In 1992, when India announced its “Looks-East policy” for closer economic cooperation with ASEAN nations, it did not have a substantial policy on the potentials of its Northeast region. Off late the potentials of economic integration of Northeast India with that of Southeast Asia through joint economic cooperation has been realised.The untapped economic potentials of the Northeast India which has resources for development of different industries such as paper, agriculture horticulture, food processing, hydro-electrical power, gas, oil etc had received a focused approach from the late 90s’. It was realised that the land-locked Northeast region needs to have access to the outside world which is possible only when it is linked with the bordering ASEAN region.The first major initiative that the government of India took to make Northeast India a gate way to ASEAN was the 1st India-ASEAN car rally organized on 22 November, 2004. The rally covered 8,000 kms through eight of the ten ASEAN nations carrying the theme of “Networking People and Economies” and objective of having a transformative effect on Indian-ASEAN trade and business relations. In the context of the car rally the then ASEAN Secretary Generalin a conference held in Guwahati IIT in 2004 said that the first India-ASEAN car rally would open up the frontier and the landlocked areas of India and ASEAN, linking our people at the common borders.
With the formation of the new government at the centre in May, 2014, a more pro- active approach towards its eastern neighbourhood with re –energised “Act-East Policy” has evolved. This new approach recognises the importance of the North East of India as the gateway to the East and thus the development of the Northeastern region is a core priority area of the policy. On completion of three years on power on 25th of May, 2017, the Prime Minister termed Northeast India as new engine of India’s growth. To quote the Prime Minister, “The government of India has adopted five paths to take India’s ashtalakshmi (the eight Northeastern states) forward. These involve highway, railway, waterway, airway and information way. Once these bring about growth in the Northeast and transform it into a hub of new economy, new energy, new empowerment, the region will automatically become the new engine of India’s growth.”Read More