ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Discourses of Subregional Connectivity

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Subregional connectivity projects (“Look East Policy, Subregional Connectivity Projects and North East India,” H Srikanth, EPW, 19 November 2016) are the key for the development of the North East as well as the rest of India. In the context of India’s Look East Policy there is increasing realisation that if infrastructure development takes place, the North East could become a point of convergence among the dynamic economies of southern China, South East Asia and India. It took a long time for New Delhi to realise the simple truth. By gradually integrating the North East through cross-border market access, the northeastern states can become the bridge between the Indian economy and the fastest growing and dynamic region in the world. The Government of India launched several programmes, including road, rail links, telecommunications, information technology, science and power, to connect the region with South East Asia. The northeastern states are now in focus because of the sheer advantage of the geographical positions that can help in exploring new trade connections and add one more dimension to India’s growing economy. Although the North East is where South East Asia begins, all considerable economic benefits that have flowed out of the Look East Policy have gone to other parts of the country.

The economic potential of “Eastern South Asia” comprises the Indian states of West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, Jharkhand, the northeastern states, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar. This area has natural gas reserves of 190 billion cubic metres, coal reserves of 909 million tonnes, hydroelectricity potential estimated at 49,000 MW, oil reserves estimated at 513 million tonnes, limestone reserves of 4,933 million tonnes, and forest cover that accounts for a fourth of India’s entire forest area. Naturally, tremendous economic development will be possible if the bountiful natural resources are used properly. Greater physical connectivity is essential in this respect.

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