Flights Of Fantasy
[ M Panging Pao ]
Northeast India and Arunachal Pradesh have a negligible number of industries compared to the rest of India. Since industrial production is minimal, most products are imported from mainland India. How long will the Northeast and Arunachal be dependent on other states?
Lack of industries is further leading to less employment opportunities in the private sector, and therefore growing unemployment among the youths. The world over, the private sector employs more people compared to the government sector. Unemployment leads to social problems like drug addiction, alcoholism, arson, theft, terrorism, etc. The panacea to most of these social problems is by providing gainful employment.
The Northeast and Arunachal are rich in raw materials like oil, gas, iron ore, coal, limestone, dolomite, tea, wood, bamboo, oranges, kiwi, apple, pineapple, betel nut, etc. Oil, coal, iron ore and limestone are directly related to the production of POL, gas, iron and steel, cement, etc. Wood and bamboo are linked to the furniture industry, artefacts, the paper industry, toothpicks, matchbox, chopsticks, incense making, etc. Fruits are directly linked to the juice industry, jams, pickles, the wine industry, supari, paan masala, etc. Even then there are negligible industries.
What are the ways to increase industries in the Northeast and Arunachal? The primary requirement is willingness to set up and boost industries by the state governments. Once the will is there, the state should simplify the procedures and the processes for starting industries. The industrial policy must be suited and oriented for easy investment in the state.
The first requirement is a truly single-window clearance system. Potential investors should submit applications and documents to one department. Once submitted, all necessary clearances should be obtained from this single department. Presently, there are hundreds of windows and investors have to run from one department to another for clearances.
There is need for a separate, dedicated government agency to look after the entire process of setting up new industries. This agency should simplify and expedite setting up of new industries and promoting newly set up industries for the initial five-seven years.
Then there are other important incentives for starting industries, like transport subsidy, electricity subsidy, capital subsidy/grants, working capital interest subsidy, project report subsidy, stamp paper subsidy, etc. Another important incentive is grant of tax holiday for the initial 10 years, like is being done for the SEZs. These subsidies/grants will help local products compete with products from big manufacturing companies of mainland India.
Other incentives are promotional policies like preferential buying and preferential pricing. It must be compulsory for all government departments to procure products from local manufacturers only. Infrastructure requirements include 24×7 stabilized three-phase electricity in all industrial estates, water supply, good road/rail/air connectivity.
More industries will provide employment to the local people, boost local enterprises like hotels/restaurants, rent houses, taxi/autos, banking, transport, and contribute to the economy of the region. Increased employment for youths will lead to more peace and stability in society. Any takers for an industrial revolution in Arunachal and the Northeast? (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)