The National Conference on “Indigenous Technology, Livelihood Options and Habitat Utilization: Concepts and Perspectives of Development”, By Ms. Sayantani Sen Mazumdar

The North East Centre For Research and Development (NECRD) on the occasion of Indira Gandhi's National Open University (IGNOU)'s silver jubilee celebration organised the first annual National Conference on “Indigenous Technology, Livelihood Options and Habitat Utilization: Concepts and Perspectives of Development” at Hotel Ginger and the Omeo Kumar Das Institute of Social Change and Development in Guwahati, Assam, between November 22 and 24, 2009.

The focus of the Conference was mainly on the multiple dimensions of India's North East Region and the significance of indigenous technology, livelihood options and habitat utilisation in the North East. The Conference was graced by the presence of eminent luminaries from divergent domains. The three day Conference was split into separate sessions highlighting sub themes like “Development and Post Development: Issues, Paradigms and Challenges”, “Resource Mapping of North East India: Case Studies and New Initiatives”, “Perspectives on Sustainability- Indigenous Technology and Indigenous Knowledge, Livelihood Options, Habitat Utilization”, “The ‘New Industrial Revolution’- Waste Management, Renewable Sources of Energy, Transportation and Locomotive Substitution”, “Perspectives of Differential Social Categories: Redistribution, Equity and Social Justice” and “Sustainability and North-East India - Balancing Environment, Society and Economy”. Substantial paper presentations from across the country were made on the afore-mentioned sub-themes. The dignitaries present in the conference reiterated the importance of extensive research on this region, and the need for organising national conferences emphasising on the dynamic paradigms of the North East.

It is an undeniable fact that the North East in spite of being the “nature capital” of the world is lagging behind with respect to the vibrant Indian economy, and people of this region apprehend that their backwardness is the manifestation of centrifugal forces. But today's North East is experiencing development and as a result the practical scenario reveals considerable signs of improvement. The role of indigenous technology is quite relevant in this tide of transformation as it has the potential to meet the demands of development. Thus, the Conference enumerated the urge to merge the role of indigenous technology with the needs and compulsions of the contemporary world. Sustainability improves one's life within the carrying capacity of the ecosystem and sustainability is plausible only by striking a sound balance between different aspects of development. Development is incomplete without making intellectual development. Intellectual development, on its part, demands promotion of reading leading to empowerment, a sense of fulfillment and thereby creates solidarity. It is true that the North East is immensely endowed with rich natural resources, but the endowment of natural resources come along great price of ecosystem vulnerability. The people of the North East suffer from lack of awareness, and there is failure of institutional mechanisms, governance in optimum utilisation of the available natural assets. They are not in fine tune or in synchronisation with modern needs.

North East is an ethnically, linguistically, and a culturally diverse region, and the UNESCO is very eager to explore the region, and is keen for quest for dialogue on the Region. The principle is to bridge the gap in knowledge, educational heritage, science and communication development and media coverage. The important role of politics in developing the region was also being connoted in the Conference. It amplified the influence of politics in the life of the common people. If modernisation is the need of the contemporary world, then it is politicisation that is the driving force of changes.

Global India Foundation was represented by Prof. Om Prakash Mishra, Member Secretary, Global India Foundation (GIF) and Pro Vice-Chancellor, IGNOU, Ms. Sudhiti Naskar, Fellow, GIF, and Ms. Sayantani Sen Mazumdar, Research and Training Assistant, IGNOU and Fellow, GIF. Prof Mishra chaired a session on “Development and Post Development: Issues, Paradigms and Challenges”, while Ms Naskar presented a paper on “Education- A Core Need for North East Region's Prosperity”, and Ms Sen Mazumdar presented a paper on “A Glimpse of India's Look-East Policy Through the Development of its North-East Region”.

The concluding session of the Conference delved into the summing up of the invaluable insights and recommendations gained from the significant contribution made by the participants, and focused on the necessity of bringing the North East to the limelight. The success of the Conference did highlight the wholehearted endeavour of NECRD in making the North East a focal point of comprehensive research.