The Shillong Dialogue, 2019 puts fresh ideas to the ongoing regional connectivity narrative


Brief Summary: Shillong Dialogue 2019


Shillong, Meghalaya, October 24-25, 2019:  “A parallel road, connecting Hilly (West Bengal) – Mahendragunj (Meghalaya), connecting directly to Silchar and then to Myanmar can transform the entire economic activity and the face of economic zone for India and Bangladesh”, said Shri. Conrad Sangma, Hon’ble Chief Minister, Government of Meghalaya in his Special Address. He was speaking at The Shillong Dialogue 2019: Distinguished Panel, on the theme of “Visions for a connected and prosperous region“, organised at the Asian Confluence Centre, Shillong by the Asian Confluence, in collaboration with the Government of Meghalaya and support from The Asia Foundation. The Shillong Dialogue, this year, focused on creating sustainable livelihoods within India, Bangladesh, and other Eastern South Asian countries, on learning and creating linkages with South East Asia, in the context of climate smart agri/horti value chains and sustainable tourism. A special session was devoted in fostering women’s entrepreneurship and sustainable livelihoods in the tourism and agri/horti sectors with sharing from the Mekong region.

Talking about the idea of Ishaan, Mr. Sabyasachi Dutta, Executive Director, Asian Confluence narrated: "Ishaan signifies the Northeast direction. Also, according to Vaastu Shastra, North is the direction where wealth resides and East is the direction where knowledge resides. Ishaan, hence, symbolises the culmination of both knowledge and wealth. The Asian Confluence's annual dialogue focusing on the Northeast, viz. Shillong Dialogue, envisages to consolidate the wealth, knowledge and energies from the entire northeast region and harness that towards greater prosperity, sustainability and peace for the people of the region and its neighbourhood."

In the stakeholder consultation on climate regional smart agri – horti value chains, the distinguished working group committee harped on conducting a focused research on 2 products each from North East and Bangladesh, both for bilateral trade and value added products, by integrating produce from both sides. Ginger, Turmeric, Orange and Honey were discussed as products which can be exported from Meghalaya; Potato, Mangoes and processed agri-products were discussed as possible products which can come from Bangladesh.  Deliberating on the theme presentation for the session, Mr. K. N. Kumar, Chairman, Meghalaya Farmer’s Mission, Government of Meghalaya harped on the need to look at products with low climate impact; millets, for instance. Other dynamic ideas of creating Border Processing Zones to work on common products for value additions and processing, centralised off-border clearance and testing infrastructure to cater to multiple ports, Mutual Recognition Arrangements to work around certification hurdles and more frequent private sector dialogues on focused sectors/product groups were identified and discussed in the session.

Addressing the dialogue as a distinguished guest of honour, Shri. Tipu Munshi, Hon’ble Minister of Commerce, Government of Bangladesh harped on the fact that “Tourism can be developed; it can only happen when our business people talks more with a clear and better understanding, better air and route connection, less problem on immigration of both sides. The Government is always there to facilitate”. Talking about sustainable tourism in the stakeholder consultation 2 and a subsequent policy dialogue, which followed, the working group committee of the sector identified the need of an easier and all –port – access VISA for Bangladesh commoners to visit India. The need for tweaking air connectivity routes, possibly harnessing Syllhet-Guwahati route came up. The committee also found more scopes of education tourism with enhancement of student exchange programs.

The workshop had active participation from Government officials from Bangladesh and Meghalaya, experts, civil society, academicians, private entrepreneurs and businessmen, scholars, activists and media from across the northeastern states of India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Vietnam and Cambodia.  


For more please contact: Mr. Sayandeep Chattopadhyay
, Senior Research Associate, Asian Confluence, (sayandeep.c@asianconfluence.org; +91-7026776218)