NEW DELHI: The renewed emphasis on India’s engagement in East Asia is intended to cultivate trade, find common cultural ground and create strategic rebalance beyond the symbolic. The government is focussing on developing industrial estates, food and spices park in the border towns to strengthen the cross-border trade besides promotion of cottage industries.
“The government has assured that finance will not be an issue but the proposals must move fast and implementation must have transparency,” top government officials said. Enhancing trade ties with China through border towns could be a game changer. Despite the rocky relationship between India and China in the past, officials say, the two countries are working towards deeper ties and looking to find common ground in trade and culture. “To make trade and Act Policy effective, agreements will also be signed with neighbouring countries,” officials said.
The second most important initiative is to remove the infrastructure bottlenecks by improving the road and rail connectivity.The government has decided to provide `15,000 crore projects for the road connectivity this year alone.
The work on highways, officials say, is going on full swing which includes work on major and minor bridges to connect the rest of the country with the north-east and subsequently to neighbouring countries.
The current focus is on to connect the north-east by road to South East Asia through tri-lateral highway—Manipur-Myanmar and Mae Sot in Thailand. Besides upgradation of the airports in Guwahati, Dibrugarh, Dimapur etc, the emphasis is on building new airports in Kohima and Gangtok.
“Multi-modal transport project on Kaladan River that will connect Mizoram with Chin and Rakhine in western Myanmar is being expedited by the government,” officials further added.
The government also aims to enhance the cultural exchange programmes to promote the ‘Act East Policy’ and has decided to set up a permanent mechanism. North-Eastern Council, which comes under the DONER Ministry and has a budgetary allocation of approximately `740 crore for various schemes, has been asked to write to neighbouring countries and ensure exchange of cultural troupes in the system.