Guwahati: The concept of Northeast being “far away” is not geographical but more of a mindset said Kiren Rijiju, minister of state (independent charge) for Youth Affairs and Sports and the Chair of the conclave, at the 7th Young Leaders Connect (YLC) held at The Grand, Vasant Kunj in New Delhi on Saturday.
Giving the opening remarks at the event that provides a common platform for young leaders and achievers from Northeast to connect and share ideas, Rijiju said, “It is our job to remove the hindrance and obstacles that create the distance.”
The union minister affirmed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plan for the Northeast and said that NE is a priority, as, a country cannot grow without the growth of such an important region.
Speaking on discrimination the Arunachal MP said we must stop giving everything a racial angle because discrimination happens everywhere, even within Northeast.
He called out in-fighting of tribes, ethnic clashes and other disputes and said that we must take care of these issues. “Only after tackling social issues can we head to economic prosperity,” added Rijiju.
Observing that NE is the only region in India which is “water surplus”, the sports minister stated that Northeast has all important ingredients to propel the states into prosperity.
He added that there is a need to create a conducive situation in the region to break away from the isolation.
The Chief Patron of YLC, Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio, in his address stated that the region should come together to fight for Northeast and have one common voice rather than being a competitor.
Observing that education in the region is more than the national average, Rio said that there is still a huge challenge of unemployment and need to focus on skill training.
The chief minister said that to implement Act East Policy, NE has the resources but not the skills to market it.
He added with the Act East policy in place Northeast has become the gateway to Southeast Asia. Now, the region has to identify its potential and synchronize to prosper.
Hekani Jakhalu, member Leaders Connect and chair YouthNet, in her welcome address called Rio a “youth-friendly” chief minister.
Also, Meghalaya chief minister Conrad K Sangma highlighted that we cannot continue to blame others, rather, we must decide to move forward, and with that in mind, we need to grow.
Six-time world boxing champion MC Mary Kom, Kaliabor MP Gaurav Gogoi and YLC-7 co-chair Bhaichung Bhutia also spoke at the conclave.
The conclave saw a huge footfall and a total of 13 YLC’s North-East Entrepreneurship fellows graduated after successfully completing the fellowship.
Also, two sessions: ‘Entrepreneurs Speak’ and ‘Expectations from North-East’ were held where discussions from investors, banks, policymakers, entrepreneurs, technocrats, governments and various stakeholders who will help build the success of an entrepreneurial ecosystem in the region.
The conclave had panel discussions and insightful discussions with experts and stakeholders that will go beyond dialogue, and towards deliverable goals applicable in a national and regional setting.