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Stakeholders Reviewed India’s Look East Policy

28 November 2011: Leading members of political, human rights and local NGO groups met in Aizawl, Mizoram State, India last Friday, to discuss and analyse the Indian Look East Policy (LEP).

Explaining about India’s LEP in brief, Dr. L.H.Chhuanawma, from Pachhunga University, said the policy is aimed at promoting India’s economic interests through relations with neighbouring Asian countries to the east.

To this, Mr. Muanpuia, ZORO General Secretary and President of the Northeast Student Organization (NESO) said: “The LEP does not look to provide any advantages for northeastern states, such as Mizoram, so we need to think about an alternative policy that will be actually beneficial for our state and people.”

Some in the northeastern states have derided the Look East Policy as ‘Overlooking the Northeast’ in its implementation, contending that the policy will results little benefits for their region.

Initiated in 1991 during the government of Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao on the Indian National Congress Party, the “Look East” Policy set a strategic shift in India’s global economic perspective, viewing its southeast Asian neighbors as strategic economic partners.

The discussion also raised issues concerning the ongoing joint mega-project between India and Burma ‘the Kaladan Modal Transport Project’, which includes an extension of sea port in Arakan State and road construction to link Burma’s Chin State and India’s Mizoram State by the end of 2013.

Mr. Zosangliana, from MNF, an official opposition political party in Mizoram State, said: “The Indian government has already planned and will go ahead whether we welcome or not. Therefore, it is important that we prepare to handle this well and to defend ourselves as it will attract international investments to be based in our state.”

There is a general consensus that the Look East Policy will create increasing links between India’s Mizoram State and Burma’s Chin State, and that measures should be taken by the people on both sides of the international borders to protect themselves against possible negative impacts.

The event was organized by the Zo Indigenous Forum at I & PR Auditorium hall, Treasury Square, and was attended by academics and representatives from the Mizo National Front (MNF), the Indian National Congress, the Zo Nationalitst Party, the Mizo Zirlai Pawl (Mizo Student Union), Lai Welfare Association, Zo Re-unification Organization (ZORO), the Women’s League of Chinland (WLC), the Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO), and the Chin Public Affairs Committee (CPAC).

Reporting by Thawng Zel Thang

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