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What about Assam, dear?

April 23, 2008

I just now came across, Ajay Shah’s post on Investment is Destiny on his blog . He led me to Ila Patnaik’s review of the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy[CMIE]. [You can find the article here].

Thanks Ajay for telling us about it.

Let me talk about it before I start talking about it 🙂 [Shut the grin Soham, nothing to smile about it]

The article published under the name And Bihar still doesn’t get it talks about the geographical distribution of investment in States. Measured in rupees investment per capita, over the last five years showed 112% growth. Leading the list was Haryana, Orissa and Himachal Pradesh with per capita investment outstanding the highest among the rest of the states.

Interesting, I must say. Haryana and Orissa are close, Himachal Pradesh clearly lagging among the three with a significant margin.

Falling below are three states, Assam, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar all with per capita investment in lower four figures.
Here are the figures. Its particularly sad that, Assam, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh seems to be reeling under severe governmental duress.

Rank

States

Per capita investment, end 2007

Rs

1

Haryana

78710

2

Orissa

78569

3

Himachal Pradesh

61643

4

Gujarat

42594

5

Jharkhand

41586

6

Uttarakhand

35035

7

Karnataka

34253

8

Andhra Pradesh

21964

9

Tamil Nadu

20239

10

Maharashtra

20138

11

Kerala

18223

12

West Bengal

17685

13

Punjab

17345

14

Chattisgarh

16960

15

Jammu & Kashmir

15178

16

Madhya Pradesh

13035

17

Rajasthan

8743

18

Assam

7502

19

Uttar Pradesh

4722

20

Bihar

3081

All India Average

22669

The author raises the question about Bihar. I ask what about Assam? It is not a surprise that , all the three governments had been busy in filling their pockets, financial or political. Neither it is a surprise that there is a strong thread of divisiveness running inside the very society. Assam is a particularly disappointing case. While Assam is oblivious to the strides made by India in all these years, the Centre too has been quite soft on the issues Assam is facing. Like?

Like, extremism, regionalism, refugee problem. Heard of these? Ask me, I am from Assam and thats perhaps why I am embittered by AGP or Congress or any other Tom-Dick and Harry government coming to power. I am embittered by BJP or Congress or CPI[M] or JD[U] or any other John-Johnny-Janardhan government coming in Delhi. I am just plain apprehensive.

For me, as I can see, Assam can be the idle investment scenario believe me!
But Assamese wont have any of it. They love fighting and blaming Biharis and the rest of the India for their degeneration. Creation of jobs does not happen automagically. You have to work for it. Strengthening of economy is not a child’s play, it require vision. I ask and I ask strongly, loudly from all those Tarun Gogoi and his cohorts, Mahanto and his cronies, do you have the vision? Oh yeah, they will say, to make Assam a India-free state.

End of my rant, let me come back to the issue at hand.
Why do I see, Assam as having an immense potential to leapfrog to the first place, if, if, if and if only ground realities are met first.
Assam is having a huge, [huger that you can imagine] highly skilled talent pool waiting to be tapped. Language skills are markedly better. Climate is conducive and water available plenty. And Assam will not only attract talent pool from inside the state, a proper and strong Assam can effectively leverage the talent available in the other north eastern states.

What has to be sorted?

1. Beg, Bribe or Babble, solve the insurgency problem

2. Keep a tight monitor on the government funding to implementation ratio. Corruption levels has extraordinarily high negative correlation with economic development.

3. Make the entire State an SEZ for infrastructure corporates, but for heavens sake spare the farms.

4. Invoke a green revolution and a white revolution.

5. Develop Arunachal Pradesh and its borders with metaled roads, continuous supply of rations and other amenities, to stop any Chinese stake.[on similar lines like these]

Although, easier said than done, but I am sure after Operation Rhino in 1996-99 and recent operations in Assam under BJP government, ULFA is highly impaired. If Chinese interest in ULFA is countered via Arunachal Pradesh, then I have a strong hunch the rest of the support for ULFA will also wither away, but again my knowledge in int’nl sympathisers of ULFA is less.

Secondly, make investments tax free. The first step and the second has to go hand in hand. It can’t go sequentially as extremism, regionalism and other negative stances appear due to immensely dark social mood. So any boost in infrastructure investment levels, education levels will directly and positively affect the social mood on the national policy makers’ favour.

A green revolution and a subsequent white revolution can prove to be a winning trump card in this land of traditional farming. Assam being ridden with extremely low land utilisation and output per hectare can suitably be benefited.

How? Assam is highly dependent on other states for its survival. You empower Assam, you chip away one reason to be discontented. Plus, what more, it can act as a suitable buffer against any logistic goofup in getting the rations to the state. Readers can well notice that, there is only one meter gauge rail track connecting Assam and Seven Sisters to India.

A resurgent Assam can even impact the social mood of the other nearby states.

In fact is it any wonder that almost all of the states barring few are reeling under insurgency, severe regionalistic strife and communist dreams of utopian state?

It is indeed sad, that right from Independence government has extended a very step motherly attitude towards eastern states. Bihar, West Bengal, Orissa, Seven Sisters are evidences of it.

I am an optimist, and I sincerely hope Government has all this and much more figured out. But I am a practical guy too, I am yet to see any positive happenings out there, except perhaps a few Baskin Robbins selling their otherwise worthless ice creams for a fortune.

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