After infra push, govt plans array of soft sops to woo NE

  • Zia Haq, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Dec 22, 2014 00:03 IST

After generating ample excitement during his recent a tour of the N-E, PM Narendra Modi plans to top up his government’s hard infrastructure proposals for the region with an array of softer sops and cultural showpieces.

Going well beyond the budget proposal of a new channel for the region, the Centre is working to launch a blitzkrieg of at least four television channels with fancy names, a signature style of Modi.

To tap into the region’s affinity for music and films, the government will gift Meghalaya a prestigious film and television institute, while Aizawl, the Mizoram capital, may get a centre of the Indian Institute of Mass Communication.

Of the four proposed channels, the one for Arunachal is called Arun Prabha, or rising sun. The name was chosen because Arunachal is where the sun first emerges in the Indian mainland.

The three states of Nagaland, Mizoram and Manipur together will get a channel called “Namima”, an acronym derived from the first syllables of the names of these three states. Assam and Meghalaya similarly will get a channel called “Asme”. Delhi is likely to become the permanent venue for an annual Northeast film festival.

“The idea for all these channels is to promote local content, local culture, local artistes and production houses. It has nothing to do with politics,” minister of state for information and broadcasting, Rajyavardhan Rathore said.

In the six month that the NDA has been in power, it has cleared Rs 15,000 crore for building roads in the N-E, railway proposals worth Rs 28,000 crore, another Rs 5,336 crore for mobile links and optical fibre connectivity and Rs 5000 crore for power transmission. The government also aims to complete the Asian Trilateral Highway project, linking the region to Thailand through Myanmar by 2016-17.

Politically, the BJP is seeking make deeper inroads into the region, after a stunning Lok Sabha win in Assam, where the party wrested 3 seats from opponents, including the ruling Congress, to win half of the state’s 14 seats.

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