In­dia to im­prove re­la­tion­ship with east­ern neigh­bours: Min­is­ter

Bhutan Times - - Editorial -

Shil­long, Jan 2 (IANS) The In­dian gov­ern­ment Fri­day stressed the need to im­prove its re­la­tion­ship with its neigh­bour­ing coun­tries bor­der­ing the eight northeastern states.

“We would like to im­prove our re­la­tion­ship both in term of trade and de­fence with the east­ern world,” Union De­vel­op­ment of North East­ern Re­gion (DoNER) Min­is­ter Ji­ten­dra Singh told jour­nal­ists after chair­ing the 63rd ple­nary meet­ing of the North East­ern Coun­cil (NEC), the re­gional plan­ning body of the northeastern states.

The meet­ing was at­tended by Arunachal Pradesh Gov­er­nor, Lt Gen. Nirb­hay Sharma (retd.) and Chief Min­is­ter Nabam Tuki, Na­ga­land Gov­er­nor P.B. Acharya and Chief Min­is­ter T.R. Zeliang, Megha­laya Gov­er­nor K.K. Paul and Chief Min­is­ter Mukul Sangma, Sikkim Gov­er­nor Shrini­was Patil and Pawan Chamling be­sides Mi­zo­ram Chief Min­is­ter Lal Than­hawla and Ma­nipur Chief Min­is­ter Okram Ibobi Singh.

“This east­ern part of the coun­try is gate­way to the east­ern world. There­fore, be­fore we look East, we would act East and once we act East, In­dia would au­to­mat­i­cally and nat­u­rally be­gin to look East,” Singh added.

In­dia has a to­tal of 4,750 km-long in­ter­na­tional bound­ary with China, Myan­mar, Bhutan, and Bangladesh in the north­east.

Stat­ing that the cen­tral gov­ern­ment would take all steps to bring the north­east re­gion closer to the main­land, both in terms of de­vel­op­ment and cul­tur­ally, Singh said: “One of the most im­por­tant pri­or­i­ties is to em­power the youth of the re­gion by way of pro­vid­ing em­ploy­ment and gen­er­at­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties which could be achieved in num­ber of ways.”

“And one (way) of it is by en­cour­ag­ing tourism which will gen­er­ate rev­enue and at the same time cre­ate op­por­tu­ni­ties for the young­sters and also to take care of the huge ex­o­dus of youths from the north­east to var­i­ous parts of the coun­try,” he said.

He also asked the chief min­is­ters to utilise the cen­tral funds as Rs.600 crore or 73 per­cent of the bud­get al­lo­ca­tion for the NEC re­mains unuti­lized.

“So far just 27 per­cent of the to­tal bud­getary al­lo­ca­tion for the NEC has been uti­lized and as such Rs.600 crore re­mains unuti­lized. I will also con­vince con­cerned min­istries at the cen­tre so that this bud­getary pro­vi­sion does not re­turn and the mem­ber states must try uti­liz­ing the fund within the stip­u­lated time­frame.

“We would like to see that the NEC does not get a bad name and this (unuti­lized fund) does not be­come an an­nual fea­ture. We would try to bring in changes,” Singh said.

On pro­pos­als from mem­ber states to set up a DoNER of­fice in the re­gion, Singh said that the pro­posal was not fea­si­ble at this mo­ment, but the min­istry would try to set up “camp of­fice” with the sec­re­tary of the min­istry head­ing it in mem­ber states monthly or bi-monthly on a ro­ta­tion ba­sis.

Stat­ing that DoNER min­istry would act as a “fa­cil­i­ta­tor” be­tween state gov­ern­ments in the re­gion and the cen­tral gov­ern­ment, Singh said his min­istry would con­tinue to hear about “com­plaints, griev­ances and abuses”.

“All com­plaints can­not be mu­sic to the ear and any­one who can­not lis­ten to such com­plaints is not fit to re­main in a ‘sen­si­tive min­istry’ like DoNER. We must learn not to lis­ten only to mu­sic,” he said.

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