Centre keen to engage NE States in foreign policy formulation

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GUWAHATI, July 18: Efforts have been made to step up securing of inputs from Assam and the other northeastern States while formulating India’s foreign policy and the Centre is keen on engaging the state governments and other stakeholders from this region for this purpose. This was stated by Raveesh Kumar, official spokesperson and Joint Secretary (External Publicity) of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) here yesterday.
Addressing an interaction with the media organized by the External Publicity and Public Diplomacy Division of MEA, Kumar said the Ministry has made efforts to integrate the views of the States in this region in formulation of India’s foreign policy.
“We want to bring the MEA closer to this region. There is a perception that MEA is elitist and not for the common people. Besides, foreign policy discussions have so far been dominated by the English and Hindi media at the national level… But now, the MEA has started the ‘Videsh Aaya Pradesh Ke Dwaar’ initiative under which we have started to engage with the local media,” Kumar said.
“Under the new initiative, the MEA is looking to explain our foreign policy priorities in simple terms, to interact with the regional media and expand our outreach, create a pool of media persons with interest in foreign policy and bring the domain of foreign policy closer to the people,” Kumar added.
Madhumita Hazarika Bhagat, Joint Secretary and National Coordinator (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) in MEA, said the Ministry is putting focus on Assam and the North-east.
She said as part of the Act East policy of the government, there is stress on engagement with common people of this region on matters of foreign policy. She added that international projects like Kaladan and Trilateral Highway will bring benefits to this region.
Bhagat said India and China reached an agreement on sharing of meteorological data of the Brahmaputra during the recent meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and this will be of immense help to Assam.
She said Bhutan’s national carrier Druk Airways is expected to start flight on Paro-Guwahati-Singapore route soon.
“The number of Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officers from the northeastern region is very few. There should be more IFS officers from the Northeast,” Bhagat said.
Naorem J Singh, Regional Passport Officer, Guwahati, said ten new Passport Seva Kendras have been set up at various places across Assam in recent times. (Agencies)