The fourth edition of the India-Japan Intellectual Conclave titled “North East India, Bangladesh and the Bay of Bengal region in the Indo-Pacific: The Way Forward,” was organized by think tank Asian Confluence in collaboration with the Minister of External Affairs, India (MEA), Embassy of Japan in India, and North Eastern Council in the picturesque city of Shillong on Monday.
Ambassador of Japan to India, Hiroshi Suzuki highlighted the necessity to identify the actionable projects for new investments in the region. Focusing on connectivity between India and Bangladesh, High commissioner of Bangladesh to India, Mustafizur Rehman said that connectivity projects must be mutually beneficial.
P Kumaran, Special Secretary, Economic Relations & Development Partnership Administration, MEA, emphasized on the projects that are taken up in the Northeast India and explained how robust connectivity between India and Bangladesh could become a game changer for the Bay of Bengal region.
Highlighting on the importance of Bangladesh in Northeast India’s future K. Moses Chalai, Secretary North Eastern Council, argued that to go east one must go through south. Emphasizing the aspect of developing the urban infrastructure in Northeast India, chief secretary of Meghalaya Donald P Wahlang, argued that by 2047 Northeast India could contribute around 5 per cent of India’s GDP.
Interactive panel discussions on the topics “Towards Creating Industrial Value Chains: Voices from the Industry,” and “Empowering Institutional Infrastructure for people connectivity,” were chaired by the Members of the Governing Council, Asian Confluence, Ajay Sethi, Managing partner ASA Associates and Amb. Riva Ganguly Das, Former Secretary East, MEA respectively.
Representatives from Japanese institutions such as JICA and JETRO shared their ideas to strengthen the connectivity in the Bay of Bengal region. Several policy makers, institutional representatives, business representatives, academicians and media people from India, Bangladesh and Japan shared their ideas to strengthen people to people ties within the region and with Japan.
During the policy makers’ panel discussion MPs and political leaders from Northeast India who were also part of the delegation that visited Japan in 2023 as a part of the project initiated by Sasakawa Peace Foundation S Phangnon Konyak, Vincent Pala, Dr. Rajdeep Roy, Tapir Gao, and Mmhonlumo Kikon proposed several ideas that could be taken up in the Northeast by leveraging Japanese technology and knowhow.
Lalnghinglova Hmar, Minister of Sports and Youth Services of Mizoram stressed on the necessity to take the advantage of high literacy rate, large forest cover and tech savvy youth of the state to attract investments. In his valedictory address, Paul Lyngdoh, Minister of Tourism, Meghalaya highlighted the necessity to make youths as the ambassadors of people-to-people connectivity between Northeast India, Bangladesh and Japan.
During his welcome remarks Sabyasachi Dutta Executive Director Asian Confluence, spoke on the importance of building partnerships in the Bay of Bengal region which was followed by a brief update on the progress done in the connectivity front between Northeast India and Bangladesh.