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North-East- Gateway to South-East

Introduction


The geographic proximity of North-Eastern India to Southeast Asia plays a critical role in implementing India's  - Act East policy through the development of linkages and connections. The Look East policy was initiated in 1991 with the goal of developing relations with Southeast Asian countries in areas such as trade, tourism, and culture, for which the North East serves as a gateway due to the fact that 95 per cent of its borders are surrounded by – China, Nepal, and Bhutan in the north, Bangladesh in the south, and Myanmar in the east. Thus, many people view it as a wonderful opportunity for the North-Eastern Region to integrate not just with the National economy on the mainland, but also with the economies of its bordering countries.


Asia – Pacific is one of the world's fastest-growing regions, attributed to its unmatched political, security, economic, and demographic dynamism. Strengthening connections with India's Asian neighbours via ASEAN can help close the divide and boost connectivity to the larger Asia - Pacific region. The North-Eastern area of India is critical for this, as it shares a border with two neighbouring countries. Additionally, it reflects a favourable impact on India's North-Eastern region's development.  India's north-eastern area offers the potential to play a pivotal role in the evolution of the Look East – Act East policy, and one might argue that looking and acting east will begin here.


The Northeast has the potential to become the growth engine of the country. Day by day my faith is getting deeper because peace is now being established in the entire region. The mantra of peace, progress and prosperity is echoing in the Northeast,"- Narendra Modi

Challenges


The region's insurgency has gained it a negative reputation, which has inhibited many business opportunities, the region is perceived as not peaceful enough. Instability on the political front is a concern.


Geographical positioning is both a boon and a bane. It serves as a gateway to Southeast Asia, but the topography makes connectivity and development challenges.


Additionally, Inner Line Permit obstructs the implementation of various policies. Because it requires citizens from outside the states to obtain a permit in order to enter these states, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, and Nagaland will be covered, as will Manipur. It is also, as proponents of a liberal economy point out, a major impediment to the North East's economic integration with the rest of India. India's economy was liberalised in 1991, and the Indian economy flourished as a result of this strategy, however, parts of the Northeast regions did not benefit from it due to the ILP.

Conclusion/Way Forward:


Modern infrastructure is being constructed in the Northeast, demonstrating the region's importance for connection, not only for the convenience of living but also for fulfilling India's aim of self-sufficiency.


The region's tourism potential is still untapped. The Northeast's natural and cultural diversity is a powerful symbol of cultural vitality. When contemporary infrastructure is constructed in such a setting, tourism also gains a lot of strength.


Among the connectivity projects already in the process is a four-lane trilateral highway connecting India (Moreh in Manipur) and Thailand (Mae Sot) via Myanmar, with extensions to Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. This highway can only be sustained through the movement of products and commercial activity along the route through Myanmar, which explains the East's importance. To accomplish this, it is critical to focus on development and connectivity in India's North-East, including the establishment of new road and rail links, the expansion of multimodal transport options, including river navigation, and the establishment of industrial corridors and economic activities such as haats or local markets, with an emphasis on agriculture, horticulture, handlooms, handicrafts, and processed food.


This enables India to export its products rather than becoming a net importer of low-cost Chinese items. Sea communication between India and ASEAN will be aided by the Kaladan multi-modal transport project, which will connect Kolkata to Myanmar's Sittwe port via the river and land route, as well as Mizoram.

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