The economic paradox of north-east India
India’s seven northeastern states, known as the seven sisters, have been “on the map, but off the mind”, if one goes by the title of a Tehelka-organised seminar on the Northeast.
The region, connected to India by a narrow stretch of land called the “chicken’s neck”, has been through a string of conflicts, seen the rise of many rebel groups, lack of infrastructure and poverty.
The World Bank describes conditions in the region as a low-level equilibrium of poverty, non-development, civil conflict and lack of faith in political leadership.
According to the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region, more than 426 billion rupees were kept for the northeast between 1998 and 2006.
Also, central government ministries have been earmarking 10 percent of their annual budgets for northeastern states since 1998.
The Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of India has said that funds to the northeastern states add up to more than what India gets from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.
Even with the constant and heavy flow of funds, why is development still distant from the seven sisters?
B.K.Handique, minister for the Development of North East Region, said in Parliament that the growth rate of the northeastern states has been less than the national average.
Is it corruption in the political sphere that funds do not reach the grassroots level? Or is it because of rampant extortion by rebel groups?
Is the Northeast “on the map, but off the mind” for you as well?