IssueVol. 28.3 Jul-Sep 2013| Date : 29 Oct , 2013
There has been no major change in the military architecture in India’s Northeast region since 1962. In a strategic sense, India has remained more in a defensive posture all along the sensitive borders. The Northeast region has more than one persona. Traditionally, it has been associated with ethnic insurgency that has been aided and abetted by inimical forces operating from sanctuaries in India’s neighborhood. A bulk of India’s security and other strategic assets are heavily deployed to address twin threats to national security. Time is therefore opportune for national defence planners to consider bifurcation of the existing arrangements in this region into new sectoral responsibilities especially with a view to the future.
Northeast India has an extraordinarily important international strategic dimension and is a vital part of the nation’s defence architecture…
Northeast India has an extraordinarily important international strategic dimension and is a vital part of the nation’s defence architecture. It is not only India’s land bridge to Myanmar but also a gateway to Southeast Asia and beyond. The Northeast region is endowed with human and a variety of natural resources such as uranium, coal, hydro-power, forests, oil and gas. Gifted with highly fertile land, the Northeast region is the world’s largest producer of tea as well. It sits right in the hub of a geographical space which is home to nearly a billion people comprising the population of Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal, Bhutan, Southwestern China and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).
The strategic location and natural resources makes it a potential powerhouse of India for development and progress as also being a vibrant source of energy, oil, natural gas and limestone supplemented by the perennial water systems of the Brahmaputra and its tributaries. The fertile Brahmaputra Valley has huge potential for export of a variety of agro products – while its flora and fauna, natural scenic beauty, varied cuisine and remarkable local handicrafts and performing arts can act as a magnet for promotion of international tourism for neighboring as well the Western countries. Its proximity to international markets to both Southwestern China and Southeast Asia, makes this region a potentially important base for foreign and domestic investors and in tandem with the ‘Look East Policy’, can give the region the ability to tap into markets of the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
Regional groupings such as Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technology and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) and the ASEAN can all act as catalysts for promoting wide-ranging economic cooperation for both bilateral and multilateral trade and commerce. This can be buttressed by free movement of goods along the India-Myanmar border. Building up of the necessary infrastructure to connect the ports of Chittagong, Sittwe and Haldia with the region, can provide a big boost to the entire region. This will enable the landlocked Northeast region access to the Bay of Bengal. There is also the growing network of airlines that will give fresh impetus to cross-border travel but also another form of regional integration in addition to existing arrangements.