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EDITORIAL ANALYSIS : A new troika for India’s northeast region

 

Source: The Hindu

  • Prelims: Current events of National importance importance, North-East region, mapping of NE region etc
  • Mains GS Paper II and III: India’s northeast region, importance of Northeast for India, security Issues etc

 

ARTICLE HIGHLIGHTS

  • The third India-Japan Intellectual Dialogue (April 11–12, 2023), hosted by the Asian Confluence (ASCON), in Agartala, Tripura, was an ideal opportunity to assess the evolving thinking of experts and policymakers.

 

INSIGHTS ON THE ISSUE

Context

North East Region:

  • The NER is strategically located with access to the traditional domestic market of eastern India
  • It has proximity to the major states in the east and adjacent countries such as Bangladesh and Myanmar.
  • The region comprising India’s eight northeastern States (Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim).
  • It has overcome several (but not all) security challenges and is now heading toward economic development.
  • The extensive web of linkages with neighboring Bangladesh.
  • Japan has emerged as a significant development partner for both India and Bangladesh.

 

Vision and opportunities

  • Development of Matarbari Deep Sea Port (DSP) on the southeastern coast of Bangladesh.
    • It is being constructed with Japanese assistance and is scheduled to be operational in 2027.
    • ASCON study:envisages this port to be “a game changer”.
    • The port will have to cater to the needs of Bangladesh and India’s northeast.
    • The long-term vision is for Bangladesh and the northeast to become a hub and key industrial corridor of this region, serving a population of 220 million.
  • Japan’s Ambassador to India; The increased connectivity of roads and railways is important.
    • It is not enough without the creation of regional industrial value chains.
  • The rapid industrialisation in the sectors where the northeast enjoys competitive advantage assumes significance.
    • It ensures that the new connectivity links will be fully utilized and productive.
  • Roads and ports must be accompanied by job opportunities that can come only from new industrial enterprises set up with national and foreign investment.
  • A joint focus on comprehensive connectivity and accelerating industrialisation in Bangladesh and the northeast should be a priority.
  • The vast natural resources: Its strategic location, sharing borders with Nepal, Bhutan, China, Bangladesh and Myanmar, is an asset.
  • Creating value chains and manufacturing products should encompass diverse sectors such as agro-processing, man-made fibers, handicrafts, assembly of two-wheelers and perhaps mobile phones, and pharmaceuticals.

 

Challenges:

  • Japan being a single investor in the northeast is unworkable. Indian companies too must invest.
    • India must ease restrictions on the flow of investments from Bangladesh.
    • The three governments should also forge closer linkages of economic cooperation.
  • When issues of regional cooperation and integration are discussed, scant attention seems to be paid to the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), which is self-defeating.
    • This must change so that the group progresses towards its vision of establishing the Bay of Bengal Community (BOBC).

 

Importance of NorthEast Region:

 

Government Initiatives for NE Region:

 

Way Forward

  • The population, with its good education, already excels in the services sector drawing potential investor attention.
  • The challenges can be addressed by expanding policy convergence and taking people along.
  • Bangladesh’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs: He stressed that Dhaka and New Delhi have succeeded in “almost restoring” the pre-1965 infrastructure connectivity between India and Bangladesh and are now going beyond it.
    • Bangladesh, which has facilitated so much connectivity, now needs “reciprocity” from other countries ( so that it is better connected with other neighbors (Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar).
    • By facilitating it, India can assist Bangladesh in becoming an integral part of the Act East Policy.

 

  • The goal of connecting a large part of South Asia with Southeast Asia requires an astute pilot.
    • This leadership can come from the triad of Bangladesh, India and Japan (BIJ).
    • A BIJ Forum should be launched first at the level of Foreign Ministers, a move that will be welcome in the northeast.

 

QUESTION FOR PRACTICE

Cross-border movement of insurgents is only one of the several security challenges facing the policing of the border in North-East India. Examine the various challenges currently emanating across the India-Myanmar border. Also discuss the steps to counter the challenges.(UPSC 2019)  (200 WORDS, 10 MARKS)