Act East Policy Affairs (AEPA)Department
The North Eastern Region of India had been suffering an unfortunate geographical isolation and perceived psychological alienation from the rest of the country as a consequence of partition and the irrational drawing of the Radcliffe Line, when thanks to the path-breaking vision of our Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modiji the decades old Look East Policy was metamorphosed into the more proactive Act East Policy in 2014 – thereby providing the region with a unique opportunity to reinvent itself as the hub of the country’s emerging relations with her eastern neighbours. In this regard, the Hon’ble Prime Minister has not only designated ‘Act East’ Policy as a key component of his Government’s Foreign Policy, but also explicitly mentioned that North-East India would play an important role in that ‘Act East’ Policy. In order to capitalize on the avant-garde policy of the Hon’ble Prime Minister from the standpoint of the North-Eastern Region, the State Government of Assam has set up the Department of Act East Policy Affairs – with the avowed purpose of making Assam and other North-Eastern States as drivers of Government of India’s Act East Policy as key stake-holders at the ground level. The idea is to supplement the efforts of the Govt. of India in having improved infrastructural linkage, significantly stepped up economic relations and trade, and renewed cultural links and shared heritage between North East India and the countries of South and South East Asia. The city of Guwahati was known in primordial times as Pragjyotishpur – the City of Eastern Lights. As part of the vision of the Hon’ble Prime Minister, the State Government wishes to transform Guwahati as the city at the heart of the Eastern World – in a manner similar to how the Kunming city of the land-locked Yunnan province of China has developed in recent times.
The vision is to move away from the domestic thinking of North East India as the perpetual periphery of the country to that of a regional focal point of integration of India with countries of South and South East Asia. The paradigm shift envisaged is the placing of the North Eastern Region at the centre-stage of the country’s planned rendezvous with the emerging giants of the ASEAN bloc. The Government of Assam feels that that requires the recalibration of foreign policy to develop the North East as a growth centre and a staging platform for the Act East Policy. This necessitates the adoption of a multi-ministerial approach and the active involvement of the State Governments of the region.
Seamless Connectivity - with ASEAN and BBIN countries – on the lines of Panchapath (Roadways, Railways, Airways, Waterways and Information-ways) espoused by Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, including multi-modal and fast transportation system and effective telecommunication mechanism;
Economic Integration - with ASEAN and BBIN countries – involving seamless trade and commerce [including creation of Industrial Corridor and state-of-the-art Border Centres], as well as industrial collaboration;
Socio–Cultural Exchange - with ASEAN and BBIN countries – taking into account the similarities in socio-cultural patterns, anthropological/ ethnic backgrounds, and proto-religious practices between peoples of NE States and the aforementioned countries;
Free Movement of People - with ASEAN and BBIN countries – through opening of consulates/ Asst. High Commissioners’ Offices of these countries in Guwahati, and having facilities for Visa-Free Travel/ Visa on Arrival for bona-fide people [viz. traders, officials and tourists].