North East Vision 2020 and Corruption

Seram Neken *
India Vision 2020
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"The myriad of development plans and strategies in the North East India will all be reduced to a naught, whenever there is rampant corruption among political executives of the states. Transparency in implementation is more important than colourful blueprints in effecting real alleviation of people's sufferings.
The North East Vision 2020 has almost completed three years now, but it is doubtful that the implementation of the policy document has been regular, uniform and non-discriminatory. When funds meant for the development of the region flow freely to private coffers of corrupt and powerful leaders, development will ever remain a far cry.
– Writes Seram Neken
Recent report of the National Crimes Record Bureau says that Assam has the highest number of corruption cases among the North Eastern States with 77 corruption cases without any conviction and recovery. Manipur follows it with 25 registered cases during the last nine years with zero conviction and zero recovery of properties. Nagaland has 23 registered corruption cases followed by Tripura and Meghalaya. North East has become a corruption plank. There is lack of transparency in public procurement and allocation of public resources. In such a scenario, the vision of the Vision 2020 is dim.
Visions and dreams are always nice in principle. They speak of so many people-friendly schemes for development and poverty alleviation. However, there have been instances of people's welfare programmes leaking in the pipelines. Real beneficiaries do not receive their dues from the government, only due to favoritism, nepotism and corruption.
The selfish leaders are allegedly reaping the electoral benefits of poverty alleviation programmes like old age pensions, widow benefit schemes, housing schemes etc. Gross and open irregularities in selection of beneficiaries manipulated by political leaders have been reported time and again. Recently, there has even been a public interest litigation on it. The quality of all constructions of roads, bridges, buildings and retaining walls have been compromised in the state for favouring contractors and election supporters of leaders. In such a situation, plans and visions will surely end in futility.
Vision 2020 is also supposed to be a solution to the much-talk-about geo-political isolation and underdevelopment of the North eastern region, which is home to varied peoples and cultures. Two different perspectives remain in the north east - one group struggling to assimilate into the nation's mainstream and the other to dissociate from it by choosing to work on the plank of sovereignty.
The former one is fighting for centre's attention and mercy towards sustained development while centre's continued neglect of the region or its casual attitude towards the socio-political complexity of the region are reasons for the latter's demand for self-determination. The Vision 2020 surely addresses the problems in its entirety to respond to the aspirations of the people of the region. For the policy to be practicable and meaningful, the political executives must take the lead to put their sincere and committed execution.
The North Eastern Council (NEC) in its 56th plenary session in 2008 approved the Vision 2020 document for bringing in sustainable development of the region in 12 years. The document aimed at minimizing the geo-political isolation of the states of north eastern India by bringing in accelerated and inclusive growth. The vision aims to ensure the region to play the arrow-head role in the vanguard of India's Look East Policy. Improvement of infrastructure in surface and air transport, telecommunication, water ways and power sector have been the main goals of the policy document.
In its 60th session, the NEC has again reaffirmed its commitment in the Vision 2020 document. The significance of the NEC meet concerning Manipur has been the appeal made by the DONER Minister to the State chief ministers and other members to speed up development works of National Highway-53 and gauge conversion of Lumding-Silchar-Jiribam railway line. Announcements made by the Union DoNER Minister and NEC Chairman, BK Handique during the inauguration of session were really a good news for the eight states of the north east.
The joint collaboration of the NEC and Powergrid Corporation to prepare DPRs for transmission and power distribution in the region is encouraging from all circles. As stated, the power ministry is under discussion with the World Bank for implementation of the project. Under the Asian Development Bank assistance and the North East State Roads Investment Programmes, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved to construct and upgrade the 433 km road in six States wherein a 93 kms stretch lies in Manipur.
Agriculture being a priority, allocation on it was raised to 11.43 per cent in 2011-12. Various institutes of excellence like IIT would be set up. A cultural programme called North East Wave will go on air soon. Construction of a 500 room hostel for working women of north east in the capital has been completed while another for students is under construction.
The North East Vision 2020 was launched with the hope of making the north east region a prosperous part of India contributing to the growth of the national economy. It aimed to bring in a contented rural North East with developed primary sector impacting growth in the secondary sector, with minimum connectivity established and health and education for all ensured. It targeted to make the region an important hub of trade and commerce in relation to South East Asia with a developed and firmly rooted border trade.
Under the Vision, North East would become an empowered and informed people through skill development and technology intervention, a community participating and involving in socio-economic planning, implementing and monitoring and would become a peaceful society with level of unemployment drastically brought down.
The Vision 2020 seeks to reduce economic dependency by rising Manipur from the present level of captive economy to a competitive surplus state by 2020. To provide wider range of economic opportunities for decent employment and to ensure economic security including all basic needs to all weaker and vulnerable segments of the Society are noble objectives of the vision.
Balanced development between valley and hills through accelerated market-led intervention and taking the best advantage of the Look-East-Initiative by expanding commercial connectivity are also strategies of the plan. Socially, the vision seeks to improve communal harmony and reduce ethnic divisions. In the political front, the Vision 2020 has to ensure a new political culture of peace, harmony and development by availing meaningful people`s participation in the democratic process.
Development is a long process of adjustment and adaptation. The roots of development have to be nourished and strengthened in order to be durable and sustainable. The realization of the Vision in Manipur invariably demands a firm commitment, exceptional courage and sustained spirit of the people and leaders. No development of any kind takes place in isolation. People's general will and commitments of the leadership will go together to achieve the reality of development.
The vision demands a noble spirit of a genuine mission and calls for the indomitable will of the people. This Vision is not a private property, it is the common wealth of all in the region and in the state - politicians, administrators, businessmen, engineers, doctors, bankers, teachers, lawyers, social workers, artists and students. Everyone has the responsibility to realize the Vision 2020.
*** This article is filed under RK Maipaksana Journalist Fellowship