Kathmandu, Aug. 26: The Asian Institute of Diplomacy and International Affairs (AIDIA) and Asia Confluence signed the Memorandum of Understanding during the Shillong Dialogue recently organized by the Asian Confluence. The major thrust of the MoU are to focus on jointly conducting research projects on Public Policy, International Affairs, Trade Diplomacy and others; organizing workshop, seminar and conference in partnership; and fellow exchange program.
The two day dialogue had focused deliberations on shared opportunities, challenges and the geo-spaces of possibilities to come up with concrete ideas to root the larger vision of regional connectivity and prosperity at the ground level. With the primary focus on three pillars for possible cooperation, viz. Tourism, Agri-horti value chains and Trade-Tourism-Transit Hubs. The dialogue also saw a number of bright suggestions being shared by leaders from the region on how they can engage to make the connectivity and integration discourse stronger and visible to the larger mass. This included suggestions by Mr. Conrad Sangma, Chief Minister, Meghalaya regarding a visit to the neighbouring countries by all Chief Ministers of the North Eastern states as a joint exercise to strengthen bonds, share ideas and starting of on a proactive agenda to promote regionalism and integration. Mr. Surendra Pandey, Former Finance Minister and Member of Parliament, Nepal, suggested that relationships between Nepal and North Eastern states could be strengthened through an idea where all seven states could be linked to the seven provinces of Nepal as twin entities. There were also suggestions on Sylhet and Shillong becoming twin cities given their historical links. The eminent gathering opined that the sub-region needs to look at the connect that existed in the region before the imperial rule so as to consolidate the present opportunities in the light of the historical, cultural, commercial and civilizational links that the region and its people shared.
Mr. Sabyasachi Dutta, Executive Director of Asian Confluence, stressed that while there are many hurdles to regionalism and integration, the possibilities are immense and we need to look at the positives and collectively work around the hurdles. Dr. Sagar Prasai, Country Director, The Asia Foundation, opined that the sub-region has both economic rationale and political will to engage and integrate further and this opportune combination needs to be capitalized by working our concrete ideas through further deep-diving on the ideas that emerged from Asian Confluence’s work, so that the relevant details can be etched out.
The dialogue has participation from the top leaders in the Meghalaya government including the Chief Minister Mr. Conrad Sangma and the Home Minister Mr. James Sangma and also from eminent experts like Prof. Shakti Sinha, Director, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library government, former Ambassador Muchkund Dubey, former Ambassador Rajiv K. Bhatia, Founder and CEO of AIDIA Mr. Sunil KC Pran Group of Industries, and many more from the diplomatic corps, private sector, academia, civil society organizations and media from across North Eastern states and the four neighbouring countries.