A decade back, North East Region’s challenging topography, with vast forested area and landlocked geography was accepted as a natural impediment to development and connectivity in the region. Ten years hence, North East Region boasts of the world’s second highest railway pier bridge in Jiribam-Imphal, a live technological marvel that promises connectivity unhindered by the challenges of topography. Impressively, since 2014, over 5 lakh crores have spent been across various sectors to unleash the region’s true potential. Adding further momentum to this initiative, technology and digitisation became an indispensable part of the strategy for holistic development of the North East Region. From public service delivery, governance to youth and enterprise, widespread use of technology is promising a new revolution in the Amrit Kaal of Uttarpoorv Bharat.
Development with modern technology
To ensure robust infrastructure, use of latest technology in construction of roads has been made mandatory. This will make the roads more resilient in the face of adverse weather conditions. Further all the States under the aegis of North East Space Application Centre have prepared plans of action in the domains of Agriculture & Allied, Disaster Management, Forest, Ecology & Environment, Water Resource Management, Medical & Health, Planning & Development, Transport Communication using space technologies.
Agriculture and Horticulture are the two most potent sectors of the region, holding immense potential for economic growth and livelihood generation. Space tech is being used for acreage mapping, horticulture infrastructure mapping, site suitability assessment, mobile app for farmers among others. More than 600 Entrepreneurs, thousands of farmers and Artisans have benefitted from various technologies through Science and Technology Intervention for North East Bharat (STINER) a dedicated scheme under North Eastern Council (NEC) for promotion of Science and Technology in NER.
DoNER Ministry is intensively employing technology for monitoring of projects as well. Almost all the project sites have been geo-tagged and a Project Monitoring Portal has been launched. The digital innovation is helping in speedier implementation of projects and efficient monitoring. For the first time DoNER ministry has housed its field units in all the states for smoother collaboration with State governments. A Mobile App is being developed for the field units through which they will ensure swifter implementation of projects and better coordination with the State government and central agencies.
In healthcare, the integration of digital solutions holds the potential to revolutionise access to medical services, via telemedicine and mobile diagnostics. An important development on the horizon involves the collaborative efforts of the Ministry of Development of the North Eastern Region (DoNER) and Tata Trusts, aiming to establish state-of-the-art cancer hospitals across all states. DoNER has already allocated a substantial grant of Rs 129 crore under the PM-DevINE initiative for the high-tech Dr. B. Borooah Cancer Institute in Guwahati. Furthermore, 5G enables health applications have been rolled out in all States enabling door to door diagnostics, telemedicine etc. Adding to these strides, a cutting-edge 3D printing Centre of Excellence has been inaugurated in Guwahati, Assam, marking a significant leap in technological advancements within the healthcare landscape.
Tech-advancements are expected to open new avenues for the talented and skilled youth of the region. Recently, we rolled out Bharat’s first 5-G training labs across all the States of the North East Region. These labs will assist the youth in bridging the digital gap and acquiring futuristic skill sets. A successful Tele-education project was executed by establishing smart virtual classroom facilities in 75 government schools and 4 District Institutes of Education and Training (DIETs) in Sikkim and Assam. The primary objective of this initiative was to enhance the quality of education for students residing in remote and rural areas of the region. DoNER shall fund more such initiatives in the future. MeiTY is also setting up domain specific Centre for Excellence across Bharat to build next wave of budding entrepreneurs in the emerging areas of technology. Centers of excellence on healthcare, IoT in Agriculture, Graphic Design, Gaming, GIS etc are coming up across all the 8 State capitals.
National Data Centre
The Region is also set to benefit from the upcoming National Data Centre for North East. Being built with the cost of Rs. 348 crore, the Data Centre will skyrocket digitisation capacity of the Region, foster socio-economic growth across sectors and strengthen service delivery across sectors.
In the recent years, North East has shown a great potential for digital acceptance. In the North Eastern Region (NER), 47 per cent of individuals own smart phones, which is almost same as the national average of 48 per cent. Interestingly, the linkage of mobile and bank accounts in the North Eastern Region is also on par with the national average of 86 per cent. We are strategising activities to tap into it by enabling growth of Common Service Centers, increase in Aadhar penetration and using this opportunity to promote women’s economic empowerment and participation.
North East region of Bharat has a tremendous opportunity to accelerate its development through the use of technology. Aligned with Hon’ble Prime Minister’s vision of Digital Bharat, policymakers, businesses, and individuals must come together and collaborate effectively to exploit this opportunity and drive adoption for larger public welfare. Private sector should actively seek out opportunities to leverage technology in their operations and embrace digitalisation, automation, and data analytics, to enhance their efficiency and competitiveness. It is an exciting time to be a part of this transformation unraveling in the North East Region and efforts are underway to position it as the powerhouse of tech-innovation and tech-led entrepreneurship in the region.