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SINGAPORE: An awareness deficit among Indians about their northeastern region and its current economic constraints were brought into focus by Mizoram Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla at an international conference here on Thursday.
Highlighted in particular was the lack of awareness about the racial composition of India.
Mr. Thanhawla was addressing a networking session on the “business of water in India.” The event was jointly organised by the City-State’s public utility agency, called PUB, and the Singapore-based India Business Forum of the Confederation of Indian Industry. The overarching event was the Singapore International Water Week.
Emphasising the identity of the northeastern States as an integral region of India, Mr. Thanhawla said: “Even after [my] landing here, many people ask me: ‘You do not look like an Indian!’ Even in my own country, wherever I go to, Delhi or down south, while I say ‘I am from Mizoram,’ [I am asked] where is Mizoram. I tell them that this is in their own country. And, I ask many people, who claim themselves to be national leaders: ‘Why do you not accept that our great country is populated by at least three major races of the world?’”
In reply to this question, he cited the Dravidians in the south, the Aryans in the north, and the people belonging to the Mongoloid stock in the eastern, mainly northeastern region, besides the aborigines in various parts.
The northeastern region “is far away from mainland-India,” the two being linked by the so-called “chicken neck” bordering West Bengal. Such “constraints and problems of the northeastern region” were also compounded by “funds constraints.” However, his State was now “going to capitalise” on the offers of funds from international financial institutions, in the context of India’s Look-East policy , he noted.
The challenges and investment opportunities in India’s water sector were variously spelt out by Arunachal Pradesh Governor J. J. Singh, and a top official of the Asian Development Bank, Hun Kim, besides several Indian entrepreneurs.
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