to strengthen national unity. The free play of forces under capitalism often results in uneven economic development and concentration of wealth in particular regions at the cost of other regions. Regional planning goes a long way in bringing about balanced regional development of the country.

The main causes for reorganisation of NEC are :

(i) uncertain responsibility of the Council,
(ii) heavy expenditure on administration,
(iii) doubling and repetition of schemes,
(iv) doubtful data of the regions,
(v) lack of effective achievements,
(vi) under utilisation of fund,
(vii) lengthy process while taking action,
(viii) lack of accountability and transparency,
(ix) uneconomic location of headquarters,
(x) multiple prioritisation and vulnerable risk in project implementation

Major Policy Implication for reorganisation of NEC are :

(i) suitable title of the organisation would be North East Regional Authority of India (NERAI),
(ii) the Head Quarters of the organisation (NEC) needs to be located at Guwahati, Assam.

There is a necessity to have a permanent authority to fix the responsibilities. As a responsible Authority of NE India, the following institutions would be required
(i) an Institute for Transforming North East Region under Niti Ayog,
(ii) North East Regional Committee on Economic Affairs,
(iii) Centre for Monitoring North East Regional Economy,
(iv) Committee on North East Regional Finance, etc.

The Changing Environment Economy of North East Himalayan Region is really horrible and terrific. Degradation of agro-ecology in the region has been advancing beyond expectation. The socio political stability is closely related to the sustainable environment and agro-ecology of the region particularly in the Himalayan region. The native people of N.E. Hill Region are born for protection of Himalaya’s ecology and hill resources.

There is no peace in Western Himalayan Region because of the destruction of hill ecology. Therefore, transformation from Scientific Technology to Traditional Method would be required in selected areas of the NE Region. Not only reorganisation of NEC we need reorganisation of policy and planning. Short duration planning for a period of 2 to 3 months at district or block level would be most appropriate for sustainable economic development of N.E. India.

Landslide, Floods, Droughts and socio-cultural disturbances create problems in the implementation of long term planning. Rolling Plan at isolated and remote hilly tracts would be possible to create more employment and income generated tiny industries. Understanding the decade long problems of the rural people of NE India in particular, we need to think in depth while reorganisation of the outgoing North Eastern Council. Most of the state level business organisations are not profitable.

Multistate or Regional Level Business Organisation would be more competitive and profitable in view of Act East and Make in N.E. India. So, specialisation on Tea and Aromatic and Medicinal Plant based Regional Level Industry would be suitable for global competition.

Concluded....


* Prof N Ram Singh wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on November 21, 2017.


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