Act East Policy Current Affairs - 2020

Indian Railways: North East State capitals linking, Act East policy and Electrification

Government of India has planned to link the capitals of North Eastern States with rail connectivity. This plan, however, does not include Sikkim. The capitals of Assam, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh are already connected through Broad Gauge rail network.

Along with this several other initiatives are being upgraded by the Indian Railways

Action Plan to Electrifying Broad Gauges

The Ministry of Railways has created a new action plan to electrify 37,237 km of broad-gauge routes. This is 57.91% of total railway network in India. The commissioning of the rail lines has been completed and the works are to begin shortly. The details were given by Minister of Railways in his written reply to Lok Sabha.

The Government of India has set target of 100% electrification of the railways in 10 years. It was announced in August 2019.

Act East Policy and Railways

To boost trade and investment with South East Asia through North Eastern region, India has taken up railway projects with Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Nepal. Currently, there are two rail connectivity projects connecting Indian cities Jogbani and Jayanagar with Nepal cities Biratnagar and Bardibas respectively. In Bangladesh there are two ongoing projects that connects Agartala with Akhuara and Hadibari with Chilhati.

There are no ongoing railway projects with Myanmar and Bhutan.

Adarsh Railway Station

The Adarsh Railway Station scheme was started in 2009-10 to modernize railway stations. So far, 1253 stations have been developed under the scheme. The scheme intends to provide developmental activities that include retiring room, station building, waiting room for ladies, toilets, parking areas, foot over bridges, etc.

There are no separate funds allocated to the scheme. The works are carried out under Passenger Amenities plans.

India hosts World Customs Organization RCP meeting of Asia Pacific

India hosted the World Customs Organization (WCO) Asia Pacific Regional Contact Points (RCP) that was held for 3 three days on Puducherry. The conference is being held for the fourth time in India. Previously it was held in Jaipur and Cochin.

Highlights

  • International Organizations like UNCTAD, Global Alliance on Trade Facilitation (GATF) participated in the conference. They presented the best practices that are involved in customs procedures.
  • The conference also discussed about the key focus areas of the Asia Pacific Region. It includes security, enforcement, facilitation and capacity building.

World Customs Organization

  • The World Customs Organization is an inter-governmental Organization that is involved in setting up principles and standards especially for cross border procedures and customs.
  • The headquarters of WCO is located in Brussels.
  • The Organization has divided the world into 6 regions to make the rules across borders of these regions easier.
  • India is a member of the organization.

Significance

  • The Asia Pacific accounts to 37% of the world’s GDP.
  • Also, the region is important for India as it is trying to increase its trade and investment in the region. India is achieving this through its Act East Policy.
  • The development of North East Region is also linked with India’s interests in Asia Pacific. India is finding markets in the region for the export of goods from North East.
  • It is also essential for India to increase its presence in the region as China has larger interests in the region especially in the markets of the region.