TODAY -

Reading a skewed policy
- Hueiyen Lanpao Editorial :: May 26 2015 -



The speech delivered by Manipur Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh at the inaugural function of the two-day international conference on India’s Look East Policy (LEP) held at Manipur University on May 22 can be read as the beginning of a positive trend on picking critical holes by the political class in Manipur.

The sluggish start to the trend is not so much because of the absence of a political debate on LEP or the ‘Act East Policy’ but due to the reluctance of his ilk in seriously raising the issue at the political level.

Ibobi while pointing out the opportunities offered by LEP to the Northeast region because of its vast reserves of oil, forests, mineral and hydro potential also rued the fact that LEP since its inception till now has not taken along the confidence of the stakeholders in the region.

The Chief Minister was quite candid in admitting that LEP was not empowering the region nor was it making the people the stakeholders. He also stated that the policy’s impact on the region has been rather negligible so far.

While referring to the changing geo-political issue in the neighbourhood, Ibobi brought home the fact that in the early 1990s, Myanmar was not considered a significant player in the economy of the Southeast Asia.

Emphasising the significance of LEP, the Chief Minister had gone on to state that the policy is expected to be a watershed in the development discourse.

However, he seemed to have missed the argument on how the region has already become the gateway to opportunities of international trade and commerce when no one seems to have any clue on the exact potential of the policy in terms of trade volumes save for the traditional limited transactions between India and Myanmar.

Pinning hope and scope on mere introduction of Trans Asian Highway and Railway or for that matters the Imphal-Mandalay bus service would be too much of an expectation.

Moreover, the honey-laid trap on actually herding youth potentials to only small time entrepreneurship and ventures like hospitality and health sector says a lot about the mindset and the preparedness of the region to claim a major role in the LEP.

While stressing on the potentials for LEP’s growth primarily based on agro climatic condition, rich bio-diversity, horticultural potential and other resources, rich forest and water resources, the Chief Minister has already down-played the possible asymmetrical power relations which is likely to spike the premise of his argument that the people had not been taken into confidence at the policy infused decision making process.

Inviting potential investors to the region without plucking the loopholes will have a far reaching implication.

This is why, there has to be a way to further critique a skewed policy like the LEP.



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