New Delhi: With Prime Minister Narendra Modi announcing the “Startup India” initiative in January, the eight north-eastern states are set to become the destination of startup ventures in the country, union Minister of State for Development of the Northeastern Region (DoNER) Jitendra Singh said on Friday.
“The northeast will be developed into a key destination for young entrepreneurs and startups,” the minister said while inaugurating a three-day Destination Northeast festival here.
The festival is being organised by the DoNER ministry to showcase the inherent economic, social and cultural strength of the northeastern region at the national level.
Stating that his ministry now has a venture fund, Singh said: “Any youth who goes to the northeast will have the support of the venture fund.”
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As for connectivity, he said that the introduction of a direct flight from Delhi to Dimapur in Nagaland was a major step in making the northeast more accessible.
“The rest of India needs to be connected with the northeast in a meaningful way,” he added.
He said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was taking keen interest in the development of the northeast.
He also emphasised upon the need to upgrade academic institutions in the region to provide quality education and develop human resources.
According to Singh, it is the rest of India that needs to be brought to the northeast and not the other way around.
“The northeast has many attributes that we do not have,” he said.
Referring to the security situation that has long been a deterrent for development in the region, the DoNER minister sadi: “Peace and development have a reciprocal relationship but you can’t wait for the last gun to fall silent.”
Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said the fact that 90 percent of the northeast is surrounded by international borders should be taken as a blessing.
He said that development has nothing to do with distance and location and the growth engine was built on the aspirations of people, not location.
“Hawaii is 7,000 km from the US mainland, but has there been any obstacle in development?” Rijiju said.
He also said that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has spoken to Modi about forming a consortium of companies to invest in the northeast in sectors like roads and power transmission.
Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma said that despite the geographical constraints, there is a growth momentum taking shape in the northeast.
“There is a need to tap the unique and exclusive strengths of the Northeast,” he said, adding that it was time to carry forward the momentum more aggressively.
Emphasising on the role of bamboo in the growth of the economy of the northeast, he said that bamboo, the wonder grass, can be a real game changer for the northeast.
“There is a $60-billion world bamboo market and our share is less than 5 percent,” Sangma said.
He also called for the opening up of the international borders surrounding the northeast.
Apart from showcasing the northeast, the three-day festival is also designed to enable various central ministries to showcase their initiatives in the region.
The event also includes theme-specific business summits on sectors like tourism, agriculture, food processing, skill development and entrepreneurship, information technology, handloom and handicraft, livelihood, micro-finance and startups.