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Northeastern India to Get a New Triad

Context

  • The Asian Confluence (ASCON) recently hosted the third India-Japan Intellectual Dialogue in Agartala (Tripura).
    • It was a great chance to evaluate how experts and policymakers were changing their minds.
  • The extensive network of connections between Bangladesh and northeastern India.
    • In addition, Japan has become a significant development partner for both Bangladesh and India.
    • It demonstrated that the northeast could undergo ground-breaking changes in the current decade, bringing the trio of Bangladesh, India, and Japan closer together.

Relevance:

GS Paper-2: Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests; North-eastern India

Mains Question

“North-eastern India is now moving towards economic development after overcoming numerous security and political obstacles.” Review the assertion. (250 Words).


Highlights

  • The eight northeastern Indian States (Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura, and Sikkim) are located in a region that is undergoing dramatic change.
  • India’s Act East Policy has focused on fostering regional cooperation and economic ties with the Asia-Pacific using the Northeast as a medium. o It has overcome some (but not all) security challenges and undergone political challenges and is now moving towards economic development.

Vision and Opportunities:

  • Matarbari Deep Sea Port (DSP): The development of Matarbari Deep Sea Port (DSP) on Bangladesh’s southeast coast is one of the most significant projects.
  • It is being built with Japanese assistance, and operations are expected to begin in 2027.
  • According to a recent ASCON study, this port will “change the game.”
    • The port must serve Bangladesh and northeastern India in order to be financially viable.
    • The long-term goal is for Bangladesh and the northeast to develop into this region’s industrial hub and key corridor, serving a 220 million-person population.
    • While improved road and rail connectivity is crucial, it is insufficient without the development of regional industrial value chains.
    • Rapid industrialization therefore becomes important in the industries where the northeast has a competitive advantage.
    • This strategy is sound because it guarantees that the new connectivity links will be effectively utilised.
    • Employment opportunities, which can only come from new industrial enterprises founded with domestic and foreign investment, must go hand in hand with roads and ports.
    • Joint attention will likely be paid to Bangladesh and the northeast’s industrialization and complete connectivity.
  • The northeast is endowed with an abundance of natural resources.
  • For instance, Arunachal Pradesh has a forest cover covering about 82% of its area, and its elevation ranges from near sea level in the south to peaks over 7,000 metres in the north. The area is drained by several large rivers.
  • By sharing borders with Nepal, Bhutan, China, Bangladesh, and Myanmar, the north-east enjoys a strategic location advantage. It also serves as a conduit for connectivity as part of India’s Act East Policy, which aims to promote regional cooperation and trade with the Asia-Pacific region.
    • These multinational highways have the potential to account for bulk import and export, which can be further enhanced by development of rail lines. o These projects include the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway Project, the Rhi-Tiddim Road Project, and Border Haats. o Others include the Kaladan Multi-modal Transit Transport Project, the Kaladan Multi-modal Transit Transport Project, and Border Haats.

Future obstacles:

  • Some obstacles can be overcome by advancing policy convergence and involving people.
  • It is impossible for Japan to invest alone in the northeast.
  • Indian businesses must also invest.
    • India needs to loosen its restrictions on investment from Bangladesh.
    • The three governments ought to establish stronger connections for economic cooperation.
  • Dhaka and New Delhi have made progress towards “almost restoring” the pre-1965 infrastructure connectivity between India and Bangladesh.
  • However, Bangladesh, which has made a significant contribution to connectivity, now requires “reciprocity” from other nations (India) in order to strengthen its ties with its neighbours Nepal, Bhutan, and Myanmar.
  • India can aid Bangladesh in joining the Act East Policy by making it possible for it.
  • Two more things should be taken into account.
    • The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), which is self-defeating, appears to receive little attention when issues of regional cooperation and integration are discussed.
  • This needs to change if the group is to realise its goal of creating the Bay of Bengal Community (BOBC).
    • A skilled pilot is needed in order to connect a significant portion of South Asia with Southeast Asia.
  • The triumvirate of Bangladesh, India, and Japan (BIJ) can provide this leadership.
  • The northeast will support the idea of first launching a BIJ Forum at the level of foreign ministers.

Conclusion:

It is important to responsibly exploit the Northeastern State’s high potential in a variety of economic and strategic endeavours.


 

March 2024
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