February 16, 2021 1:51:37 am
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Monday said that the development of Assam is central to the success of the Act East policy.
Speaking at an event on the “Act East Policy and India-Japan Cooperation in North-East India with a Special Focus on Assam” in the presence of the Japanese Ambassador to India, Satoshi Suzuki, at Guwahati’s Srimanta Sankardeva Kalakshetra, Jaishankar said that while the policy has its origins in 1991, Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s government had, through various development and connectivity projects, taken it to a much higher level. “To make this policy successful, the role of Assam as its springboard needs to be fully realised,” said Jaishankar, who was in Guwahati to review a Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)-funded Guwahati Water Supply project site with ambassador Suzuki.
Jaishankar said that the push on the policy would help create connectivity not just to and within Assam, the Northeast, Myanmar and Bangladesh, but to “eventually push all the way by road, by sea, by air to Vietnam, to Japan”. “A more connected Assam will be a more energetic Assam, a more contributing Assam, and obviously, a more employed Assam,” he said.
To that, there should be a push for stronger cooperation between Assam and international partners, especially Japan, Jaishankar said. “Japan has long been involved in the expansion of our economic and social infrastructure,” he said. “Across our states and cities, Japanese Official Development Assistance has funded roads, rail, urbanization and energy.” The minister said that since the Modi government has made it easier to do business in India, Japanese Foreign Direct Investment had increased.
Ambassador Suzuki said that Assam — and the Northeast — occupied an important place in Japan’s vision for a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific (FOIP). “That is why Japan is supporting various connectivity projects in the state,” he said.
When asked about the impact of the coup in Myanmar— which was an important part of the Act East policy — Jaishankar said that these were “early days” and he hoped that development projects would not be affected.
The event was also attended by Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, Health and Family Welfare, Finance, Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, among others.
CM Sonowal said despite Japan having been a great trade and investment partner for India, it was unfortunate that there was no single Japanese company present in Assam or in other Northeastern states.
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