South Asia and South East Asia between themselves comprise two of the most populous regions of the world. Together with Japan and China and the Koreas, they account for over half the world’s population. India has for nearly three decades now, looked east towards economically dynamic South East Asia for economic and strategic benefits. These are also areas of great ethnic, linguistic, cultural and religious diversity spilling over boundaries that sit uneasily with modern notions of the nation, hard frontiers, ethnic or linguistic dominance and chauvinism, rising religious fundamentalism and fusion of national and religious identities. The region is fractious and studies on it are primarily driven by disasters and conflict.
India’s northeast is one such area until not long back marginal to Indian history, that has been caught in the throes of imperial expansion, nationalism, partition, isolation and dependence in the 20th century. The opening up of Myanmar after decades of military rule, India’s ‘Look East’ rebranded as ‘Act East’, and the perceptible improvement of relations with Bangladesh, have opened up opportunities for the region to connect more easily with South East Asia and chart its own destiny as a bridge between South Asia and South East Asia
Thus, India’s Northeast- its location in the contiguous geo-climatic- Himalayan belt, its cultural –linguistic-historical affinity with other South East Asian nations ,the sub-national character and aspirations of the natives shall make for interesting studies and subsequent dissemination for informing state policies or even policy level discourses [Above lines are excerpts from the lecture titled “Northeast and Act East ” delivered by Ambassador Gautam Mukhopadhaya at the India International Centre on January 31, 2017. The lecture was a part of the series called ” Beyond Borders: India’s Northeast bridging South and South East Asia” . The series was conceptualized by Dr Monica Banerjee from the Northeast Desk that she had then incubated within the National Foundation for India (NFI) to establish, inter alia, the significance of connecting the regions through Northeast India.]
Through our work we aim to ensure that social and digital equity, inclusion and justice are central to development thinking, policy and practice. To this end, we:
- Focus on the often neglected social and digital exclusion areas and impacts of development processes and the role of social and digital institutions, relations and actors in shaping social and digital development policies and pathways;
- Engage partners, practitioners, researchers, investors, policy makers and civil society actors in generating and sharing knowledge, in order to shape policy, programme and actions within and beyond the North East India region;
- Mobilize and strengthen the problem solving, solution enabling and research capacity of individuals and institutions in developing the States in North East India Region through collaborative inquiry, partnership and actions; and
- Provide a space for the exchange of ideas, giving prominence to marginalized viewpoints, often challenging mainstream development thinking and offering alternative policy and solution options.