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Daily-current-affairs / 24 Mar 2023

Arunachal Pradesh : A short visit is enough to identify its potential : Daily Current Affairs


Date: 25/03/2023

Relevance: GS-1: North-eastern India; Arunachal Pradesh’s unique features and Potential.

Key Phrases: Arunachal Pradesh, Asia-Pacific, Strategic Location, Act East Policy, Northeast India, Secure and Stable, Economic and Strategic Integration, Indian Ocean region.


  • India officially took over G20 presidency for 2023, This is not just an occasion to show India’s growing stature in the international forum, but also an opportunity for the Northeast to come to the forefront of economic and strategic integration with the Asia-Pacific.

Key Highlights:

  • India’s Act East Policy has, in recent times, focused on building regional cooperation and economic ties with the Asia-Pacific using the Northeast as a medium.

Unique Features of Arunachal Pradesh:

  • Forest Area and Population Density:
    • Covering an area of nearly 80,000-sq-km, it is India’s largest state in the Northeast.
      • But 82% of it is covered by forests and its elevation rises steeply from near sea level in the south to peaks of over 7,000 metres in the north.
    • It has the lowest population density in the country, with only 20 persons per square kilometre.
  • Several Rivers:
    • Another unique feature is that several mighty rivers drain the region, mostly flowing into the Brahmaputra from the northern heights: the Kameng, Subansiri , Siang, Dibang, Lohit and Noa Dihing.
  • Political geography:
    • Arunachal is the only state that has international borders with three countries: Bhutan, Myanmar and China.
    • The history of the 1,129km disputed border with China is what led to the 1962 war, and accounts for much of what is happening even today.

Potential of Arunachal Pradesh:

  • Agriculture:
    • It is the major private economic activity in Arunachal Pradesh.
    • Subsistence farming is finally making a transition from shifting jhum cultivation to settled agriculture, but commercial agriculture dominated by horticulture and floriculture has great potential.
      • For example, Fruit cultivation in the state, especially kiwis.
      • Fruit orchards are indeed scattered across the state.
    • Floriculture in the state is also very promising, especially the large variety of exotic orchids.
  • Strategic Location:
    • The biggest strategic advantage of Arunachal Pradesh is its geographical proximity, making it not only India’s gateway to Northeast but also potentially the Asia-Pacific.
  • Working as medium of Connectivity:
    • India’s Act East Policy has focused on building regional cooperation and economic ties with the Asia-Pacific using the Northeast as a medium.
      • Some of the major projects under the policy including Kaladan Multi-modal Transit Transport Project, the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway Project, Rhi-Tiddim Road Project and Border Haats, draw connectivity with ASEAN and the Asia-Pacific through the Northeast.
    • These multinational highways have the potential to account for bulk import and export, which can be further enhanced by development of rail lines.
    • It can reduce the distance between Delhi and the G20 economic powerhouses and serve as Delhi’s arm in establishing economic ties with these nations.
  • Hydropower Potential:
    • Arunachal also has enormous hydropower potential, estimated at nearly 57,000 megawatts of which only 1,771 megawatts is being generated at present, but there is a risk.
    • Tapping this potential through relatively small power projects of, say, 1,000-megawatt capacity or even large run-of-the river projects could massively grow the state’s GDP and revenues.
      • But if left to public and private hydropower development companies, they would typically opt for mega dams and reservoir projects, which could lead to many Joshimaths in a very sensitive seismic region.
  • Mining Potential:
    • There is also much potential for mining of coal, oil and other minerals, and quarrying for rocks, stones and sand, provided these are exploited in an environmentally responsible way.
  • Ecological and adventure Tourism:
    • Arunachal Pradesh also has a huge potential for sustainable tourism.
    • Rich with pristine landscape, the region is home to some of the most beautiful river valleys and hill stations in the country.
    • With its mountains, rivers, forests and wildlife reserves, the state is a paradise for trekking, white-water rafting, paragliding, mountain biking, boating, angling, wildlife safaris and bird watching.
      • India can use its G20 Presidency and rising status as a Vishwaguru to market the State and Northeast as a centre of nature tourism and ecotourism.
  • Shared Culture and Ethnicity:
    • Culturally, the Northeast is home to over 200 tribal groups, many of whom share ethnicity with the rest of Asia-Pacific.
      • The shared culture and ethnicity can help foster cultural exchange and a spirit of unity among South and Southeast Asian regions.

Challenge for Arunachal Pradesh:

  • Arunachal Pradesh faces a serious human development challenge.
    • With a per capita income of ₹1.9 lakh, it is ranked No. 13 out of 35 states and Union territories, making it a middle-income state.
    • However, it is ranked No. 34 on literacy, with a rate of only 65%, 58% for women, and ranked 25th on life expectancy at 72.4 years.

Way Forward:

  • The presence of army and paramilitary forces and the building of roads and bridges that strengthen supply lines to the border are now ubiquitous throughout the state.
    • These central government-led interventions are the main drivers of economic activity in the region, along with fiscal transfers from the Centre.
    • Given this heavy dependence on New Delhi, the state’s political leadership tends to align itself with whichever party is ruling at the Centre.
    • Such central dominance should decline once the vast economic potential of the state takes off.
  • The state seems at a crossroad between two possible paths of development. Which way it goes will depend on its political leadership.
    • If led by self-serving politicians who align with predatory developers and contractors, its future will be grim.
    • However, if led by statesmen who prioritize human development and rising prosperity based on eco-friendly hydropower generation, tourism, horticulture and floriculture, Arunachal Pradesh could well become one of the richest states in the country.


  • Northeastern state, Arunachal Pradesh, boasts of high potential in many fields of economic endeavor that should be exploited responsibly.

Source: Live-Mint

Mains Question:

Q. Describe various unique features and potential of Arunachal Pradesh. Also, discuss the major challenges in the development of the state. (250 Words).