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Implementation key to success of Act East Policy: Ex-envoy

By Correspondent

ITANAGAR, April 3 - Former Ambassador of India to Colombia, Ecuador and Costa Rica, Rudi Warjri, while delivering a talk on �Act East Policy and Implications for North East� at the Rajiv Gandhi University (RGU), Doimukh, today, suggested creation of a �North East Implementation Agency� within the Act East Policy itself. He said that involving the State governments in meetings with neighbouring countries by creating a platform for sub-state diplomacy was the need of the hour to bring the region closer to the vast Southeast Asian nations.

Speaking on the three-dimensional aspects of the Act East Policy (erstwhile Look East Policy) covering geopolitical and strategic security issues, economy, trade, commerce and technology, and the cultural, linguistic and ethnic mosaic, the former envoy spoke on the importance of practical implementation, rather than just theoretical analysis, while involving the people of the region. He said that it was high time the projects behind schedule were given a push towards early completion.

Emphasising the concept of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), Warjri spoke at length on ASEAN-India linkages and said ASEAN-India projects on agriculture, science and technology, space, environment and climate change, human resource development, capacity building, new and renewable energy, tourism, people-to-people contacts, connectivity and ASEAN-India Cooperation Funds such as ASEAN-India S&T Fund and ASEAN-India Green Fund have impact on the region.

Mentioning the trilateral highway connecting Moreh-Tamu-Mae Sot and Kaladan multi-modal connectivity tract and the transforming corridors which extend to Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam, the India-Myanmar-Thailand Motor Vehicle Agreement, a tunnel under Sela Pass connecting Dirang and Tawang and also the UDAN Scheme on air connectivity, the former Ambassador stressed the significance of regional connectivity vis-�-vis local area connectivity improvements.

He also spoke at length on Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation, highlighting the works of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) involving the neighbouring countries of Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Myanmar, Nepal and Bhutan.

He opined that Arunachal Pradesh, being the largest State in the North East, has strategic importance for India and vital to the North East in particular. With the State�s huge resources of medicinal plants like ginseng, yew and other flora and fauna, cash crops like ginger and quinoa, hydro potentiality and mineral resources, besides important tourist centres and geopolitically important places like the Pangsau Pass, Stilwell Road, Buddhist monasteries, have tremendous scope for growth.

Warjri suggested improving border trade by opening border haats and border points. He, however, expressed apprehension about related cross-border crimes such as goods, arms and human trafficking, besides the problem of pumping in of counterfeit Indian currency.

Citing the developing synergies between India�s Act East policy and Japan�s Free and Open Indo Pacific Strategy, the former Ambassador expressed the hope that the people of the region would immensely benefit from the India-Japan cooperation on development of India�s North Eastern Region.

The event, organised by the RGU as part of its foreign policy lecture series in collaboration with Ananta Centre, New Delhi and Tata, saw the participation of a galaxy of academicians and other stakeholders.

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