- Recently, the third India-Japan Intellectual Dialogue was hosted by the Asian Confluence (ASCON) in Agartala (Tripura).
- It was an ideal opportunity to assess the evolving thinking of experts and policymakers.
- North-eastern India is an extensive web of linkages with neighbouring Bangladesh.
- Besides, Japan has emerged as a significant development partner for both India and Bangladesh.
- It showed that the current decade may produce path-breaking changes in the northeast, bringing the troika of Bangladesh, India and Japan closer.
The North East Region of India
- The Northeast region of India comprises eight states – Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura – each with its own distinct history and identity.
- The region shares its borders with Bhutan, China, Myanmar and Bangladesh.
India’s Act East Policy:
- It is a diplomatic initiative by India to promote economic cooperation, and cultural ties and develop strategic relationships with countries in the Asia-Pacific region through continuous engagement at bilateral, regional, and multilateral levels thereby providing enhanced connectivity to the States of North Eastern Region with other countries in our neighborhood.
- The Northeast of India has been a priority in India’s Act East Policy.
- This eastward drive started in 1992 under the Look East policy.
Importance of North-Eastern States
- Strategic Location: The North Eastern Region of India is a landlocked region with no sea access. The existence of the Siliguri Corridor, known as the chicken’s neck in India, complicates matters.
- Links with Southeast Asia: The North Eastern Region is physically next to Myanmar, which is part of South-East Asia. As a result, it has the potential to serve as India’s “Gateway to Southeast Asia.”
- Electricity Resources: Due to the presence of the Brahmaputra and its tributaries, the North-Eastern area offers enormous potential for hydroelectric electricity. It has also been a source of crude oil and natural gas in the form of the Digboi oil fields.
- Carbon Sink: As part of the Paris Summit, India has pledged to develop an additional 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon sink each year through its Nationally Determined Contributions. With its vast forest cover, North-Eastern India can play a significant part in such an endeavor.
- Agricultural Resources: The North Eastern area is endowed with natural resources that are critical to the country’s economic progress.
- Ecotourism and the Environment: Because of its lush green terrain, distinctive tribal culture, fresh air, agreeable climate, and different topography, the North Eastern area has the potential to be a tourist hotspot.
Challenges in the North East Region
- Difficult and hilly terrain, geographical location, and short working season pose a challenge to the development of optimal infrastructure and communication links within the region and with the rest of the country.
- The infrastructural bottlenecks include inadequate road and railway connectivity, power transmission and distribution, telecom connectivity, and the absence of airports in the region.
- The objectives of improving mobile connectivity in all the villages in the region, improving high-speed internet connectivity, last mile internet connectivity from the village to a consumer have not been achieved satisfactorily.
Trade and Commerce:
- The industrial scenario is not encouraging in terms of the number of factories as well as the shares of fixed capital, invested capital, net value-added and the number of workers in the industrial sector as compared to the all-India position.
Population and Education:
- While there are number of colleges and universities, North East Region lags behind in quality education and lack of constructive higher educational institutions.
- Natural Resources Utilization: Northeast India is a storehouse of natural resources that are essential for creating employment and generation of GDP in Northeast India are either underutilized, unutilized, and mismanaged.
- All eight states of the North-East have international borders with China, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Myanmar, or Bhutan.
- With such vast borders, there is always room for illegal immigration, arms smuggling, cattle, and commodity smuggling.
- The North-Eastern states have witnessed a rise of insurgent activities and regional secessionist movements. Some of the insurgent groups are United ULFA, PLA, NSCN, and ATTF.
- There are existing inter-state and international territorial conflicts within the Northeast that are often based on historical border disputes and differing ethnic, tribal or cultural affinities. Example: Assam-Mizoram Border Dispute.
- The northeastern state boasts of high potential in many fields of economic and strategic endeavor that should be exploited responsibly.
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