Published On: Fri, Feb 12th, 2021

India is mainland and NE must align ‘flawed perception’: Army chief

New Delhi: The perception that India is the mainland and the northeast must align is flawed and contemptuous, Indian Army chief, Gen Manoj Mukund Naravane said on Friday.

You would often hear the need to integrate the northeast with mainland India

In his address at the annual seminar of the Assam Rifles and United Services Institution over evolving security challenges in the northeast and the way forward, he said that a common thread that runs along the northeastern states is a lack of coordination amongst various agencies.

The policy disconnect is further accentuated by the feeling that affairs of the northeast region are being run from Delhi, he said.

Naravane said that most of the Central Armed Police Forces and Central agencies are headquartered at Delhi. “National priorities, political compulsions of the states and local aspirations are seldom aligned, creating dissonance in execution,” he said.

The Army chief pointed that another distinctive factor that reinforces the feeling of alienation amongst the people in the northeast is dismissive, sometimes indifferent and often contemptuous approach.

“You would often hear the need to integrate the northeast with mainland India,” he said.

“The perception that India is the mainland and the northeast must align itself to the ways of the mainland, in itself is flawed and contemptuous.”

Talking about disconnect policy, he cited an example that the newsreader during the weather forecast usually dismisses the entire region of nine states by a cursory: “Aaj poorvutttar rajyon mein adhiktam taapmaan …. rahega (The maximum temperature in the northeast states today is …).”

Noting India’s northeast region is extraordinarily diverse and colourful, and the states that comprise the region share almost 98 per cent of their borders with five countries, he said that it is the centre of gravity for sub-regional connectivity and thus remains the launch pad for Act East initiatives.

Although endowed with natural resources, it is a laggard in terms of growth and development, Naravane said.

Protracted insurgencies, legacy issues further accentuated after the Partition and inefficient integration with rest of India account for much of what the region faces today, he said.

To set the score right and unleash the tremendous potential of the northeast, there is therefore the need for establishing an organisation that can synergise multi-agency coordination and optimise resource and effort.

The realigned strategy for the northeast proposes a robust and effective North East Integrated Security Council, he said.

With the Minister of State for Home as the Chairman at the apex level, the organisation seeks to galvanise the efforts of all stakeholders which includes the policymakers as well as the authorities responsible to execute these policies.

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