GUWAHATI: External Affairs minister (EAM) Dr S Jaishankar on Monday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led central government is committed towards the welfare of Assam and hoped that many development projects can be fructified in the state in collaboration with the Japan government.
"The Modi government has a very deep commitment to the progress and welfare of Assam. You can see that in different ways in projects and changes, which have happened in the last six years," he said during a joint press conference here.
Jaishankar also highlighted how international partnerships can make a difference in the development of a state. "We hope to see many of these projects fructify in the coming years," he added.
The minister said, "We are trying today to partner with the state government and to create better infrastructure and enabling environment in Assam, while promising greater investment from Japanese companies."
He also said that the Act East Policy approach to create connectivity in Assam will make the state more energetic, contributing and employed. "The Act East Policy is an approach to create connectivity to and within Assam, beyond to the north-east then to neighbouring Myanmar and Bangladesh but eventually push all the way by road, sea, air to Vietnam to Japan. In doing so, we must appreciate that this will not only service greater economic activity but as demonstrated in other parts of the world, actually be a driver of it. A more connected Assam will be a more energetic Assam, a more contributing Assam and a more employed Assam," Jaishankar said during an event here.
"The role of Assam as its springboard needs to be fully realised, one way of doing that is to encourage stronger cooperation between this state and our international partners to the east, especially Japan," he added.
The minister highlighted that Assam has long been the fulcrum of the north-east region, but as cooperation and connectivity expands beyond national politics, this potential can actually make it the centre of a hub that covers neighbours like Myanmar, Bangladesh and Bhutan.
Underlining that India's ties with foreign nations have undergone a dramatic transformation, Jaishankar said Assam can play a critical role for the larger nations in power, in transformation, in energy and the movement of people.
"The Modi government has always paid special attention to Assam. This is reflected most recently in the 2021 Budget, what we call the Atmanirbhar Budget and you can see this whether it's in the expansion of the highways, roadbuilding, rail network, financial security for women teaplanters and workers," he said.
The minister further asserted that a modern prosperous globally connected Assam has importance well beyond the state and that recognition is what drives the Modi government's commitment to the state as well as India's foreign policy.
"India was a great country only when eastern India was prosperous and secure, that revival must happen again and that is very much at the core of the Modi government's commitment to Assam," said Jaishankar in his closing remarks.
Meanwhile, the Japanese Ambassador to India Satoshi Suzuki also spoke on how the Japan government is providing assistance to the infrastructure in Assam. "What the Japanese government is trying to do is offer official development assistance that would create necessary infrastructure... It is actually up to Japanese businessmen to choose Assam for their investment. To be frank, Japanese businesses are offered invitations from various states in India and there should be healthy competition among the states. Japanese businessmen need to know Assam better so that they could seek the opportunities here," he said.
Asked about how the military coup in Myanmar can affect development projects, Jaishankar hoped that the events would not affect the development projects in Assam. Earlier, Jaishankar had visited the Guwahati Water Supply Project in Assam with Suzuki.
The EAM had asserted that a closer India-Japan partnership is most natural and has had a central place in India's modernisation and development efforts. Meanwhile, Suzuki said the north-eastern part of India is situated where India's Act East Policy and Japan's vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific converge.