Thursday, August 11, 2022

Engine of growth

Nagaland experienced a decade of economic development from the late 60s to mid-80s where several industries were established such as sugar mill, paper mill, plywood and veneer mill, fruit canning unit, Doyang Hydro project various government –run small scale units. It may be noted that during those decades central funding was limited, people were just learning about what industries were all about; the state had just begun its journey towards modernity and everything had to be done from scratch. Despite the drawbacks Nagaland was able to create a buzz in the north eastern states and was the state to be in. Roads were built linking every district, power lines ran the length and breadth of Nagaland, government projects were visible on the ground and schemes reached the beneficiaries intended. However, the progress gradually slowed down and the pace that Nagaland had experienced earlier had almost run aground. After having tried its best to promote trade and industry, the state suffered on account of poor governance and this resulted in grinding halt to government corporations such as the paper mill, sugar mill, veneer mill and similar ventures of the state government. Nagaland has made some meaningful progress during the seventies to eighties due to the enthusiasm of the bureaucracy then and the public’s intense desire to move forward along with the rest of the country. As against the past when development meant people-centric pursuits, where good governance was considered the key to economic progress where having good road connectivity, uninterrupted power, water and health services were taken for granted; today the demand supply chain has taken a beating .The pace of progress could not be sustained as the system began to give in to various pulls and pressures and all of which resulted in loss of purpose and inadequacy in matters of management. Thus, till the late 80s, development was progressing quite well but the wheels of progress were gradually retarded by acts of omission and commission. Economic development in the past was people-centric but today in Nagaland, it has become totally politician-centric. Looking at the present scenario, despite having achieved (at least on paper) all the objectives of infrastructure development to propel economic activity, Nagaland has lost momentum and hardly moving at the required pace while all other states in the north east are moving ahead. Take for example the much hyped and awaited expansion of NH 29 to 4-lane. It started in 2015 and was to be completed in 2018-19 but even in 2022, it does not appear to be nearing completion in a hurry. The over focus on political issues and less on impediments to progress has only led to the present stagnation. It may be understood in the context of how over indulgence in politics and fruitless rhetoric has overwhelmed the system of governance. The state began experiencing a slow down from the early 90s due to gradual erosion against the system which had been badly compromised by corruption and politicisation. It was only to be expected that respect for the government became an option as the ‘khushi-khushi’ rule became the order of the day. This syndrome is not particularly restricted to any political class or genus but is widespread. It is not law and order nor central funding that will propel the engine of economic but delivering good governance.

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