TODAY -

'Manipuris have already looked towards East'
Source: Hueiyen News Service

Imphal, August 17, 2012: Foreign Secretary of India Ranjan Mathai today said that India will walk extra miles in order to maintain good relations with its neighbours.

Inaugurating a 2-day International conference on 'India and Her Neighbours: Revisiting Relations with Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Maldives' at the Central Hall of Manipur University here todayon Friday, Ranjan Mathai said that 'India always gives higher priority to our neigbours." The two-day international conference is being organized by Jadavpur Association of International Relations (JAIR) in collaboration with Maulana Abul Kalam Aazd Institute of Asian Studies and Indian Council of Social Science Research-NERC and is being hosted by School of Social Sciences, Manipur University.

Daw Yin Yin Myint, Director General of Training, Research and Foreign Language, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Myanmar; Mahhub Hassan Saleh, Deputy High Commissioner of People's Republic of Bangladesh; Dasho Tsering Wangda, General Consul of Royal Bhutanese Consulate; Kyaw Swe Tint, Consul General of Myanmay and Chandra Kumar Ghimire, Royal Nepalese Consulate General are among other noted figures participating in the conference.

Addressing the gathering, Mathai emphasized on India's 'Look East Policy', and said that Manipur and Myanmar shares a common cultural and social norms and there is curiosity among the people of North East India towards the Look East policy.

Moreh - Indo-Myanmar Border Town on National Highway in January 2012 :: Pix - Jinendra Maibam
Moreh - Indo-Myanmar Border Town on National Highway in January 2012 :: Pix - Jinendra Maibam


The people of Manipur and other North East people have already looked eastward and conceived it way back in 1970.Stating that India's relation with the neighbouring countries are "dynamic not static," the Foreign Secretary observed that the recent visit of Myanmar's President Thein Sein to India and its follow up visit by Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh to Myanmar three months ago was a milestone in the Indo-Myanmar bilateral relationship.

Moreover, India is helping Myanmar in its process of democratic set up in various ways.

"As part of promoting democracy in the region, we have shared our democratic experience following the visit of Myanmar's Speaker.

Sending experts to Myanmar, orientation programme, etc have been conducted in various phases," Mathai added.

Speaking about Indo-Bhutan relationship, he said that India and Bhutan shared mutual trust, common internal security and border management.

Moreover, since Bhutan is one of the biggest trade and commerce partner with the country, it provide a mutual economic development.

Three major hydro electric power projects, which have been constructed with India's financial and technical aid, are almost at the final stage of completion.

Once they are completed, it will provide revenue to Bhutan and in turn India will get enough electricity from it, he added.

Addressing the delegates, Education Minister Moirangthem Okendra Singh said, "India has become the vortex of global shifts in geo-politics, international trade and international diplomacy.

This is because of the raising importance of Southeast Asia, China and South-Asia, in the global economic scenario of the future.

This is why India is today pursuing the so-called Look East Policy.

It is here that the Northeastern Regions of India and Manipur in particular have become vital to India's larger interest".

Pointing out that Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar are land based neighbours of North East India while, Sri Lanka and Maldives are India's sea based neighbours, the Minister maintained that just as they need us, we have to keep on building and strengthening the good relations that we already have with them.

India and her neighbours, through history, have shared cultures, religions and social norms.

In other words the people of India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and in many more ways, the Maldives, have shared histories and affinities that makes us natural allies in concentrated global moves for our own peace and progress, added the Minister.

Speaking at the conference, Commerce and Industry Minister, Govindas Konthoujam observed that India has embarked on economic liberalisation and launched it's Look East Policy in 1991.It was not merely an external economic policy; it was also a strategic shift in India's foreign policy and perception towards its eastern neighbours.

Stating that India has a major partnership with her neighbouring ASEAN countries in trade and investment, the Industry Minister said, "During the period from 2005-2006 to 2006-2007, India's export to ASEAN countries registered a growth rate of 20.67 percent and import from these countries during the same period maintained a whooping growth rate of 66 percent".

Further, he added that Myanmar, now being a member of ASEAN and having shared 1643 km long border with India, has become a major link between India and ASEAN countries.

In this context, we would also be looking at the prospect of India's North East becoming the center of thriving and integrated economic space linking two dynamic regions with a network of highways, railways, pipeline, and transmission lines crisscrossing the region.

"Linking state capitals with railway lines, modernization of airports, road building under the Special Accelerated Development Programme for the North East (SARDP-NE) and Prime Minister's Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), power generation through hydro-electric projects, gas and thermal power plants and railways projects in Tripura and Manipur are some of the initiatives to promote the North East as a major FDI destination and an export center," said Govindas.


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