|1. An overview of the state|
|2. Problems and Pecularities|
|3. The Prospects|
|4. Suggested approach|
|5.Suggested project ideas|
|6.Investments in Manipur|
1.1 For purposes of development planning, the State
has to be divided
into two geographical units i.e. the hills and the valley. The
traditional district-wise approach will not be feasible as the districts
have been formed more out of political and ethnic considerations rather
than their economic viability or particularity. Besides, the area
covered by a district in Manipur is very small.
1.2 The valley constitutes about one-tenth of the
area. But more than two-thirds of the population live here. The Meiteis
who settle predominantly in the valley, have a long cultural and
political tradition. They form a fairly homogenous people; there is no
caste system among them even though a majority of them profess
Vaishnavism. They also constitute the majority in the State. Another
community in the valley, small in number but economically significant,
is the Muslims, known locally as the Meitei Pangals.
1.3 About two dozen tribes are settled in the hills.
have broadly classified them under two categories, namely, the Nagas and
the Kukis. However, many of the tribes themselves often do not want to
be known or classified as such. Unfortunately, in recent times, friendly
relations among the tribes is far from the minds of some of the tribal
1.4 Agriculture and allied activities provide the
backbone to the
economy in both the hills and the valley. Weaving and pisciculture are
other important and traditional means of livelihood in the valley.
Logging, cultivation of a few cash crops, handloom and handicrafts are
traditional sources of additional income in the hills.
1.5 The State's share from the power generated
by the Loktak Hydel
Project is not sufficient to meet even the domestic requirements.
Combined with the government apathy, the transport bottleneck and the
absence of an indigenous entrepreneur class, it is not surprising that
there are no manufacturing and processing industries worth the name in
1.6 The State is heavily dependent on imports from
outside for almost
all items of everyday need. As such, the reins of the economy are in the
hands of the 'outsiders' who have an inherent advantage over the local
businessmen in supplying these items. Thus the Manipuri people get
little economic benefit out of the Central assistance to the State. The
per capita income is much lower than the national average.
1.7 There is a growing army of the educated unemployed,
jobs are perhaps the only avenue for employment. Seasonal unemployment
and underemployment in the rural and hill areas are no less serious. The
resultant frustration among the youth is at the root of the massive drug
abuse among them and also of the climate of increasing political
violence in the State. The breakdown in the maintenance of law and order
has now become the biggest disincentive to economic development.
1.8 The State Government is yet to demonstrate
the foresight, the
ability and perhaps even the sincere willingness to tackle the manifold
problems arising out of economic backwardness and bring about rapid
economic development in the State. Corruption is almost endemic at all
strata of the government apparatus.
2.1 Any development plan for Manipur has to take
into account the
crucial role played by women in the economic life in both the hills and
the valley. The biggest market in Manipur, the Khwairamband Keithel in
Imphal, is entirely a women's market. The phenomenon is more or less the
same in countless markets, big and small, which lie scattered in
Manipur. A strategy for development which does not address their
specific needs and aspirations is bound to fail.
2.2 The average land holding in the valley is very
small as the
population density is high. The establishment of major industrial units
in the valley is more or less ruled out by these factors. On the other
hand, there is no effective and proper land-use policy even in the urban
centres. Unplanned industrial growth in the future will do more harm
2.3 Except in urban centres where municipal laws
are in force, there is
generally community ownership of land in the hills. The population
density is very low and vast tracts of vacant land are available for
development. There are also rich mineral deposits in the hills,
particularly along the geological fault line near the Indo-Myanmar
border. But community ownership of land creates legal and practical
hurdles in exploiting the resources. Moreover, non-tribal people like
the Meiteis are legally barred from owning land in the hills.
2.4 In view of the facts mentioned in paras 2.2
and 2.3, a development
strategy for Manipur has to take into consideration this anomalous
situation of rich human resources in the valley but without adequate
space for development, and vice versa in the hills.
2.5 It is indeed very unusual for anyone in Manipur
to get loans from
the government or the financial institutions without greasing the palms
of some functionaries concerned. And more often than not, the
beneficiaries are persons who do not deserve to get the loans in the
first place. Of course, the loans usually do not get the intended
results. Consequently, the record of loan recovery is extremely poor
which, in turn, tarnishes the image of the entire Manipuri people.
Genuine and would-be entrepreneurs are trapped in a vicious circle as
the financial institutions are naturally very reluctant to advance
2.6 It is generally difficult to find a market
for local products,
except in handloom and food items. This is mainly due to the
stranglehold on trade by the 'outsiders'.
3. The prospects
3.1 The creative genius of the people are reflected
in their daily life.
It may be the clothes, the jewellery, the arts, the music or the dances
- one can easily notice in them a collective mind which appreciates
beauty and innovation. The most unfortunate aspect of the second-hand
development model pursued in Manipur so far is that this talent has been
completely ignored. The key to economic development in Manipur lies in
finding out the appropriate technology and the appropriate economic
activities where this talent can be usefully applied.
3.2 Despite the widespread drug abuse and the consequent
having the highest per capita concentration of HIV positive cases, the
average standard of physical fitness in Manipur is comparatively high.
This is reflected in the prowess of the youth in games and sports. This
asset has not been adequately tapped for economic development.
3.3 The percentage of literacy in Manipur is higher
than the national
average. There is sufficient reservoir of trained and skilled manpower
for many manufacturing, processing and service industries. Given the
right incentives, they can be self-employed in gainful activities.
3.4 The hills are rich not only in mineral deposits
but also in a large
variety of flora, of which many are rare or have medicinal properties.
Almost nothing has been done for their commercial exploitation.
3.5 The opening of the border trade between India
and Myanmar and the
effect of Myanmar as an ASEAN member, give both a challenge and an
opportunity to Manipur. Officially, the border trade does not allow
third-country products. However, unofficially, the bulk of the
transactions is in those items. At the moment, Manipur is flooded with
cheap, and often sub-standard, electronic, electrical and other consumer
goods from East and Southeast Asian countries. Such imported items may
be replaced without much difficulty by local products provided the
quality and the price are reasonable. On the other hand, a few local
produce which are not used or consumed by the people find a profitable
market in Myanmar. Many raw materials required in Manipur may also be
procured from or through Myanmar.
4. Suggested approach
4.1 Very few people in Manipur have heard of the
name NEDFi, not to
speak of an awareness about its activities and objectives. The first
obvious thing to do is popularize NEDFi among the people as an
institution which is different in its functioning from other apparently
similar institutions. Media professionals may be hired for the purpose.
4.2 In the meanwhile, there is need for the NEDFi
to modify its lending
and other norms to suit the local conditions. For example, the rate of
interest and the minimum loan amount may be lowered.
4.3 Following the publicity campaign, it is suggested
that the NEDFi
prepare a database on the number and categories of trained manpower
available in Manipur. It may begin with data readily available with
government and academic institutions. But, to satisfy itself about the
actual and current position, the NEDFi may organize one-day workshops at
Imphal from time to time for information and motivation to each category
of qualified and interested persons. A separate workshop for women may
be conducted to ascertain their specific needs.
4.4 The preparation of project reports are daunting
tasks even for
otherwise qualified persons. When, after the workshops, specific project
ideas have been identified according to their feasibility and priority,
the NEDFi has to engage the services of qualified NGOs or individuals at
Imphal for assistance in the preparation. Alternatively, it may open a
4.5 Successful implementation of the projects are
essential at any time
for the entrepreneurs concerned. But the success of the first few
projects is perhaps more crucial for the NEDFi in order to establish its
bona fides among the people. Hence, the need for extra care in
identification, implementation and monitoring in the initial stage.
5.Suggested project ideas
5.1 After a preliminary but wide-ranging survey,
the following project
ideas are suggested for implementation in the initial stage:
a) Upgradation of technology/modernization
in production of traditional
handloom items for improvement and standardization in quality
Reason: Weaving is the traditional occupation of women in Manipur
some of the handloom products are exported and earn foreign exchange.
b) Cold storage facility with captive power supply
Reason: Local producers of perishable goods like fish and vegetables
are at present compelled to sell at considerable loss in the absence of
cold storage facilities in Manipur while, at the same time, government
power supply is unreliable
c) Food processing
Reason: Due to favourable climatic and soil conditions, many fruits
and a few cash crops grow in abundance. They have not yet been
commercially exploited to their full potential. Food processing units
using modern technology can function profitably.
d) Readymade garments
Reason: The Manipuris have a general weakness for fashionable dresses
and even the neighbourhood tailors are adept in designing clothes.
Though readymade garments will be new as an industry, there is
reasonable chance that, with modern equipment and methods, their natural
aptitude can make it a successful venture.
e) Hostels/facilities for overnight stay by women
Reason: Thousands of women go from place to place in Manipur everyday
for business. These facilities at suitable locations will go a long way
in meeting a pressing social need.
5.2 The following project ideas are suggested for
implementation at a
a) Assembly of electronic and electrical goods
b) Upgradation of technology in production
and marketing assistance for
c) Healthcare and medical research facilities
d) Hotels and other tourist facilities
e) Creation of knowledge based employees(IT)
TOTAL INVESTMENT : Rs 851 crore
Under implementation : Rs 254 crore
10 LARGEST PROJECTS
1. NE Frontier Railways ; Railway lines - Rs 800.00 crore
2. National Hydro Power Corp ; Hydro-power - Rs 426.00 crore
3. Government of Manipur; Irrigation - Rs 150.00 crore
4. State Electricity Deptt.; Thermal Power - Rs 126.00 crore
5. Government of Manipur; Medical Research - Rs 90.00 crore
6. Government of Manipur; Irrigation - Rs 72.95 crore
7. Reliance Telecom; Cellular Phones - Rs 50.00
8. Government of Manipur; Irrigation - Rs 42.53 crore
9. Government of Manipur; Irrigation - Rs 18.86 crore
10. Ministry of Transport; Roadways - Rs 15.00 crore