Tuesday, 5 July, 2022

India’s Neighbourhood First Policy

Shringla to lead inter-ministerial meet to prioritise dev activities

NEW DELHI: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given another responsibility to Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla to chair an Inter-Ministerial Coordination Group (IMCG) toward mainstreaming India’s Neighbourhood First policy.

The first meeting of the IMCG at the secretary level was convened by Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla on Tuesday, with a focus on cross border infrastructure for enhancing trade, and expanding the railway network with Bangladesh and Nepal. It also addressed the special needs of Bhutan and Maldives apart from humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan and Myanmar.

Shringla is said to have referred to PM’S directions of mainstreaming India’s neighbourhood first policy.

According to sources, he spoke of the need for greater connectivity, stronger inter-linkages and greater people-to-people contact with neighbouring countries and decided to have a whole government approach.

A press release issued by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said Secretaries of Ministries/Departments of Home, Commerce, Finance, Fisheries, representatives from Ministries/Departments of Defence, Railways, Economic Affairs, Consumer Affairs, Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare, Information & Broadcasting and from Cabinet Secretariat, National Security Council Secretariat as well as other relevant agencies along with heads of Border Guarding Forces participated in the meeting. The meeting deliberated upon and took important decisions on various aspects of India’s bilateral relationship with Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka in the areas of trade and investment, connectivity, border infrastructure, immigration, development cooperation, border security.

The IMCG is supported by Inter-Ministerial Joint Task Forces (JTF) convened by the concerned Joint Secretaries in the Ministry of External Affairs.

The government of India’s efforts to deliver benefits like greater connectivity, stronger inter-linkages and greater people-to-people connect under India’s Neighbourhood First policy takes place through a whole-of-government approach with coordination involving various ministries, departments and agencies of GOI and of concerned State governments. The IMCG will further improve institutional coordination across the government and provide comprehensive direction to this whole-of-government approach on India’s relations with its neighbouring countries.