Development, Prosperity and the Eastern Neighbourhood: Voices from North Eastern States of India

Date:   Sat Oct 17, 2020 - Sat Oct 17, 2020








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Concept:  The North Eastern region of India and its political economy can be seen through three lenses which are three key drivers for policy formulation.


A) The development lens : The region is rich in natural resource, natural beauty and home to great bio diversity but it is extremely fragile ecologically. Sustainable development of the region based on its natural agro and horti resources and exploiting its tourism potential can potentially make the region a growth engine for economic progress.


B) The external affairs lens: Sharing land borders with as many as five immediate neighbors of India, namely China, Bhutan, Nepal, Myanmar and Bangladesh, and only a short distance at point from the Bay of Bengal, this region is a spring board for India’s engagements with her immediate and extended neighbours. The “Act East” Policy and the “Neighbourhood First” Policy of the government of India converge here, along with India’s Indo Pacific strategy. Several connectivity projects with the neighbours is already been underway with a view to turn some of the border zones into connectors for international trade.  If the the region can proactively engage with neighbors such as Bangladesh, Bhutan and Myanmar and Nepal, it would help greatly in India to consolidate its position as a leader in the Bay of Bengal Littoral and the Indian Ocean region and actively pursue its Indo Pacific strategy. A key component to realizing this potential is if the people and communities at the border regions become invested and synergized with the larger picture.


C) The security lens: In spite of such potentials the region has remained largely fragmented and  slower development as compared to rest of India. A painful past of partition and thereafter conflicts induced by human migrations, proxy wars fought through local insurgent groups aided by a hostile neighbor (China) , border conflicts, ethnic clashes, discriminatory legal frameworks, poor governance still plague parts of the region though it must be acknowledged that much has improved. The region is also extremely diverse and each state is very unique : geographically and culturally. Projects undertaken on the ground often faced inordinate delays due to differences of opinion created by stakeholders depending on which lens they are viewing through. This has hampered the building of a ground up narrative that is constructive, development oriented.  The narrative of the region still remains marred. This has also dissuaded industry to come in in a big way.  “One size fits all” schemes by the various line ministries of the central government have not had the desired impact.  Ensuring security of the region is an integral part of India’s national security and especially in light recent border conflicts with China


There is a need for regional planning comprising all states and dedicated to the region backed by ground up initiatives from the states not only at a government level but also from civil society, academia and industry. The COVID-19 induced pandemic has brought to fore, the need for further out of the box thinking for regional economic revival as well as offered an opportunity for new thinking.


            The webinar will be formulated around four key questions :

1) What should be the development priorities moving forward ?

2) What is the view towards the neighbouhood  and what should ot be ?

3)  What is the role of the  “Third Space”  in socio-political engagements  ?

4) How can NER  of India be better integrated with the mainland in the ongoing developmental narrative?


Welcome: Alakh Ranjan, Research and Program Associate, Asian Confluence 

Opening Address : Amb. Rajiv Bhatia, IFS Retd.


Moderator : Sabyasachi Dutta, ED, Asian Confluence 

Panel :

·      Bilab Debnath , Assistant Professor, Tripura University

·      Deigracia Nongkyrin , Assistant Professor, Economics Dept. North Eastern Hill University

·      Bano Haralu, Jounalist, Nagaland

·      Dr. JC Zomuanthanga, Assistant Professor, Mizoram University

·     Shrabana Baruah, ICSSR Doctoral Fellow, Diplomacy and Disarmament Division, JNU & Research Associate Nepal Institute of International Cooperation and Engagement (NIICE), Kathmandu-

·      Man Norbu, Assistant Professor (Guest), Rajiv Gandhi University, Arunachal Pradesh

·      Swastika Pradhan, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Sikkim University

·      Dr. Ksh. Narayan  Singh, Faculty Member, Centre for Entrepreneurship and Skill Development,  Manipur University

Q&A (10 mins)

Closing Address:

Mr. M.P. Bezbaruah, IAS Retd. and Former member NEC 

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