GUWAHATI, Dec 19 - Union Minister Jitendra Singh on Saturday said the North East will emerge as a favourite tourist and trade destination when the coronavirus pandemic ends.
Addressing the 8th edition of the �North East Festival� as the chief guest, Singh said the North East will take a lead for India to emerge as an economic power with the support of its huge natural and human skill resources.
The 8th edition of the North East Festival started on Saturday with a colourful inaugural function here. The festival is an attempt to showcase and create awareness about the region and to promote entrepreneurship and tourism. A major aim of the festival is to attract tourism and investments and create positive vibes during these trying times.
In his address at the inaugural session of the festival via video link, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said the northeastern region is a gateway to the country�s connectivity and ties with South East Asia and can be seen as a link between two fundamental pillars of Indian foreign policy, �Neighbourhood First� and �Act East�.
Shringla said India has a vision for this region that is captured in the 3 Cs - Connectivity, Commerce and Cultural Commonalities - and has been working to realise this vision.
�At one level, we work bilaterally with our partners with a full range of diplomatic tools. At another level, we work through plurilateral initiatives such as BIMSTEC and BBIN or the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal grouping,� he said.
�From this perspective, the North East is a gateway and a portal. It binds us with some of our most important neighbours. It also connects us and our neighbours to one of the most economically dynamic and politically significant geographies of the world - the ASEAN and the Indo-Pacific,� he said.
Recalling Prime Minister Narendra Modi�s remarks at the convocation ceremony at IIT Guwahati in September this year, Shringla said the PM had underlined the importance of the North East in India�s Act East Policy.
In his remarks, Shringla highlighted several connectivity projects India has taken with its neighbours with the North East playing a critical role in them.
�We have revived five rail links that used to be operational between India and Bangladesh before 1965. As many of you would have seen, the prime ministers of India and Bangladesh jointly inaugurated the rail link between Haldibari in West Bengal and Chilahati in Bangladesh during the virtual summit held this week,� he said.
Historically, rivers have played an important role in connecting the people and business in the region encompassing the North East and the neighbouring countries, Shringla said.
Noting that Myanmar has a particularly important geographical location, Shringla said India has accorded high priority to projects that build regional connectivity with Myanmar.
�Our foreign policy initiatives for development of the North East are not limited to neighbouring countries but extend further east. We have been collaborating with Japan for the economic development of the North East,� he said.
Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, who also addressed the event, talked about encouraging the youth and fostering learning to use the resources of the North East rightfully.
His Tripura counterpart Biplab Kumar Deb stressed the need to promote cuisines of the North East to the world.
The speakers further highlighted the use of the resources with the advancement of science and technology.
North East Festival�s organiser-in-chief Shyamkanu Mahanta said due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the region�s tourism has been affected severely and everything has come to a standstill.