Union Minister Jitendra Singh on Saturday said the North Eastern States would become the torch bearer of new India as the country prepares to celebrate the 75th year of its Independence in 2022.
Addressing a seminar organised by the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER), he said in the post-COVID era, India's economic resurgence would not be complete unless it took care of the vast unexplored potential and resources of the North Eastern region.
Singh, the Minister of State for the Development of North East Region (DoNER), said it was Prime Minister Narendra Modi who gave the vision 'Act East' soon after assuming power in 2014, thus imparting a new push to the approach and focus to relations with the neighbouring countries, which was earlier known as the Look East Policy.
Addressing the seminar, 'Act East Policy: Enhancing Trade Infrastructure and Connectivity in the North Eastern Region' organised by the ICRIER, Singh said the North East would be the new engine of growth for new India.
Ever since Modi took over as Prime Minister, he has accorded a special priority to the development of the North Eastern region of India, Singh said.
He said this also assumes importance because if India has to successfully engage with the countries across the eastern borders, it must have a strong basis in areas proximal to eastern borders which comprise the North Eastern States.
With its geographical position and rich natural as well as agro-climatic resources, Singh said access to the growing ASEAN market is essential for optimum utilisation of trade and business opportunities.
He recalled how with the intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Indo-Bangladesh agreement was successfully accomplished, resulting in the exchange of enclaves, facilitating easier and cost-effective access to Bangladesh and other regions.
On the issue of connectivity, Singh said it includes both international as well as internal connectivity with dimensions of intra-regional connectivity and inter-regional connectivity.
About international connectivity, the DoNER Minister mentioned the Agartala-Akhaura rail link between India and Bangladesh, intermodal transport linkages and inland waterways through Bangladesh, the Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport Project and the Trilateral Highway Project connecting the North East with Myanmar and Thailand, according to a statement.
Singh said the Government's focus on Act East, which led to the development of the North East region and completion of an array of projects like the grandest of bridges, improving inland water transport, airports, rail and roads networks, has changed the narrative of news emanating from the North Eastern region in the past few years.
India's pre-emptive response to COVID-19 and outreach towards other nations has enhanced bonding and trust with its neighbours and reliance in times of crisis, he added. – PTI