There are belated initiatives in the DoNER Ministry now to revamp the North Eastern Council that was set up in the 1970s with the intention of giving special focus to the development of the region. The amusing part of the entire thinking behind the initiative is that it should have taken the Union government more than two decades after Independence to wake up to the fact that the north-eastern region of the country was far less developed than the rest of India and that special efforts were required to remedy the situation. Ever since, we have witnessed what the government of India is very proficient at, mely, the ability to make empty promises about the future that it is either uble or unwilling to honour. Ever since, the hallmark of India’s administration of the Northeast has been its use of future time indicators in a language that has no future tense. We have had unending promises about what will be done for the region without anyone indicating any interest about fulfilling them. Other regions of India about which one did not hear any glowing promises, have advanced far ahead of the Northeast in respect of development. The Northeast has consistently remained the least developed region of the country.
Recently, DoNER Minister Dr Jitendra Singh issued instructions for an initial written draft underlining the new format of the NEC to be prepared within a month which could be discussed and redrafted within a short time. He said that the NEC would be reoriented and developed as a state-of-the-art resource centre for the north-eastern States with necessary resources, knowledge and skill to execute innovative and strategic vision for the region. “This will be in keeping with changing times and the vision of Prime Minister rendra Modi as laid down by him during his visit to Shillong to attend the NEC plery meeting in May last year,” said Dr Singh while addressing a combined meeting of senior officers of DoNER and NEC on Tuesday. The time has come now not for putting poor wine in new bottles but for taking firm decisions on organizations that have no justification for continuing in existence. We are convinced that an organization like the NEC is quite redundant for the Northeast. States of the south, north and west that do not have organizations to work as an additiol federation of States have fared far better by way of development than the north-eastern States that have the NEC in addition to the DoNER Ministry. Since we have a separate ministry for the development of the Northeast, there is really no need for the NEC, far less any need for revamping of a superfluous organization. The NEC has claimed that the execution of various development works has been expedited during the last two years or so and that the spending of funds has increased by 65 to 70 per cent. In that case the people should have seen at least a 50 per cent increase in development work. This does not seem to have happened. Today there are more full-page newspaper advertisements of so-called development than ever before. There is much less happening on the ground than we are expected to believe. Unless there is a credible relationship between claims and actual achievements, there can be no real justification for allowing an organization like the NEC to remain at very high cost to the exchequer since there is the DoNER Ministry entrusted with similar responsibilities. There is a great deal of overlap between the two that should not be tolerated in a democracy claiming to function with any efficiency.