Eminent academicians, bureaucrats, diplomats and representatives from the entire eight northeast states of India have discussed about the integration of the northeastern states in the Act East Policy during a recently concluded seminar organized by Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) at New Delhi.
During the seminar entitled ‘Integrating Northeast in India’s Act East Policy’, Professor Amar Yumnam from Manipur University argued that the Look East Policy (LEP)/ Act East Policy (AEP) has not achieved much. He spoke on geographic ‘continuum’ between the NE India and the neighbouring countries.
“With Manipur’s perspective on LEP the LEP was possibly framed without integrating NE in the policy formulation. He emphasised that now while formulating the AEP we must look into the developmental needs of the NE Region, particularly focusing on Manipur,” he opined.
While, Dr Moirangthem Amarjeet Singh, Associate Professor, Jamia Millia Islamia University stated that the LEP has benefitted the country in totality including the NE region (NER). However, the promise of transforming the NER as a gateway for trade and commerce with ASEAN countries is yet to materialise.
Identifying challenges to be dealt such as infrastructure, educational training and promoting skills, he recommended opening of centres of excellence in NE states dedicated to Southeast Asian studies and the languages spoken in these countries.
Dr Teiborlang T Kharsyntiew, from Sikkim University, gave a statistical presentation on development of tourism sector in Sikkim while the eco-tourism has provided good employment the state and this model could be emulated by other regional states.
He said that the restrictions and multiple permit systems prevailing in the region are major hurdle and it should be simplified and streamlined for the promotion of tourism. He also suggested that Sikkim could be promoted as a destination for ‘Buddhist tourism”.
Drawing attention towards the rapid developments taking place in Myanmar Ambassador V S Seshadri, who chaired the second session on “Economic and Development Aspects” highlighted that Myanmar is registering eight percent annual growth rate and is poised to become a Middle Income Economy in a decade offering opportunities for the Northeast region.
Professor Gurudas Das from NIT Silchar, in his presentation, stated that the LEP has achieved considerable success in terms of trade but failed to initiate expected growth in the Northeast region. NE states must take leading role in tapping the opportunities being offered by the neighbouring states.