NEW DELHI: External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar on Saturday reiterated that connectivity is the key to improving the ease of doing business and living. He was speaking during the third edition of Natural Allies in Development and Interdependence (NADI) in Guwahati.
The conference was inaugurated by Assam Chief Minister Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma with representatives of 12 South and South-East Asian nations attending the two-day meet. A parliamentary delegation from Bangladesh, led by their Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen, also attended the meeting.
The confluence intends to promote the cooperation in the interlinking of rivers in the South and South Asian rivers, especially in the Bay of Bengal region to boost trade and people-to-people contacts, in line with India’s Look East and Neighbourhood First foreign policy initiatives.
“It’s definitely within our ability to overcome geography and rewrite near history if we can only get the politics and economics right,” Dr Jaisahnkar remarked.
“Think what happens if land connectivity through Myanmar and Sea connectivity through Bangladesh become viable. On a commercial scale, a world of Vietnam and Philippines from Haiphong to Hazira and Manila to Mundra will open up,” he said.
Sharing his vision on maritime and land connectivity, including the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) corridor and construction of Sittwe Port in Myanmar, Dr Jaishankar mentioned how the six cross border rail links have transformed the bilateral trade and people-to-people contacts with Bangladesh.
India, which has already supplied 1160 megawatts of electricity to Bangladesh, will further supply 1500 MW of electricity. The initiative is in the pipeline, Dr Jaishankar stated.
Speaking on the Kaladan project, which is poised to link India with Myanmar, Dr Jaishankar said, “The Kaladan project in Myanmar is one of the hardest because of topography and insurgency.”
“It’s natural that human civilizations all developed on the banks of rivers. From those habitations arouse commerce, which exchanges goods and services between them,” he said.
“Creating an East-West lateral has sweeping consequences for the continent. It will not build the partnership that we have with ASEAN and Japan but would make a difference in the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework that is now in the making,” Dr Jaishankar said while talking about the benefit of maritime connectivity.
Meanwhile, Dr Sarma said Assam is gearing up to play a bigger role in India’s Look East policy.
“Due to its strategic location, Assam provides a great opportunity for economic growth. The state has immense potential in the tourism sector, including wildlife tourism, tea tourism and river tourism. Our Govt is taking necessary steps in this direction,” Dr Sarma stated. “Construction of four bridges will boost our connectivity,” he said while referring to the bridges on the river Brahmaputra.