The inaugural session of the 18th Annual Conference of NEEA was held at the Phanidhar Datta Seminar Hall of Gauhati University December 16, 2016 with Dr. Mridul Hazarika, Vice-Chancellor of the University delivering the inaugural address and Prof. Abhijit Sen, Former Member, Planning Commission of India delivering the key note address.
All the invited resource persons, viz., Prof. Atul Sarma, Former Member, 13th Finance Commission Prof. H.K. Nath, Department of Economics and International Business, Sam Houston State University, Houston, USA, Prof. Kiril Tochkov, Department of Economics, Texas Christian University, USA, David Sinate, Chief General Manager, EXIM Bank and Professor Ranjula Bali Swain, Soderto University, Sweden were present. Delegates from different states of the North East including a large number of researchers from within the State attended the function.
A pre-conference workshop on “Emerging Issues of Research in Economics” conducted by Prof (s). Dipannwita Sarkar and Jayanta Sarkar of Queensland University of Australia in the was held on the eve of the Conference on December 15, 2016.
The session, which started with a brief welcome address by the Head of the Department of Economics and President, Local Organising Committee Prof. Nissar Barua was enriched with the scholarly deliberations by the Vice-Chancellor , The key note speaker and the President, NEEA,
In his speech, Dr. Hazarika spoke about the tea industry in Assam, its present status and its contribution to the state economy. Speaking on issues related to production and productivity of the tea industry he observed that monoculture is practiced in tea industry but one could think of diversification.
Speaking elaborately on Agriculture – its Present Status and future prospects, Prof. Abhijit Sen dealt with various issues like farmers’ suicide, whether it should be linked to the agrarian crisis, the long run growth trend in the agricultural sector in India, the good and bad aspects of green revolution, particularly the over-dependence on technology and input use, the impact of the green revolution on the environment. He emphasized that India has made much progress in agriculture while there has been declaration in population growth, as such the future focus should not be only on increasing production and productivity alone, but to ensure that farm income, that is income going to the producers increases. He advocated for small holdings and creation of institutions to facilitate small farms.
Prof. Saundaryya Borbora speaking on “Perspective on Development in North East India” lamented that the Northeastern states have still remained backward in terms of industrialization inspite of having the potential. There are strengths and weaknesses in this region as a location of industries. The possibilities however rest on identification of niche areas in the region for trade with countries in South and South East Asia. The Governments of the region need to work out to provide a better economic environment by way of implantation of projects within specific time frame and better and transparent governance.
In the afternoon there was a conversation between Prof. Abhijit Sen and Prof Atul Sarma on “Demonetisation and Its Probable Effects”, moderated by Prof. Gautam Mazumdar. The conversation brought out different issues related to the announcement made on November 8 regarding demonetization of specific currencies and the aftermath. The house appreciated the courageous move but observed that the cost was too high compared to the benefits. The country could have achieved the declared objectives even without such a drastic and not so necessary move. Cash and currencies are the most trusted and costless means of carrying out transactions. While plastic money, cashless transactions may make it easier to tract transactions, thereby reducing illegal trade and transactions, such forms of money may have security issues.
There were also two special lectures, in addition to the technical sessions. In the technical sessions, which took place in different venues simultaneously dealt with the different sub-themes of the Conference. The special lecture on “Sustainability and Microfinance” was delivered by Professor Ranjula Bali Swain, Soderto University, Sweden and EXIM Bank-Catalysing India;s Trade and Investment” was delivered by David Sinate, Chief General Manager, EXIM Bank.