1. Days of misery over, PM tells J&K youth
Modi inaugurates projects estimated at ₹20,000 crore
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said here on Sunday that Kashmiri youth of today would not suffer the miseries that the previous generations in the Valley had gone through.
He was inaugurating development projects estimated at ₹20,000 crore aimed at “reducing Dilli saey doori (distance from Delhi)”.
Speaking on National Panchayati Raj Day in Samba district, Mr. Modi said, “I want to tell the youth of J&K to have faith in my words. You will not see the miseries witnessed by your parents and grandparents. I promise I will make it happen.”
Linking all corners
He said the “Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat” initiative in the past eight years had been to reduce distances, whether ‘Dilli ki doorian’ or “cultural or linguistic distances”, while drawing a parallel to the sweetness and richness of Dogri language and culture.
Mr. Modi had first used the phrase ‘Dil ki aur Dilli saey doorian (distances of hearts and from Delhi)’ during the multi-party meeting with J&K regional parties last year in New Delhi to address the regional aspirations.
He said the connectivity projects initiated across J&K and Ladakh would end the distance from Delhi and several new road projects between Srinagar and Delhi had already reduced the travel time by two hours. “The day is not far when Kanyakumari Devi will be connected with Mata Vaishno Devi by one road,” he said.
In the coming 25 years, Mr. Modi said, J&K would script a new era of development. “Investors from the UAE I met are excited to invest in J&K,” he said.
Ek Bharat, Shreshtha Bharat
- The scheme was launched to celebrate the cultural vibrancy of India while establishing a strong mechanism to inculcate nationalism and cultural awareness among the citizens of our nation
- Its primary objective is to strengthen cultural relations of various regions in the country and to encourage mutual connection between people residing in different states
- The scheme aims at celebrating unity in the diverse culture of the nation and to bolstering sentimental bonds among the people of different states
- Under it rich culture, heritage, customs and traditions of either State will be showcased for enabling people to understand and appreciate the diversity that is prevalent in India, thus fostering a sense of common identity among the citizens
- It aims at conducting various activities throughout the year under this campaign to strengthen sentiments for National Unity between the citizens of states and states governed by the union government
2. After a hiatus, household consumer spending survey to resume in July
It helps arrive at estimates of poverty levels
The All-India Household Consumer Expenditure Survey, usually conducted by the National Statistical Office (NSO) every five years, is set to resume this year after a prolonged break.
India has not had any official estimates on per capita household spending, used to arrive at estimates of poverty levels in different parts of the country and to review economic indicators such as the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), since 2011-12. The government had junked the findings of the last Survey, conducted in 2017-18, citing “data quality” issues.
“A decision has been taken to conduct the Survey from July and we have begun planning exercises to train the enumerators who will carry out the 2022-23 Survey on the ground,” an official aware of the development told The Hindu. Typically, the Survey is conducted between July and June and this year’s exercise is expected to be completed by June 2023.
Estimates of household monthly per capita consumer expenditure (MPCE) and the distribution of households and persons over different MPCE classes, based on the Survey, may only become available about a year after the field work is completed. The results will include separate data sets for rural and urban parts, and also splice spending patterns for each State and Union Territory, as well as different socio-economic groups.
Starting mid-May, field enumerators have been asked to attend training programmes to ensure that interviews with households across urban and rural India are conducted sensitively and the intended data sought is gleaned effectively. The schedule lists out the items on which information is sought.
In November 2019, the Statistics and Programme Implementation Ministry had dismissed reports that the 2017-18 Survey findings were withheld due to adverse outcomes reflecting a decline in spending.
The Ministry had also said it was examining the feasibility of conducting the next Survey in 2020-21 and 2021-22 after ”incorporating all data quality refinements in the survey process” recommended by an expert panel that vetted the ‘discrepancies’ in the 2017-18 results.
The Survey could not be launched in the past two years due to the pandemic, the official said.
“…There was a significant increase in the divergence in not only the levels in the consumption pattern but also the direction of the change when compared to the other administrative data sources like the actual production of goods and services,” the Ministry noted about the previous Survey.
There were also concerns about the “ability/sensitivity of the survey instrument to capture consumption of social services by households especially on health and education,” it had said.
Fresh one-off surveys on consumer expenditure and employment and unemployment were commissioned over 2011-12 after the usually scheduled Surveys conducted in 2009-10 had coincided with a worldwide slowdown following the 2008 global financial crisis and a drought year in India. Though the fresh Surveys were necessitated due to the unusual circumstances, the data from the 2009-10 Survey was released in the public domain, unlike the 2017-18 findings.
3. Towards a resolution of the Arunachal-Assam border dispute
What is the history behind the boundary issue between the two States? How do they plan to settle it?
Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu and his Assam counterpart Himanta Biswa Sarma have decided to form district-level committees for settling their inter-state boundary disputes.
The issue started with a 1951 report which transferred 3,648 sq. km of the “plain” area of Balipara and Sadiya foothills to the Darrang and Lakhimpur districts of Assam. Arunachal Pradesh claims the transfer was done without consulting its tribes who had customary rights over these lands.
The two States have decided to form 12 committees involving the districts sharing the boundary in order to come up with a solution.
The story so far: Less than a month after the Union government gave the seal of approval to an agreement to partially resolve the disputed sectors on the Assam-Meghalaya border, Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu and his Assam counterpart Himanta Biswa Sarma decided to form district-level committees for settling their inter-state boundary disputes. This has set the ball rolling for the two States to address the issue on the basis of the “fifty-fifty” or “give-and-take” model Assam and Meghalaya followed for closure of the disputes in six of its 12 troublesome sectors.
Why does Arunachal Pradesh have a boundary dispute with Assam?
Assam has had boundary disputes with all the north-eastern States that were carved out of it. While Nagaland became a State in 1963, Meghalaya first became an Autonomous State in 1970 and a full-fledged State in 1972. Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram were separated from Assam as Union Territories in 1972 and as States in 1987. None of the new States accepted the “constitutional boundary” that they said was dictated by the partisan administration of undivided Assam without consulting the tribal stakeholders. They also claimed that the disputed areas were traditionally under the control of tribal chieftains before Assam, post-India’s independence, inherited the “imaginary boundaries” drawn during British rule. The issue with Arunachal Pradesh has more to do with a 1951 report prepared by a sub-committee headed by Assam’s first Chief Minister, Gopinath Bordoloi.
What is the genesis of the dispute?
Arunachal Pradesh and Assam have disputes at about 1,200 points along their 804 km boundary. The disputes cropped up in the 1970s and intensified in the 1990s with frequent flare-ups along the border. However, the issue dates back to 1873 when the British government introduced the inner-line regulation vaguely separating the plains from the frontier hills that were later designated as the North-East Frontier Tracts in 1915. This area became the North-East Frontier Agency (NEFA) in 1954, three years after a notification based on the 1951 report saw 3,648 sq. km of the “plain” area of Balipara and Sadiya foothills being transferred to the Darrang and Lakhimpur districts of Assam. Arunachal Pradesh has been celebrating its statehood on a grand scale with an eye on China since 1987, but what has been causing resentment is the inability of the people living in the transferred patches to join in the celebration. Leaders in Arunachal Pradesh claim the transfer was done arbitrarily without consulting its tribes who had customary rights over these lands. Their counterparts in Assam say the 1951 demarcation is constitutional and legal.
Did the two States try settling the boundary dispute earlier?
There were several efforts to demarcate the boundary between Assam and NEFA/Arunachal Pradesh between 1971 and 1974. To end the stalemate, a high-powered tripartite committee involving the Centre and the two States was formed in April 1979 to delineate the boundary based on Survey of India maps. About 489 km of the inter-state boundary north of the Brahmaputra River was demarcated by 1984, but Arunachal Pradesh did not accept the recommendations and staked claim to much of the areas transferred in 1951. Assam objected and approached the Supreme Court in 1989, accusing Arunachal Pradesh of “encroachment”. The apex court appointed a local boundary commission in 2006 headed by one of its retired judges.
In its September 2014 report, this commission recommended that Arunachal Pradesh should get back some of the areas transferred in 1951 besides advising both the States to find a middle path through discussions. This did not work out.
What are the chances of a solution emerging this time?
The Assam-Meghalaya boundary agreement has raised hopes of the Assam-Arunachal boundary dispute being resolved, especially with the Centre egging the north-eastern States to end their territorial issues once and for all by August 15, 2022, when the country celebrates 75 years of independence. Moreover, there is a general belief that the region’s sister-States are in a better position to fast-track the resolution since they are ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party with the same dispensation at the Centre. Following the model adopted in the exercise to resolve the dispute with Meghalaya, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh have agreed to form district-level committees that will be tasked with undertaking joint surveys in the disputed sectors to find tangible solutions to the long-pending issue based on historical perspective, ethnicity, contiguity, people’s will and administrative convenience of both the States.
The two States have decided to form 12 such committees involving the districts sharing the boundary. Assam has eight districts touching the boundary with Arunachal Pradesh, which has 12 such districts.
4. ‘Nagas without borders’ spreads message of unity
On its 75th anniversary, the students’ body brings Nagas from across northeast, Myanmar together
The visits of Nokpai Chonglymn and Chhangpoh S.V. to India for education, healthcare or for procuring essentials have been “too routine to remember”.
But the two Naga leaders, separated from each other by “four days’ journey” in Myanmar’s Sagaing division, are unlikely to forget a special Sunday – April 24 – that brought them together and hundreds of other tribespeople for an event titled ‘Nagas Without Borders’ organised by the Zingtun Tangkhul Katamnao Long (ZTKL), a Tangkhul Naga students’ body, on its 75th anniversary at Talui in Ukhrul district.
About 105 km northeast of State capital Imphal, Talui is an iconic Naga village dominated by the Tangkhuls. It is the birthplace of Mazachang Raikhan, a railway officer who founded the ZTKL in 1947.
“We harbour the hope that we will be together one day, that the artificial borders cannot keep us separated. We, the Nagas living in Myanmar, are still in darkness, underdeveloped and living in sheer hopelessness. Nagas living within the Indian administrative areas are more privileged,” Mr Chonglynm, the president of the Eastern Naga Students’ Association (ENSA), told an emotional gathering at the Talui football ground.
Mr. Chonglymn and his associates travelled miles mostly on dirt tracks to reach Talui. Many others, including members of cultural troupes, could not cross over to India due to security reasons although India and Myanmar have a free movement agreement for border residents.
Rego Shonsei, the adviser to ENSA from Chamkock village across the border, said the military coup in Myanmar in February 2021 has compounded the problems of the Nagas there.
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