North-Eastern Region of India comprises an area of 262,230 sq km (101,250 sq miles) which is about eight percent territory of the country. The region shares an international border of 5,182 kilometres (3,220 miles) (about 99 percent of its total geographical boundary) with several neighbouring countries – 1,395 kilometres (867 miles) Tibet in the north, 1,640 kilometres (1,020 miles) with Myanmar in the east, 1,596 kilometres (992 miles) with Bangladesh in the south-west, 97 kilometres (60 miles) with Nepal in the west, and 455 kilometres (283 miles) with Bhutan in the North-West.
During the British period, economy of North-Eastern Region was based on the exploitation of resources such as tea, forest produce, crude oil etc. for the development of other parts of the country. Post-independence, entire NorthEastern Region became landlocked due to partition leading to closure of all the international trade routes and sea links which were functional during British period. Though the resource exploitation of this region stopped after independence, there was no credible effort for speedy economic development and thereby economic deprivation of the entire region continued.
Severe and long standing economic deprivation anywhere leads to the intense competition for scarce resources which generates feeling of alienation, hatred, and prejudice among masses and ultimately culminates into the violence which takes shape of ethnicity, regionalism, secessionist political movements etc. North-Eastern Region cannot be the exception to this general observation.
For about 20 years after independence, North-Eastern Region was visualised through the prismatic angle of law and order problem and solutions were mostly perceived in the form of police and military actions. First serious effort to ensure development of this region was done by establishment of North Eastern Council (NEC) in 1971 which has been created by an Act of the Parliament. The North Eastern Council is the nodal agency for the economic and social development of the North Eastern Region which consists of the eight States of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura. Creation of North Eastern Council has marked the beginning of a new chapter of concerted and planned endeavour for the rapid development of the North Eastern Region. Over the last thirty five years, NEC has been instrumental in setting in motion a new economic endeavour aimed at removing the basic handicaps that stood in the way of normal development of the region and has ushered in an era of new hope in this backward area full of great potentialities.
In the year 1991, ‘Look East Policy’ was initiated by the Government of India as an effort to cultivate economic and strategic relations with the nations of SouthEast Asia which marked a strategic shift in India’s international perspective.
Look East Policy was rigorously pursued by the Vajpayee Government (1998– 2004). During this period Government of India created a separate ministry i.e. Ministry for Development of North Eastern Region (MoDONER) in the year 2001 for speedy development of North-Eastern Region.
The ‘Look East Policy’ has been thoroughly overhauled under the able leadership of Shri Narendra Modi, Hon’ble Prime Minister of India so as to ensure action oriented, project and outcome based policy which is now called as India’s ‘ActEast Policy’. Hon’ble Prime Minister has given vision of “4 Cs” i.e. Culture, Commerce, Connectivity and Capacity building in the North-Eastern Region. The Government of India has shown strong commitment for rapid infrastructure and economic development of this region in last six-seven years coupled with development of international trade routes with ASEAN countries and neighbouring Bangladesh through North Eastern Region. Opening of the international trade routes which were closed for the North-Eastern region since the independence will open the gates for economic development of entire region by creating enormous opportunities of employment generation in various sectors.
As India is committed for realising its target of becoming a $5 trillion economy in near future, accelerating the development and unfolding the commercial and economic potential of the North-Eastern Region has become extremely important. The region has potential to become future hub of organic products, renewable energy, international tourism, inland international commerce & trading and gateway of India to ASEAN etc.
It is of utmost importance that the civil servants from North-East and from the Government of India dealing with the North-East policy implementation need to be properly motivated and sensitised so that government policies and programmes may be properly grounded and also may evoke positive responses from this region so as to become more and more compatible with the local aspiration and realities. In order to fulfil the purpose, Center for North East Studies has been established at the Academy under the chairmanship of the Director, Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, Mussoorie and with the support from North Eastern Council (NEC).
Broad objectives of the Center for North East Studies are as follows: 1. To change the perception of North-Eastern Region from relatively isolated and remote territory to future potential economic growth engine of the country. 2. To understand the cultural diversity and rich heritage of the North-Eastern Region. 3. To evolve upon future international commercial potential of North-Eastern Region. 4. To ensure capacity building and training of civil servants from All India Services, State Civil Services, State Allied Services etc from all the states of the North-East and civil servants from Government of India dealing with the North-East policy and programme implementation. 5. To study best administrative & developmental practices in North East States and also to expose the civil servants from North-East states to the best practices in the mainland states.