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North-East Council
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North-East Council

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Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister has expressed that North-East Council (NEC) can be to north-eastern states what the NITI Aayog is for the country – a one-point solution centre.

 

About the News

  • The CM asserted the need for the NEC to shape and redefine its role in the emerging world with respect to the unique and different needs of each north-eastern state.
  • Stressing that an empowered NEC must provide mentorship for planning and oversight in all priority sectors, NEC should play the role of an institutional anchor for the constituent states and help draw a blueprint of comprehensive development.

 

About the North-East Council (NEC)

  • It is the nodal agency for the economic and social development of the North-Eastern Region consisting of the eight States of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, and Tripura.
  • The Shillong-based advisory body was constituted in 1971 by an Act of Parliament, with a twin mandate of planning and facilitating development and to serve as a forum to address common security challenges of the region.
  • The Union Home Minister is the Chairman and Minister DoNER is the Vice chairman of the NEC under the current structure. The members of the NEC consist of the Governors and the Chief Ministers of the eight member States including Sikkim, apart from the Chairman and three Members who are nominated by the President of India.
  • NEC can now also perform the tasks undertaken by the various Zonal Councils to discuss such inter-State issues as drug trafficking, smuggling of arms and ammunition, boundary disputes etc.

Factors affecting performance of the NEC

  • Administrative Factors: There are problems such as recurring delays in completion of the projects due to poor planning process, delay and non-release of funds to the implementing agencies and inadequate monitoring and absence of impact assessments.
  • Social Factors: The North-Eastern Region is home to more than one hundred ethnic communities with many complexities. The region had experienced insurgency for decades. The region faces rivalry among ethnic communities often leads to tensions among the communities. Often, primacy over ethnic identity, culture and customs result in resistance to some of the developmental projects.
  • Economic Factors: The transport and communication network in the region is also still very poor and inadequate. Connectivity issues act as hurdles to investment, growth and competitiveness. Digital connectivity is weak and inadequate, hampering financial inclusion and growth of technology companies.

 

How can the NEC develop to become an one-point solution centre for north-east India?

  • Better Project Management:
  • Focus on Sustainable Projects: Emphasis should be given more on such projects, which are of regional nature or of economic importance benefiting two or more states, and has the capacity to sustain after withdrawal of NEC support.
  • Assessment of Projects: In prioritizing the projects for inclusion in NEC plan factors like visibility of the project, social benefit, size and time frame of the project, monitoring potential, assurance of maintenance from the states, competence of the implementing agency, etc. can be considered.
  • Effective Monitoring: For strengthening of monitoring and evaluation of the ongoing projects, the Evaluation and Monitoring Cell at the NEC needs to be revamped, with external agencies for monitoring and evaluation of the projects.
  • Enhanced Co-ordination: For better functioning of the NEC as a development agency for the Northeast there should be a very well- coordinated relationship between NEC and DoNER. There needs to be total transparency about the procedures of sanctioning and allocation of funds to various States.
  • The inclusion of the Union Home Minister as the NEC chairman will help the forum to facilitate better coordination between the Central Government and the State governments in planning development in the region. The change will also emboldens the forum to discuss issues pertaining to Centre-State relations more comprehensively.
  • Institutional strengthening of NEC: It is another important requirement that should be taken care of, by inducting eminent planners, economists, heads of financial institutions may be at appropriate level of NEC to instil professionalism.

 

Conclusion

The northeast lies at the crossroads of ambitious international corridors — the Asian highway, the east-west corridor and the BCIM highway. NEC is expected to play a much greater role in view of the opening up of South-east Asian countries. Delhi is far too remote to plan for a region with such complexity and diversity. The NEC is ideally suited to take up this mantle, and serve as a bridge with the central government. Leading up to the NEC turning 50 in 2022, this is an opportune occasion to take a fresh look at its mandate and dwell upon a course of reform. The transition of NITI Aayog could serve as a template for a suitable reincarnation of the North Eastern Council.

 

Question: Analyse the significance of North-East Council in the development of North-East India.

Sources:

 

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