The cultural similarities between northeastern India and southeast Asia will serve as the fulcrum of India’s ties with the Asean nations, Arunachal Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein said on Monday.
“Cultural similarity between the people of Asean countries and northeast India should become the fulcrum of our friendship and the bedrock of all our policies both – diplomatic and economic,” he said at an event to mark the 25th anniversary of Asean-India Dialoque Partnership in Laos’ capital Vientiane, according to a statement issued by the Arunachal Pradesh Government.
His statement comes even as India is boosting its engagements with the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) under New Delhi’s Act East Policy.
Stating that that India was on the path to forge a strong friendship and partnership with the Asean countries, Mein said that the development of India’s northeastern states would be a game changer in terms of India’s ties with the Asean countries.
Stressing on similarities of northeastern India with most Asean countries in terms of culture, traditions, religious practice and food habits, etc, he stressed that this should be reinforced by regular bilateral cultural exchange and developing an institutional mechanism to enhance people to people contact, the statement said.
Mein urged the Asean leaders to take full benefit of the agreement on trade in goods under the framework agreement on comprehensive economic cooperation between India and the Asean countries.
He also proposed to the ASEAN-India Business Council to consider organising a B2B meeting in northeast India any time, noting such a move would foster greater cooperation and understanding between northeastern states and Asean and go a long way in strengthening their friendship.
Mein also highlighted the diverse tribal culture, immense potential in tourism, horticulture and hydropower sectors of his state.
He also called for early reopening of the historic Stilwell Road that starts from Assam and passes through Arunachal Pradesh in Pangsau Pass and leads up to Kunming in China through Myanmar.
He pitched for a high-level agreement on building infrastructure on both sides, including roads as well as creation of an integrated checkpost at the border with proper security, customs and immigration facilities.
Monday’s event was jointly organised by Asean India Business Council, Laos Chapter, Indian Embassy Laos and supported by Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry.