NE ignored for many years stand of PM : ‘Chicken Neck’ syndrome

North East ignored for many years but today it is the growth engine. This was Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a debate on the Motion of Thanks to the President’s address in the Lok Sabha and it is more than clear that the focal points here are the BJP and the Congress. It is not so much a question of how the North East has been viewed and treated by successive Governments at New Delhi, but about where the North East exactly stands in the eyes of the rest of the country and not only the two principal political parties. It is also significant to note that the Prime Minister’s observation came just two days ahead of the Assembly elections for the Delhi Assembly where many see the fight as one between the BJP and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). And Delhi has a number of North East folks who are registered as voters there and this is what makes the observation or claim of the Prime Minister all that more interesting. Apart from the question of which side one stands, the statement of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has once again brought the focus sharply on the North East vis-a-vis the rest of the country and this is an admission that for long the region as a whole has only existed as an extended geographical arm of India. This is where the chicken neck syndrome may again be referred to. Tough to say how much the reality has changed at the ground level, but suffice it to say that for decades the North East was literally connected to the rest of the country via the chicken neck, the thin strip of land that runs just to the  north of Bangladesh.
From Look East Policy to Act East Policy and while credit should be given to the Narendra Modi Government for giving this policy more live and vim from changing it from Look to Act, it stands that it was under the Congress Government when PV Narasimha Rao was at the helm that the Look East Policy was announced back in 1991. The border trade agreement between India and Myanmar, of which the North East is the gateway, was inked when P Chidambaram was the Union Commerce Minister back in 1994. That nothing much moved after the agreement was inked is again another fact and it was ostensibly to give a boost to the trade agreement that the LEP changed to AEP after the Modi led Government came to power in 2014. Figures which speak may be there now, but it is not very clear how much this has benefited the people at the ground level, the important question being how much Moreh has developed after LEP became AEP. It is best left to the people to judge but it is significant to note that it has taken a person no less than the Prime Minister of the country to acknowledge that for decades the North East has been a neglected region and this is saying a lot for India which has already celebrated more than 70 years as an independent Nation. The interesting question is whether the Chinky Syndrome is still as palpable as it was decades back.