From being the ‘Neglected States of the Nation’ to ‘Look and Act East Policy’, the past five years have been transformational for North East India. The last time North East India received undivided attention from lawmakers and policymakers was when Late Atal Bihari Vajpayee became the first Prime Minister to spend a night in the region. His tenure was dotted with multiple initiatives that aimed to connect North East India through infrastructure and technology, including the conception of a separate ministry, a non-lapsable pool of funds for the North Eastern Region, inclusion of Sikkim as a member of North Eastern Council and a dedicated department for the development of North East region. Unfortunately, after he demitted office, the region once again suffered from the tyranny of distance. Although the UPA enjoyed significance political presence in the region, projects suffered from delays, cost escalation, and complete policy negligence.

Since the Prime Minister Narendra Modi assumed office, he once again directed policy attention towards the region across various dimensions of development including economy, infrastructure, employment, industry, and culture.In a democracy, to bring pathbreaking changes, interaction with lawmakers is inevitable. The Bhartiya Janta Party with a committed leadership and intricate network of cadres, achieved political success in the region and provided much needed will to collaborate with the Centre and work towards taking the region forward. To put this in perspective, during his tenure,the PM himself has visited the region more than 30 times. The party fortified its political presence across the North-East, including the bastion of the Left i.e. Tripura.  The NDA is in power in six out of seven North East states in the region.

Some of the steps that have altered the socio-economic canvas of North East India since 2014 include:

  • India’s longest rail and road bridge, 4.94 km Bogibeel Bridge was inaugurated by the Prime Minister in 2018.
  • It took a Modi Government at the Centre to give railway accessibility to the region. The Government ensured that 900 km tracks of broad gauge are laid in the region. 88-km Dhansiri-Kohima railway track that connected Kohima to the national railway network along with Rajdhani Express, Tripura Sundari Express, provided the long-awaited railway access to the region.
  • The "Transformation by Transportation" policy of Narendra Modi included projects for more than 3,800 km of national highways and investment of Rs. 60,000 crore under the Special Accelerated Road Development and Rs. 30,000 crore under the Bharatmala project.
  • There has been concerted push to connect the terrain through air in the past five years. An aviation manpower training institute, development of Rupsi airport, expansion of the air facility at Dimapur are some of the projects undertaken by the Modi Government to ensure the region gets adequate gateways to the rest of India.
  • In 2016, Mary Kom, one of India’s finest sportsperson became a member of the Rajya Sabha. This was a matter of pride, not just for Manipur, but also for the entire region. Commitment of the central leadership to nurture sports talent is reflected in the first National Sports University at Manipur.
  • In one of the pathbreaking policy announcements, the Government
    re-classified bamboo from tree to grass. Bamboo is critical to the economy of North Eastand this policy will provide a fillip to the regional economy since transportation of trees attracts certain restriction.
  • Rima Das’s film Village Rockstars was awarded as thebest national film award. Recognitions and rewards such as these provide motivation to budding talent in the region and breaks the conventional wisdom that suggests North East has limited future due to the tyranny of distance.
  • An integrated large-scale Eri farming was launched in Arunachal Pradesh under the North East Region Textile Promotion Scheme (NERTPS). Financial assistance to 4000 beneficiaries under the NERTPS has been announced along with skill training to Eri silk farmers and weavers.

With BJP at the helm of affairs, regional policies were reinforced and reinvigorated at the National level. It gave the region visibility and recognition across the political, social and cultural realm, which eventually made the region more secure and brought it closer to the rest of the Nation. With growing number of food parks, textile industry, and information technology, North East has the potential to be the trade link between India and South East Asia and emerge as a new normal in the years to come. Region’s significance has been enhanced with the South Asian Sub-Regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) road connectivity programme, a response to China’s ambitious One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative will be crucial.

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How Varanasi epitomises the best of Narendra  Modi’s development model

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How Varanasi epitomises the best of Narendra Modi’s development model
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"Building Atmanirbhar Bharat Through Comprehensive Job Creation"
February 24, 2024

One of the most effective pathways of aspirational and practical self-actualization for citizens of a nation is employment generation at scale and expanse. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has been cognizant of this need and has moved the needle comprehensively so that job creation today is happening across the spectrum: in the formal and informal sectors, through direct and indirect opportunities, in conventional and unconventional fields, and via self-employment and the opening up of multiple avenues for gigs, start-ups and novel entrepreneurship.


Government Initiatives
If on the one hand, Bharat is seeing the exponential growth in the number of start-ups and a conducive environment has made it one that has the largest number of unicorns, on the other hand a record number of Mudra loans sanctioned have fuelled unprecedented women-led growth, and the Agniveer scheme that aims to recruit youth into the Armed services has seen adoption in record numbers. According to a Harvard University research, India is among the top quartile of fastest-growing countries till 2029 and is undergoing a historic transition towards becoming a more formalized and technologically advanced, digitally evolved nation.


In the three years between 2017-18 and 2020-21, total employment increased by 8.4 crore which is a manifestation of several key factors such as demonetisation, rationalisation of taxes, the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), digital inclusivity and digitisation of financial transactions, inclusion of skill development and vocational training in the National Education Policy, increasing the number of Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs), a fillip to the hitherto marginalized segments such as rural and tribal populace, and effective incentivization for a highly labour dominant unorganized sector. An example is how PM Street Vendor’s Atmanirbhar Nidhi (PM SVANidhi), has benefitted more than 56 lakh rehri or street vendors from June 2020 to November 2023.


Formalisation
Immense positive impact can be seen in the nation’s formal employment sector. India is the 5th largest economy in the world with 1.12 crore net additional employment created between 2015 to 2018. This is a result of the confluence of progressive, pro-industry policy decisions, leveraging of advancements in technology, reforms to ease business investment, and a focus on skilling. An example of how this translates on the ground is that with the PM MUDRA Yojana More than 15 crore people have been employed in the MSME sector out of which 3.4 crore are women.


In the IT Industry alone, around 20 lakh people have been employed between 2013-14 and 2021-22. Indirectly, about 6.24 crore jobs were created between 2014 and 2019 in India’s digital economy. When it comes to a boost in employment generation across sectors, let’s take the example of tourism – a revamped and increasingly attractive tourism and hospitality industry led to 1.9 crore indirect jobs being created in the tourism sector between 2017 and 2020. The overhaul in the hospitality sector has led to the creation of many such jobs directly, and indirectly; India is among the most visited countries in the world and has been experiencing a growing influx of tourists. This has led to business incentivization and a boost to local artisans, transport providers, and hotels and restaurants within the larger hospitality service industry. In Air transport alone, for every Rs. 100/- invested in the sector, 610 indirect jobs are generated.


Infromal Sectors
The winds of change can also be seen in the disruptive as well as informal sectors. Providing security and stability to the unconventional health and wellness, since 2014, about 5.65 lakh practitioners have been provided employment under Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, and Homoeopathy (AYUSH). The introduction of several new reforms, an increase in FDI, which have further helped in improving the ‘ease of doing business’ along with low data costs, improvised processes and ready adoption have created a thriving new ecosystem for employment – the gig and platform economy. Gig-economy jobs grew year-on-year by 13% and over 29.20 crore people have registered so far on the E-Shram portal. From 2016 to May 2022, ‘Hunar Haat’ has created employment avenues for over 10.5 lakh artisans and talented Vishwakarmas.


The continuing chain of beneficiaries in the government’s Gati shakti model include processes that act as catalysts for indirect job creation in sectors such as transport, logistics, mobility, food, consumer goods and manufacturing products. Up to 2021-22, 53,696 km of roadways were created which generated 21.8 crore man-days of employment. As mentioned before, round 6 crore people employed in unorganized sector between 2017-18 and 2019-20 have benefited from the SVANidhi Yojana – making PM Modi’s vision of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas aur Sabka Prayas a quintessential facet of employment for all.


People-first policies such as the flagship program for equitable housing, the PM Awas has created 2.39 crore indirect jobs up to 2022. Another great example of the ripple effect of employment generation can be seen in the form of Production Linked Incentive (PLI) schemes which enable the expansion of existing industries into larger ones, while promoting the creation of new ones. As an example, 5 lakh incremental jobs have been created in the mobile manufacturing sector due to PLI. As per the Economic Survey 2023, PLI schemes are slated to create 60 lakh jobs. In addition, India’s fintech adoption rate of 87% as against the world average of 64% has enabled the creation of an ecosystem that is touching the lives and livelihoods of all – including the self-employed and small business owners.


To this end, Rozgar Melas that aim to provide 10 lakh jobs in less than two years, and that meld employment opportunities and unique talent have been a boon for the economy. Rozgar Mela is a key step towards the fulfilment of the commitment to accord the highest priority to employment generation in the country. On 12th February, 2024, PM Modi distributed more than 1 lakh appointment letters to newly inducted recruits and also lay the foundation stone of Phase I of the Integrated Complex “Karmayogi Bhavan” to promote collaboration and synergy amongst various pillars of Mission Karmayogi. “Rozgar Melas are playing a crucial role in enhancing the contribution of our Yuva Shakti in nation building”, said PM Modi. Rozgar Mela will be held at 47 locations across the country this year with recruitments taking place across central government departments and state governments/UTs supporting this initiative. These melas ascribe gainful opportunities to the youth, the Amrit Generation, and create pathways for their direct participation in national development. Similarly, under the Prime Ministers Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP), over 43.77 lakh people have got employment and the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) has led to the placement of over 24.51 lakh candidates.


As policy making becomes efficient, so do its representative tools; more than 19.9 lakh people have been placed in jobs through employment exchanges between 2017-2022. The government has incessantly been taking many measures to tackle unemployment issues and stem the unemployment rate. The Amrit generation is benefitting from a multi-pronged approach; if on the one hand, Scheme of Fund for Regeneration of Traditional Industries (SFURTI), has benefitted around 2.94 lakh from 2014-15 to December 2022, on the other hand, over 1.80 lakh new job-creators and entrepreneurs are now operating under the Stand-Up India scheme.


New India – Naya Bharat – is one that thrives on a developed mindset with the aim of making the country Atmanirbhar, and a Vishwa Mitra – one the world leans on. As an example of this commitment, in the current financial year, Khadi has achieved a historic milestone by generating over 9.54 lakh new jobs. Be it our push towards renewable energy, creating a decarbonized energy sector which ranks India is 4th globally or the reduction of unemployment rate in rural areas, (decreased from 5.3% in 2017-18 to 2.4% in 2022-23) the commitment of PM Modi’s government to decisively mitigate unemployment stays foremost.


A spurt in the employment index is predicated on employment mobility to higher productivity jobs, rising job rates in secondary and tertiary sectors, promotion of women as economic catalysts and the increased formalisation of the unorganized, informal sector. PM Modi’s government has consistently come good on all the parameters which is the reason why milestone, upon milestone, Bharat’s journey towards becoming Atmanirbhar and the world’s third largest economy, is only a matter of time.