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Let it be Advantage NE

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  5 Feb 2018 12:00 AM GMT

The first-ever global summit to attract investors Advantage Assam in Guwahti created much-needed ripples as the State government left no stone unturned to give a glittering look to the event organized to showcase the business potential of the northeastern region. According to organizers, a whopping sum of Rs 32 crore has been spent on organising the two-day event. Delegates from 23 foreign countries including six top level ministers of the neighbouring ASEAN countries attended the summit. But strangely many chief ministers of eight northastern states were missing who are the important stakeholders in cementing trade ties with the ASEAN countries of the region. The tagline of the summit Expressway to ASEAN should have lived its day if an holistic approach would have been taken by the organisers to invite all the stakeholders of the region. There is no denying the fact that Assam is a big brother and has to handhold other states of the region. The summit also aims to highlight Assam’s and other northeastern states of geostrategic advantages and core competencies in different sectors along with the policy initiatives taken by the state government. The contingous land mass between the northeastern region with ASEAN countries provides an ample business opportunity but India needs to look at this in a holistic manner. Look East or Act Policy, how this policy in paper has translated into business is nothing great to write home about. Prime Minister of India rendra Modi while delivering his speech at the iugural address spoke about ‘Asthalaxmi’, the eight northeastern states, including Sikkim and how the region could transform itself into the new economic growth engine of the country. Except the Chief Minister of Manipur and Aruchal Pradesh, no other chief minister was present in the summit which is being billed as one of the biggest event ever organised in the northeastern region. On the other hand, the event, first of its kind in the region, showcased the economic prowress of the region. Industry bigwigs like Mukesh Ambani of Reliance Gorup and Dilip Sanghvi of Sun Pharma in their address sang peans of the business potential of the region. But the roadblock seems to be in the approach. All the eight northeast states lie along the intertiol borders surrounded by five neighboring countries viz Chi, Bhutan, Nepal, Myanmar and Bangladesh. The NE region is connected to the rest of India via a small rrow corridor commonly known as the Chicken’s Neck, a rrow stretch of land squeezed between Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh. Both Aruchal Pradesh and Sikkim share three intertiol borders respectively. In such a scerio the absence of many Chief Ministers in the event from the region casts a shadow on the actual result of the event. More than 1 lakh crore has been promised by the investors to pump into the region. To realise the fruit of all these investments, northeastern states need to go along together since every state is stakeholder with the much sought after business opportunities in ASEAN countries. Take for instance the case of Yun province of Chi which has already reaped the benefit of business cherry in the ASEAN countries. India’s Look or Act East policy talked about expoliting economic benefits with ASEAN countries but it largely remained on paper. Only thing which happened so far are series of semirs talking only about the potential but hardly any result so far. Asian Development Bank which is one of the major funding agency in the South Asian Region delved deep on the success of Chi why it has succedded in entering the markets in Myanmar, Laos and Vitem. The answer is simple. Chi invested heavily in developing infreastructure to conncet with these countries. Sadly, much of the projects designed in India to connect with these countires are still hang in fire. For instance, the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project — a project that envisaged to connect the eastern Indian seaport of Kolkata with Sittwe seaport in Rakhine State, Myanmar by sea, link Sittwe seaport to Paletwa, Chin State via the Kaladan river boat route, and then from Paletwa by road to Mizoram state in Northeast India scheduled to get completed by 2016 is still pending. This fact only displays the seriousness of the government in India about implementation of projects in connecting the region with the ASEAN countries. It is heartening to note that the event of such ture is being organized in the region but the real focus should be on delivery rather than a showcase.

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