India is celebrating the golden age of freedom (Azaadi ka Amrit Mahautsov). It is a matter of misfortune that after Independence, the Congress Governments in India neither made concrete ground efforts for the economic development of the North East nor did the work to integrate the citizens there into the mainstream of development. Because of this, the feeling of natural affinity towards this part of the rest of the country could not be formed in that way.
The BJP-led NDA Government under the leadership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee took the initiative of development in the North East for the first time and formed a separate ministry for it, but after that, there was no special effort for the development of the North East in the 10 years of the UPA Government of the Congress. After Prime Minister Narendra Modi assumed office in 2014, a new story of the all-round development of North East India has been written.
Earlier, the states of the North East used to struggle with the problems of insurgency, infiltration, bandh, blockade, drug smuggling, corruption and caste tension, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave the entire North East the form of Ashta Lakshmi and gave it development, connectivity, infrastructure development. It has become a major hub of IT, industrial development, sports, investment and organic farming. Narendra Modi focused on the balanced and rapid development of every state of the country so that the country could become self-reliant. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Act East’ policy instead of ‘Look East’ policy has seen unprecedented changes in the Ashta Lakshmi states of the Northeast in the last 9 years.
After becoming the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi alone has visited the Northeast more times than all the Prime Ministers have visited the North Eastern states after the independence of the country. Due to this, development is at a fast pace here. The result of this change in Delhi’s thinking about the North East is that the North East is now becoming the gateway to India’s development. The mantra of ‘Vocal for Local’ and ‘Local for Global’ has given pace to the development. For a long time, there has been a thinking in the country that if there is development in the border area, then the enemy will be benefited. Due to this negative thinking, connectivity could not improve in all the border areas of the country, including the North East. Now Prime Minister Narendra Modi has emphasised the development of HIRA, i.e. Highway, Inland Waterway, Railway and Airway. This has bridged the heartland gap between the North Eastern states, the rest of India and Delhi.
Just in the month of December, Prime Minister Modi visited here, where he laid the foundation of development projects worth thousands of crores. In the last 9 years, the Modi Government has shown ‘red cards’ to many obstacles related to the development of Meghalaya. Work is going on fast to connect all the capitals of North East, including Shillong, with rail service. In Meghalaya, air service is running on 16 routes under the UDAN scheme. Farmers in Meghalaya and North East are also benefiting from better air connectivity. With the Krishi UDAN scheme of the Union Government, the fruits and vegetables here are easily reaching the markets of the country and abroad. In the last 9 years, Rs 5,000 crore has been spent on the construction of the National Highway in Meghalaya. The number of rural roads built in the last 9 years under the Pradhan Mantri Sadak Yojana in Meghalaya is seven times more than what was built in the previous 20 years.
Digital connectivity is creating new opportunities for the youth power of the North East. Compared to 2014, the optical fibre coverage in the North East has increased almost 4 times. In Meghalaya, this increase is more than 5 times. Thousands of mobile towers are being installed for mobile connectivity.
The inauguration of IIM and the foundation stone laying of Technology Park in Meghalaya will also expand the opportunities for education and earning. More than 150 Eklavya Model Schools are being set up in the tribal areas of the North East, out of which 39 are in Meghalaya. In this budget, provision has also been made to recruit a large number of teachers in Eklavya Model Schools. Parvatmala Yojana will increase the convenience of tourist places here, and tourism will also develop. With regard to sports also, the Union Government is moving ahead with a new approach today, which has benefited the North East the most.
The Governments that were in the country for a long time had the idea of ‘Divide’ for the North East, and we have come up with the idea of ‘DEVINE’. Rejuvenation is happening with the DEVINE scheme. As Prime Minister Modi himself has said, we are removing all divisions between communities and regions, and in the North East, we are creating corridors of development, not borders of disputes. In the last 9 years, many organisations have left the path of violence and have taken the path of permanent peace. Continuous efforts are being made to ensure that there is no need for AFSPA in the North East. The decades-long border dispute between the states is being resolved. For us, North East is not the endpoint but the gateway to security and prosperity. Under Vibrant Border Village, emphasis is being laid on developing better facilities in the border villages.
Tribal society has benefited the most from our policy of peace and development. The development of tribal areas is our priority while maintaining the tradition, language, food and culture of the tribal society. Bamboo was removed from the category of the tree and brought into the category of grass. This gave a boost to the manufacture of tribal products associated with bamboo. Many Van Dhan Kendras have been established here.
In Meghalaya, electricity has reached 2 lakh houses for the first time, more than 70 thousand houses have been built for the poor, and three lakh families have got the facility of tap water for the first time.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is working on the policy of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas and Sabka Prayas’. All-round and all-inclusive development has taken place in our government without any discrimination of caste, religion, class, sect or region. People have been developed through schemes like Ujjwala Yojana, Ayushman Bharat, PM Kisan Samman Nidhi, PM Awas Yojana, Jal-Jeevan Mission, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Social Security Scheme, Saubhagya Yojana etc.
The Global Minority Report, which came out in December, has acknowledged that India is the best country for minorities. The report says that the way there is a special provision in the Constitution of India for the cultural and educational promotion of minorities; such provision is not there in any other country. This is not just a report but a story of faith and growth. In October 2021, Prime Minister Modi went to the Holy Vatican City, where he met His Holiness the Pope.
Narendra Modi has also invited him to visit India. Prime Minister Modi himself admitted that this meeting left a deep impression on his mind. In this important meeting, the challenges before humanity were discussed, and it was agreed that how the spirit of unity and harmony can lead to the welfare of all. India is moving forward in this sense, and under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the empowerment of every citizen here is getting stronger.
(The writer is National General Secretary, BJP)