In a tweet, Dr Jitendra Singh, India’s Minister of State for Development of the North-Eastern Region, rejected speculation about the government planning to repeal Article 371 and the likelihood of the northeast being the next region to stripped of special benefits.
Special provisions of Article 371 currently benefit six of the eight “sister states” (as the north-east states are popularly referred to in the country) of North-East India — Nagaland, Assam, Manipur, Sikkim, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh.
Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Goa are the other Indian states that also benefit from these special provisions, the Indian daily the Financial Express reported.
Separate sections of the Article individually deal with each of these 11 states, the news daily further said.
As far as the north-east is concerned, the Article’s provisions aim to preserve the culture, traditions, religious and social practices, while promoting development initiatives, providing equal opportunities in government jobs and educational institutions, as well as providing residents better access to other government-related socio-economic programs.
Dr Singh’s message is significant in the context of the government revoking Article 370 which granted special status to the former state of Jammu and Kashmir through an Act of Parliament earlier this week.
The statement from the Central minister was necessary amid concerns among some of the residents of northeast India. The government of India recently revoked special status for Jammu and Kashmir State and split the state into two union territories - Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. This brought them under direct federal rule to provide better governance and socio-economic benefits.
The Ministry of Development of the North-Eastern State is responsible for planning, execution and monitoring of development schemes and projects in India’s northeastern region. It aims to accelerate the pace of socio-economic development in the region so that it can enjoy growth parity with the rest of the country.