ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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What Ails the North East

Subir Bhaumik’s informative article (“Army’s Transborder Raid in Myanmar: Interrogating the Claims,” EPW, 20 June 2015) has brought out many issues. I have travelled in the North East and wondered why the region lacks employment opportunities and good quality health facilities in spite of being rich in resources. Assam’s ­infant morta­lity rate in 2012 was 58 (per 1,000 live births) compared to the all-­India average of 46. The maternal mortality rate was also quite high in the state. The state’s per capita income was lower than the national average. Agriculture occupies an important place in the economy of the region and is a major source of employment. Jhum, which gives very low productivity, is the common cultivation practice in many places. We also know more people in agriculture means “disguised unemployment.” The issue can be tackled by developing the industrial sector but unfortunately in many cases we find mismanagement in industry. As a result, industries become sick or are closed down. Industries contribute only 13% to Assam’s state domestic product, while they constitute a little more than 20% of India’s gross domestic product.

I know that many young people from the North East work in Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad and other cities as security guards earning a paltry sum of Rs 7,000 per month on an average. Why can they not be employed in the region? In addition, every year, thousands go to other parts of India for medical treatment because the region lacks medical facilities.

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