Decoding Modi’s North East Story

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Decoding Modi’s North East Story

Sunday, 31 March 2024 | Sumit Kaushik

Decoding Modi’s North East Story

As history's dust clears, an extraordinary story unfolds—one of India's North East transformed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visionary leadership. At its core is a once-marginalized region now rejuvenated through comprehensive development and social unity efforts

A recent literary contribution, “Modi’s North East Story,” penned by Tuhin A. Sinha, the BJP’s national spokesperson, and Aditya Pittie, an experienced entrepreneur and angel investor, serves as a beacon illuminating this transformative journey. This literary work isn’t just gaining traction within India but is resonating deeply among the Indian diasporas. It’s a testament to the emergence of 4.7 crore citizens of Northeast India as the vanguard of Bharat’s resurgence. What struck me most upon reading this narrative was the realisation of the Northeast’s immense potential. Blessed with unparalleled natural beauty, extraordinary biodiversity, and a skilled workforce, the region had languished in obscurity for far too long. However, under the dynamic leadership of PM Narendra Modi, a new dawn has emerged for the Northeast.

Historical context and transformation

The eight states of the Northeast-Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, and Tripura-share borders with neighbouring countries such as Bhutan, China, Myanmar, and Bangladesh. This geographic location has historically endowed the region with a rich tapestry of social and cultural connections, often referred to as ‘Suvarnabhumi’ (land of gold) in ancient texts.

However, delving into the pages of this enlightening tome, one confronts the stark reality of neglect endured by the Northeast under previous regimes. This grim scenario changed when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government came to power in 2014 and took landmark steps to promote social harmony and peace in the region. The government has shown respect and sensitivity towards the culture, identity, and dignity of the people of the region and has engaged in dialogue, development, and democracy to address the grievances and aspirations of the people. The government has made efforts for the surrender of militants through various peace talks and accords, the rehabilitation of surrendered insurgents, the creation of several autonomous councils for different tribal groups, the removal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) from several districts, and the reduction of border conflicts, among many other measures. The signing of the Karbi Peace Accord, the Assam Adivasi Peace Accord, the Dimasa Peace Accord, and the Bodo Peace Accord are examples of how the government has made a lasting difference.

Infrastructure Development and Connectivity

Underpinned by the twin pillars of peace and development and manifested in unprecedented infrastructure creation and an increase in connectivity, the Northeast is witnessing an exponential leap in its quality of life today. The sheer magnitude of the all-round transformation of the Northeastern states in the last decade under PM Narendra Modi’s dynamic leadership is a case study for all scholars of social sciences and public administration. The speed of infrastructure projects undertaken in border areas has boosted the standard of living in far-flung districts. Northeast India witnessed an unprecedented jump in the number of airports in the North Eastern Region (NER), which rose from nine to 16, and the numbers of flights have increased from about 900 to 1,900 post-2014. Some Northeastern states have made their way onto India’s railway map for the first time, and efforts are being made to expand the waterways too. At the same time, the restoration of age-old conflicts and improved law and order situations have led to record tourist footfalls in the region. Under PM Modi’s visionary leadership, the Northeast has emerged as an important reservoir for India’s growth in the decades to come.

The ‘Act East Policy’ and Strategic Initiatives

When Narendra Modi became the PM of India in 2014, he had a vision of transforming India. He put the Northeast at the heart of his vision. He changed the ‘Look East Policy’ to ‘Act East Policy’ and took a holistic approach to tackle the challenges of the region. PM Modi’s vision for the Northeast extends beyond mere economic development. It encompasses a holistic approach that embraces the region’s cultural diversity and heritage. The launch of the ‘Act East Policy’ has opened new avenues for trade and collaboration, positioning the Northeast as a gateway to Southeast Asia. Central to this narrative is PM Modi’s ‘Act East Policy’, which reimagines the Northeast as India’s gateway to Southeast Asia. Through enhanced connectivity and strategic collaborations, the region emerges as a pivotal player in fostering regional integration and economic growth. After 2014, a major impetus was given to further strengthen this relationship between the Indian Northeast and Southeast Asia. Modi envisaged the Northeastern states as India’s gateway to Southeast Asia. To realise this potential, work is resolutely underway on projects like the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway (IMT Highway) and the Agartala-Akhaura rail project. Once complete, these would be complete game changers for the region. When the outlook changes, the rest of the changes are mere formalities.

Leadership and people-centric governance

Unlike most PMs in the past who handled the Northeast from a distance, PM Modi has visited the Northeast around 60 times in nine years, which is perhaps more than the total number of visits by all his predecessors put together. The result is a miraculous transformation in the region, with the Northeast being cited all over as the Modi government’s development model.

Inclusivity and cultural preservation

It may be noted that in the last few years, the Northeast has witnessed many firsts that should actually have happened long, long ago. Almost 60 years after Nagaland attained statehood, the national anthem was played inside the Nagaland Assembly for the first time on February 21, 2021. Similarly, the Tripura Assembly played the national anthem for the first time on March 23, 2018, after the BJP government was sworn in the state. For the first time since our independence, under PM Modi, our most farflung villages on the border have been given top priority for development and employment generation under the recently launched Vibrant Village Programme. These endeavours epitomise a commitment to inclusivity and progress, reflective of PM Modi’s mantra of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’.

Economic Progress and Social Development

While infrastructure and economic development are crucial, the preservation and promotion of the unique cultural heritage of the Northeast have not been overlooked. Prime Minister Modi’s dedication to nurturing and celebrating the diverse traditions, languages, and customs of the region has not only strengthened the social fabric but has also projected the Northeast onto the global stage. Since then, on his nearly 60 visits to the Northeast, he has inaugurated many projects, held rallies and roadshows, and attended swearing-in ceremonies. of North-East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) governments. Yet, beyond the realm of infrastructure lies a concerted effort to preserve and celebrate the Northeast’s rich cultural heritage. Prime Minister Modi’s unwavering dedication to this cause not only strengthens the social fabric but also elevates the region onto the global stage.

This transformation didn’t materialise overnight. It’s the culmination of relentless engagement, dialogue, and empowerment-markers of PM Modi’s leadership since 2014. His unprecedented visits to the Northeast, coupled with strategic initiatives, have sown the seeds of progress and prosperity. Economic indicators underscore this remarkable turnaround, with the Northeast witnessing a surge in GDP and trade, coupled with a decline in insurgency and enhanced connectivity. The cumulative GDP of the Northeastern states has more than doubled from 2.97 lakh crore to 6.81 lakh crore, and their share of the Indian GDP has increased from 2.6 percent in 2013-14 to 2.9 percent in 2021-22. The Northeast has undergone a tremendous economic transformation under the Modi government. 


In a world often beset by cynicism, the Northeast stands as a beacon of possibility-a testament to the transformative power of visionary leadership and collective endeavor. The progressive journey continues, fueled by the promise of a brighter tomorrow for all.

In decoding Modi’s Northeast Story, we unearth not just a tale of development but a narrative of resilience, renewal, and the promise of a brighter future for all. As we celebrate the Northeast’s resurgence, let us continue to amplify these voices and pave the way for a more inclusive and prosperous India. Unlike most Indian PMs who did not challenge the status quo, PM Modi thrives on taking the uncharted route. Social justice and historical course correction are always high priorities of the Modi government, be it about individuals or a region. Northeast India today has the highest-ever representation in the Union Council of Ministers, wherein there are two cabinet ministers and three ministers of state. For the first time, a Member of Parliament (MP) from Tripura has found a place in the Council of Ministers. Over the years, Nagaland’s biggest annual cultural extravaganza, the Hornbill Festival, and Manipur’s Sangai Festival have been attracting visitors from all parts of the country.

As we navigate through the labyrinthine corridors of change, it’s imperative to acknowledge the voices and narratives that animate this saga. “Modi’s North East Story” serves as a conduit, amplifying the voices of facilitators, executors, researchers, and witnesses, democratising this tale of hope and empowerment.

(The writer is a PhD Candidate and impact consultant; views are personal)

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