Remain Unconcerned and Ensure a Future of OurYouths as Pimps and Prostitutes: Manipur and the Emerging Asian Scenario

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By Amar YumnamThree recent developments relating to the development agenda of Asia are of critical importance to the people and land of the region. First, the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia has presented in October 2010 to the East Asia Summit a plan for Asia called The Comprehensive Asia Development Plan. Second, the Asian Development Bank has presented to the world on 4 May 2011 a document named Asia 2050: Realizing the Asian Century. Third, the People’s Republic of China has already completed preparation of 2050 plan for some of the significant development sectors, indicating that the country would soon be having 2050 plan for almost all the sectors of the economy. Globalisation Indeed: Two common underpinnings we can discern from these documents. One, globalisation would only get deepened with the push for heightened integration of all the Asian countries. Two, the developmental concerns as reflected in these documents can no longer remain as sole concerns for the home countries but would henceforth be collective concerns of all the countries in the continent. These are very meaningful indications of the developments getting unfolded in Asia.That the present efforts mean business is salient from the active involvement of research institutes and scholars in countries of Asia other than India. Almost all the international scholars on South East and East Asia who have visited Manipur University recently and those who desire to visit Manipur have expressed eagerness on the need to understand the development dynamics of Manipur within the broader changes taking place in Asia. We would come back on this issue later.The Documents: Here it would be in place to briefly recall on what the two new documents of ASEAN Economic Research Institute and the Asian Development Bank envisage. The Comprehensive Asia Development Plan of the ASEAN Institute is based on new insights from latest developments in international trade theory and the new economic geography. Using a very broad concept of East Asia as including even India, the document speaks of two strategies for making the Asian dream century possible. First, it emphasises deepening the economic integration among the countries of the continent. Second, it also underlines the necessity for bridging the development gap among the regions and countries of the continent. In order to move towards the realisation of this twin objective, the report has identified 695 development projects relating to logistics and infrastructure. Out of these 33 projects relate to India, and all these relate to the Deccan India. Three of the leading economists instrumental in the preparation of this document were recently in Manipur as they have realised that this part of India has missed their understanding and the plan with the implication that to that extent the comprehensive development plan would be an incomplete task ultimately.The Asia2050: Realizing the Asian Century of the Asian Development Bank is more Asian in coverage and perspective than The Comprehensive Asia Development Plan. It speaks of the entire Asia, East Asia and the Pacific, South Asia and Central Asia. This document emphasises on the institutional and governance challenges facing Asia while endeavouring to make this century truly a century of Asia. It speaks in particular of the following risks:A. “Large and, in some cases, increasing inequities within countries could undermine social cohesion and political stability.B. Individual countries risk falling into the Middle Income Trap due to a host of domestic economic, social and political challenges.C. Intense competition for finite natural resources (such as energy, water and fertile land) unleashed by this growth, as the newly affluent Asians aspire to higher standards of living.D. Rising disparities across countries and sub-regions could destabilize the region and halt its growth momentum.E. Global warming and climate change (including increased natural disasters), as well as associated water shortages, could threaten agricultural production, coastal populations and numerous major urban areas.F. In addition, almost all countries face the overarching challenge of governance and institutional capacity.” The document expresses concerns that the two most important countries of Asia in terms of recent growth performance, India and China, now face the biggest risks of falling into the Middle Income Trap. While the ASEAN document speaks of a three-tier development strategy according to the level of development of the region, the ADB one also spells out interventions at three levels: (a) strategic and policy actions at the national levels; (b) collective regional interventions to cater to the needs of global agenda; (c) collective regional actions for interactions with the rest of the world. Now What: Now as stated above, globalisation is going to become an increasing force in Asia and particularly so in this part of the country forming a common zone with South East and East Asia. The power of globalisation is such that none can halt it, while one can only dovetail national policies to maximise returns from participation in the globalisation process. Here we must realise that Asia has had a unique pattern of globalisation with production processes scattered at many locations. Whether India is willing or not, the North Eastern Region and particularly Manipur is going to be the arena for global display of dynamic economic interactions. Here I would reiterate what I have been expressing for quite some years by now. The government of India has all along been displaying mixed at best and non-committal mostly when it comes to economic relationships with other Asian countries through the North East. To confound the confusion, the State governments in the region, in particular that of Manipur, have shown little, if any, understanding and preparation to convert the challenges of globalisation into opportunities. At least, the governments in the region should come out with appropriate funding to begin with for generating a village level data base of the areas in the zone of impact of the logistics and infrastructure that would be soon coming up. Then many others should follow. If the Government of Manipur does not think for Manipur, none would come forward to think of Manipur.

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