TODAY -

Indian foreign policy, AEP elucidated : Former Ambassador dissects Act East Policy
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, March 30 2015 : A one day "Distinguished Lecture Series Programme for Better Understanding of Indian Foreign Policy" was held today at Manipur University, Canchipur.

The programme was sponsored by the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India and organised by the Department of Political Science, Manipur University.

Rudi Warjri, former Ambassador of India, was the chief guest cum speaker of the distinguished lecture series program.

Prof Ksh Bimola and Prof S Rajendra were the guests of honour, and Prof S Mangi Singh, Head, Department of Political Science, Manipur University, Canchipur presided the function.

Rudi Warjri delivered the lecture titled, "Act East Policy & North East India" .



Rudi Warjri addressing delivering his lecture
Rudi Warjri addressing delivering his lecture


He said that the term Act East Policy (AEP) was used for the first time by Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi in November 2014 at Nya Pi Taw, Myanmar.

And efforts have been made by the Modi Government since entering into office to turn India's Look East Policy (LEP) into AEP.

According to Rudi Warjri, there are two aspects of AEP.

First is the external angle, which essentially concerns relations of India as a whole with ASEAN (comprising of Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei, Vietnam and Philippines) and East Asia.

The second angle or the internal angle is about development of North East India that makes it a viable gateway for the rest of India to ASEAN and East Asia.

Speaking on the difference between LEP and AEP, Rudi Warjri stated that AEP is aimed at building up further on LEP.

The announcement during the India � ASEAN Summit held in Myanmar in the presence of world leaders signified the advancing posture of India on the subject.

PM Modi's speech referred to international norms and laws and upgrading maritime security and urged ASEAN to conclude the code of conduct on South China Sea.

This was the first clear message aimed at China in an international forum.

At the same time, PM Modi emphasized on making Myanmar a "valued friend" and strengthening cooperation with it became a priority.

The Prime Minister raised the stature of ASEAN by saying that ASEAN has a unique identity and voice in global affairs.

Further he emphasised on digital linkages with ASEAN besides roads and infrastructure connectivity.

The launching of the Look East Policy took place 25 years ago.

During this time, India's trade and investment and overall relationship with ASEAN has gone up by leaps and bounds.

But how the North East India as the gateway to ASEAN has benefited in trade and investment remains a question.

There are no data to prove the presence of any, he emphasized.

Speaking on the psychological dimension of India and North East, he stressed that the hate crimes against North Easterners in Delhi and other cities have created a bad impression about India as a whole to the North Easterners.

At the same time, the mindset in Delhi is that, North East is looked at only from the prism of security and insurgency.

He added that Myanmar shares 1400 kms border with the States of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram.

Thus, 'connectivity' is the key.

Road, rail, air, cyber and telecom, inland waterways and power.

This was already recommended in the North Eastern Region 2020 Vision document though implementation remains unfulfilled.

Budget 2015 has recommended opening of AIIMS in Assam, Indian Institute of Science, Education and Research in Nagaland, Centre of Film production, Animation and Gaming in Arunachal Pradesh.

Industry is expecting fiscal package of NE Industrial & Investment Promotion policy so far kept in abeyance, the former Ambassador said.

Speaking on AEP and Manipur, Rudi Warjri said that Manipur is the most critical State in India's connectivity to Myanmar and South East Asia.

99 per cent of overland formal trade goes through Moreh besides the informal/illegal trade.

It is not surprising that Moreh is being talked about as one of the 100 smart cities of India.

The truth about insurgency and corruption in North East has to be acknowledged.

The nexus between politicians, bureaucrats, police, contractors, mafias, pressure groups or so called NGOs, etc.in siphoning off funds, he asserted.

Rudi Warjri concluded the lecture with the remark, "Act East through the North East" .


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