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North-East by the year 2020
Special Report: New Delhi, 02 Jul 2008
Published on 3 Jul. 2008 12:44 AM IST
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It took three years of painstaking work of compiling some twenty five thousand out of fifty thousand questionnaires sent to various institutions, NGOs and individuals in the north east, to compilations by two committees before the Vision 2020 finally evolved.
Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, who released the first volume of the comprehensive document, has been the inspiring force behind the concept, as acknowledged by DoNER minister and Chairman NEC Mani Shankar Aiyar in his speech.
It was a mega event at Vigyan Bhavan the venue which saw some one thousand five hundred in attendance that included several union ministers, MPs, Governors and chief ministers of the north east, bureaucrats, invitees and media besides hundreds of north east students in Delhi.
Mani Shankar Aiyar, who spoke extempore while presenting the Vision 2020 concept, was as impressive as the concept he elucidated.
Some observers also considered the mega event as a brilliant stroke of genius by Mani Aiyar to kill two birds with one stone-to show that he as DoNER minister had done a good job and manage commitment of support from other ministries; and secondly, to counter the recommendation of the Veerappa Moily committee on Administrative Reforms Commission to wind up DoNER ministry as the NEC already existed for the same purpose.
The event was supposed to be over by 1 p.m. but went on till nearly 3 p.m. as some chose to read out speeches instead of making brief five-minute speeches.
Nagaland Minister for Planing T.R. Zeliang who represented the state chief minister Neiphiu Rio, was loudly applauded by the largely North Eastern crowd, with his brief and humorous extempore speech.
Zeliang took his turn after speaker after another went on reading speeches or talking beyond ten to fifteen minutes despite being reminded to limit the time to five minutes. He started with an abrupt line “people are fed up of written speeches” adding, he would speak briefly.
T.R. Zeliang’s parable-like speech was received with thunderous applause from the gathering. He began by saying “twelve years ago, you (Centre) said you had a dream to sing a song. After twelve years, today you again say, you dream of singing a song”.
He went on to ask, “When will you stop dreaming and start singing?” He said it was high time for implementation of programmes for the development of the North East.
Zeliang also raised a point that was also well applauded over the ‘guidelines on projects’. He cited an example in Nagaland where a village road project was not okayed for failing to meet the required ‘population criteria’ as per the required guidelines. He said roads are not constructed for people but for vehicles and added that the population criteria was not practical nor rational.
Zeliang’s point was later also supported by a minister from Tripura who felt that such guidelines could not be practically implemented in the region.
Among those who spoke were Nagaland Governor K. Sankaranarayanan besides union tourism minister Ambika Soni and Commerce and power minister Jayram Ramesh and several other union ministers.
Meanwhile, Nagaland was also given due recognition today for the State’s communitization programme. Two former chief secretaries of Nagaland AM Gokhale and RS Pandey were felicitated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and DoNER minister Mani Shankar Aiyar for their contribution in introducing the concept of communitization in Nagaland.

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