Ansari wants North-East to be connected with South-East Asia

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Guwahati, Sept 15 : Vice President Hamid Ansari today said that the Government is committed to converting diplomatic initiatives into commercial opportunities for the overall development of the North-Eastern Region.

Inaugurating the 4th North East Business Summit here, Ansari said the North-East Industrial Investment and Promotion Policy (NEIIPP) provide liberal concessions and subsidies for the investors.

"68 investment proposals worth over US 1.5 billion dollar have been received under this Policy covering various economic sectors. Private investment has a huge opportunity in sectors such as agriculture, education, health care and tourism," he added.

He urged businessman participating in the summit to take full advantage of the North East Industrial Investment and Promotion Policy.

He said this Summit is as much about business as it is about politics, both domestic and external. It is about correctives. The effort today is as much to overcome the physical and commercial isolation of this region, as it is to set aside its "geo-political isolation and put it on the path of accelerated and inclusive growth".

"The region accounts for around 8 per cent of the geographical area of the country and around 4 per cent of our population. Yet, its contribution to the Net Domestic Product of India has remained at less than 3 per cent," he added.

He said thee region as a whole is amongst the poorest regions in the country with per capita income that is roughly 2/3rd of the national average. Over 35 per cent of the population of this region is below the poverty line as compared to the national average of 26 per cent.

The Vice President further said that despite agriculture remaining the main source of income, the region is a net importer of food grains even for its own consumption, as it produces only 1.5 per cent of our total food grain production.

"The eight States of the North Eastern Region have different levels of human development, resource endowments, levels of industrialization and infrastructure facilities. What are common, however, are the existence of immense potential and the lack of its realization for the benefit of the peoples in the region," he added.

He said the North Eastern Region Vision 2020 document approved by the members of the North Eastern Council and released by the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh in July this year is the best testimony of the commitment of the Union and various State Governments to the comprehensive, inclusive and accelerated development of the region so as to restore it national economic eminence.

He said the the Vision document has noted that the region should play "the arrow-head role in the vanguard of the country's Look-East Policy". The Look East Policy was not just a foreign policy initiative. It was an amalgam of a strategic shift in our global perspective, an aspect of our economic reform process focused on enlargement of our external economic engagement accompanied by renewal of civilizational linkages with our neighbours in South East and East Asia.

"The Look East Policy was also complemented with a 'Look Around Policy' of closer economic and political partnership with our neighbours in the SAARC region," he added.

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