DEVELOPMENT IN NORTH EAST
D. D. Mali
In India efforts
to promote and develop entrepreneurship among the youth began with Industrial
Campaign during the early 1960s. It has now taken the form of a nationwide
movement. While Gujarat is credited as being the first state in the country
to make planned and systematic efforts in entrepreneurship development,
in the North East India, Assam is the pioneer in this field. In 1973, Assam
started a novel experiment on entrepreneurship development by setting up
district level agencies known as entrepreneurial motivational training
centres (EMTC) to identify, select, and train prospective entrepreneurs
and provide them all support services to start and run their enterprises.
The EMTCs did commendable work in promoting entrepreneurship in the state
during the early years of their functioning. After more than 25 years of
their operation the EMTCs have now been merged with District Industries
Centres. Thus, an important chapter in the history of entrepreneurship
movement in the North East is closed forever.
now other agencies such as Small Industries Services Institutes (SISIs)
and branch SISIs, North Eastern Industrial and Technical Consultancy Organisation
(NEITCO), North Eastern Industrial Consultant (NECON), and National Small
Industries Corporation (NSIC). In addition, in 1993 the Government of India
set up Indian Institute of Entrepreneurship (IIE), a national institute
at Guwahati to act as catalyst on entrepreneurship development with its
focus on the North East. Entrepreneurship development has become a major
concern of all these organisations and institutions, apart from their other
regular activities. Among other agencies, the State Bank of India is one
of the first few organisations to take up Entrepreneurship Development
Programme (EDP) in the North East. It, however, stopped to organise training
for entrepreneurs for about one and half decades but has again started
a fresh initiative from 2001 to train prospective entrepreneurs in the
region. Rotary Club of Guwahati South, Faraday Bicentenary Science Park
of Cotton College, Assam Engineering College, Assam Engineering Institute
etc. also occasionally organise training for promotion of entrepreneurship.
The implementation of Prime Minister's Rozgar Yojana (PMRY) from 1993 led
the District Industries Centres (DICs), Small Industries Development Corporations,
National Productivity Council (NPC), small industries associations and
non-governmental organisations, consultants etc. to take up training of
PMRY beneficiaries. There are now voluntary organisations also who are
directly involved in promotion of entrepreneurship through training and
support. But the major role in the entrepreneurship development in the
states of the North East is still played by NEITCO, NECON, NSIC and IIE.
Council and Entrepreneurship Development
Eastern Council (NEC), set up in 1972, recognised the important role of
entrepreneurship in the economic and industrial development of the region.
One of the first important works of it was to get a study done on the entrepreneurial
and managerial needs of the region through SIET Institute (now NISIET).
Based on the study the NEC took a number of steps for promoting entrepreneurship
in the region. In 1985, the NEC drew up an ambitious plan to train and
develop 5000 entrepreneurs during the seventh plan (1985-90). In its efforts
Industrial Development Bank of India (IDBI) and its sister organisations,
Industrial Finance Corporation of India (IFCI) and Industrial Credit and
Investment Corporation of India (ICICI) also participated. As against the
target of training 5000 entrepreneurs the four organisations, namely NEITCO,
NISIET, NECON and EDII together could train 3609 participants. An evaluation
study by NEC (1990) revealed that overall rate of success of EDPs organised
during the 7th Plan (1985-90) was 20.88 per cent.
taken by the NEC in 1985 still continues. In its efforts there are now
new partners. SIDBI also started participating in entrepreneurship development
efforts, particularly in respect to rural and women entrepreneurs. During
April 1990 to March 1996 NEC and IDBI and NEC and SIDBI together sponsored
212 EDPs in the North East in which 5375 participants participated. An
evaluation study of these programmes revealed that 25.2 per cent of the
participants trained could set up their enterprises. Now the Khadi and
Village Industries Commission (KVIC) have also started to participate in
rural entrepreneurship development programme.
NEC, IDBI and SIDBI and KVIC, there are now several other organisations
that are supporting initiative for promotion of new entrepreneurs and/or
creation of awareness of entrepreneurial opportunities in the North East.
Among them are the offices of the Development Commissioner (SSI) under
the Union Ministry of SSI and Agro and Rural Industries, Department of
Science and Technology with focus on promoting science and technology entrepreneurs,
Union Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Sources for promoting entrepreneurship
in non-conventional energy sector, NABARD for promoting rural and women
entrepreneurship, Council for Advancement of People's Action and Rural
Technologies (CAPART) under the Union Ministry of Rural Development, for
involving voluntary organisations in entrepreneurship development effort.
IIE has been
following a multi-pronged approach in entrepreneurship development - organising
and conducting training for prospective entrepreneurs, (Promotion of New
Entrepreneurs), for existing entrepreneurs (Growth of Existing Entrepreneurs),
for personnel from promotional and developmental organisations, (Creation
of Entrepreneurial Environment), for educated sons and daughters of entrepreneurs,
businessmen and artisans (Continuity of Family Business) and students and
teachers from school, college and university and technical institutes (Entrepreneurship
Education). Each group of programmes is meant for separate target group
and is aimed at achieving specific objectives. Programmes for students,
started in 1997, are aimed at creating awareness of entrepreneurial opportunities
and interest in entrepreneurial career among students. Later on the Institute
started teachers' programmes to involve them in creating awareness of opportunities
for self-employment and entrepreneurial career among the students. Besides,
the teachers are also expected to guide and counsel students for career
in entrepreneurship and self-employment. The Institute has gone a step
ahead to induce the college and university teachers to set up information
and career guidance cell (ICGC) in their respective institutions, pending
introduction of entrepreneurship as an element of academic curriculum.
and conducting training for different target groups, the Institute has
also been experimenting different approaches on entrepreneurship development.
During November 1996 to November 1998 the Institute adopted an area approach
(known as Rural Industries Programme or RIP) on entrepreneurship development
in Nagaon District of Assam with the objective to promote 100 entrepreneurs
in the district in a period of two years. The experiment made with support
from SIDBI was implemented in two phases - in the first phase it identified
a list of about 110 viable projects in the district. It also set up a field
office at Nagaon, which identified and selected prospective entrepreneurs
and trained them. In the second phase it provided post-training support
to the trainees. At the end of March 1999, eighty seven trainees could
set up enterprises, some of them on their own and many with bank finance.
Based on the results of this experiment the Institute has now taken up
another RIP in the Barpeta district of Assam. It also made an experiment
of a 12 week turnkey EDP to improve the success rate of EDPs. This turnkey
approach has now been adopted by NEITCO and NECON also. Besides, the Institute
also designed a Crash Course on Entrepreneurship for graduate and postgraduate
youth in search of opportunities for self-employment or salaried employment.
This experiment revealed that awareness creation of entrepreneurial opportunities
could go a long way in the promotion of entrepreneurship and self-employment
among educated youth in the North East. The Institute has also started
a 12 week certificate course in Entrepreneurship and Management for graduate
and post graduate youth for promoting new entrepreneurs and developing
entrepreneurial managers that are now in demand from industry and others
training the Institute also made a number of research studies to enrich
the knowledge of the critical factors in the process of entrepreneurship
research done by the Institute brought out a number of social and institutional
issues that need to be addressed to have better impact of the efforts to
promote entrepreneurship. Socio-cultural environment and values have an
important bearing in the emergence of entrepreneurship in any society.
While the individual may like to take up entrepreneurial career, the family
may not like to encourage him/her to take up such a career. It is a fact
that majority of parents want their children to take up salaried employment.
Preference for salaried employment is not peculiar to the states of the
North East. This can be found in other states also. But preference for
salaried employment in the North East is very high. There are, of course,
youth taking up entrepreneurial career against the wishes of the parents.
But their number is very small.
It is not the
family pressure or family expectation alone for which the youth in the
North East have developed a preference for salaried employment. It is also
socio-cultural environment that has been a hindrance in the growth of entrepreneurship
in the region. It is social status that counts most while making a choice
of a career.
to socio-cultural environment, organisational environment has also much
to do with the emergence of entrepreneurship in a society. There are many
organisations and institutions to provide support to entrepreneurs such
as training institutes, small industry development corporations, marketing
organisations, consultancy organisations and banks and financial institutions.
Apart from these organisations, there are regulatory organisations to give
clearance, say for construction of factory shed, or for taking up entrepreneurial
activities in certain line of activity, say drugs and pharmaceutical units,
or organisation to supply of power, electricity board/department etc. All
organisations have their policy and programmes to provide necessary help
and support to entrepreneurs. However, there is much to be desired in the
support provided by the support organisations. Getting clearance for construction
of factory shed or permission for starting specific line of activity or
even for getting power connection takes unduly long time. Among various
organisations banks and financial institutions have an important role to
play in the development of entrepreneurship in the region. But bank finance
continues to remain a major problem for the entrepreneurs. There are marketing
organisations to provide marketing support. There are also marketing schemes
to help the entrepreneurs. However, the organisational climate in support
organisations is yet to be entrepreneur-friendly. The DICs have also not
been able to function as a single window clearance agency.
to promote and develop entrepreneurship during the last more than two and
half decades have resulted in some changes in the entrepreneurial scenario
in the North East. Again, more and more women are now taking up entrepreneurial
career that was not found even in late 1980s and there are now women entrepreneurs
associations in the region. Colleges and Universities are gradually taking
interest to create awareness of career option in entrepreneurial activities
among the students. Many colleges have already set up information and career
guidance cells (ICGC) to guide and counsel students for career in entrepreneurial
activities and self-employment and getting their teachers trained for this
purpose. Universities have also been considering introduction of entrepreneurship
as an element in academic curriculum. Dibrugarh University and Guwahati
University have already taken steps to introduce entrepreneurship in post-graduate
commerce course. Entrepreneurs have been emerging in new areas, particularly
in service sector. Many new entrepreneurs are taking up franchise for being
business owners. The region does have entrepreneurs, may be micro entrepreneurs.
This can be seen from the fact that it has two important sectors, namely,
handloom and handicraft sectors. Women weavers predominate in the vast
handloom sector in the region. In fact the highest number of amateur weavers
in the country is concentrated in the North East. The existence of the
artisan sectors is a positive condition for promoting entrepreneurship.
Besides new entrepreneurs are also emerging. The average size of units
that are being set up by the new entrepreneurs is with Rs.1 to Rs.2 lakh
investment. The types of enterprises that are emerging are still traditional
and conventional like weaving cotton and silk fabrics.
from the early 1970s, there have been planned and systematic efforts to
promote entrepreneurship in the North East, initially by the Government
of Assam and later on by the North Eastern Council. The efforts still continue.
But more efforts are still required to promote and develop entrepreneurship
in the region to bring it at par with the level of development of the rest
of the country. In any approach to entrepreneurship development in the
North East, due care is to be given to the removal of the problems and
also for using the potential for entrepreneurship. This will mean taking
effective steps for creation of awareness of entrepreneurial opportunities
among the youth, developing their knowledge and skill and raising their
level of motivation for entrepreneurial career. In addition, efforts are
also needed for creation of an entrepreneurial environment in the support
system and social environment. There will be more opportunities for small
entrepreneurs in business and service sectors than in the industry sector
in future partly because of economic liberalisation and partly due to development
of information technology. Greater emphasis should be laid on developing
entrepreneurship in these sectors. Besides, there is also need to give
due emphasis on women entrepreneurship, especially from SC/ST and OBC categories.
In order to create an environment for entrepreneurship it is also necessary
to introduce entrepreneurship as an element of the academic curriculum.
These steps may help in the emergence of entrepreneurship in the North
Kurukshetra - A journal on Rural Development
* Shri D.D.
Mali is Director, Indian Institute of Entrepreneurship, Guwahati