The Conclave 2022, a two-day program, organised under the aegis of Pratidin Media Network in association with Dalmia Cements at Manekshaw Centre, Delhi Cantonment in New Delhi concluded on Sunday.
The Conclave was inaugurated by Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh where he termed North-East as the arm of India which was ignored for a long time after independence. He asserted that the progress of the North-East has been one of the major focus areas of the Government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, since the beginning as the region is crucial for the economic, social, political and strategic development of the country.
He further highlighted the law and order situation in the region and said, “Our greatest achievement in the last 8 and half years has been the restoration of peace & prosperity in the Northeastern states. Since 2014, there has been about 80-90% reduction in violence incidents in almost every state of the North-East. Most of the extremist organisations have either been rooted out or have surrendered and joined the mainstream. AFSPA has been removed from 80 per cent of the areas. This was made possible as now there is peace, stability and durability in the region.”
However, during the first interactive session at the Conclave on ‘Regionalism vis a vis Nationalism’, APCC President Bhupen Borah rejected the facts presented by Union Minister Rajnath Singh about the prevailing law and order situation in the Northeast. He said that more than 200 youths joined ULFA recently. Insurgency has not ended in the Northeast, he added.
Meanwhile, at the same session, Chief Advisor of AASU Samujjal Bhattacharya said that Assam and Northeast never received the respect it deserved.
He said, “Martyrs Piyoli Phukan, Maniram Dewan and Kanaklata Barua remain lesser known figures of the Indian independence struggle and is important that people know about their contributions.”
During the second interactive session on ‘Tea Industry and Challenges faced by it in Assam,’ AERC Chairman Kumar Sanjay Krishna said that productivity, quality, brand creation, creating a market for export and mechanization are the main factors for the improvement of the tea industry.
While former Chairman of Tea Board of India Prabhat Bezbaruah said that the packaging and quality of tea is important for the industry to flourish.
However, AATSA President Dhiraj Gowala said that mismanagement, climate change, etc. are the main reasons for the downfall of tea industry in Assam.
He said, “There is no special policy for tea companies. The government and tea board also has not promoted tea. When a company is at loss there is no one to invest on it.”
The third session of the conclave discussed about boosting tourism in Northeast.
Travel entrepreneur Jahnabi Phookan spoke about how the Northeast is lagging behind as compared to famous tourist destinations elsewhere in India.
Diplomatic Travel Point Private Limited Director PP Khanna said, stated that people are more inclined towards nature after the Covid-19 pandemic and are also started to stay away from crowded places.
He said, “There is lot of potential in the northeast but we lack behind in promotion. There is a lot of diversity in dance, music, culture, which we just need to promote. We must promote unexplored destinations in the northeast.”
Khanna said that the demography of the Northeast hampers in flourishing tourism.
Khanna said, “Need for connectivity is important in the NE. But construction of roads, airports, etc. is difficult due to its terrain. However, all things take time. We are moving in the right direction.”
The fourth session stressed on the development and industrialization affecting the climate of the region to which Chairman of CII North Bengal Pradeep Purohit said climate change is a phenomenon which is taking place since long and will keep on going.
He said, “In order to reduce the climatic change from industries, we need to work on waste management and focus on recycle and reuse of item.”
Meanwhile, IIT Guwahati Professor Arup Sarma had stressed on the carbon footprint and climate change affecting the state hugely.
He said, “Sustainability has to be kept in mind and carbon footprint also should be kept in check.”
Gauhati University Professor Dr Bhagawat Pran Duarah said that as the humans are working against nature so the nature is retaliating.
He said, “There is a disparity in distribution of rewards of exploitation as someone, for example, faces dislocation and problems due to construction of dams while others reaps rewards from it.”
The first day of the conclave ended with a session with Union Ports, Shipping and Waterways Minister Sarbananda Sonowal.
During the session he said, “In 2016, there were only five national waterways, but now there are 11. We have many plans to work on as directed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. These include works on green shipping and green port.
Minister Sonowal answering a query on whether there are plans for the development of these waterways in Assam, “We are not in the planning phase. We are in execution phase. Brahmaputra River is boon for the Northeast. A ship-repairing centre will be constructed by Cochin Shipyard Limited at Pandu in Guwahati. Ships from Northeast had to go to Kolkata for repairing which took six months. Now, a shipway will be built at Pandu which will reduce time considerably.”
The ports and shipping minister also said that India’s largest river bridge from Varanasi to Bogibeel which is around 4,000 kms long is coming up. International cruise terminal is also coming up at four spots.
The second day of the conclave started with an important session with Special Commissioner of Delhi Police Robin Hibu on tackling racism.
Hibu said, “There is a huge gap between North East India and the mainland. Geographically we are very far away from mainland. Northeast is unfortunately known for all bad reasons. We have faced it. Most people of other states do not know about our lifestyle, language and our culture. Therefore you have to expand your circle, mix and let everyone know about your language and culture.”
During the second session of the day on ‘Issues of Northeast like drugs, insurgency, terrorism, border conflicts etc: Are these affecting the growth of the region?’, Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) (Law & Order) GP Singh asserted that glorious days in Assam are coming back as insurgency in the region is now a thing of the past.
Lt. General Rana Pratap Kalita agreeing to Singh stressed that the insurgency problem in the region is stabilized.
He said, “Insurgency situation is stabilized in the region. If we can’t stabilize it, then it’s our failure. Their fundings from sub-elements are fully under control now and will strive to keep it that way.”
Chief of UNICEF, NE states Dr. Madhulika Jonathan stressed on adolescent healthcare during the third interactive session on ‘Women, Health, Malnutrition and Healthcare of North East’.
Jonathan said, “Maternal health is a right of women. A woman has to be healthy to bear a child. Maternal health is multidimensional. If a girl is married before legal age, the body is not ready for pregnancy. It affects both mother and the baby. This happens also because of gender inequality.”
Meanwhile, Dr. Monisha Behal, stressing on the need of better infrastructure said, “We need better primary health centers. We need more human resources. Education needs to be imparted on benefits of herbal medicines for better health.”
Dr. Pramod Sharma said that modern medicine has failed to a large extend and that 80 percent of the world population lacks basic commodities.
During the discussion on ‘Sports infrastructure and the potential of Northeast India’, Laishangbam Anita said that players from Northeast are consistent in their own fields.
She highlighted the importance for hosting more assorted sporting events in the region like racing, hockey, shot put etc.
While, SAI executive director Satish K. Sarhadi said that there should be a focus on community sports.
On being asked if recognition before peak is necessary, gold medalist Nayanmoni Saikia said that it has not affected her in any way.
On the other hand, Journalist Bidyut Kalita said, “Elsewhere, athletes aspire to spend their lives in sports. But here in the Northeast, we are happy with the intent of getting a job through sports.”
Laishangbam Anita said that if felicitation goes on too much, athletes lose their focus, which greatly affects their matches.
Addressing the interactive session on ‘Investment, Jobs & 4 Lakh crore economy of Assam’, MD and CEO of Dalmia Cements, Mahendra Singhi said that the company is planning to set up two more cement plants in the state which may help to generate employment.
Singhi announced plans to invest in the state and said, “We will set up two more cement plants in Assam’s Umrangso and Lanka. These will be at a cost of Rs 2,000 crores and will generate employment and add to the local economy. We also have plans for green cement plants and are looking to Assam to start our green journey. We also have plans to set up solar plants. I ask the state government to be supportive to encourage us to invest more and more in Assam.”
Pallav Bagaria during the session spoke about environment and willpower.
He said, “No matter how much willpower we have within ourselves, if the government creates the environment then things will happen.”
The final session ended with Samir Sinha who had put forward an informative presentation.
He said that Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma has a vision to take Assam to the top five states in India and for this purpose many reforms have been done and these have helped to unlock opportunities. He said that the GSDP or Gross State Domestic Product is the measure of the financial health of a state.
The two-day conclave ended where internally acclaimed actor Adil Hussain shared several interesting stories of his life.
He said, “Just like a good movie needs correct casting, in the same way if I don’t cast myself in the correct way in my life, it will not be a good story. I have cast myself in a way that I felt strongly in my heart that I am in love with acting.”
The Conclave 2022 concluded with the Director of Pratidin Media Group Smitakshi B Goswami gave vote of thanks at the closing ceremony.