Shortchanged the much-touted North East Industrial Policy (neip) of the Union government badly needs a ‘mid-course correction’. This acknowledgement has come from none other than S Jagdeesan, joint secretary in the Union ministry of commerce and industry, at the Northeast Expo 2004 at Delhi. He made some other revelations. For example, the Union government’s investment of more than Rs 1,200 crore in the region has generated only 18,007 jobs in the nine years that the policy has been in force. This after the Centre had already pumped in more than Rs 6,000 crore as subsidies since the inception in 1976 of the Northeast Council, the apex planning body for the region, in Shillong.

Organised by the Confederation of Indian Industries (cii) on March 19-21, the expo was to showcase the business potential of the Northeast. cii hosted a meeting between entrepreneurs and bureaucrats from the eight states with industry heads from the rest of the country. The meeting turned out to be a time for some hard reckoning. Representing the Union government, Jagdeesan and T Kumar, joint secretary to the Department of the Development of the North Eastern Region (doner), put forth the initiatives and features of the government under neip. The figures revealed why the states continue to wallow as low growth economies despite the Centre’s fiscal support.

Take this for a sobering fact: 45 per cent of all the investment under neip has come from just two companies, the public sector oil giants. Not so sobering is the fact that economists who know the region well don’t find this outrageous. More than 50 per cent of the investment has been in the extractive industries (including oil, coal and units based on extractive industry)

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