The third three-day Northeast Connectivity Summit started yesterday at the Pragya Bhavan to discuss connectivity of the landlocked Northeast region that is surrounded by several foreign nations.
Organised by Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industries (FICCI) with support of government of Tripura, Ministry of DoNER and the Northeast Council, the summit is focused on reviving the pre-partition connectivity in the region.
Apart from focusing on improving connectivity in the region, the three-day summit will also highlight the opportunities in international trade and commerce that improved connectivity will bring about especially with countries like Bangladesh which is a strategic partner for not only the North East but the whole of India and it scope in international trade.
Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar said, “Our next door is Bangladesh and our relation with Bangladesh is very good. They treat us as relatives, they are helping us like anything and I think that his opportunity should be properly utilized by the government of India. It does not depend on the attitude of state government like Tripura to utilize this opportunity government of India has to come forward with positive outlook. Of course here I must say that the present government they have been trying to take positive attitude. It is a good thing and it has to be maintained and further strengthened.”
NITI Aayog member Bibek Debroy said that development of physical infrastructure is necessary in the region but in small states like the scope for investment in the industry and manufacturing sector is very limited and he suggested that the state should project for investment in the service sector.
“Industry in Tripura is largely assailable, plantation and prospect of food processing, horticulture; floriculture in the present volumes does not justify substantial investment…So I think the four sectors where investment perhaps can happen, and they are not manufacturing, they are all services – higher education, health or medical and higher end of that, bio-technology and IT and tourism,” said Debroy.
Meantime, FICCI’s North East Advisory Council Chairman Ranjit Barthakur stressed on reviving preparation trade and multi-modal connectivity including surface, air, rail and most important river in the region that includes not only Northeast India rather erstwhile East Pakistan and present Bangladesh and also Myanmar.
He also viewed that it is high time that India should change its policy with the eastern neighbours and emphasis on expansion of business relation with its eastern neighbours as there is no much scope with its western neighbour.
Adding to Barthakur, Subir Bhaumik, eminent journalist and expert of the north-eastern region, who is also an invited speaker at the summit said, “India’s foreign policy option in the west is very limited because of Pakistan and all the other factors. Therefore, India’s foreign policy compulsion makes it important that ‘Look East’ is not a luxury but an absolute necessity. And how you look east from mainland India you have to deal with Bangladesh. Bangladesh is not only your gateway to northeast, makes it easy for mainland to connect with Northeast but also for the further progress of the Look East Policy.”
Among other issues, the summit will have a major focus on development of international trade and commerce of North Eastern states including Assam, Improving connectivity with Bangladesh and other neighbouring countries with a special emphasis on developing connectivity in border areas.
When the north-eastern region has huge resources and potentiality, it has borders with five nations whose total population is over 3.2 billion and has a vast market.
Besides China, the north-eastern region shares borders with Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal and Bhutan. India’s north-eastern region can flourish its economy by taping its resources and using the market of these countries.