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Northeast considered a liability: Rio

KOHIMA, DEC 2 (NPN)(Correspondent)
Published on 2 Dec. 2012 11:29 PM IST
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Chief minister Neiphiu Rio Sunday pointed out that Northeast (NE) region was considered a security burden and more of a liability for India for decades.

The chief minister, however, felt that in the context of emerging global opportunities, with 90 % of the region sharing borders with Bangladesh, Myanmar, China, Nepal and Bhutan, NER could emerge as the convergence of the dynamic economies of the 21st century.

Rio was addressing the international conference “India’s Northeast: The Bridgehead between Myanmar and India” at the conference hall, directorate of industries and commerce, here Sunday.

Rio stated that Northeast states lagged behind other parts of India in development mostly due to its geographical isolation and underlined the need to focus on developmental efforts for sustaining stronger ties with the region’s neighboring countries, especially with Myanmar.

The chief minister also expressed gratitude to the Central government for approving to upgrade an extensive network of roads and bridges in Myanmar that would effectively connect the Northeast and the rest of India up to Thailand by 2016.

Apart from the issues of connectivity and economic, the chief minister stressed on the urgent need to improve people-to-people contacts and suggested that government of India and Myanmar should continue to maintain the policy of open-border as Nagaland had communities like Konyak and Khiamniungan who were inhabiting areas divided by the international boundary between Indian and Myanmar.

Rio informed that India and Myanmar had two operational border trade points and with the recent agreement, the chief minister urged the Ministries of External Affairs, Ministries of Commerce and Industry of both the countries to work on operationalizing the third border trade point.

He also lauded Myanmar business houses for their decision to invest in Nagaland and use the state as a natural springboard for trade and commerce with the rest of India.

The chief minister also suggested that cultural exchanges between India and Myanmar needed to be strengthened and institutionalized. He proposed the Myanmar government to consider setting up of a permanent cultural office in Nagaland.

Rio felt that Northeastern states could also be a destination for healthcare and education as there were a number of multi-specialty healthcare centres in the Northeast, both private and public owned offering sate of the art facilities.

Stating that Northeast had high literacy rate - higher than the national average, Rio asked the government of Myanmar to consider educated Northeast youth as potential teachers and instructors while Myanmar students could come to Northeast for acquiring skills and education at the various educational institutions established in the region.

Also, addressing the conference, Member of Union Parliament, Myanmar Sai Boe Aung expressed the hope that the conference would help both Indian and Myanmar to enter into important and substantial discussions so as to transform and strengthen the two countries in all aspects.

Special secretary (PD), Ministry of External Affairs Pinak Ranjan Chakravarty, in his address, stated that India was ready to walk the extra mile in strengthening bridges of friendship and create new opportunities for the growth, security and well being of neighbours both bilaterally and through multilateral mechanism. 

“India Myanmar is the land bridge between South and South East Asia and the main geographical link between Indian and ASEAN making Myanmar a significant pillar of the Look East policy”, he said adding that Myanmar’s role in regional connectivity was pivotal.

Around 14 Members of Parliament of Myanmar, dignitaries from both India and Myanmar along with eminent academicians took part in the deliberation.

The conference was jointly organized by Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad Institute for Asian Studies, Kolkata, Nagaland University and Tampadipa Institute, Yangon, Myanmar with the support Government of Nagaland and the Union Ministry of External Affairs.

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