Surging ahead

Published : Feb 25, 2011 00:00 IST

A Monpa woman in Tawang wearing a traditional dress. - PICTURES: RITU RAJ KONWAR

A Monpa woman in Tawang wearing a traditional dress. - PICTURES: RITU RAJ KONWAR

Under a dynamic government, the State has made remarkable achievements in almost all major sectors of the economy.

SITUATED in the extreme northeast of the country, Arunachal Pradesh abounds with natural resources and biodiversity, and boasts a unique heritage of tribal culture. Also known as the Land of the Rising Sun, Arunachal, which attained statehood in February 1987, has made remarkable progress in almost all the major sectors of the economy. The State shares international borders with China in the north, Myanmar in the east and Bhutan in the west. In the south and the southeast, it shares boundaries with the States of Assam and Nagaland. The largest northeastern State, it is spread over 83,743 square kilometre and consist of 16 districts. The forest cover is around 82 per cent of the total land area of the State. As it falls in the eastern Himalayan range, most of its terrain is hilly with numerous streams, rivers and deep gorges and abounds with thousands of species of flora and fauna. With a population of just 10.97 lakh (as per the 2001 Census), the State has one of the lowest population densities in the country 13 persons a sq km. There are about 26 major tribal groups and a number of sub-tribes, each having its own dialect and distinct cultural identity. The State government is making an all-out effort to preserve and document their cultural heritage.

Although the geographical isolation of the State posed certain constraints to its socio-economic growth, the introduction of the planning process through Five-Year Plans has enabled the State to develop steadily and catch up with some other parts of the country. Arunachal Pradesh inherited almost no infrastructure from the pre-Independence era. Under the successive Plans, roads, bridges, buildings, educational institutions and hospitals have been built on priority basis. Although agriculture remains the mainstay of the State's economy, horticulture, forest produce and small- and medium-scale industries contribute in a big way.


The State government has identified tourism as a priority sector. Arunachal Pradesh is one of the most picturesque States in the country. It is identified as one of the 12 mega biodiversity hot spots in the world. Its expansive forests house about 20 per cent of the country's fauna, 4,500 species of flowering plants, 52 rhododendron species and more than 600 species of orchids. Moreover, the snow-capped eastern Himalayas and the lively streams make it a nature lover's paradise. For the more adventurous tourist, there are attractions such as river rafting, biking, trekking, mountaineering, hang-gliding and skiing; for the wildlife enthusiast, there are sanctuaries, national parks and biosphere reserves. There is a lot of scope for cultural tourism as well. The Buddha Mahotsava, the Siang River Festival, the Parasuram Kund Mela, the Namdapha Eco-Cultural Festival and the Pangsau Pass Winter Festival are some of the important annual events in the State. These festivals serve as an ideal platform for showcasing the cultural splendour of the region. Apart from attracting tourists, they help enhance the prospects of border trade.

One of the most famous tourist destinations in the State is Tawang, the western-most district sharing boundaries with Tibet in the north and Bhutan in the southwest. The district derives its name from the grand Tawang monastery.


The agro-climatic conditions in the State are suitable for crop cultivation. Agriculture occupies a dominant position in the economy of the State, providing livelihood to more than 80 per cent of its population. The cultivable area in the State is around four lakh hectares of which 0.9 lakh hectare is under permanent cultivation.

In order to ensure food security, commercialise agriculture and reduce regional imbalances and disparities in agricultural development, the State government is striving to enhance productivity through increased use of modern technology. The government of India has approved the establishment of eight Krishi Vigyan Kendras in the State. To create adequate infrastructure for agricultural marketing, the Agriculture Department has constructed cold storages at Namsai, Ruskin and Dirang, which is famous for apple orchards. The facility fulfils the need of the fruit and vegetable growers of the region.

The State government is also laying emphasis on income-generating activities such as cash crop cultivation, fruit culture, fish and pig rearing, and agro-processing industries. The agro-climatic conditions of the State are favourable for growing pineapple, orange, apple, mushroom, ginger and cardamom. It is interesting to note that by default farming in Arunachal is organic, and this has been identified as one of its potential areas of growth.


The Department of Horticulture has made considerable progress in bringing a large area under various horticultural crops. Under the Technology Mission Programme for Integrated Development of Horticulture, the Centre sanctioned Rs.1,765 lakh in 2008-09. Under this programme, fruit trees were grown on 3,250 hectares, spices on 1,410 hectares and aromatic plants on 10 hectares.

Arunachal Pradesh is also a treasure house of medicinal plants. Of the 4,500 varieties of flowering plants that are found in the State, more than 450 have been identified as having medicinal value. Many of these plants provide useful raw material for manufacturing drugs. Fifty-seven of them have significant commercial value.

Orchid cultivation is another thrust area of the State government. With more than 600 species of orchids, Arunachal Pradesh accounts for over 50 per cent of the total species of orchids known to be available in the country. The climatic conditions in the State facilitate easy cultivation of orchids with minimum cost of production. The State government believes that there is a lot of scope for developing an export-oriented industry in this field. Orchids, particularly the hybrid varieties, have a great demand in domestic and international markets.


Bamboo is an integral part of the life of the people of the region. Seventy species of bamboo are found in the State. It is used for constructing houses, crafting decorations, making furniture and fabricating weapons, among other things. In fact, the people of the region have a natural expertise in bamboo craft. Commercial cultivation of bamboo and modern value-added products are gaining popularity in the State. The first bamboo-based socio-economic development project was conceptualised at Poma village, around 32 km from Itanagar, by the Governor, General Joginder Jaswant Singh.


The people of Arunachal Pradesh also have a rich tradition in wood carving, painting, carpet making and weaving. In order to uplift the rural economy, generate self-employment and achieve sustainable growth, the State government has been trying to explore the handicraft and textile potential in the State. It is the government's constant endeavour to increase the production of traditional handicraft and handloom through modernisation and upgradation of skills.

In 2008-09, under a one-time Special Plan Assistance of Rs.199 lakh, the State government provided training to unemployed youth in all the districts in trades such as weaving, carpet making, wood carving, knitting, tailoring and bee-keeping. Under the Governor's initiative, the State government also introduced a project for bee-keeping and honey production as part of a mission to make the State the largest producer of honey in the country.


The State government is also planning to boost industrial development by attracting investments from Indian and international investors. In 2008 the State government framed its industrial policy with a view to creating an investment-friendly environment, generating employment, encouraging local entrepreneurs and making Arunachal a preferred destination for outside investments.

The small-scale industries in the State contribute substantially to the domestic economy. At present, there are 16 registered medium-scale and 526 small-scale units. The State has five Industrial Training Institutes and 88 craft centres to meet the growing need for skilled personnel. There are 12 industrial estates in the State, in addition to the five Integrated Industrial Development Centres. The Khadi and Village Industries Board promotes rural industries.

Arunachal is also emerging as a major tea-producing State. A number of large and medium tea gardens are already in business and quite a large number of small tea gardens have come up under private entrepreneurs. A camp office of the Tea Board of India was established in Itanagar in 2009 to give an impetus to tea production.

The people of the region had a flourishing trade with neighbouring countries. In an effort to take this sector forward, the government has taken steps to encourage and facilitate border trade with Myanmar through Pangsau Pass in Changlang district, and with Bhutan through Dongsengmang in Tawang district. A multi-facility Border Trade Centre Building has been set up at Nampong.


Education and human resource development are important for raising the socio-economic status of the people. The government is working towards creating a network of educational infrastructure. At present, the State has one university and 17 colleges. The Arunachal Pradesh State Council for Technical Education has been established to enhance the quality of technical education.

The State government has also successfully implemented new initiatives in the field of elementary education under the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan. Under this programme, 347 primary school buildings and 244 upper primary school buildings were constructed and 3,464 teachers were appointed. This has helped increase the retention rate of students in the 6-14 age group from 50 per cent to about 85 per cent.

The State has also been making substantial progress in the health care and sanitation sectors, with perceptible improvement in the quality of life. Constant efforts are on to provide better access to health care and increase the level of nutrition.

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