A national conference on the theme, "Act East Policy, Regional Economic Integration and Development of the North Eastern Region of India" was organised by the Indian Council for Social Science Research (ICSSR) North Eastern Regional Centre (NERC) in collaboration with the Association of Asia Scholars (AAS), Delhi on May 13, 2022.
Being a part of the conference, Honorary Director of ICSSR-NERC, Prof Bhagirathi Panda said that in the Northeastern states development was largely outsourced to rent seekers.
"Prior to the partition of the country, industrialization bypassed the region and post-partition and following India's independence only the services sector was developed but that too was not high-end.
It was a low-end services sector where women entering the labour market were casualised when compared to other parts of the country," he said.
Prof Panda lamented that the GDP too was not growing at the desired pace and that money which came in from Delhi tended to encourage the rent-seeking behaviour that has entrapped the economy.
Emphasise was laid that the Act East Policy needs to look at a macro-development strategy with carefully crafted sub-strategies to give a boost to the industrial sector.Emphasise was laid that the Act East Policy needs to look at a macro-development strategy with carefully crafted sub-strategies to give a boost to the industrial sector.
A special address by the Guest of Honour, Dr Shah Mohammad Tanvir Monsur, Deputy High Commissioner, Bangladesh, highlighted the robust trade possibilities between Bangladesh and India especially in the area of tourism since the people of Bangladesh are enamoured by the hills and clouds of Meghalaya. Pointing out that the Indo-Bangladesh trade in 2019-2020 was to the tune of USD 9.5 billion Dr Monsur however stated that the trade gap was heavily in favour of India.
Dr Monsur also said that Chittagong port was now open to be used by traders from the Northeast barring tea export. "It is important to identify joint value chains and to sensitise people at the ground level such as local customs and immigration officials to ensure speedier border transactions," he said, adding that a website registering Indo-Bangla traders and product details is also already in place.
"In the 1990s, ASEAN comprised five countries only but now encompasses ten nations. India needs to remind itself that it shares the longest border with Bangladesh and therefore pay more attention to this fact," Prof Swaran Singh from the School of International Studies, JNU and President AAS, New Delhi opined.
Papers were presented by several experts from various fields which included the name of Prof Prasenjit Biswas from NEHU. The ICSSR-NERC will try and compile the gist of the deliberations to ensure it reaches the concerned departments of Government of India and becomes a policy input.