Yumnam Rupachandra, Imphal (Dec 4): With less than two weeks remaining for the troops of 28 Mahindra XUVs to enter Manipur after traversing eight South East Asian nations the remote Northeastern state of India is getting a makeover on war footing. The Asean-India car rally along the newly-designated Asian Highway (or NH-39) is slated to enter Moreh in Manipur from Tamu on Myanmar side on December 15.
The rally, which was flagged off at the Indonesian city of Yogykarta on November 26, is now passing through Cambodia from where it will move to Vietnam capital Ho Chi Minh. Hectic road repair work is under way all along the route of the rally on NH-39 which connects Moreh with Dimapur. The NH-39 has been named Asian Highway No. 1 or AH-1 in the wake of India’s emerging trade relationships with the Asean countries. New signage reading AH-1 has been put along the highway across the state.
The state PWD had set up a task force to mend all potholes on the entire stretch of AH-1 within the state from Moreh to Mao for smooth passage of the rally being held to promote people to people contact and trade between India and the member countries of Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean). According to the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), which is jointly organising the rally along with India’s ministry of external affairs, Asean has emerged as one of the most important trading partners of India with bilateral trade of $ 79 billion, which is 10 per cent of India’s total trade, in 2011-12.
CII said the trade volume crossed the target of $70 billion set for 2012 in the year 2009. CII will also be organising a Border Trade Seminar at Mandalay in Myanmar on December 12-13 which will be attended by several business people from Northeastern states including from Manipur. The Manipur government department of industries has been trying to send maximum number of entrepreneurs and business people to attend the seminar to take advantage of the emerging Asean market.
So far 15 members of Indo-Myanmar Border Trade Union (IMBTU) and some members of Manipur Chamber of Commerce and Industries (MCCI) have confirmed their participation, State industries commissioner O Nabakishor told Seven Sisters Post.
The traders from Manipur are planning to go to Mandalay in the neighbouring country by road and permission for the purpose is being taken, he said. Meanwhile, preparations are being made at Moreh for a formal reception of the rally which is scheduled to arrive at the border town at 9 am on December 15 and then Imphal at 1 pm the same day.
The rally bears much significance for Manipur because of the state’s proximity to the Asean countries. “It is not just the road (AH1) we are looking at but the trade that will come with it,” MCCI secretary Th Budhabir told Seven Sisters Post while expressing the hope that the rally, being held as part of India’s Look East Policy, will boost the economy of the strife-torn state.
The state’s agrarian economy is mostly dependent on Central aids as the markets here react sharply to release of funds by New Delhi. Government employees in various departments are yet to get their salaries due to financial crisis.
The car rally will traverse a total distance of 8,000 km across nine countries over 22 days with 124 participants from 11 countries before culminating its journey at Guwahati in Assam on December 17.
Later, on December 20, a ceremonial flag down will be held in New Delhi by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other heads of states of all Asean countries.
~ Seven Sister’s Post