GUWAHATI:  The NDA government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is focused on promoting all-round development of the Northeastern region, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu said on Sunday while presenting the Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi Award for National Integration and Contribution 2021 in a solemn function organised at Srimanta Sanakardeva International Auditorium here.

The award was presented to three recipients—eminent writer and scholar Nirode Kumar Barooah, members of Kasturba Gandhi National Memorial Trust and members of the Shillong Chamber Choir.

Based in Germany, Nirod Kumar Baruah had his masters in History and Political Science from Kashi Hindu University and M Phil from Bonn University in Germany. He has many books on Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi to his credit. 

Set up in 2001, Shillong Chamber Choir has become famous internationally for its choruses. Kasturaba Gandhi National Memorial Trust was set up when Mahanta Gandhi had visited Assam on January 9, 1946. Since then the Trust has been working for rural women and children of the region.

In his speech, the Vice President said, “As you are indeed aware, the Union government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has focused on the need to promote all-round development of the North-Eastern Region. As initiatives over the past seven and a half years reveal, development, peace and prosperity have been the top priorities for the Central Government. One recent example is the historic Karbi Anglong Agreement signed in the presence of Union home minister Amit Shah, about a month ago, to end the decades-old crisis ensuring Assam’s territorial integrity. This pact has rightly been described as another milestone in the Government’s vision for an “Insurgency free, prosperous Northeast.” “I am certain that the Union government’s Special Development Package of around Rs. 1000 crores to undertake specific projects for the development of Karbi areas will fast-track growth and progress here,” Naidu said.

The Central government’s thrust to improving air connectivity in the Northeastern is also an integral part of the ‘Act East’ policy and will fill a critical gap in this sector, he said.“The Central government of India’s focus on the need for accelerated progress of the Northeast can be seen in a range of initiatives it has undertaken. The NER District SDG Index & Dashboard, a collaborative effort by NITI Aayog and Ministry of DoNER, with technical support from UNDP, is the first of its kind in the country as it concentrates exclusively on the Northeast,” he said. 

Clearly, this is of critical significance to the country’s development curve. The Index measures the performance of the districts of the eight States of the North-East and is a unique policy tool with tremendous potential to measure district level progress, highlight vital gaps and aid appropriate resource allocation. Needless to add, it will also serve as a handy tool for policy makers.

“As you know, both the Union Government and the Assam state government have initiated and implemented a host of initiatives to promote entrepreneurship by creating a vibrant ecosystem in Northeastern region. I am certain that all these progressive steps will cumulatively help Assam, as also the other states of the Northeast, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura to scale higher peaks of progress and development in the future,” he said. 

Stating that Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi was one of the founders of modern Indiam the Vice President said Bordoloi was a visionary leader whose unparalleled contribution to protecting India’s integrity and sovereignty in the turbulent times of partition deserved a special mention.

As the first chief minister of the state in independent India, Bordoloi had implemented an array of progressive industrial policies and was also responsible for establishing a number of educational institutions, including Gauhati University, Naidu said. Bordoloi is said to have been a gentle giant—soft-spoken and mild mannered yet committed to truth and wedded to his ideals, Naidu further said. 

The Vice President said that Bordoloi’s statesman-like personality had transcendental appeal and people across communities, denominations and political affiliations looked up to him. “More than seven decades have lapsed since his premature demise, Bordoloi occupies a revered place in the hearts of the people of Assam in particular, and of the nation in general,” the Vice President added.

Congratulating the recipients, Naidu noted that Nirode Kumar Barooah had come all the way from Germany. “Barooah Ji’s sterling contribution lies in introducing Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi to the larger international audience through his valuable research work and books”, he said. He also lauded members of the Kasturba Gandhi National Memorial Trust, Assam branch for their stellar contribution to the cause of reconstructing the lives of rural women and children through their initiatives. 

Congratulating the members of the Shillong Chamber Choir for this crowning achievement, he said it was in recognition of their contribution to the cause of national integration through music and culture. “Music and culture can promote national integration, especially when divisive forces are trying to weaken the country. The need of the hour is to promote peace and make the country strong and prosperous”, he added.In his address, Governor Prof Jagdish Mukhi expressed happiness to be a part of the event and extended his best wishes and congratulations to  the award recipients in recognition to their contribution to national development.

He at the same time urged upon them to continue with their work to enrich the society more than ever before.  Reminiscing Bordoloi after whom the awards were given the Governor said that he sacrificed his whole life to build a New Assam and a new Assamese society where all section of the people irrespective of caste, creed, religion, language and ethnic group could live in peace and amity.  “Although he is no more with us, his ideals and his dedication will always remain with us as beacon of light to guide the younger generation to righteousness,” Mukhi also said.Taking note on the works being undertaken by the awardees, Mukhi further urged upon them to keep working to take the country to a greater height  and help create a society founded on the principles of shared joy, truthfulness and trust. He also said that in the coming years also they should strive for excellence to motivate the young minds to contribute to national development.

The prestigious Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi Award for National Integration and Contribution was instituted by Assam government in 1993 in the memory of Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi. The award is conferred on to an Indian national and persons of eminence for their contribution in National Development of Inclusive Growth. The award carries a cash amount of Rs. 5.00 lakh, a citation and a shawl.

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