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KISAMA, Dec 1: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh announced that the Government of India was determined to build and improve their “connectivity and engagement” with South-East Asia. “Since Nagaland is geographically located at a vantage point, it acts as the gateway to South—East Asia,” he said while inaugurating the 19th Hornbill Festival here at Kisama on Saturday.
Expressing optimism that with remarkable restoration of peace, the North-East was emerging as a “favored destination of businesses and tourists,” the Union Minister said “Hornbill Festival is a glimpse of the Indian spirit of the happy, peaceful coexistence of the multiplicities”.
Stating that the demonstration of unity and diversity was what India was all about, Singh commended the State government for expanding the Festival to other parts of the state. He said it was a “festival that offers unique opportunity not only to different tribes of the State to interact with each other and exhibit their cultural heritage but also with those from the neighboring and other States in the true spirit of “Ek Bharat, Shrestha Bharat”.
He mentioned that the North Eastern Council (NEC) funded the infrastructure for the Margaret Shishak School of Music at Patkai Christian College, Dimapur. He also expressed his happiness that NEC was building a North Eastern Cultural and Information Centre in Delhi which would showcase the rich history, culture, heritage and cuisine of the eight States in the North East.
Singh said the state was going to get its first medical college for which the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare sanctioned Rs. 300 Crores and also NEC funded setting up of a North East Regional Multi Disciplinary Paramedical Institute, Dimapur at a cost of ₹4981.31 lakhs.
While acknowledging that Nagaland had suffered for a long time, the Union Minister called upon the State to take long strides for the rapid economic growth in the Country as well as the State and be contributors in making India a world power.
Nagaland Governor, P.B. Acharya in his speech stated that Nagas deserved gratitude and appreciation for making the Hornbill as one of the most talked about cultural festivals in the country. As they all knew that Government of India had recognized Hornbill festival as one of the major performing artist’s events in India, he said and further added that the festival had acquired fame because of the enthusiastic participation of all tribes of Nagaland.
Congratulating all the participating artists, the Governor said Nagaland was truly the land of festivals. He stated that that “each tribe has its own identity, distinct tradition, customs and colorful festival, almost every month.”
He said these social occasions brought together people and they all felt a “sense of belonging” and it increased the community spirit. “Hornbill festival gives a boost to tourism in the State and this festival has become a regular feature in the itinerary of our tour operators and tourists,” he stated.
Governor said over the years with the efforts of the State government and the people, the number of people coming to the State to witness the festival had increased manifold. The successive Hornbill Festivals had also played a significant part in this endeavor by creating awareness about the people and the State.
He said that Nagaland had achieved remarkable progress over the last five and half decades particularly in the field of education, health care, hospitality, etc. “In a small State with 20 lakhs population, we have five Universities in the State and more than 3 lakh young graduates in almost all faculties. Our empowered and highly educated youth can transform the State into a prosperous one,” he said. “Our Universities have to address our requirements and empower ourselves with knowledge and skill to create wealth out of natural resources to make our Nagaland a Golden Nagaland.”
“Nagaland can be economically strong, self sufficient in food and a prosperous State by creating wealth out of our natural resources which are abundant in our State,” he said. “Our educated youth have to be an asset. They, only by changing their mindset, taking care of our villages, addressing our needs, can make Nagaland a prosperous State.”
Chief Minister of Nagaland, Neiphiu Rio in his speech, said over the last 19 years, the Hornbill Fest had become one of the most important tourism events, not only in India but also worldwide. He said tourism had the potential to be the mainstay for the state’s economy.
He also thanked the Union Minister Rajnath Singh, US Ambassador Kenneth Juster who was also present for the opening ceremony at the festival.
Invocation was pronounced by the General Secretary NBCC, Rev. Dr. Zelhou Keyho, traditional blessings by Village chief, Shikuto Zalipu and the Rattle & Hum Music society performed at the inaugural function.