New Delhi: Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla has said India is a country with global interests and takes its commitments to be a responsible international player with the utmost seriousness.
In his address at the Annual Session of the Indian Chamber of Commerce held in Kolkata on Wednesday titled ''[email protected]: Empowering India: Today for Tomorrow'', he said India’s approach to improving global public good is evident in its approach to its neighbourhood where it has made enormous efforts to improve the connectivity.
Shringla said, "Future plans to enhance connectivity include extending the Trilateral Highway to Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam and Railways that link India and Myanmar and further to Thailand, Laos, Singapore, Cambodia, Vietnam and Bangladesh are all in the realm of possibility"
In fact, Bangladesh expressed its desire to be a partner of trilateral highway connecting South East Asia and also in the proposed rail link from Dhaka to South East Asia.
He said five of the six rail links that connected Bangladesh and India before 1965 and were interrupted by the vagaries of history have been reactivated. More are being built.
Indian is now connected to Nepal through the Jayanagar- Kurtha railway line. A Raxaul Kathmandu railway is on the anvil, he said.
“Members of this Chamber can today travel to Dhaka directly by bus, train and air. They can travel to Agartala via Bangladesh by bus. They can ship goods to Agartala multi-modally through Ashuganj and Chittagong,” said the Indian Foreign Secretary.
Shringla said a network of land ports and integrated check posts are being built along our land borders to upgrade the cargo transhipment and passenger transit experience.
“These will create new transport corridors that will facilitate rapid transport of goods and people between different nations in the region and different parts of India.”
He said a common energy market is slowly and surely being created. The Indian grid is connected to Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh.
“These allow India to supply 1160 MW of power to Bangladesh, about 700 MW to Nepal, and import 1.8 GW from Bhutan. The trans-national movement of electricity in the neighbourhood is thus a reality. Procedures for export and import of electricity with our neighbouring countries have also been notified.”
He informed that hydrocarbon pipelines are being created to link India with Nepal and Bangladesh.
He said they have tried to increase our engagement with such stakeholders and partners through a number of public diplomacy initiatives. “I am glad to inform you that the Ministry of External Affairs is supporting a number of new Track 1.5 and Track 2 dialogues and Conferences with a focus on this dimension.”
He highlighted the recent initiatives included a BIMSTEC focused dialogue located in Kolkata; a Kolkata- Dhaka Dialogue that brings together think tanks and academic institutions in India and Bangladesh; a "Nadi” conference in Shillong that focuses on cooperation within this region; and a Kanchanjunga Dialogue based in North Bengal and Sikkim that has a BBIN - Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal - focus.
“We have also commissioned a study by the North Eastern Development Finance Corporation that will "map” connectivity projects in North Eastern India and Indian supported connectivity projects in countries neighbouring this region. The idea is identify synergies and possible growth corridors.”
The Indian Foreign Secretary in his speech also informed that India has established an ambitious benchmark of USD 400 billion in exports for the years 2021-22 for developing the three ‘T sectors’: trade, tourism, and technology.
He also highlighted that the Indian economy has returned to the high growth path and the country's gross domestic product (GDP) grew by over 20 per cent in the first quarter of current fiscal.