Act East Policy Current Affairs
The 10th anniversary celebration of Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) was held in Kochi, Kerela. The two-day seminar aims to discuss maritime issues pertaining to cooperative capacity-building to deal with common security concerns in the region. The theme for this year’s seminar was “IONS as Catalyst for SAGAR’. SAGAR stands for ‘Security and Growth for All in the Region’. It is in consonance with India’s ‘Act East’ policy and nation’s diplomatic, economic and military outreach in the region.
Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS)
It is voluntary regional forum that seeks to increase maritime co-operation among navies of littoral states of the Indian Ocean Region by providing open and inclusive forum for discussion of regionally relevant maritime issues. It endeavours to generate flow of information between naval professionals that would lead to common understanding and possibly cooperative solutions on way ahead.
Under charter of business adopted in 2014, it has working groups on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR), Information Security and Interoperability (IS&I) and anti-piracy now renamed as maritime security. It was launched in 2008 by India Navy, since then biennial meetings among the littoral states are held.
It has total 35 member nations grouped into four sub-regions.
- South Asian Littorals: India, Bangladesh, Maldives, Pakistan, Seychelles and Sri Lanka
- West Asian Littorals: Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Yemen
- East African Littorals: Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Eriteria, France, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan and Tanzania
- South East Asian and Australian Littorals: Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Timor Leste.
- Observer Countries: China, Germany, Italy, Japan, Madagascar, Malaysia, Netherlands, Russia and Spain.
The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has signed agreement for upgradation of Yagyi – Kalewa section of highway in Myanmar to two lane with earthen shoulder. This project is part of India-Myanmar-Thailand (IMT) Trilateral Highway and will be NHAI’s first international project.
The project aims to provide seamless vehicular movement for enhancing trade, business, health, education and tourism between Indian, Myanmar and Thailand. It is being funded by Ministry of External Affairs, India and will be executed on Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) mode at a cost of Rs.1177 crores.
The project will have 3 new major bridges and 2 new minor bridges. Its existing 4 major bridges and 9 minor bridges will be repaired and strengthened and 6 existing minor bridges will be reconstructed. The Yagyi – Kalewa stretch will have 6 truck lay byes, 20 bus bays and passenger shelters and 1 rest area. The project will be executed and completed in three years.
India-Myanmar-Thailand (IMT) highway
The IMT Trilateral Highway is regional highway being constructed under India’s Act East policy to boost connectivity in the region. It will connect Moreh in India with Mae Sot, Thailand via Myanmar. The highway is expected to boost trade and commerce in ASEAN–India Free Trade Area, as well as with rest of Southeast Asia.
National Highways Authority of India (NHAI)
NHAI is an autonomous statutory agency of Central Government, responsible for management of network of over 70,000 km of national highways in India. It was established through NHAI Act, 1988. In February 1995, it was formally made an autonomous body. It is nodal agency of Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. It is responsible for the development, management, operation and maintenance of National Highways.