Irom was contested. Despite such hype we have not

Irom Sharmila , Mary Kom , Bhaichung Bhutia , Kaziranga National Park , serene hills and  valleys of the region, tea plantations. These are the personalities and places that strike our minds at the first instances respectively when North East India comes into picture. North East India also known as the Land of Seven Sisters before the inclusion of Sikkim, now comprises a total of eight states .The states are Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram,  Tripura and Sikkim.  Skyscrapers, high end cars, bullet trains, world class airports are some of the visuals that have been successfully marketed as features of a developed state. Development or “Vikaas” has also been the major plank on which the last general election (2014) was contested. Despite such hype we have not been able to enlighten us with the most relevant meaning of development . On delving deeper into the picturesque North East Indian states we will try to explore the Developmental Challenges in North East India.Tracing the history of the word Economic Development; for the economists progress, growth and development meant the same. In 1970s clear meanings started to evolve. Progress became irrelevant ; growth and development were given proper meanings. Development indicates the quality of life in an economy. There could be many indicators for development such as nutrition, healthcare,  literacy and education, level of income, safe drinking water, social security, peaceful community life, prestige, entertainment, pollution free environment etc. It has been a herculean task for the experts to achieve consensus on these indicators of development. UNDP published its first Human Development Report (HDR) in 1990 which had a Human Development Index (HDI). It was the first attempt to define and measure the level of development of economies. HDR measures development on combining three indicators: Health, Education and Standard of Living which is converted into a  numerical value between 0 and 1 known as HDI. HDI serves as a reference for both social and economic development.According to the experts there were many indicators that HDI didn’t account for such as cultural aspects, broader view towards the aesthetic and purity of the environment, rule and administration of the economy, people’s idea of happiness and prestige, ethical dimension of human life. Most of the studies concluded that people’s life in the developed world was far from being happy. Their life was full of vices: crime, corruption, burglaries, extortion, drug trafficking, flesh trade, rape, homicide, moral degradation etc . It meant development had failed to provide happiness and well being . So the scholars came up with a concept of “Happiness” to define development . Before elaborating more on this concept, let’s have a look on our traditional indicators which are being still used widely.The most relatable and yet sounding intellectual term with reference to the economic development is Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP)is defined as a measure, in monetary terms of the volume of all goods and services produced within a boundary of a state. These  figures represents  contribution of each state to overall GDP of the nation. GSDP paints a grim picture for the North East Indian states. Out of the lowest nine GSDP states, seven are from North East leaving behind Assam which is relatively higher than its neighbouring states.In terms of Literacy and Infant Mortality Rate there has been some highs as well as some lows for the North East Region (NER). Story of Tripura is quite remarkable. From 12th rank in 2001 it leapt to the top (94.65%) of literacy rate throughout the country in 2013 leaving behind Kerala (93.91%). Tripura’s success story is attributed to the involvement of local governmental bodies including gram panchayats , NGOs, and local clubs under the close supervision State Literacy Mission Authority (SLMA) headed by the chief minister. This success story should  be replicated throughout the country especially states marred with dismal literacy rate like Bihar (lowest in the country). The sad part for the North East Region (NER) is that Arunachal Pradesh is the second lowest (66.95%) in literacy rate just above Bihar.

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