GUWAHATI, Aug 30 - Keeping the people abreast of developments in the neighbouring countries and also remaining updated on India�s foreign policy towards these countries is of vital interest to the overall socio-economic wellbeing of the north-eastern region, Dr Jaimini Bhagwati, India�s former High Commissioner to the UK said here recently.
Speaking on the first �Justice KN Saikia Memorial Lecture�, organised on the occasion of the foundation day of North East Institute of Advanced Studies (NE-IAS), Dr Bhagwati said that while one cannot choose or change neighbours, the best prescription was to draw strategies to accrue maximum socio-economic benefits by maintaining cordial relationship with them.
�For the land-locked Northeast, developing better relations with Bangladesh, for instance, will ensure easier access to other parts of mainland India by road, railway and river transport. This in turn will give a big boost to the economy of Assam and the Northeast,� he said.
Dr Bhagwati, who is currently Reserve Bank of India Chair Professor at the Indian Council for Research in International Economic Relations, also said that Bangladesh�s approach towards India had drastically changed since Sheikh Hasina came to power in Dhaka.
�This is the best time to improve our relations, particularly in the interest of the Northeast. Sealing the border is one thing, but better economic relation is required for a win-win situation for both sides, and especially for the Northeast,� he said.�Successive regimes in Bangladesh after the assassination of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman were not very friendly or favourable towards India. We are now fortunate that Bangladesh has a leader like Sheikh Hasina who is very much interested in maintaining better relations with India,� he said.
Dwelling at length on China, Dr Bhagwati described a war with it as a �very remote possibility� and said that the standoff at Doklam was more to do with China�s unease over India�s good relationship with Bhutan. �A war between India and China is a very remote possibility. China probably wants to send a message to Bhutan that if New Delhi is a big brother, than Beijing is the bigger brother,� he said.
Earlier, inaugurating the function, Assam Agriculture Minister, Atul Bora, said that it was important for preparing a large number of brilliant students from Assam and the north-eastern region to appear in various all-India competitive examinations.