‘Taking lessons from Taiwan, north-east can boost economy’

Agartala, Aug 7 (IANS) States in India’s north-eastern region could flourish by taking lessons from Taiwan and also obtaining help from its immediate neighbour Bangladesh, experts said here.

“Our small state Taiwan, now, has a global presence in the IT industry and electronic products,” said Tu Fu-Han, the director of Taipei World Trade Centre.

While attending an Information Technology conclave here on Thursday, he said: “Over the recent years Taiwan has done a lot of developments in almost all sectors, specially manufacturing and IT segments.”

“The island nation has extremely limited natural and other resources. With the help of the semi-conductor industry, including computer manufacturing, design and packing, Taiwan has been able to distinguish itself from its competitors,” he added.

Writer and researcher Subir Bhowmik said: “If a small island nation like Taiwan can place its footprint in many parts of the world with its products, the north-eastern states, including Tripura, could achieve a similar success utilising their vast resources and connectivity with adjoining countries.”

Bhowmik’s views were echoed by Tripura governor Tathagata Roy, a renowned civil engineer and former professor of Jadavpur University in Kolkata.

“Tripura and other north-eastern states have a tremendous scope to boost its economy, exploit its resources and attract investment, capitalising the proximity with neighbouring countries specially Bangladesh,” Roy added.

“If a small nation like Taiwan can take up the challenge of developing itself, why not Tripura and other north-eastern states,” the governor asked.

Chief technology officer of Bangalore-based Hinduja Global Solutions C. Subramanya said: “Tripura and other north-eastern states have resources and potentialities, but there must be a serious marketing about their scopes and prospects across the country and abroad to turn the mission into reality.”

Bank of America vice-president (IT) Saumen Sarkar said, it is a historic opportunity to boost the economy of Tripura, with the setting up of the third International Internet Gateway (IIG) in Agartala. The state would now be the information technology hub in north-east India and also play a vital role in eastern India as far as internet connectivity is concerned.

The commissioning of the country’s third IIG here, after Chennai and Mumbai, will happen within the next few months.

“If major IT companies utilise the scope of Agartala IIG, the proposed capacity of 10 gigabit bandwidth could be increased to 40 gigabit, ensuring the growth of IT and other industries in the north-easten region,” said Sarkar, who also runs a northeast-centric news portal.

He said that it is a golden opportunity for the IT Industry and the economic roadmap of Tripura as the Indo-Bangladesh surplus undersea internet bandwidth lease agreement was signed during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Dhaka during June 6-7 in the presence of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Under the agreement, Bangladesh would provide surplus internet bandwidth to north-east India and to extend the facility, the submarine internet cable from Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar coastal town to Tripura’s capital Agartala is being laid.

Tripura’s industry and commerce secretary M. Nagaraju said: “India and Bangladesh has been trying hard to restore the pre-1947 connectivities through rail, road, air and water. If the connectivities between the north-eastern states and Bangladesh develop, it would be a great boom to the economy of both sides.”

“With unexpected growth of natural rubber production, bamboo-based industries and Tripura’s locational advantage, the state has marked its place in the country,” the IAS officer said.

Tripura chief secretary Yashpal Singh said that with the proposed plan to connect Tripura with the Bangladesh railway network and to construct a bridge over river Feni to get access the Chittagong international seaport, Tripura would be the gateway of the South-East Asian countries in the near future.

Transportation via Bangladesh is much easier as road connectivity is a big factor for the mountainous north-eastern states which share boundaries with Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal, Bhutan and China.

A narrow land corridor is used by the rest of India to travel to the northeastern region, through Assam and West Bengal, but this route passes through hilly terrain with steep gradients and multiple hairpin bends, making plying of vehicles, especially loaded trucks, very difficult.

Agartala via Guwahati is 1,650 km from Kolkata by road and 2,637 km from New Delhi, while the distance between Agartala and Kolkata via Bangladesh is just about 620 km.

The Food Corporation of India has ferried a total of 35,000 tonnes of rice in different phases for Tripura via Bangladesh in 2014 and 2015.

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