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Regular-article-logo Friday, 21 June 2024

World Bank stress on stability in the Northeast

Sikkim’s example stood out particularly in the context of the widespread violence across the region following the CAA enactment

Calcutta Published 15.12.19, 06:54 PM
On Sikkim, which shares its boundary with Bengal, Kathuria explained why the state did better than others even as the other states also got the same subsidies

On Sikkim, which shares its boundary with Bengal, Kathuria explained why the state did better than others even as the other states also got the same subsidies Shutterstock

A long period of peace in the North East would be a pre-requisite to attract private investment in the region, according to a study by the World Bank group.

Sikkim appears to be the only state in the region where lasting peace has brought dividend as it managed to draw top-notch pharmaceutical companies and educational institutions, apart from hospitality players.

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Sikkim’s example stood out particularly in the context of the widespread violence across the region following the enactment of the Citizenship Amendment Act.

Speaking to The Telegraph during the launch of a report by the group, titled “Playing to strengths: A policy framework for mainstreaming North East India”, author Sanjay Kathuria said: “When we went to Sikkim and asked how Sikkim is doing so well, they said we have always been very peaceful.”

The Telegraph

Kathuria, who is the lead economist and co-ordinator of the group, said many factors were in favour of the North East in terms of global trend such as the availability of fresh organic products. The region should capitalise on its core strength of agriculture and services, he said in the report.

On Sikkim, which shares its boundary with Bengal, Kathuria explained why the state did better than others even as the other states also got the same subsidies.

“One uniqueness about Sikkim is that it never had agitations. The private sector had confidence in the people. The same subsidies were available to all the states but how come Sikkim got such hi-tech private sector investments? Pharmaceutical and tourism is also doing very well. It is a fully organic state. They said because it has been peaceful. So, hopefully, when there is a long period of peace in the region as a whole, it will allow investment. The prices that are realised for freshness are quite remarkable.”

On the recent disturbances over CAA, Kathuria said the study looked at the long haul.

The report identified four sectors – fruits and vegetables, spices, bamboo and medical tourism – where new value chains can help boost the region’s export potential while creating more and better jobs. The author, who is based in Washington, argued that the government, which is spending thousands of crores to create connectivity in the North East, has to take a lead role and the private sector would follow.

“A clean environment, a big female participation, an English speaking population – these are the things the North East should capitalise on rather than hanker about the smokestack industry,” he said.

Agriculture and services are the sectors the North East already have indigenously, unlike manufacturing where many products in the value chain need to be brought into the region as they are not produced locally and exported because the region is not a large consumption market.

The report calls for reorienting the northeastern region’s supply base to serve the changing global demand.

India is a leading global producer of fruits and vegetables, accounting for 11 per cent of the global production. Yet its fruits form only 0.5 per cent of the global fruit shipments.

The North East, with its strengths in organic and near-organic production, can play a significant role in India’s quest to become a global player in fresh fruits and vegetables, especially in the context of changing consumer preferences, the study said.

Priya Mathur, who co-authored the report with Kathuria, also called for creating a brand North East. “The northeastern region could consider launching a ‘Brand North East’ that plays to its strengths, emphasising elements such as healthy living, environmental sustainability, social responsibility, and service-orientation,” she commented.

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