Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said northeastern India's progress is "at the heart of the country's Act East policy that focuses on increased ties with countries in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly the ASEAN countries.
In his address at the inaugural session of Global Investors' Summit -'Advantage Assam' here, the Prime Minister said, "We created the Act East Policy and the Northeast is at the heart of it. The Act East Policy requires increased people-to-people contact, trade ties and other relations with countries on India's east, particularly ASEAN countries."
"The tagline of this summit is very appropriate and gives a big message. 'Advantage Assam: India's Expressway to ASEAN' is not just a statement but it is a holistic vision," he added.
To this end, Prime Minister Modi said the country worked with the vision that India's growth story will pick up more speed only when the northeast region developed at the same pace in a balanced manner.
"The work of both central government and Assam government in the last three-and-a-half years has brought us here and now we are able to hold such an event. It was only possible because the thought 'Nothing can be done about this country has changed," Modi remarked.
The Prime Minister also mentioned the new policy launched in the Union Budget to restructure the National Bamboo mission that has been welcomed in the bamboo-rich northeast.
"Bamboo is scientifically a grass but nearly 90 years ago, the lawmakers categorized it as a tree which required for a permit to cut or transport. Northeast Indians were the most at disadvantage because of this," Prime Minister Modi said, adding, "It is only our government that removed bamboo from the category of trees and brought benefit to the tribal population."
The Prime Minister also spoke on the other salient policies that were launched or received a boost under the Union Budget, such as Ayushman Bharat Yojana, Ujjwala Yojana, Mudra Yojana, and the like.
Terming the Budget for 2018 "farmer-friendly", Prime Minister Modi said that the farmers' development was imperative to the country's development and added that all ASEAN countries were, in a way, agriculture dominated.
Further, in a testament to the progress towards the Act East Policy, Prime Minister Modi informed that Bangladesh recently became the first country to open a consulate in Guwahati, while Bhutan opened a consulate in the city on Friday.
Bhutan Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay attended the event as the chief guest
"Our chief guest Bhutan PM's presence speaks of the unbreakable bond of friendship between India Bhutan," he remarked.
The two-day summit that started today will showcase the state's manufacturing opportunities and geostrategic advantages to foreign and domestic investors.