Arunachal : Rising Star of the East
'Seeing is believing' is the basic principle of media. Thus, I saw it all, vividly – the toddler Arunachal walking after discarding its NEFA status on January 20, 1972; running, and ultimately flying on February 20, 2012 at the age of 40 with one of its son flying Sukhoi Su 30MKI over the state capital to salute the people celebrating the silver jubilee of the Statehood day.
Leaving its nascent stage behind, Arunachal is poised to push up India's hovering Gross Domestic Product (GDP) while contributing to nation-building in a much greater way that commands every Arunachalee to shoulder greater responsibility.
India's GDP expanded 4.80% in the first quarter of 2013 over the same quarter of the previous year, the annual growth rate (AGR) reported by the union ministry of statistics and programme implementation. The GDP AGR averaged 5.84% from 1951 until 2013, reaching an all time high of 10.20% in December 1988 and a record low of - 5.20% in December 1979.
Many Arunachalees contributed to grease the State's growth-wheels, right from Daying EringtoTomo Riba, PK Thungong, Gegong Apang, Mukut Mithiand Dorjee Khandu to JarbomGamlin as chief ministers, which have gone down the annals of history.
I remember seeing a smiling man who looked smart, thick black hair with a smile for an ornament - when former Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi visited Donyi Polo Vidya Bhawan in 1985.
"I am Nabam Tuki, NSUI leader," he said. "I'm at your disposal. Could I be of any help as our leader is visiting your school?” I was taken aback but welcomed him.
"Wahoo…Arunachal has such smart young men!" I rejoiced,before quipping: "I shall tell when your help is needed."
Incidentally, he is the Chief Minister today, except that his black hair have thinned as he is getting ready to marry off his two daughters simultaneously;but he has not lost his infectious smile which stillinspires aspiration and expectations inall sections. Along the way, Tuki, a graduate, took on various responsibilities - as NSUI State president (1983), NE NSUI coordination committee chairman (1985-86), All India NSUI general secretary (1986-88), APC president (1988-95), NEYCC vice chairman (1988-93) and NEYCC working president (1993), besides working in various capacities in the APCC, including as working president.
I recall Nikh Kamin, in his address at a function at Yazali in early 1996, saying: Gegong Apang needs no introduction, like sun needs no introduction in this 'Land of rising sun', but this could undoubtedly could be applied to Tuki too.
Success embraces those who 'Dares to do' is a common saying. There is no dearth of examples in every field of life. Can anyone think of Tapi Mra, a poor youth from remote Raw village of Lemiking circle under Upper Subansiri district bordering China, could conquer Mount Everest? But he did it by sheer determination and funded by even foreigners, like Anshu Jamshenpa, who holds the record of being the only mother (of two kids) in the world to have scaled the Mount Everest twice in 10 days. But she scaled the peak again on for the third time on May 18, 2013.
Leadership is "organizing a group of people to achieve a common goal". Somebody whom people follow: somebody who guides or directs others. It is "a process of social influence in which one can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task".
So far Arunachal Pradesh has seen seven chief ministers, who are Prem Khandu Thungon (1507 days – 13-08-75 to 18-09-79); Tomo Riba (47 days– 18-09-79 to 03-09-79); after a President’s Rule during 03-11-79 to 18-01-80; Gegong Apang [18-01-80 to 19-01-99 (6940 days) and 03-08-03 to 09-04-07 (1346 days) total 8286 days]; Mukut Mithi (1658 days – 19-01-99 to 03-08-03); Dorjee Khandu )1483 days from 09-04-07 to 30-04-11); Jarbom Gamlin (05-05-11 to 31-10-11) and Nabam Tuki (since 01-11-11).
With ‘Know Arunachal and its people’ the idea, Tuki took up the mission to visit the nook and corner of the state, evolve record number of policies to undone adhocism practiced so far, enthuse the masses to be part of the development process, win the confidence of the GoI planners to realize the ground realities of the state, woo national and foreign investors and corporate bodies to tap state’s vast potentials, but his most daring initiative was to target to create one lakh jobs within five years.
Tuki understood well the basic want of life that the Arunachalees need to earn first through constructive sustainable endeavours - 'Peta puriley sabu nata' (Filled stomach springs aspirations) - which I wrote in my column 'Beyond the Horizon' of my daily Arunachal Front, in Feb 18, 2013 edition.
As providing white-collar jobs to all job seekers was well neigh impossible, Tuki thought of creating more jobs in private sectors by providing skill development training to the youths.
The year 2012 ended with numerous records. First, the CM announced in the assembly on 16-03-13 that 2012-13 target of creating 10,000 gainful employments was exceeded with employment given to 17, 327. Moreover, 2013 target is 25,000 and the GoAP aims at surpassing its five-year target of one lakh; second, the state earned highest ever revenue last fiscal; the 2013-14 Budget with numerous schemes were presented for the first time with earmarked budget.
While the GoAP as facilitator has been creating opportunities in tea and rubber sector, I would like to mention that National Youth Project (NYP) is contributing as NGO and institutional partner of a number of central government departments and GoI-funded NGOs in building capacity, providing skill development training and guiding to set up enterprises though its 47 functional centres throughout the state to direct the youth energy towards nation building.
Tuki's maiden move – CM's Livelihood Mission School – started at Nampong with Agri-Horti Minister Setong Sena's imitative has resulted in local youths starting poultry firm and kitchen gardens to meet the local demands of Jairampur.
While infrastructure development; road, air and railway connectivity and social security schemes are penetrating into to remote and far-flung areas of this land-locked state, particularly under the January 2008 PM's package, tourism, the high potential sector, has got a new thrust with the personal interest of the CM, Tourism Minister Pema Khandu, Tourism Parliamentary Secretary P D Sona and secretary Sonam Chombey.
In 2012, Arunachal, the 'Last Sangri-La on earth', was adjudged the 4th best region by Lonely Planet, BBC's globally circulated magazine. The state was also voted the 'Favourite Upcoming Destination' by Outlook Traveller readers, an outcome of a survey conducted in 2012 through a poll in January 2013. The survey was an authoritative benchmark of consumer preferences in travel and tourism across 18 categories, including hotels, airlines and holiday destinations.
A panel of experts from the tourism industry, including Karan Anand (Cox & Kings), Veena Patil (Kesari Travels), Deep Kalra (Make My Trip), Manju Kashyap (Windmill Holidays), Rajeev Waghle (Kuoni Travels), shortlisted candidates in 42 categories, which then invited votes from readers of the Lonely Planet Magazine from across the world.
Double honour for Arunachal Tourism with President Pranab Mukherjee on 18-03-13 conferring National Tourism Award-2011-12 in recognition of excellence and salutation of the nation to institutions and individuals, including Arunachal Pradesh tourism department for taking the 'Incredible India' to newer heights and adjudged the second runner-up in the "Emerging Destinations in India" category of the prestigious award, next to Gujarat and Jammu & Kashmir, which were adjudged the winner and first runner-up respectively. This is the latest achievement of the tourism sector.
The state tourism department had taken the Campaign Clean Arunachal to all the districts to sensitize and educate all stakeholders -including the youth, NGOs, villagers, hoteliers and tour operators - about the importance of cleanliness and its impact on health, not only of tourists but also locals. An attractive jingle sung by two popular Indian bands was used to attract the youth to this campaign.
To promote the sector, Tuki flagged off 20 of 100 taxicabs in first phase for providing gainful employment to the educated unemployed youths on 15-04-13 under CM’s Paryatan Vikash Yojana.
The union tourism department organized India's 1st International Tourism Mart at Guwahati (Jan 18-20, 2013) with Arunachal's unique culture, cuisine, art and handicrafts turning cynosure of all the roving eyes 100 international delegates from three SAARC and 10 ASEAN countries.
Sources also added that improved publicity methods employed by the departmental advertisements in well-known travel and tourism magazines, the Time magazine and hoardings at major airports have started to pay dividends.
However, the State Tourism Ministers' Conference chaired by Union MoS K Cheeranjivi on July 19, 2013 giving go ahead to Arunachal Pradesh to host the 2nd edition of ITM at Tawang clearly reflects the status of the state.
Arunachal and CM Tuki receives many a national and global accolades, to name a few: In November 2011. Tuki received a record three awards in the ‘Most improved small states' category, instituted by India Today (the State adjudged the Most Improved Small State in investment sector, macro economy and overall performance), on January 16, 2013, he was conferred the Lifetime Achievement for Peace by the United nations affiliated International Association of Educators of World Peace (IAEWP) and the "Green State of the Year Award" on behalf of the GoAP by the International Body Clean Up The Earth (CUTE).
In his acceptance address, Tuki dedicated both the awards to the people of Arunachal Pradesh, saying: "Arunachal has an enviable record of the most peaceful state of the North Eastern Region of the country and the award was an appropriate recognition to the principle of peace and amity embraced by the people of the region".
Arunachal is poised to become a front ranking state with the implementation of "Look East Policy" and reopening of the historic Stillwell road to link with the developed South East Asian nations. This clearly is what Congress president Sonia Gandhi had reflected in her 2005 Statehood day address: "Good times are waiting in the wings t embrace Arunachal".
This also is translating the dream shown to Arunachalees on 31.01.08 by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh:
"The sun kisses India first in Arunachal Pradesh. It is our land of the Rising sun….
"My visit to Itanagar is associated with the launch of several new projects. A new dawn of progress and prosperity is about to break out in this beautiful state.
"I believe that the progress and development of states like Arunachal Pradesh is a measure of the progress and development of the nation as a whole. Your progress will strengthen the nation.
"I sincerely hope that like the sun, Arunachal Pradesh will rise from the east as a new star and become one of the best regions of our country".
Many nourished high hopes on Tuki since he took over the reins of the State on November 01, 2011.But with the ever rising expectations, the civil society feels: Tuki needs to be more assertive not only in framing policies but also by implementing them with the sole resolve of adopting the Gandhi Talisman principle:
"I will give you a talisman. Whenever you are in doubt, or when the self becomes too much with you, apply the following test. Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man whom you may have seen, and ask yourself, if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him... Will it restore him to a control over his own life and destiny? In other words, will it lead to swaraj (freedom) for the hungry and spiritually starving millions? Then you will find your doubts and yourself melt away." (Mahatma Gandhi, January 1948)
By Pradeep Kumar
(The writer is Editor, Arunachal Front)