Framing policies to achieve economic self-sufficiency is not something new. Many nations, including India are still working towards it, to eliminate poverty and reduce dependency on other countries. When India was facing economic and political turmoil triggered by wars with neighbouring countries and successive monsoon failures, former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi propounded self-sufficiency and pushed the Green Revolution in the 1960s, which paid dividends. Though the policy has always been incorporated in the country’s developmental planning, it resurfaced after a relative lull in 2014 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched “Make in India” programme, an initiative of the government to boost domestic manufacturing, create jobs and increase the country’s GDP by encouraging companies to produce goods in India. The Centre also announced schemes including Stand-up India and Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana to support small and micro enterprises in the country. Closer home, the government of Nagaland has also been pressing towards self-sufficiency by encouraging the people to take up entrepreneurship and increase agricultural produce. Towards this, the state government has announced Chief Minister’s Micro Finance Initiative to provide affordable credit to farmers, self help groups and farmer producer organisations in the form of subsidies and credit subvention. While such initiatives are laudable, its impact on the economy of the country and the state will depend on its implementation on the ground. For a positive outcome, welfare schemes should reach the right people and the beneficiaries should invest wisely.
A closer look at the usage of government schemes and bank loans suggests poor implementation on the ground with many ending up spending such financial support for their personal needs instead of investing in something productive. In other states, banks knock at the doors of the people to avail loans but it is just the opposite in Nagaland. The people are also to be blamed for this. Rampant non repayment of loans by borrowers have forced banks to think twice before issuing loans, thus causing inconvenience to genuine entrepreneurs who require help. This trust deficit between the banks and the people should be bridged to enhance credit flow. The implementation of SARFAESI Act should remove the main hurdle that has been preventing financial institutions from giving out loans to potential entrepreneurs and genuine beneficiaries.
One area that the state should seriously work on is substantial increase in production. Organising events to promote local products and exporting a limited quantity to other countries, while heavily dependent on other states for the same goods won’t help. Avoiding competition through restrictive measures will also render the local produce uncompetitive against foreign products. The way forward is to identify the sectors that are feasible for the state after considering availability of resources, maintaining quality and significantly increasing the scale of production.