‘Regional cooperation needed for growth of northeast’

Shillong, March 21 (IANS) India’s former ambassador to South Korea Skand Ranjan Tayal Thursday said the time was favourable to conceptualise and implement a regional approach involving India, Myanmar and Bangladesh for the growth of north-eastern states.

“Policy makers and strategic thinkers of India, Myanmar and Bangladesh need to place the quality of life and socio-economic well-being at the forefront among conflicting sentiments,” Tayal, a former Indian Foreign Service officer, said.
“It is in the long-term interest of the three countries that regional economic cooperation, collaboration and possible integration is insulated from the political environment.”
India’s northeast shares a 4,500-km border with Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar and China but connects with the rest of India by a narrow 22-km strip called the Siliguri corridor.
Tayal, who has wide experience in bilateral and multilateral diplomacy, was delivering a keynote address at an international seminar on ‘India’s Look East Policy and the North Eastern Region: Strengthening the Continental Route’ organised by Indian Council of Social Science Research here in the Meghalaya capital.
Stating that Myanmar and Bangladesh were important for long-term economic growth of the northeast, the former envoy said India must be steadfast on its course, nurture a positive outlook and inculcate a spirit of constructive cooperation among the bordering countries.
Describing Myanmar as the land bridge between the northeast and markets of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and beyond in East Asia, Tayal said: “Myanmar has opened up its doors to the outside world and this assume its rightfully significant place in ASEAN.”
Moreover, he said, there were many untapped possibilities for a closer economic partnership between India and Bangladesh in which people of both countries would benefit.
With the operationalisation of the Free Trade Agreement between ASEAN and India, the institutional framework was in place for exploring the possibilities of deeper economic linkages between the northeast and ASEAN economies, Tayal said.