New Delhi: Investment gurus across the world often agree on one point, the success of an investment decision is not contingent on whether you are beating about the market but on the ability to read the signs and know that a boom is imminent. India’s North East is that very imminent boom. Unparalleled natural potential, geo-strategic advantage, coupled with rapidly developing infrastructure, connectivity, and unflinching political will, India’s North East would soon be catapulted as one of the leading destinations for the domestic and global investors.
India’s North East is a rapidly growing market and holds the potential to lead in sectors as diverse as Agriculture, and organic horticulture to IT/ITES/BPO sector, tourism or renewable energy, the list is enormous. Richness in natural resources, cultural heritage, strategic location, open up umpteen opportunities and make it a promising destination for investors. This magnificence of the region had for decades fallen into obscurity, owing to brazen neglect and disregard for the vast potential of North East India. The last 10 years however have proved to be defining moments and India’s North East is set to rewrite its course ahead.
Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modiji turned the tables and massive infrastructure and connectivity boost is giving the region a remarkable makeover. From providing air connectivity for the first time to States like Arunachal Pradesh (from none in 2014 to having atleast 4 airstrips and latest being the Donyi Polo Airport inaugurated in 2022) to providing rail connectivity to all the State capitals and converting all rail tracks into broad gauge and at the same time strengthening inland waterways, connectivity in N.E.R has risen on a monumental scale, and this indeed, is just the beginning. Several old rail links with Bangladesh have been revived, connectivity projects like Agartala-Akhaura rail link, Kaladan Multi Modal Transit Transport Project, India Myanmar Thailand Trilateral Highway have opened up opportunities for rejuvenating historical international trade links of North East India with South East Asia. With assured peace and political stability, underpinning the grand vision of Hon’ble Prime Minister, North East Region now ticks all the boxes for a prospective investor.
A place known for its ethereal charm and enchanting cultural mosaic, North East Region is a traveler’s paradise. Undoubtedly, the tourism sector is set to benefit immensely from the increased connectivity and peace reinstated. The region's diverse culture, stunning landscapes, and rich biodiversity open numerous investment opportunities in the tourism sector such as promotion of village tourism, homestays, cultural tourism, eco-tourism, wellness tourism, luxury accommodation including boutique hotels, 5 Star hotels & Resorts. Moreover, a large pool of highly educated youths with a natural flair and soft skills for hospitality sector is a huge added advantage.
To showcase this tourism potential, 11 G20 meetings were held in all the 8 North Eastern States. This will not only bring forth the pure potential of the region to the global leaders and policymakers, but also catapult the destination as a well established MICE Tourism Destination, attracting domestic and international business travels in the coming days.
The region is home to a diverse range of natural resources, including oil, natural gas, coal, limestone, and vastness of forests. The region's abundant natural resources have the potential to drive significant investments in the energy, mining, and manufacturing sectors.
For instance, the renewable energy potential in North Eastern Region (NER) is approximately 1,28,962 MW, against the currently installed capacity of 4,834.58 MW. Government has sanctioned several high value projects such as the 2,000 MW Lower Subansiri Hydroelectric Project, 600 MW Kameng Hydroelectric Project. Several initiatives have been launched to boost the sector, such as Green Energy Corridors project which has been launched to facilitate the integration of renewable energy into the national grid, Viability Gap Funding by MNRE for increasing solar rooftop capacities by 2700 MW, and providing special incentives and subsidies to North Eastern States to develop their capacities.
Agriculture and Horticulture is yet another sector that gives North East an edge in the global market. Blessed with rich biodiversity, conducive agro climatic conditions, forest wealth, fruits and vegetables, flowers, herbs and aromatic plants, the region also has a strategic location for exports. It is time to harness the potential in organic farming and transform the region into a commercial hub. Even presently, some agri-products of North East are high value export items, such as Pineapple, Assam Lemon, Orange, Kiwi, Bamboo shoots, Ginger, Turmeric, cardamom, Chillies, Black and Red Rice, honey etc. Investment opportunities in pack houses, cold storages, processing units, packaging industry etc. would not only help scale the sector but also open up several employment and entrepreneurship opportunities. An Agri-Task Force was set up to fully realise the agriculture potential of the region. The report recommendations are currently under implementation in collaboration with Agriculture Ministry and State Governments.
Similarly, the NER has several traditional industries, including handicrafts, textiles, and food processing. These industries have significant potential for growth and scale-up, particularly with the help of modern technology and value addition. Besides the traditional sectors, the North eastern States can stand out in respect of service exports. Further, the region has a growing urban population, which is driving demand for services such as healthcare, education, sports, hospitality, and entertainment. BPO and Information technology is yet another promising sector. Skill development is also a priority to enhance the region’s attractiveness as an investment destination.
Potential is oozing from every corner of North east India and it is time we tap into it and translate its natural gift into prosperity and growth for the people of the region. For the last two years, the DoNER ministry has been working with the State governments towards policy harmonization and building investor friendly ecosystems, including investor facilitation, integrated single window system, creating land banks etc. Several investment roads shows and round table conferences have also been held in the past years to engage with prospective investors and showcase the potential and opportunities in the region.
As the North East region blossoms with a decade of unprecedented development, the seeds of prosperity have been sown, inviting investors with the promise of a vibrant tomorrow. With diligent groundwork underway, we stand poised to welcome the tide of investment that will soon surge forth, in a land ripe with opportunity and promise.
(The Author is Union Minister for Development of North Eastern Region, Govt. of India)
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