NE to be torchbearer of New India post Covid — Minister
New Delhi, March 20 (IANS): Union Minister Jitendra Singh on Saturday said that as India prepares to celebrate the 75th Year of Independence in 2022, the northeast will become the torchbearer of New India post the Covid-19 era.
“In the post Covid era, India’s economic resurgence will not be complete unless it takes care of the vast unexplored potentialities and resources of the northeastern region,” Singh said while speaking as chief guest at a seminar titled “Act East Policy: Enhancing Trade Infrastructure and Connectivity in the North Eastern Region”.
The event was organised by the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER).
The minister said the northeast will be the new engine of growth for new India.
Singh said it was Prime Minister Narendra Modi who gave the vision of “Act East” soon after assuming office in 2014, thus imparting a new push to the approach and focus to relations with neighbouring countries, which was earlier known as the ‘Look East Policy’.
He said ever since Narendra Modi took over as Prime Minister, he has accorded special priority to the development of the northeastern region of India.
The Minister said this also assumes importance because if India has to successfully engage with the countries across the eastern borders, it must have a strong basis in the areas proximal to the eastern borders which comprise the northeastern states.
With its geographical position and rich natural resources as well as agro-climatic resources, Singh said access to the growing Asean market is essential for optimum utilization of trade and business opportunities.
He recalled how on the intervention of Prime Minister Modi, the India-Bangladesh agreement was successfully concluded resulting in the exchange of enclaves, thus facilitating easier and cost-effective access to Bangladesh and other regions.
Dwelling on the issue of connectivity, the Minister said it includes both international as well as internal connectivity with dimensions of intra-regional connectivity and inter-regional connectivity.
On international connectivity, he mentioned examples like the Agartala-Akhaura Rail Link between India and Bangladesh, Intermodal transport linkages and inland waterways through Bangladesh, Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport Project and the Trilateral Highway Project connecting the North East with Myanmar and Thailand.
Singh said that the government’s focus on “Act East” with the development of the northeast region and completion of an array of projects like bridges, improving inland water transport, airports, rail and road networks has changed the narrative of news emanating from the northeast region in the past few years.
The Minister said that the ‘Act East Policy’ announced in November, 2014 is the upgrade of the “Look East Policy” which was fashioned in 1992. It aims at promoting economic cooperation, cultural ties and developing a strategic relationship with countries in the Indo-pacific region.
The policy, Singh said, has been continuously evolving since the early 1990s and involves intensive and continuous engagement with the South East Asian countries in the field of connectivity, trade, culture, defence and people-to-people contact at the bilateral, regional and multilateral levels.