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.
The government is focussing on developing industrial estates, food and spice parks in border towns to strengthen cross-border trade besides promoting 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 infrastructure bottlenecks by improving road and rail connectivity.The government has decided to provide `15,000 crore projects for 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 connecting 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 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 Myanmar is being expedited by the government,” officials added.
The government also aims to enhance cultural exchanges to promote the ‘Act East Policy’ and has decided to set up a permanent mechanism. North-Eastern Council, under the DONER Ministry with a budget of approximately Rs 740 crore, has been asked to write to neighbouring countries and ensure exchange of cultural troupes in the system.