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'Close economic ties with Myanmar & Bangladesh key to NE India's prosperity'

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  2 May 2016 12:00 AM GMT


Guwahati, May 1: Noted economist and tiol Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Ayog full-time member Professor Bibek Debroy said that forging close economic ties with Myanmar, Bangladesh, Bhutan and South East Asia is the key for prosperity and development of Northeast India. Professor Debroy was delivering the 3rd Professor Sarat Mahanta Memorial lecture at the Royal Group of Institutions at Gorchuk on Sunday evening.

He spoke on ‘Recrafting Development: Prospects & Challenges of Economic Growth in North East India’. Prof Debroy also spoke strongly in favour of decentralisation of power and devolution of more powers to states.

Prof Debroy, who was born in Assam, laid out a roadmap for the development of this region which, he said, is viewed as “bypassed and margilized”. Building tourism hubs in the region, making it the educatiol and medical node of the country, tapping tural reserves like bamboo, handlooms and mineral reserves and the hydropower potential of the region were his prescriptions for fuelling economic growth of the region.

Noting that the Northeast was one of the relatively prosperous regions of the subcontinent till the 1930s when “history severed tural economic and commercial flows”, Prof Debroy said that “some ingredients” of the big task of re-establishing those flows “are falling in place and we are repairing part of the historical damage”.

Work on the Asian Highways project that will link the Northeast with Southeast Asia and Bangladesh with Nepal through northern part of West Bengal has started, he said.

He also spoke about the proposed Indo-Myanmar rail link project, on which work has started, and the new Inland Water Transit and Trade Protocol with Bangladesh.

Dispelling the notion that little of these talked-about mega projects are actually implemented on the ground, Prof Debroy gave out details of the work being done on these projects. The sub-regiol motor vehicles agreement between Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal has been inked and seamless road transport between all these countries will boost trade and commerce. Infrastructure development, particularly transport connectivity, is the common template of prosperity and development, and better infrastructure can boost the country’s GDP growth by 1.5% and 2%. “What’s true of India is even truer of the North-East region, which effectively became a landlocked part of the country,” he said.

Prof Debroy rooted for revamping the Seventh Schedule of the Indian Constitution that deals with division of powers between the Union government and the states. He said that the ‘concurrent’ list which lists subjects on which both the Union government and the states can legislate should be scrapped, the Union list should be pruned and new ‘Local Body’ list that empowers local bodies like panchayats and municipalities to legislate on matters of local importance should be added. This will also aid the growth of the North East.

The Professor Sarat Mahanta Memorial lecture series on Prof Mahanta’s birth anniversary on May 1 is a joint endeavour of the Sarat Mahanta Foundation and the Royal Group of Institutions. The event, anchored by Zerifa Wahid, commenced with the ceremonial lighting of the lamp by Prof Sarat Mahanta Foundation chairman and noted public intellectual Ajit Bhuyan and Downtown Medical University Vice Chancellor Ramesh Chandra Deka. After a rendition of a devotiol hymn by Singer Jubilee Baruah, a short documentary on the life and works of Prof Mahanta was screened.

In his welcome address, Ajit Bhuyan recalled his association with Prof Mahanta. “He led a simple lifestyle, was unpretentious and very approachable and very helpful towards his students,” said Bhuyan. A book of poems titled ‘Unending Maze’ penned by Prof Mahanta’s granddaughter Arshia Mahanta was released by prominent writer and jourlist Indrani Ray Medhi.

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