GUWAHATI, Dec 17 � The North-east region of India has cultural links with the ASEAN countries and it is the time to build the economic ties with those countries, said Tarun Vijai, leader of the Team India in the ASEAN car rally.
Talking to The Assam Tribune, Vijai said that due to the colonial hangover, India has been looking towards the west for years instead of looking towards the east. It is a positive development that the Government of India has now adopted the Look East Policy, which will open the doors of development of the North-east, he said.
Describing his experience of driving through the ASEAN countries as the most thrilling experience of his life, Vijai said that there were days when they drove for 15 hours at a stretch in difficult terrain, but the Mahindra XUV 500 vehicle did not give any trouble on the way. �Carrying the Indian flag in the ASEAN countries as the leader of the Team India in the rally was a great honour for me and it was an experience of lifetime,� he said.
Vijai said that while driving through the ASEAN countries, �we could feel the pulse of the common people and there is need for improving connectivity with these countries through the North-east. The developed nations in the ASEAN, like Singapore, can guide the North-east towards progress. The new mantra all over the world is to get connected and get prosperity and India must follow the mantra for the development of the North-east.�
Commenting on the road condition that the participants in the rally encountered, Vijai, who is also a Member of Parliament, said some of the ASEAN countries have developed excellent highways and India must learn lessons from those countries to develop infrastructure and improve connectivity.
Vijai revealed that the best roads that they encountered were in countries like Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia. The condition of roads in Laos and Cambodia was not very good. Though Myanmar is constructing a 16-lane highway near its capital, there were patches of road in that country leading up to the border with India where the drivers literally had to make their own road.
Though it was evident that steps were taken to improve the condition of the road inside India for the rally, some patches were very bad, which was in fact, embarrassing for the Indian participants as drivers from other ASEAN countries were also driving on the same roads. This should be a wake-up call for the Government and the focus should be on improvement of condition of the roads to bring the same to the standard of the ASEAN countries, he added.