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India looking towards SAARC nations for developing northeastern states

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NewsGram Staff Writer

New Delhi: Aiming to usher in development in the country’s northeastern region, India is engaging with SAARC nations, especially Bangladesh, said BJP leader Ram Madhav on Saturday. Working with the SAARC nations is also a part of the Center’s Look East policy, he mentioned.

“The emotional disconnect between the people of the northeast and the rest of the country is our own creation,” Madhav, BJP’s national general secretary and in-charge of the northeast, said.

He was speaking during a panel discussion on “Northeast’s strategic importance and Act East policy” organised as part of the ongoing Northeast Festival in the capital.

“We, as a government, are committed to bridge this emotional disconnect,” he said, adding, India’s development is incomplete sans the development of the northeast.

“The Indian government is taking many steps for the development of the region and is talking to Bangladesh and other SAARC nations as well in this regard. As part of our Look East Policy, we are looking to improve the physical connectivity and infrastructure in the region,” he said.

Ram Madhav attributed the backwardness of the northeastern states to emotional disconnect, physical disconnect and bad governance.

“I believe that clean and efficient governance is also required for the development of the region,” Madhav said.

“Our priority is on developing good relations with our neighbors, and the biggest beneficiary of that would be the northeastern region,” he said.

Ravi Capoor, joint secretary in the union commerce ministry, said that during the pre-Independence days, the northeast was one of the most prosperous regions.

“There used to be free flow of trade, commerce and people between the countries, which was the main reason for this,” he noted.

Citing Nasscom figures, he said, about 20 per cent of the people working in the outsourcing industry are from the northeastern states.

“If we can improve the internet and digital connectivity of the region, there is no reason why it cannot become a major IT hub of the country, and that alone can contribute significantly to the development of the region,” Capoor said.

AM Singh, joint secretary in the union ministry of development of the northeastern region (DoNER), said his ministry was trying to sort out all the issues related to trade and commerce in the region and it required a coordinated effort from all the stakeholders.

“At DoNER, we are trying to provide a lot of opportunities to facilitate investments in the region. The most important thing is that we need to believe in the northeast,” he said.

Nani Gopal Mahanta, professor of political science in Guwahati University, said that since the northeastern region was landlocked, development and commerce was a problem.

“I believe that the northeast can develop on its own. As a region, it historically had seamless connectivity with Southeast and South Asian countries and that should be looked at once again. What is required is integration of road, rail and water transport and people-to-people connect,” he said.

Organised by Trend MMS, a Guwahati-based socio-cultural trust, the three-day Northeast Festival will conclude today.

(With inputs from IANS)

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Vietnam Offering Support to Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh

Sustained aid from nations is necessary to continue WFP operations in Bangladesh, the UN agency warned

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Rohingya
Rohingya Muslims, who crossed over from Myanmar into Bangladesh, wade past a waterlogged path leading to the Jamtoli refugee camp in Ukhiya, Bangladesh. VOA

United Nations World Food Programme in Bangladesh said it welcomed a new contribution of $50,000 from Vietnam to support operations in Coxs Bazar – home to nearly one million Rohingya Muslim refugees from Myanmar.

“We are very grateful to Vietnam for stepping up to assist people living in Cox’s Bazar refugee camps,” said Richard Ragan, WFP Representative and Country Director, in a statement.

“This remains a serious humanitarian emergency, and continued support from the international community is vital if we are to keep providing the humanitarian assistance that is so badly needed.”

Vietnam’s new aid was announced by the Special Envoy of Prime Minister, Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, Nguyen Quoc Dzung, during a visit to Bangladesh, according to WPF.

“Although this is a modest contribution, we are hopeful that our support will advance the response to this crisis situation,” he said.

Rohingya, india
Rohingya women and children are seen at a temporary shelter in the Kalindi Kunj area of New Delhi, India, April 15, 2018. VOA

Vietnam joins dozens of other states who have pledged their support to the Cox’s Bazar response since the August 2017 refugee influx, said WFP, which provides food assistance to more than 870,000 refugees per month at the sprawling refugee settlement.

The UN agency also provides nutritional and livelihood support to the host community at Cox’s Bazaar, with the aim of helping the most vulnerable, WFP said.

Also Read- US Shutdown Averted, Border Deal Reached

Sustained aid from nations is necessary to continue WFP operations in Bangladesh, the UN agency warned.

Over 750,000 Rohingya refugees have fled to Cox’s Bazar since August 2017 to escape persecution and violence by Myanmar’s military in Northern Rakhine State. Thousands of other Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh during previous periods of repression in Myanmar. (IANS)