Young Leaders Connect- Strengthening and speaking for the North-East

Young Leaders Connect (YLC) is a YouthNet initiative to bring young leaders and achievers from the 8 North East states together in one platform with the hope of developing greater awareness and understanding of the region, as well as to establish a powerful network of like-minded young leaders, with a desire for strengthening the North East.

The group consists of policy makers, strategists, entrepreneurs, members of academics, social entrepreneurs and achievers in the field of sports &entertainment etc. It is chaired by Bhaichung Bhutia and include members like Mary Kom (Olympian, Manipur), Conrad Sangma (Meghalaya), Gaurav Gogoi (MP, Assam), Sushmita Dev (MP, Assam), Gaina Kamei (Nagaland), Karma Paljor (CNN-IBN), Dr.Lalrin (Mizoram), Imo Singh (MLA, Manipur) Mmhonlumo Kikon (Parliamentary Secretary Nagaland), Tanushree Hazarika (Eclectic NE, Assam), Pradyot Deb Barma (Head of Tripura Royal House, Tripura), Bjorn DeNeise (Mayfair Hotels, Sikkim), Merentoshi Jamir (Advisor to CM, Nagaland), Jarpum Gamlin (Eastern Sentinal, Arunachal Pradesh), Hasina Kharbih (Social entrepreneur, Meghalaya).

The objective of YLC is:  i) Facilitate government programs and policies and create awareness of various opportunities for youth of North-East. ii) Identifying, promoting, supporting and mentoring young leaders in the North-East. ii) Focus and highlight issues that will impact development in the North-East.

The First YLC conclave was held in Kohima, Nagaland in 2011 which was followed up by YLC-2 in Kohima 2012, YLC- 3 in Guwhati in 2013 and YLC-4 in New Delhi 2014. Over the years, YLC has had interactive sessions with prominent leaders like Jay Panda (MP), Rajeev Chandrasekhar (MP), Ajit Doval (National Security Advisor), Bhairavi Jani ( Founding Member and Former Chair Young Indians) and Prakash Jha (Filmmaker).

The annual conclave is based on panel discussions where young leaders interact with each other in the fields of governance, youth employment, education sports and entertainment etc, which not only enhances contact between the young leaders and provide an opportunity to exchange views and opinions and build network, but is also a stepping stone for carving long lasting association and friendship.

The conclaves offer the opportunity to compare and exchange best practices so as to create new benchmarks in an evolving society. The participants discuss and deliberate on the shifting paradigms in Mainland -Northeast relations and challenges to change perceptions and gain new perspectives. The aim is to go beyond dialogue and towards deliverable goals, applicable in a national and regional setting.

On January 14, YLC members along with Kiren Rijiju Minister of State (Home Affairs) interacted with Union Minister of Finance Arun Jaitley and specifically suggested that a special employment-linked skill development drive along the lines of “Udaan” for Jammu and Kashmir could be launched in the North-East. Such an initiative would ensure adequate employment or entrepreneurship opportunities and put more emphasis on youth development.

Other issues raised at the meeting were strengthening of the North East Council (NEC), better coordination amongst agencies focusing on North East, ensuring proper utilization of development funds meant for the region, reverting to the original composition of the central assistance funds including special category status, special plan assistance, special central assistance, normal central assistance and north east industrial and investment promotion policy. New and pending projects to connect the north east region through road, rail and air  including connecting state capitals through rail, intra-regional and international air connectivity etc were also highlighted.

Jaitley appreciated the initiatives of the young delegation and encouraged the group to continue their good work for the benefit of the region. He also urged the young leaders to focus on the good governance of the Northeast.

Young Leaders Connect news has been covered by all media houses in the NE and national media such as CNN- IBN, Tehelka , Times of India, The tribune  and The Hindu.

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