GUWAHATI: President Pranab Mukherjee on Friday said Assam was in a position to emerge as an economic hub of eastern India and South East Asia. Addressing people after inaugurating the five-day “Namami Brahmaputra” festival in Guwahati, President Mukherjee said Assam was the most effective and influential location to put into operation Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “act fast east” policy.
“India’s expansion of international trade, business and investments are changing its directions, composition and physical destinations. Europe and North America are no longer vital markets for India. The South East Asian countries are the emerging destinations of Indian investments and trade vis-à-vis these countries and India,” Mukherjee said.
“Shortly we will celebrate our 25 years of association with the ASEAN and this is the opportunity,” the president added.
Pranab Mukherjee also said that rivers were the carriers of civilisations, pointing out that all old civilisations grew on the banks of rivers.
“The north-eastern culture, economy and essential ingredients of the civilisation have flourished on the mighty Brahmaputra. It has seen the rise and fall of mighty empires and shown heroism and indomitable spirit of the people…The Brahmaputra has much more tradition, history and tales to tell the visitors, national and international. Assam’s scenic beauty, its resources in wildlife, beautiful sanctuaries and cultural people will attract tourists,” he said.
The President congratulated chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal for conceptualizing and identifying the ingredients of the festival and holding it practically all over the State.
Bhutan’s Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, who came from Paris to attend the festival, said Bhutan and Bangladesh would benefit from Assam’s progress.
“The (traditional Bhutanese) garment that I am wearing was made of cotton grown in Assam. It was woven by Bhutanese women. There are 10 Bhutan-origin rivers that flow into the Brahmaputra. Along the 266 km Assam-Bhutan border, people on both sides interact freely. So, this is the kind of relationship that Bhutan shares with Assam,” Tobgay said.
Calling Sonowal “Sarbananda bhai” and his “spiritual brother”, he said the development of the Northeast would depend on the development of Assam.
In his speech, Sarbananda Sonowal said it was a historic day for people living on both sides of the Brahmaputra. “Brahmaputra is our civilization, culture, economy and lifeline. It has given a status to Assam globally. We cannot forget its contributions,” he said.
Being celebrated across 21 districts through which the Brahmaputra flows, the festival is a tribute to the river. The State’s culture, heritage, history, music, food, tourism potential and other aspects would be showcased during the extravaganza.