Since 1992 liberalization, India is trying to reduce trade barriers and is expanding. With SAARC not coming to a fruitful position of lately, India’s Act east policy (Look east policy) has taken pivotal role. Developing northeast as the gateway to countries located in east of India has been the talking point.
Trilateral highway(India, Myanmar, Thailand), BCIM( Bangladesh, China, India, Myanmar) and Kaladan Project(India, Myanmar) are the road and river connectivity Corridors which will link northeastern states to neighboring countries like Myanmar, China, Bangladesh, Thailand, China etc.
It will boost the infrastructure in Northeastern states of India. Once the infrastructure is placed, economic activities will get boost from neighboring countries. Which is good for specific development of northeastern states to its potential and India at large. Social and cultural exchanges which include health and education will also go to next level because of means of communication available. Economic prosperity will also bring some respite to conflicts like insurgency, ethnic conflict. This step will also develop neighboring countries like Myanmar and Bangladesh and hence the need of migration to northeastern states from these countries will not be as before.
Connectivity may not filter to grassroots level as intra connectivity within northeastern states is also important. It may happen that this connectivity may only enrich already rich strata of society. The insurgency and ethnic conflict may play spoil sport in proper functioning of these highways.
Act northeast instead act east may be the solution of the problem. Developing northeast from grassroots level by enriching road and train connectivity within the northeastern states. Bringing the different leaders of all ethnic variety to one table and making arrangements that all the differences are solved on table instead of insurgency and armed rebellion. Leaders in Delhi of central government have to be sensitive to the dynamism of northeastern ethnic and cultural richness and should find the optimum consensus. Concern of northeastern leadership that centre takes away precious minerals and oil from northeast but doesn’t reciprocate equitably to northeast development should be handled with sensitivity and concrete results. Then act east will also become reality as its core that is northeastern India is safe and prosperous which is long overdue.
Sunil k Awasthi
Faculty, North East Institute of Advanced Studies [NE-IAS]