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North East could be the engine of growth: Think-Tank

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New Delhi: In a bid to draw the country’s attention to North East, that is potentially of strategic importance in its developmental plans, young leaders and achievers from the region recently came together in New Delhi, in order to highlight the rich prospects of development in NE.

With an assertive and positive theme “A strong Northeast is India’s asset”, the fourth edition of the Young Leaders Connect Programme brought together several leaders and achievers from the North East at the India Habitat Center in the capital.

Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju, footballer Baichung Bhutia, senior Delhi Police officers and several North East activists, students, entrepreneurs and politicians were present at the event.

The North East, whilst being an integral part of India, continues to remain elusive and has long received focus and attention of relatively insignificant proportion. Rarely has the national media featured the North East besides the occasional election, insurgency, an atrocity so huge that it cannot be ignored or a natural disaster.

Most Indians have never visited the region and embarrassingly, many would find it hard to even name the Northeastern states. The reasons however varied and manifold cannot continue to be a deterrent from receiving as much attention as it deserves.  The importance of the NE Region not only wonderfully manifests the diversity of India but also holds an enormous strategic and economic significance, especially with India’s Look East Policy.

There is a huge scope for development in the North East and the maximum potential of the region can be explored only through collective effort.

“So many achievers from different field have come together and are sharing their minds. This is very important and it will be useful for the North East region. We will connect with each other more. North East region must be united and fight for our cause, understand the issues and solve the problems,” said Rijiju.

“People look at North East as one while in reality it is just a geographically positioned region. So we thought why not take advantage of this and make sure that we come together in reality and fight for our cause, face the challenges, the strengths and weaknesses together. We started Young Leaders Connect in 2011 where we got young leaders and achievers from the North East to come together, first of all to connect with ourselves, to build friendship amongst ourselves, to strengthen ourselves and to see how we can take North East to the next level,” said Hekani Jakhalu, director, Youthnet.

An initiative of YouthNet, a non-profit organisation based in Nagaland, the conclave was started with an aim to develop greater awareness and understanding of issues affecting the development of the region.

The day-long conclave gave a platform to eminent achievers from a variety of fields to interact with each other and deliberate on various issues related to the region through panel discussions and interactive sessions.

“The element of bringing in all of us together – who are leaders in their own right, who are representing a wide range of work and activities, whether it’s from politics or sports or films, arts or development work like mine or social entrepreneurs – helps to make the voice of the region more collective,” said social activist Hasina Karbhih.

“North East has diverse activities happening, diverse leadership and also the leadership happens to be vibrant. And a platform helps us to shape what North East has to say to different parts of India and it also helps in integration nationally,” he added.

“It is a very interesting conference and it is good because students and people get a platform to express ourselves. And such educated people share their ideas which are very important for development. It was a very enlightening event,” said Omily Borang, a student.

Delhi Police Commissioner B S Bassi and National security advisor Ajit Doval also made an appearance at the programme to address the safety concerns of the Northeastern people.

Other prominent speakers were: Anurag Thakur, Member of Parliament;  Robin Hibu, Joint Commissioner of Police in charge of special police unit for North East, Delhi Police; Dr Alana Golmei, Founder, North East Support Centre and Helpline; Conrad Sangma, Former Finance, Power and IT Minister, Government of Meghalaya; Sudeep Chakravarti, Author; Geetanjali Thapa, National Film Awardee 2013; Jarpum Gamlin, CEO, Eastern Sentinel; Bhairavi Jani, Director, SCA group; Binalakshmi Nepram, Founder, Women Gun Survivors Network, NGO; Mnhonlumo Kikon, MLA, Nagaland; Sushmita Dev, Member of Parliament; Abu Metha, Founder Editor, Eastern Mirror and President of XL Foundation.

With ANI inputs

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