Development, foreign policy blend in northeast vision

July 1st, 2008 - 9:44 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, July 1 (IANS) India’s Look East policy will be in focus Wednesday when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh unveils a vision document for development of the northeast region that includes enhancing transport and economic links with Southeast Asia. The prime minister will launch the ‘Northeastern Region Vision 2020′ document in the presence of governors and chief ministers of the region. Sonia Gandhi, chairperson of the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and Minister for Development for the North Eastern Region Mani Shankar Aiyar will be present.

The vision document will detail a plan to bridge the development gap between the northeastern region and the rest of the country.

The document will focus on ways to ensure peace and progress, spur private investment and industrial development, empower the people by maximising self governance, spur rural development, increase agricultural productivity and augment infrastructure in the region which continues to lag behind in most development indicators.

The government’s broader vision entails dovetailing of its Look East policy - developing multi-faceted engagement with the economically vibrant countries of Southeast Asia - with the northeastern region. Nagaland’s capital Kohima is closer to Hanoi than to New Delhi, as the crow flies.

In the last decade or so, India has expanded its engagement with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and is trying to negotiate a comprehensive economic partnership agreement with it.

Closer transport and trade links with Southeast Asia will bring enormous economic benefits to the northeastern region.

Putting India’s Look East policy in the context of the development of the northeastern region, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee Monday spoke about building a 160-km road link with Myanmar and developing a port in that country that will facilitate easier passage for goods to states like Nagaland and Mizoram.

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