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Report Reveals Northeast’s Incredible Growth Rate, But Also How It’s Failing Miserably

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By Prachi Salve & Sanjana Pandit, IndiaSpend.com:

Image Source: Flickr
Image Source: Flickr

* India’s fastest-growing state is Meghalaya, with a growth rate of 9.7% in 2013-14, higher than the fastest-growing big state, Madhya Pradesh, at 9.5%. Arunachal Pradesh grew faster than Gujarat.

* Fewer people, 12.8 million, live below the poverty line in the entire northeast than in just one large state, Karnataka, which has 12.9 million poor people.

* Tripura reported India’s highest unemployment rate, 25.2% in urban areas, followed closely by Nagaland with 23.8% in 2011-12. The highest unemployment in the urban areas of a large state was 7%, in Jammu and Kashmir.

The eight north-eastern states–Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim (added in 2002) and Tripura–are growing fast, educating their people at a rate much faster than the rest of India, reducing their dependence on agriculture, and generally prospering, IndiaSpend research has revealed, but the growth is not creating enough jobs and livelihood opportunities.

Other thing evident is that while northeast states are often clubbed together, we found, in many cases, wide differences; for example, Manipur’s high poverty rate and Sikkim’s prosperity. Some of the economic indices are India’s highest, and some are India’s lowest.

Today, in the first of a three-part series, we analyse the northeast’s economic indicators, such as gross state domestic product (GSDP), unemployment, and population below the poverty line.

Growth driven by services, industry

Meghalaya, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh recorded the highest growth rates in GSDP in 2013-14. Meghalaya’s growth in GSDP of 9.7% was equivalent to Bihar, which had a GSDP growth rate of 9.1%. Arunachal Pradesh, with a growth rate in GSDP of 8.9% grew faster than Gujarat, which reported 8.7%.

The share of the industrial sector for all eight states has increased while the share of agriculture and allied activities has declined. In Mizoram, for example, the growth rate for agriculture and allied activities went down from 16.4% in 2010-11 to 0.07% in 2013-14.

Unemployment higher in urban areas

Unemployment in urban areas across all north-eastern states is higher than rural areas, and is in line with the national pattern.

“The growth in manufacturing has not been accompanied by a commensurate growth of employment opportunity for the local population,” Sumarbin Umdor, professor of Economics at North-Eastern Hill University, wrote in The Shillong Times. “Given the lack of job creation in other formal sectors, most of the employment outside agriculture is therefore in the low productivity informal sector, particularly in informal construction, retail trade and transportation.” Tripura recorded the highest unemployment rate in urban areas at 25.2% in 2011-12, India’s highest jobless rate, followed by Nagaland with 23.8%, India’s second-highest rate, and Manipur with 7.1%. Meghalaya had India’s second-lowest unemployment rate (after Gujarat), with 0.4% in rural areas and 2.8% in urban areas in 2011-12.

A caveat: Unemployment rates in rural India are always lower than urban, since they do not account for hidden or partial employment. In general, employment rates do not adequately reflect reality, but only offer an indication.

Poverty unevenly spread: Manipur is poorest; Sikkim richest

The northeast has widely varying rates of poverty, which largely reflect unrest and insurgency. While 36.9% people live below the poverty line (the ability to spend Rs 1,170 per family per month in urban areas, Rs 1,118 in rural) in Manipur, where a cocktail of insurgent groups have crippled the economy, only 8.2% of the population is below the poverty line in Sikkim (Rs 1,226 in urban, Rs 930 in rural), where plentiful hydro power has raised incomes, as IndiaSpend has reported. Meghalaya and Sikkim have seen some of the largest falls in poverty in India. For instance, the percentage of population below the poverty line in Sikkim was 13.1% in 2009-10 and it fell to 8.2% in 2011-12. In comparison, poverty in Bihar and Madhya Pradesh–the large states most successful in cutting poverty–fell from 36.7% to 31.7% and 37.7% to 29.4% over the same period. Similarly, in Meghalaya, the percentage of population below the poverty line was 17.1% in 2009-10 and fell to 11.9% in 2011-12.

 

 

Although the number of people below the poverty line might be lower than the national average, the intensity of poverty in these states is much higher, according to the National Institute of Rural Development (NIRD). Poverty in the northeast, like the rest of India, is a more rural phenomenon than urban: 11.6 million people of the 12.8 million living below the poverty line are in rural areas. The two main reasons for poverty are under-developed agriculture and unskilled labour, according to NIRD. To address the region’s development challenges, including infrastructure, the Central government created the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region in 2004, allocating Rs 2,362 crore to the ministry in 2015-16. The grants from the Centre and their share in Central taxes together form 79% of their total revenue, according to the Reserve Bank of India.

Some of the grants like the ones given out by the Ministry are influenced by politics as well. For example, from 2010-11 to 2012-13, Arunachal Pradesh received the highest grants with almost 19% of the total allocations. Later, when the government wanted to sign the Naga Peace Accord of 2015, the allocation to Nagaland was increased (to 20%) and Arunachal Pradesh had come down.

This article was originally published on IndiaSpend.com, a data-driven and public-interest journalism non-profit.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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