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Vice President calls for tapping immense tourism potential of North-East region

The Vice-President of India, M. Venkaiah Naidu today called for fully tapping the immense tourism potential of the North-Eastern states and underlined the need to improve air connectivity to the region.

He said that eco-tourism and cultural tourism can become the mainstay of development in the North-East if the tourism potential was fully leveraged.

Noting the efforts of Central and State governments in providing connectivity and tourism infrastructure, Naidu said that improving air connectivity to the region can singularly bring a significant positive impact on tourist inflows.

Pointing out that India has 26 million outbound tourists every year, the Vice President said that one could assume that most of them would prefer to ‘travel local’ in the post-Covid-19 phase. This presents a huge opportunity for North-Eastern states to promote their tourism sector for this domestic audience, he added.

Urging the state and central governments to fully tap the tourism potential of the region, he suggested to them to consider the possibility of incentivizing travel to the North-East.

Virtually releasing the book ‘Oh Mizoram’, written by Governor of Mizoram, P S Sreedharan Pillai, the Vice President, praised the region for its pristine natural beauty and said that Mizoram’s colorful festivals, folk music, and energetic dance make Mizo society truly unique. Often called as “Songbird of the East”, the Mizos are blessed with a natural talent for music, he added.

The Vice-President said the whole of North-East region presents a mosaic of diverse Indian culture with its more than 220 ethnic groups and an equal number of dialects.

Referring to a poem on ‘Diabetes’,  Naidu observed that a large number of Indians are in the grip of lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and obesity due to sedentary lifestyles and unhealthy food habits.

In this regard, the North-Eastern people, who live harmoniously with nature and eat natural diet, can show the way to the rest of India in adopting a healthy lifestyle. He expressed happiness that the North-East is showing the way in organic farming and cited the example of Sikkim, which has become India’s first organic state in 2016.

The Vice-President also commended the people of Mizoram for recording great social indicators in literacy (with over 91 percent) and child sex ratio. Mizoram also holds the highest child sex ratio with 971 females against 1000 males according to the 2011 Census, he noted.

The event was attended by the Hon’ble Governor of Mizoram, P S Sreedharan Pillai, Hon’ble Minister of State, Ministry of Development of North-Eastern Region, Dr. Jitendra Singh  among other dignitaries.

Following is the full text of the speech:

“Dear friends,

I am pleased to join you all today for the release of the book ‘OH Mizoram’ written by P S Sreedharan Pillai, the Governor of Mizoram.

P S Sreedharan Pillai is a multi-faceted person– he is a successful lawyer, a former politician, an organizer par excellence, an orator, a prolific writer, a philanthropist, and a thinker.

I am amazed that despite his busy life, he has written 125 books in Malayalam and English on a variety of topics including politics, social and legal issues and poetry. The book being released today, ‘OH, Mizoram’ is his first poetry collection in English.

Displaying his love for nature, the poems capture the magnificence of Mizoram in all its splendor and P.S. Sreedharan Pillai quite rightly says

“Oh, Mizoram, how beautiful you are!”

Indeed, Mizoram is beautiful!

Not only is the state blessed with pristine natural beauty, but its colorful festivals, folk music and energetic dance make Mizo society truly unique. Often called as, “Song bird of the East” the Mizos are blessed with a natural talent for music.

A poem in this book titled ‘North-East Calls’ succinctly describes the contrast of a metro city life and the serene environment of Mizoram. The poet writes-

“Smog shrouds the Capital,

Air pollution index shoots up,

….

Come to the ravishing North-East

And realize your dream of a silver dawn!”

I am sure these lines will inspire the people to go and visit the beautiful north-east.

I am pleased to note that P S Sreedharan Pillai has brought out mundane issues from everyday life in his poetry with remarkable elegance. One of his poems in this collection is titled, ‘Diabetes’. It captures the emotion of a man who had planted a mango sapling. When the tree bears fruit, the poet is tempted to pluck but then… he looks back at his insulin shot and closes the window with a broken-heart.

This is the story of many of us today. With sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy food habits, a large number of Indians are in the grip of lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and obesity.

In this regard, North -east can show the way to the rest of India. People there live in harmony with nature. They eat natural food. This should inspire the remaining population to adopt a healthy lifestyle. The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for living with nature and eating healthy food as prescribed by our ancestors to boost our immunity.

I am happy that the north-east is showing the way in organic farming also. In the year 2016 Sikkim had become India’s first organic state. This switch to organic farming is the need of the hour and other states should also focus on this.

The other poems in this book are not only enchanting but some of them also touch our raw emotions. One such poem is – “The Burial”. It describes the death of a rich and respected man whose burial is delayed because his near and dear ones are living abroad or are busy in their lives. The poem ends with a stinging note –

“Certainly, the old man should have chosen

A more appropriate time to breathe his last”

These lines also reflect the gradual disintegration of our age-old family system. Changing socio-economic scenario, rapid urbanization, modern lifestyle and search for better career prospects by youngsters are some of the factors that are increasingly forcing the elderly to lead a solitary life.

Similarly, the poet shows the moral decay in politics through his poem titled ‘Condolence’ wherein politicians are seen condoling the death of their leader but also “have their foxy eyes on the chair he left!”

Other poems by P S Sreedharan Pillai in the collection show his love for mother, mother tongue and motherland. Living in Raj Bhavan of Mizoram, he seems to be enraptured by the natural beauty of the state.

As a matter-of-fact, the whole of the North-Eastern India is endowed with beautiful lakes, lush green hills, crisscrossing rivers and national parks teeming with a wide variety of rare and exotic flora and fauna. With more than 220 ethnic groups and an equal number of dialects, the region presents a mosaic of diverse Indian culture. Apart from these, there are a large number of historical and religious sites that showcase the region’s rich cultural and spiritual heritage.

These features make North-Eastern states an ideal tourist destination for anyone. Yet the region remains one of the least explored tourism destinations.

There is immense potential for tourism in the North-Eastern region and if leveraged fully, eco-tourism and cultural tourism can become the mainstay of development in the north-east.

The governments are giving sustained thrust to connectivity and tourism infrastructure. Improving air connectivity to the region can have a significant positive impact on tourist inflow into the region.

India has almost 26 million outbound tourists. I assume that in the post Covid-19 phase most of them would prefer to ‘travel local’. This presents a huge opportunity for North-eastern states to promote their tourism sector for this domestic audience. I appeal to the state and central governments to fully tap the tourism potential of the region and also consider the possibility of incentivizing travel to the north-east.

Before concluding, I would like to congratulate the people of Mizoram that with over 91 per cent literacy, their state is among the most literate in the country. Mizoram also holds the highest child sex ratio with 971 females against 1000 males according to the 2011 Census. These are praiseworthy achievements.

I wish the state a happy and bright future.

I compliment the Governor, P S Sreedharan Pillai for coming out with such a beautiful collection of poems.

I end with a few lines of one of the poems –

“Be proud as Indians without hate to anybody

Come work for the resurrection of Mother-land

Follow the slogan Nation first and Self next

Make sure that this Century is that of India”

Thank you.

Jai Hind!”

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