CORRESPONDENT ITANAGAR, Jan 31 - Arunachal Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein on Thursday urged the Central Government to consider reopening the historic Stilwell Road, noting that the Centre’s Act East Policy would be a game changer for the North Eastern States vis-à-vis the ASEAN countries.
Arunachal Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein being felicitated during a seminar in Guwahati on Thursday. – Photo: Correspondent
Mein said this while attending a seminar on the ‘Role of Tai community on the Act East Policy and their impact on the social, cultural, linguistic and economic corridor across the border”, which was organised in Guwahati to mark the silver jubilee of the Me-Dam-Me-Phi celebration.
He said that the Tai community residing in the North Eastern States can act as a bridge between India and the ASEAN nations due to the similarities in culture, food habits and dialects/languages it shares with the people across the border.
“Cultural similarity between the people of ASEAN countries and North East India should become the fulcrum of our friendship and the bedrock of all our policies – both diplomatic and economic,” Mein added.
While pitching for reopening of the Stilwell Road up to Kunming in China, he said the people living across the international boundaries of India and Myanmar have common cultural ties, and it would act as catalyst for cross-border trade.
The historic Stilwell Road or the Ledo Road that was constructed during the World War II, starts from Ledo in Assam, passes through Pangsau Pass (Nampong) in Arunachal Pradesh and leads up to Kunming in China after passing through many important towns in Myanmar.
“It is high time we gave paramount importance to reopening of the Stilwell Road and priority should be given to restoration of this road by both India and Myanmar as it would be mutually beneficial to both the sides. The road will further deepen the age-old cultural linkage and help promote spiritual tourism,” the Deputy Chief Minister said.
Stating that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has put development of the North East in the heart of the Act East Policy which has greatly increased people-to-people contact, trade and other relations with ASEAN countries, Mein elaborated on the locational advantage of the region to become the new growth hub of trade, tourism and cultural exchange by taking advantage of the international boundary the region shares with the neighbouring countries.
Earlier, while greeting the Tai Ahom community on the occasion of Me-Dam-Me-Phi, Mein urged the younger generation to carry forward the legacy of their forefathers so that their traditional values and cultural relations and diversity remain intact. He also called for preservation and promotion of the ancient tradition of Me-Dam-Me-Phi which is unique and by far, the most important festival of the Ahom community.