From the desk of JS (SME)

Northeast India Calling

  • Kharkutta , a picturesque town in Garo hills of Meghalaya district is witness to first entrepreneurial venture of two fashion design graduates setting up their own boutique under the unique and catchy name: BumBum. One would obviously scratch his head in bewilderment at the uncanny name but the meticulously handcrafted design at the bootstrapped boutique are making positive dent in the society enabling self sufficiency among the citizens; at the same time sewing a bigger dream for themselves. Kick-started with just two designers, three Machines and three seamstresses, BumBum gives an insight to the blossoming entrepreneurship in the region ploughing its way ahead with spirit and drive across the remote land of North East. The landlocked seven sisters of North east region though blessed with fortune of natural resources like forest , oil, tea, water yet is almost ten years behind the rest of India due to lack of resources. These states characterised by their unique geopolitical location have vast potential for economic growth. Boasting of arresting mountainous scenery, streams, falls and rivers featuring nonchalant melancholy with the tribal inhabitants being nature worshippers, the region remains one of the least visited but fastest developing parts of India.

  • North East- the unexplored slice of paradise

  • Indeed, North East India is a paradise unexplored along with being the most sought after destination for trekkers, wildlife enthusiasts and nature lovers. The eight contagious states viz, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura is the host to one of the most treasured and Eco-friendly area in India with vast natural resources and a cauldron of different people and cultures.

  • MSMEs – accelerators for growth and development

  • The eight North East States which cover 263179 Km2 of area that is 8% of India's total area face a number of critical developmental challenges. The region is characterized by low per capita income, low capital formation, inadequate infrastructural facilities, communication bottleneck and geographical isolation from the mainstream. Owing to the presence of multi-pronged deficits, the full potential of the NE region could not be tapped. In current context, the emerging MSME sector provides a new hope not only to the unemployed population of the region but also in bringing overall balanced growth.

  • Of late, Indian govt has been making concerted efforts for the economic development of the region.

  • As per the latest census (Fourth Census) conducted (with base reference year 2006-07), wherein the data was collected till 2009 and results published in 2011-12, as well as data extracted from Economic Census 2005 conducted by Central Statistics Office (CSO), the numbers of MSMEs in the North- East Region, including Sikkim in the MSME Sector accounts for a total of 10.64 lakh MSMEs which is quite significant comparing to other parts of the country. Assam, popularly called the Gateway to North-East India has the highest number of MSMEs estimated at 6.62 lakhs, housing numerous industries like tea, agriculture and allies, sericulture and tourism. Coming second in the list is Tripura followed by Manipur, Meghalaya, and Arunachal Pradesh. The countdown list feature Nagaland and Sikkim on seventh and eight position in the list respectively; owing to their geographical isolation from the back stream and communication bottleneck.

  • Skill development

  • The north-eastern states of India have their unique requirements in skill based training depending on the natural resources, industry and native trades. The region is industrially backward and all the states, with exception of Assam, have topographical drawback to support big industries. Consequently, the state govt in these regions are embarking on skill development missions to meet aspirations of youth through training under micro, small and medium enterprises, thus, enhancing the employment and employability.

  • The Government is facilitating Skill Development in North- East Region through its various institutions viz. Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India at Guwahati, MSME-Development Institutes at Guwahati, Agartala, Gangtok and Imphal and MSME-Tool Room ( Tool Room & Training Centre) at Guwahati. The MSME Development Institute, Guwahati, established in 1958, promotes the development of micro and small enterprises in the states of Assam, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh through six branch institutes located at Tezpur, Silchar, Diphu, Itanagar, Shillong, and Tura. Several training partners, academic institutions and vocational training centers are actively involved in a range of programs that enable livelihoods, increase productivity and income levels of people in the states. Most initiatives are a part of national schemes like PMKVY and DDU-GKY apart from regional schemes from the states.

  • The North Eastern Council (NEC) and (DoNER) have prepared the 'Vision 2020'. It envisages setting up of institutions of higher education focussing on environment sciences.

  • Potential sectors for development

  • The limited industrialisation that the region has so far seen has been centred around a few resource-based industries such as petroleum and natural gas, tea, coal, jute, forest products, some mineral based industries and some micro household industries such as handloom and handicrafts. The organised sector includes tea, petroleum, paper, cement, plywood, coal, jute, sugar and a few others while the unorganised sector includes the handloom and handicrafts, small food processing units, etc. With rich mineral bases, the region's exports have primarily been raw materials such as coal, limestone, bamboo, fruits and vegetable.

  • Promoting clusters in North east

  • Cluster development can play a significant role in working out a viable solution to these problems and expand the operation of the SME units. All the clusters taken up for implementation in NE region are traditional clusters and are mainly in the handloom and handicraft sector., micro/households units based clusters like food processing , incense stick etc.

  • Advantage North East

  • Though the MSME today occupies an important role in directing the development process for growth and prosperity of the north eastern region, the MSME sector have been facing a tough fight, not only against its own counterparts (MSME), but also from large and organised sector of the country and also from the MNCs. The region has to import for many of its needs. So, the speedy development of MSME is a fundament prerequisite for the meaningful involvement of the NER in India's Look East Policy and Globalisation process. The geographical location which has so far been regarded as the bane of northeast has become a boon for the region with the changing policies of the government and emphasis on look east policy. If skilling ecosystem is not developed properly, there would be a huge skill demand supply mismatch. Thus, it is imperative to train people in this region given the high literacy levels, and integrate region with national economic mainstream to make it India’s gateway to the east in the true sense of the world.