How India's NE can be a zone of sustainable industrial development

Atul K Thakur
Contd from previous issue
The spread of SMEs in the North East will proportionally generate quality employment and will also check outbound migration besides creating the base of sustainable industrial development in the region. Consequently, the big political issue of 'North East's alienation' from the rest of India can come to a halt.
It would be worthwhile to recall that the asymmetric outcome of heavy industrialisation and certain policies adopted towards natural/human resources insecure the prospects of natural harmony. Those mistakes need to be rectified by relying more on the local choice (model) of development, rather than imposing tailor-made solutions in the North Eastern States. The growing sensitivity on this is a welcome sign and should help the North East to come to the centre stage of growth and prosperity.
Despite having many commonalities, all the seven States of the North East are distinct in their own ways. Thus, keeping this diversity in mind is also essential for policymakers and prospective entrepreneurs. Also, there is a need to sideline all misplaced apprehensions related to the complex geography of the North East and the adjoining international borders: A business in no significant way has much chance of being influenced too much by all these factors.
In the changing times, the issues of politics and economy cannot be taken separately, as the integration among the groups and individuals is an established phenomenon. So, a greater adjustment is possible from industries for the local conditions prevailing in the entire North East.
As economic rebounding is the need of the hour to brave a new world in post-pandemic times, the Government-industry collaboration should reach further heights for collaborating efforts. Noticeably, the global pandemic coronavirus or COVID-19 is being regarded as a ‘one in hundred years’ crisis, which has already impacted lives and livelihoods in an unprecedented manner. Trade has been stopped, borders locked down, and people forced to either stay home or reach their respective homes. Some of the biggest changes that were never expected have taken place. As the crisis has had global nature, India is severely impacted as well.
The world is self-assured to see a sort of reset, it is the time for the Government and industry to reckon the urgency of figuring out their immediate priorities, including supporting the MSMEs, the backbone of the Indian economy. A change in approach is much needed at this point in time before the fundamentals of the world order go in reset mode. There should be the determination to revive the MSME financing to support the much-needed demand factor of the economy.
This is the time for proactive collective action to come out of the trying time with a blueprint for the revival of the economy. At the idea front, it is well-understood now why the MSME sector is seen as the most significant contributor to the socio-economic development of the country — and acting as the growth engine of the Indian economy.
In the last few decades, especially followed by the economic liberalisation plan in the early 1990s, the sector has formidably contributed to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country, enhancing exports and creating the highest numbers of employment.
Noticeably, the sector has provided a much-needed traction to entrepreneurship development and industrialisation across India, even reaching the places hitherto left out of economic processes.
The Government of India has made number of policies for the growth of the Indian MSMEs and letting them globally competitive with new innovations and technology, among others, they are:
• MSME Credit Health Index (Launched on 2 November 2020)
• MoMSMEs adoption of the latest IT tools for MSMEs (October 2020)
• GoI Task Forces on MSMEs (September 2020)
• Udyog Aadhaar Memorandum (UAM) for online registration
• MSME Data Bank
• MSME Sampark
• Digital Payment
To encourage local production, the Government is working on policies to increase MSME exports and lower imports. In addition, a Rs 200 crore ($28.4 million) scheme has been sanctioned to set up 12 technology centres, which are expected to be completed by 2021.
The MSME Ministry runs numerous schemes targeted at providing credit and financial assistance, skill development training, infrastructure development, marketing assistance, technological and quality upgradation and other services for MSMEs across the country. In order to achieve the goal of doubling the Indian economy to $5 trillion in five years, MSMEs are being rightly given the innovative push and this should help the Indian economy in going forward progressively. (To be contd)