NE’s progress key to devt of nation: Sumitra

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Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan with speakers of NE states pose for a group photograph

IMPHAL: Inaugurating the 16th North East Regional Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference (NERCPA-2017) at Manipur Legislative Assembly complex on Thursday, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said that the North East is a window in the national efforts to connect with the East and South East Asia which is playing a vital role in the emergence of a resurgent Asia.

Speaking as the chief guest on the first of the three-day NERCPA-2017, she highlighted that the Central Government has an ambitious plan to build roads and establish port connectivity with the South-East Asian countries through Myanmar for promotion of trade, commerce
and tourism. While observing that North East India has an extraordinarily important strategic dimension and is a vital part of nation’s defence architecture, she further said that the strategic location and natural resources make the region a potential power house of India for development and progress.

“As such, the ‘Act East Policy’ for all round development of North East is the top most priority for the entire nation,” she maintained. Further stating that today policy making has become a highly complex process and there is greater emphasis now on good governance based on
transparency and accountability, Sumitra Mahajan also emphasised that in order to perform legislative duties effectively, it is essential for legislators to seek the guidance of domain experts in areas which are specialised and technical in nature.

As a member and now a Speaker, Sumitra said noticed the problems faced by members in understanding several key issues that confront the nation and come up for the consideration
of Parliament. “In order to address this issue, it was decided to bring in domain experts to orient members by creating a perspective on various important issues. It was, thus, the Speakers’ Research Initiative (SRI) was institutionalised in the Lok Sabha Secretariat in July 2015, she mentioned.

The Lok Sabha Speaker also informed the delegates that SRI focuses on identifying core areas/issues of long term and strategic policy to generate high quality research inputs and
devise appropriate mechanisms for interaction with members of both Houses of Parliament for the purpose of information dissemination and capacity building.

She opined that a similar mechanism for the North Eastern States would be of great help to the legislators along encouraging the legislators to be proactive by saying: ‘until you spread your wings, you don’t know how far you can fly’.

Conveying that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is keen to see acceleration of development in the north east region, Sumitra pointed out that recent inauguration of the country’s longest bridge in Assam and objective to complete the Jiribam-Imphal rail project by 2020 are testimonies about the Central government’s commitment to put the region in the map of
development.

As the region possesses tremendous potential for transformation into a tourism hub, the state governments need to put all efforts in solving insurgency and ethnicity based issues,
she said.

Sharing his views on the theme of the Conference, Deputy Chief Minister Y Joykumar Singh said that the Look East Policy initiated in the early 1990s, is largely founded upon the growing necessity for multi-dimensional connectivity.

Stating that it is a composite policy aimed at accomplishing greater economic and political ties with South East Asian countries, he noted that the neighbourhood and global connectivity has now acquired a new strategic dimension as no nation can go ahead without knowledge, technological and market connectivity.

“As such, there is a greater challenge for us for implementing the policies for arranging transportation, air and railway, for the region,” he said.

Referring to challenges relating to militancy and instability and their impact to peace in the region, Joykumar stressed the need for a peaceful atmosphere to give impetus to industrial rejuvenation of the region.

Earlier, welcoming the delegates, Speaker of Manipur Legislative Assembly Yumnam Khemchand Singh said that Manipur is a land of peace, tranquillity and rare asset of human civilization.

He pointed out that the Act East Policy calls upon all to get prepared and be ready to engage with the rest of the world. As the task is not simple and easy, what we need is collective, comprehensive and coordinated move with strong political will to meet the challenges of the region, Khemchand said, adding that the strategic location of Manipur between India and South East Asian countries underlines the additional expectations of the state to act as ‘land bridge’.

In his keynote address, Speaker of Meghalaya Legislative Assembly & NERCPA chairperson, AT Mondal said that CPA has been playing a major role in promoting the spirit of mutual cooperation and harmony between member countries.

Referring to connectivity-related challenges in the region, he said that transportation and communication are the two important areas where special emphasis is required. Mondal also underlined that the acute problem of education and unemployment need serious attention and alternative job market with the help of private sector should be created to solve the existing imbalance.

Later in the day, the Conference took up discussion on the first item on the agenda ‘North East and Look East Policy’. The discussion, which remained inconclusive, will resume Friday.
The other highlight of the first day included Atul Kaushik, Additional Secretary, Lok Sabha Secretariat, making a thorough presentation on SRI apart from responding to queries from the delegates. The Conference also adopted a resolution to prevail upon the Lok Sabha Speaker for setting up of a Chapter of SRI in the North East Region so that the benefits of the Initiative are made available to the legislatures and legislators of the region regularly and at a conveniently accessible place.

Source: The People’s Chronicle

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