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Modi’s North East visit : Few lessons for NE CMs
Saumen Sarker
Modi’s North East visit : Few lessons for NE CMs
PHOTO : Prime Minister Modi paying tributes to 9/11 victims at ground zero memorial, New York on Sept 27, 2014. TIWN

PM Modi’s North East (NE) India trip coming very close, in less than a week on 29th November , PM is scheduled to land in Guwahati to start his northeast sojourn alongwith many important functionaries of Union Govt. Even though all Chief Ministers of Northeast trying their best to please Modi with all kinds of romps and pomps, gala events but being a “Modi” , his visit strictly means business and well thought out execution of developmental plans, strengthening India's security on borders, strategic defense related developments.

Modi is a politician but he operates more  like a CEO in everyday decision making on government’s functioning which not only results in desired results but drive economy in positive direction. For any State or Country – right Vision and Policy are very important factors for economic growth.  During my brief interaction with PM Modi in New York’s Palace Hotel, I was fortunate enough to discover an Indian statesman who really loves to lead a country from front lines. Modi means strictly business to achieve goals. In my past 17 yrs life in New York, it was the first time many NRI professionals like me were interested to visit and meet an Indian Prime Minister. I was part of PM’s welcome committee from IACF (Indian American Community Foundation) at Madison Square Garden programme, apart from that as Editor of this media I was part of PM’s Press Team in New York.

In a nutshell of Modi’s governance, a good  policy driven excellent vision always invites more investment, generates more revenue, more private sector employment  for the state.  This helps Government with good revenue generation, cash flow for projects and less burden of providing  Govt  employment for unemployed population.   Good economic policies generate a chain reaction of cash flow which helps State  to spend for more on developmental  projects.  Unless a State or Country has a good policy, or willing to implement them – State’s misery usually never ends.

Prime Minister Modi's earlier Agartala visit during 2014 Lok sabha election campaign. TIWN File Photo

Prime Minister Modi’s 3 days (Nov 29 to Dec 1)  NE visit has many important reasons and it is expected that Modi will do his best to share his vision and dynamics to lethargic heads of North Eastern States.  Modi, during his meeting with the Northeast Chief Ministers, is expected to review the development projects in sectors like roads, rural and border development, health and telecom. Apart from that Modi will be reviewing defence threats from China and first hand insurgency situation from North East militant groups.

Recently, the leadership of all the three Indian business chambers that responded to the queries from media that  had much expectations on the Modi government being able to push through at least three crucial legislative measures - on goods and services tax, insurance and pension. Otherwise, they said, there has been a clear improvement in India's business climate - as is evident from the thumbs up from rating agencies that were on the verge of downgrading India not too long ago and market indices scaling new highs each passing day.

"The present government under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi promises a good economic vision, which is backed by decision-making and implementation," said FICCI president Siddharth Birla, echoing a similar response from Assocham and CII.

"We commend the proactive, fast, targeted decision-making of the government that has been one of the chief characteristics of the past six months. Major concerns over inflation and fiscal deficit have been allayed," added CII director general Chandrajit Banerjee. "The many decisions to hike railway fares, raise foreign investment limits in defence, real estate and insurance, attract foreign equity in railways and reform fuel price regime, have all helped to contribute to a renewed confidence in the country," said Banerjee.
The three chamber heads also made it a point to say that some other initiatives led by Modi himself also made a major impact globally, notably the campaigns like Make in India, Clean India, Zero-Defect-Zero-Effect manufacturing and Digital India.

Most of the North Eastern Chief MInisters prefer to live in their own spheres, rather than effective governance for people, most of their time is spent on party fund raising , managing internal party squabbling, covering incompetence, creating a loyal group of sycophants and most importantly constant manipulations to stay as Chief Minister by hook or crook. Not only that,  even though  they preach values of democracy in public but in reality they are all dictators, once in power. ..thats it …never to leave CM’s chair to others in party. Decades long dictatorship and one man rule is visible in NE States. Even though they live under democracy but they preach autocracy, which in fact not only a characteristic of North East CMs, most of Indian CMs are like that.

First lesson Modi can teach to North East CMs is “the importance of Information Technology in everyday Governance”. Unless a leader is tech savvy, he won’t be able to check the needs and balances of projects, developments, future plannings, finances, addressing grievances etc.

Second lesson Modi can teach is hiring right people for right Ministry and Departments so that an Industry Minister knows meaning of Industry, same goes with IT Minister knowing meaning of IT.

Third lesson Modi can teach is importance of future planning and financial discipline as none of CM of North East region can think beyond their political spheres.

On a small state like Tripura’s context , Tripura need to plan for next 10 to 20 yrs  to the path to economic success. Tripura is small, neither has much natural resources other than gas, should plan whats best for state in coming future.   In my view, Tripura should position itself as a NE India’s Trading Gateway  with neighboring Bangladesh. If that happens, Tripura can earn a lot of revenue from Import-Export levies.  Tripura also should focus more on Bio-Technology as a business, should encourage cash crops like Stevia or Herbs, Spices, should minimize rubber cultivation to maintain eco-balance, restore at least half of State’s earlier forest area which will improve water level in rivers and irrigation.  Another  important issue is rising costs of daily food prices, vegetables, poultry, fish etc  - A good planning is required to produce enough of those items inside state so that prices will come down, within reach of common man. Next will be strengthening  Healthcare  - apart from Agartala, every District needs good hospital and good Doctors – involving CMC Vellore or AIIMS for joint venture with State/Central cost sharing basis will attract Medical Tourism from neighboring Bangladesh and Northeast India, as well, it will drastically bring down expenditure of every family spending on flight fare to Calcutta and outside Hospitals.  Due to geographical location, lack of trained manpower, lack of necessary infrastructures, political instability in some parts  -   Northeast  or Tripura will never be a favorite destination for IT or Electronics Industry – it’s a fact.

This fact only may change in future (never know when) if India and China become friends and a trade route opens via Northeast to China, and China starts investing in North Eastern India.  However Tripura can be now destination for  many industry majors like BIOCON , Dabur, many Foreign companies dealing in Bio-Tech.  In short, Tripura need to plan for its own economic future - from now on should  target those investment  segments.  Tripura Govt  need to form a dynamic  team which will formulate policies, will visit business hubs like Bombay, Bangalore or Foreign countries to convince investors to invest in State.  As the State’s population is increasing, so its socio-economic problems also increasing. For younger generations, we need more penetration of Internet so that  young  graduates can find many opportunities outside state.  Also inviting and involving Foreign Governments in many projects similar  like JICA, IGDC etc  will help State with more fundings and employment generation. If  Tripura can create six to ten satellite offices in major six Indian metros which will function like a bridge between Foreign/Indian Industries and Govt of Tripura – in turn it would help State in getting required investments and subsequent employment generations. Same satellite offices also can function as guidance/placement center for fresh graduates, also helping patients from Tripura. 


Picture of emergency healthcare in State's biggest healthcare facility G.B.Hospital. Patients lying on floor as no Hospital Beds available.TIWN Pic Nov 2014

North Eastern States like Tripura, where effective planning is missing in every directions – for example  building a state of the art expensive auditorium like Rs 33 crore Rabindra Bhavan gets a higher precedence than arranging enough hospital beds for patients in state run GB Hospital (where even emergency dying patients lay on the floors, walkaways everyday ). Tripura needs more good hospitals than stadiums but Tripura Govt prefers otherwise.

During dry season drinking water scarcity in Tripura. Nov 2014 TIWN Picure at Chandrasadhu Para, Jirania

Tripura's rural people constantly suffer due to lack of pure drinking water.  Also for example a Police Department where absolutely no expertise or effective infrastructure exists on tackling rising Cyber crimes, Or an Industry Dept with no plans to build relations or invite top notch IT companies, investments in State .…similiarly many Departments are failing due to lack of vision and planning. Situation is so pathetic that if someone asks Tripura’s present Industry Minister on Industrial Policy and financial numbers of 2013 -14 State GDP, nominal growth ratio, projected growth for 2015-16 probably he needs  to look at sky for answers.No one can even remember when last time present Industry Minister went Mumbai or Bangalore to invite industrialists to invest in Tripura.

January 1st, 2014 Cybercrime Seminar at Police Headquarters, Agartala with DGP C.Balasubramanian, IGP Anurag Dyankar and Senior officers

On 1st January,2014  I was invited to deliver a lecture on Cyber Crime at Police Headquarters, Agartala (thanks goes to earlier DGP Mr C. Balasubramanian, IPS), Seminar was attended by top brass of State Police, all IGs, TSR Commandants, DIGs, SPs. In the middle of my interactions in seminar,  when I asked SP CID Darlong  that how many Cyber Crime cases in Tripura he dealt so far, answer was, he couldn’t  remember. Next when I asked if any current cases they can’t deal which they can raise and I can help to solve, again there was no response. So I felt if I continue to ask more questions, it would amount to embarrassment as SP-CID had no answers. Last straw was when DIG Saurabh Tripathi was asking me that, why Tripura needs Network Security as no such Network exists in Police Dept. I was completely stunned with the level of ignorance and lack of exposure to Cyber Crime and Network Communications. I told Mr. Tripathi that anytime you connect to internet from your office without proper Network Security , then you are at the risk of Cyber hacking - not only that Police Dept has a huge Network of computers Statewide. Wholeheartedly, I wanted to help improving Police Network Security, enhancing Cybercrime infrastructures, subsequent trainings to few brilliant officials but after DGP Balasubramanian retired, no one took interest in Cybercrime. I worked for many years in New York Government,DoiTT (Dept of IT & Telcom), with NYPD (NY Police Dept Network Security, Cyber Crime Unit) and wanted to share my expertise with Tripura Police.  Also I had a nice interaction at Tripura’s Forensic Science Laboratory  during my India visit in Jan’2014, Director Dr. Pratihari expressed desire to built a state-of –the-art Cyber Crime Lab but when I visited again on July ‘2014 - there was no interest on Cyber Crime from Tripura FSL.  Point is when Govt hires people in different departments without proper exposure / expertise in respective fields, then no progress or development takes place. Modi will never hire wrong people for any of his Departments as wrong workforce in wrong departments can never fetch success.

Hon. Prime Minister Modi is a living example, on how you can transform your life from a rustic tea seller background to a most tech savvy and successful Chief Minister, then elevating to a most vibrant Prime Minister in India’s history. Hope every CM of North East ,including  Assam CM Tarun Gogoi, Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar understands the importance of emulating Narendra Modi by adapting Information Technology in daily life, learning the art of inviting investments, art of managing financial goals, - overall the “Management “ of running an effective and successful government.” If a CM can connect to population via social media like Twitter, Facebook, then he can feel the everyday pulse of people – which will result in better governance.

North East India’s Chief Ministers must develop excellent mutual relationships, co-ordination among themselves to tackle insurgency, ethnic problems, improving common economic prosperity, most importantly rising above ethnic mistrusts. It’s an undenying fact that North East India is seen as unstable region due to constant ethnic infighting, mistrust & lack of education among people. NE region has enormous poverty in spite of plenty of natural resources. Prime Minister Modi’s visit should be utilized by North East CM’s as unifying event to achieve economic prosperity for NE people.

Views  expressed are personal. 

Writer is Editor,  and working currently as a Vice President, Global Network Infrastructure & Solutions Division, Bank of America, New York.  Also a  Senior Network & Security Engineering Architect based in New York  with 20+ yrs experience in Internetworking, Network Security Industry and previously worked at Global companies, -  General Electric, Cisco Systems, Bank of New York, Merrill Lynch, NYC Govt,  NEC , Hewlett Packard. 

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