Guwahati: A premier international trade
body of the North East has decried the lack of benefit to
the region from the country`s `Look East` policy and alleged
state governments were responsible for it.
"Since it was initiated in 1991, the policy has not
benefited as much as it was claimed or should have been till
date," North East Federation of International Trade (NEFIT)
chairman R C Agarwal said.
Although in the initial stage the focus of the policy
was much on ASEAN and proved a success but in the North East
perspective it became a failure gradually, he said.
He said that till date there was virtually no role for
states of the North East while neighbouring China had focussed
on developing its backward regions through greater economic
ties with ASEAN.
"While India is watching and contemplating, China has
gone ahead in building new highways linking Kunming (Yunan)
with Northern Myanmar and Thailand," Agarwal said.
The Centre must change its perception in understanding
the region`s problems and prospects in a more holistic manner,
Opening of the Stilwel Road that directly connects the
region with South Asia and the trilateral highways for
which an agreement has been signed between India, Myanmar
and Thailand could do well.
For enhancing trade, trade information and visa
collection offices of Myanmar, Thailand and Bangladesh should
be set up in either Shillong or Guwahati, which was the
gateway to the region, Agarwal said.
"India`s policy of strengthening its ties with eastern
neighbours has been sadly limited to counter insurgency
efforts," he said.
"It is unfortunate that though the region is a natural
bridge between India and Southeast Asia, lack of
infrastructure and development has plagued the region,"
The entire infrastructure of roads, railway, air
transport and communication would have to be revamped to serve
the objectives of the Look East policy, he said.
The policy, he said, would provide a bridge between the
rest of India and Southeast Asia "of which the Northeast
will forever remain an underbelly."