NEW DELHI, Oct 17 - As part of the Centre�s Look East Policy, India is engaging with Bangladesh and other Saarc nations to bring about development in the Northeastern region, BJP leader Ram Madhav said on Saturday.
�The emotional disconnect between the people of the North East and the rest of the country is our own creation,� Madhav, BJP�s national general secretary and in-charge of the North East, said.
He was speaking during a panel discussion on �North East�s strategic importance and Act East Policy� organised as part of the ongoing Northeast Festival here. �We, as a government, are committed to bridge this emotional disconnect,� he said, adding that India�s development would not be complete without the development of the NE.
According to the BJP leader, there are three main reasons for the NE lagging behind in development compared to other parts of the country � emotional disconnect, physical disconnect and bad governance.
�Our priority is on developing good relations with our neighbours, and the biggest beneficiary of that would be the Northeastern region�, he said.
Ravi Capoor, joint secretary in the Union Commerce Ministry, said during the pre-Independence days, the NE was one of the most prosperous regions. Citing Nasscom figures, he said, about 20 per cent of the people working in the outsourcing industry are from the Northeastern States.
�If we can improve the internet and digital connectivity of the region, there is no reason why it cannot become a major IT hub of the country, and that alone can contribute significantly to the development of the region,� Capoor said.
AM Singh, joint secretary in the Union Ministry of Development of Northeastern Region (DoNER), said his Ministry was trying to sort out all the issues related to trade and commerce in the region and it required a coordinated effort from all the stakeholders. Nani Gopal Mahanta, Professor of Political Science in Gauhati University, said that since the Northeastern region was landlocked, development and commerce was a problem.
�I believe that the NE can develop on its own. As a region, it historically had seamless connectivity with Southeast and South Asian countries and that should be looked at once again. What is required is integration of road, rail and water transport and people-to-people connect,� he said.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Shyamkanu Mahanta, Organiser-in-chief, North East Festival said, �There is a need to promote the North East and build bridges with the rest of the country. We also need to create a positive perception about the region, so that investors and businesses see the North East as a viable option.�
Organised by Trend MMS, a Guwahati-based socio-cultural trust, the festival will conclude on Sunday. � IANS