NADI FESTIVAL 2016
DECLARATION AND REPORT
The Third Space Initiative christened Asian Confluence River Festival NADI, 2016 was held on July 15 – 16 2016 at Shillong as a joint initiative between Asian Confluence, Government of Meghalaya, Maulana Abul Kalam Institute of Asian Studies (MAKAIS) and several other institutions. Over four hundred people representing divergent domains including dignitaries from neighbouring countries Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar attended the festival. The festival was the seminal sequel to a series of multi-stakeholder activities organized by the Asian Confluence stemming from the Shillong Consensus in Dec 2014. The primary objective was to bring together all the three spaces (government, business, and the people) to connect, deliberate and inspire all to recommit to a common vision we all nurture – clean environment and cheap connectivity, bustling trade and tourism and a networking platform for interaction among the three spaces.
After in-depth deliberations among experts of multifarious domains as well as three stakeholder workshops focused on media, tourism and connecting institutions, a broad consensus was reached on the following key elements:
Rivers are boons but also can be banes. To optimize the good and prevent adverse impact a collective dialogue in the region involving India, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar and Bangladesh with its focus on crafting guidelines and elements of a blueprint needs to be arranged.
Asian Confluence should take the lead in this regard with the support of all relevant stakeholders.
• The river transport system ie: inland navigation, which was prominent during pre-independent era should be revived. The rivers, which are common to adjoining neighbouring countries, need to be given more emphasis for development of the region.
• A variety of issues pertaining to media cooperation between India and its neighbourhood were discussed. Media organizations the need to encourage and support endeavors for improving public perceptions and awareness in each country about the neighboring countries.
• The region comprising India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar has great tourism potential due to verdant nature, colorful peoples, mosaic of cultures and cuisine. To exploit this tourism potential, action should be taken at the governmental level to provide a policy frameworkfor regional tourism and create infrastructure and facilitation. An institutional mechanism for consultation with all stakeholders should be put in place. Regional cooperation organizations should specifically include tourism as an area of action. The private sector should help in identification of the circuits, build networks with counterparts and effectively market and service the circuits.
• Contacts and links amongst civil society and strategic community institutions in the region need to be expanded keeping in view the goal to enhance public awareness and facilitate people to people contact about the issues pertaining to management of rivers and connectivity. Modern technology including digital platforms and best practices in the region should be utilized optimally.