TODAY -

Better infrastructure must to fuel Act East Policy
- The People's Chronicle Editorial :: August 01, 2022 -



WITHOUT an iota of doubt, people of the north-eastern states would opt to visit Southeast Asian countries for pleasure trips as well as establishing business connectivity considering the fact that these neighbouring Asian countries are hotspots of tourism and have sound economies.

With Thailand capital Bangkok, where the second North-East India Festival is underway, and other Southeast Asian nations situated geographically nearer to the northeast India than India’s capital Delhi or other industrially vibrant states, it is but natural that if given a choice NE commoners and entrepreneurs would definitely prefer these Asian nations for investment, trade and business and tourism.

The huge potential in almost every sector these countries have is precisely the reason why policy makers of the north-eastern states and industrialists from the region are attending the Festival, which is technically an event aimed at promoting people-to-people interaction and spurring the trade and commerce relations between India and its economically-advanced Asian neighbours.

Moreover, the festival is planned every year so that northeast India and South East Asian nations can develop strong cultural and economic ties, especially with Thailand which has historical bond with India of more than 2000 years.

As per the historical records, the relationship dates back to the time of King Ashoka in the 3rd century BC when Buddhism was introduced to Thailand from India, and Buddhism is regarded as the common thread that runs through both nations.

Thus, with India’s bilateral relations with Thailand rooted in history, age-old social and cultural interactions and extensive people-to-people contacts, reviving the ties wouldn’t be arduous.

Nevertheless, aspiration of the northeast denizens and policy makers of the region to establish healthy relations with Thailand and its adjoining countries could be realised as and when transport, trade and commerce infrastructures are of standard qualities.

Transport networks, in particular, must improve without which it would be only one-way traffic towards southeast Asia and the treasured Act East Policy would only see draining of the northeast region’s limited natural and financial resources.

If frequent commentaries by national and local economists are to be believed the Look East Policy was envisioned in order to recover from India’s loss of the strategic partnership with the erstwhile USSR after the end of the Cold war 1991.

Through the Policy, India sought to build up a relationship with the USA and its allies in Southeast Asia to give a strategic push to its engagement with Southeast Asia region.

As the vision could not bring any significant changes at the ground level, owing to various factors, while ministers as well as bureaucrats of the then Congress governments at the centre and in almost all the north-eastern states bragged that the Policy will usher in a new era of economic prosperity in the northeast region, the Act East Policy was unveiled by incumbent Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the 12th ASEAN-India Summit in 2014 held in Myanmar.

After over seven years since proclamation by PM Modi, the Union government has been implementing various rail, road and air connectivity projects in the northeast, thereby signifying that materialisation of the Act East Policy would be possible only when there is notable improvement in basic infrastructures.



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