The North-East Region is one of the most backward regions of India characterised by low percapita
income, lack of private sector investment, large geographical areas with inadequate physical
infrastructure (like roads, rail and air connectivity),difficult terrain, high altitudes and inaccessible areas requiring large investments on roads and other governance infrastructure, high cost of setting up and operating manufacturing units.
The economy is still largely agrarian-based with approximately 85% of the population living in
villages; the region constitutes 3.8% of the country’s population with approximately 70% depending
on agriculture for livelihood, while it produces only 1.5% of country’s food grain– thus, continuing to be a net importer of food grains even for its own consumption.
At the same time, the region is endowed with very rich natural resources like minerals, hydro power potential and forests resources; there is huge potential for tourism; additionally, it is strategically placed with access to the countries such as Bangladesh, Bhutan and Myanmar and ASEAN markets (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), and also traditional domestic market of eastern India.
The region also has vast expanses of fertile farmland and a huge talent pool that could turn into
one of India’s breadbaskets. Yet, owing to its unique challenges mentioned above, the conventional
development approach and market-based solutions may not work.
To bring about development and progress, the State governments will need to engage proactively
with all the stakeholders including the private sector and the civil society organisations in providing solutions to the region’s problems.
(Shri Borgoyary is the Regional Head, representing UNDP in the North East India)