New Delhi :North-Eastern region is the natural gateway for India to South-East Asia and beyond, said the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind. He was addressing the valedictory function of North East Festival, organized by the Ministry of DoNER as a part of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, at Guwahati, Assam today (May 4, 2022).
The President said that with over 5,300 kilometres of international borders with several neighbouring countries, North-Eastern region has significant strategic value. With the launch of the Look East Policy (LEP), the security-centric approach towards neighbours in the east gave way to a prioritising of economic issues for benefiting from the common potential for economic growth across the region. In 2014, the LEP was upgraded to the Act East Policy (AEP) which brought about a paradigm shift and marked a significant change in the potential role of the North-East region.
The President said that he was happy to attend the valedictory function of North East Festival which is organized as a part of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav. He congratulated Union Minister for DoNER, Governors and Chief Ministers of all the North-Eastern states as well as the people of the region for their enthusiastic participation. He said that he was impressed by their spirit of “Hum Kisi Se Kam Nahi”!
The President said that when the nation celebrates the freedom movement, citizens recall the valour and patriotism of not only its great leaders but also lesser-known or forgotten participants without whose sacrifice it would not have been a mass movement. We are rightly proud of the fact that such participation was witnessed in every nook and corner of the country. Every Indian yearned to see Mother India freed from the shackles of foreign rule. The North-East region was second to none when it came to joining the struggle for freedom.
The President said that when we celebrate the 75 years of Independence, when we recall the magnificent episodes of our freedom movement, when we think of the life and work of our great leaders, we do so in order to gauge where we stand today compared to their dreams. We do so in order to learn more about their vision and be inspired from their struggles to build a better tomorrow.
The President said that when our nation won Independence, the North-Eastern region was vastly different from what it is today. Initially, this region had suffered hugely because of Partition of India, as it found itself suddenly cut off from major centres of communications, education and trade and commerce such as Dhaka and Kolkata. The only corridor connecting the North-East and the rest of the country was a narrow strip of land in the north of West Bengal, making it challenging to support developmental initiatives in the region. Yet, we have diligently worked to overcome the challenges of geography. During the last 75 years, the North-East has made significant progress on a variety of parameters.
The President stated that the North-Eastern region has immense inherent strengths. What it offers in terms of tourism, horticulture, handloom and sports is often unique. He said that efforts are needed now to place the North-Eastern states on par with the industrially advanced states so that more jobs are created here. Recognising this need, the Government is working with the states to improve their Ease of Doing Business parameters and to facilitate the flow of private investments into the North-East.
Pointing to the emergence of climate change as the greatest challenge before humankind, the President said that careful planning and efforts will be needed in the years to come to preserve the rich ecological heritage of the North-East. He said that this region is part of the Himalaya and Indo-Burma bio-diversity hotspots – the two of 25 such hotspots in the world. Development choices for the region must, therefore, integrate relevant strategies for natural resource management, green industrial and infrastructure development as well as sustainable consumption patterns.