1.The North East Region (NER) of India is strategically located. However, with historical isolation, geographical barriers like hilly terrain, lack of industries in the region, and years of insurgency, the NER remains one of the most isolated regions of the country.
2.The NER requires special emphasis and the development sector and NGOs have a special role to play in this. The percentage of people living below the poverty line is 34.28% in the region, which is far higher than the national average of 26.1%. In fact, the literacy rate in the state is not that good either. Meghalaya, Assam, Nagaland and Sikkim fare poorly in this aspect.
3.If we compare the region in terms of its UN SDGs achievement, we see that Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, and Manipur are still in aspirant category (0-49) as per the first SDG goal of ‘No Poverty’. As per the second goal of ‘Zero Hunger’, Assam, Meghalaya, and Tripura are still aspirant states. As per the third goal and fourth goals of ‘Good Health and Well Being’ and ‘Quality Education’ respectively, Assam and Nagaland are both aspirant states. The region does not do well in the fifth goal of ‘Gender Equality; where all the states including Sikkim are dubbed as non-performers. As per the tenth goal of ‘Reduced Inequalities’, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh need improvement.
4.Moreover, according to the fifth round of the National Family Health Survey, 2019-20, Tripura, Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Nagaland saw an increase in stunting among children while Assam, Manipur, and Sikkim saw a decline.
5.The region also has a high forest cover which implies a lesser concentration of companies and manufacturing in the region. In fact, Mizoram has the highest forest cover in the region followed by Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur, Nagaland, and Tripura.
6.Given this context, the NER needs local bodies to connect, collaborate, and coordinate in the development of the region. Both NGOs and corporate have a role to play here. NeG is an idea to bring together all these stakeholders to build a better NER.