Good morning. Ladies and gentlemen, it is a great honour for me to be here amongst the friendly Nagas to celebrate the world famous Hornbill Festival. I greet you on this joyous festive season. I congratulate the Nagas for organizing this wonderful festival, which aims to preserve, promote and protect the unique cultural diversity and rich traditions of Nagaland.
I also congratulate the people on the occasion of 51st anniversary of Nagaland’s statehood. On this auspicious day, I urge the Nagas that after 50 years of statehood, Look back! Introspect! And take stock of the ground you have covered so far and what remains to be achieved. I have seen the strength of your society today. A very rich cultural heritage. This must be promoted.
Your culture must not only be interpreted as your colourful dances and songs, but the Naga culture of sturdiness, honesty, simplicity, reflected in all your deliberations and actions. The Naga way of life means pride in your inherent strong character and your hard working attitude.
I also know that you have a rich biodiversity. Your region is located in one of the 25 hot bio-diversity areas of the world. This must be protected at all costs, even as your embark on sustainable development of your resources. People will come to your state for investment or tourism and they will do so because of your amazing bio-diversity and salubrious climate.
Nagaland is blessed in having a young population well-versed in the English language and in tune with what is happening around the world. This is an advantage which must be tapped. You must capture the IT outsourcing business of the world in this part of the country.
I also greatly admire the equal position of Naga women in the Naga society. I recall how smartly our young Naga women jawaans worked while deployed during the Delhi Commonwealth Games. This participation brought great pride to our nation and was a shining example for our womenfolk across the country. The contribution of half of our population to the growth of our society is immeasurable.
Nagas are sports-loving people and have the potential to perform well in disciplines such as boxing, tae kwon do, football and archery. I feel that these activities must be promoted in a systematic way to realize the potential of the people of the region, given the right direction.
I know that it has been over a decade since Prime Minister Vajpayee visited Nagaland. I think, nowadays, if I want to come to Nagaland from Delhi, or if anyone from here wants to go to Delhi, it hardly takes 10-15 hours. But Prime Ministers took more than 10 years to reach here. I assure the people of Nagaland that you will not have to wait this long for the Prime Minister to visit again. I assure you. I will be happy to come often to meet the people of Nagaland.
I will come back to see to it that everything that I have mentioned becomes a reality.
Come, let us together build a new, resurgent, stronger and more prosperous India, as well as our Nagaland.
Friends, for the last 2-3 days, I have been in this part of our country. I think it is the first time that an Indian Prime Minister has stayed in the North-East for 3 days. In India, the word “SEZ” is very popular. Special Economic Zone. But after being here for the last three days, I must say that it is not only SEZ, it is NEZ. When I say NEZ, I mean Natural Economic Zone. The other parts of India will have to find man-made Special Economic Zones. But here, Natural Economic Zones (already exist). But unfortunately, they are untapped.
It is my priority to nourish this NEZ for NE, North-East. NE is meant for NEZs. NEZs are meant for NE.
I took charge as the Prime Minister six months back. And I would like to mention some of the initiatives we have taken for the North-East in the last 6 months. I am sure that this is the right time to mention these initiatives as we are celebrating the Hornbill Festival and preparing for Christmas.
The scheme called “Ishaan Uday” is a special scholarship for students from the North-East, under which 10,000 students will benefit. The scheme called “Ishaan Vikas” will provide opportunities for internships and visit at IITs, NITs, NIFTs in other parts of India during vacation for the students of North-East. Every year 2,000 students and 500 teachers will benefit from this scheme.
We have decided to establish one modern apparel garment manufacturing centre in every state of North-East. We know that we have a rich heritage in the field of textiles. We have a mastery in weaving. Our women carry this art in their fingers, and we have to utilize this capability for the development of this area. And for that, we have decided to begin with Nagaland, Assam and Sikkim. The Central Government will spend 20 crore rupees for this new programme.
During the tenure of the Vajpayee government, a unique decision was taken by Atalji. It was decided at that time that 10% of the Annual Plan Budget will be spent on the North-East states. My government has made a provision of Rs 53,000 crore in the Union Budget for development of the North-East. Rs 28,000 crore will be provided for construction of 14 new railway lines. There are so many tourists here from other parts of India and foreign countries. This is the best tourist destination. All we need is road, rail, and air connectivity to develop tourism here.
Energy is lifeline. We cannot do anything without energy or power. The North-Eastern region power system improvement project has been sanctioned at a cost of Rs 5,000 crore for six North-Eastern states including Nagaland. This will strengthen intra-state transmission and distribution systems. Our goal is 24x7x365 power supply.
Nowadays, the meaning of infrastructure has totally changed. Even if you have road-rail-air connectivity, it is not enough. You require Digital Connectivity too. Under the Comprehensive Telecom Development Plan for the North-Eastern region, we have sanctioned Rs 5,000 crore for 2G mobile coverage for enhanced connectivity between this area and the world.
We have decided to establish a National Sports University in Manipur, and the people of Nagaland will be among primary beneficiaries of this sports university.
We have decided to set up 6 new Agriculture Colleges in North-East. I am sure that North-East can become India’s Capital of Organic Agriculture. North-East can become a source of Organic Agriculture products for the world and for humanity.
Friends, it is a great opportunity for me to be a part of this Hornbill festival. We are very eager to develop our tourism sector. There is a tremendous untapped scope for India in this field of tourism, and we are focussing on it. There are people, even in India, who do not know what a rich bio-diversity we have in this part of India.
Seeing is believing. And I am sure that people here from different parts of India can see what a unique cultural heritage this part has. I am sure that this Hornbill Festival will improve the tourism sector of Nagaland, the people of Nagaland will be beneficiaries of this growth. And when the people of Nagaland become prosperous, the whole country will be the beneficiary.
I am thankful that the Chief Minister invited me to attend this festival. I am sure that in the next 10 days of this festival, lakhs of people will come here to be a part of this festival. Thank you very much.