We Must Think Big
“We must think big”
General V.K Singh
General (Dr.) Vijay Kumar Singh, the suave army man turned politician is theMinister of State for External Affairs, Minister of state (independent charge) for Northeast Region and Minister of state for overseas Indian Affairs. The general renowned for his professionalism dynamism is expected to reintegrate the ministries under his charge Renu Malhotra in candid conversation…
After taking over as MOS for external affairs, what are your core priorities? Foreign policies, I’m convinced should be effectively drafted with a focus on longevity and outcomes. We are as yet taking stock and assessing our priorities. I’m in charge ofAfrica, large parts ofAsia, Europe, and LatinAmerica. The area is vast and my office is carefully drafting a methodology for greater and
effective engagement in the national and international interests. Both Africa and Latin America have immense potential which India can harness. If we miss this opportunity, we will lose it. India can become a regional hub to the world opens up to large markets of Asia. Think Big! Africa is a land of untapped opportunity. How is India gearing its relations with Africa? Africa is certainly land of opportunities; It is an area, if nurtured properly, can reap good dividends. It has got natural resources and great investment opportunities for our people. We have had very friendly relations with Africa because of Indian Diaspora and therefore there is a need for us to look at it. Differently from what we have been doing in last ten to 12 years. There are many African countries where we don’t have our diplomatic consulates. I want to push Indo-African relations to greater heights and ensure equal participation of all nations – big or small. China is formidable competitor to India in many of the worldmarkets? Comment.
China thinks 100 years ahead, but we think 5 years ahead. We have not been able to synergise with changing times.We need
to simplify our bureaucratic procedures for easy and fast access to governmental assistance. There is an urgent demand from Indian Diaspora for dual citizenship. Do you think your ministry will consider doing so? My ministry will certainly consider this but we need to get proper feedback and we too need to change our bureaucratic way of dealing with people. At present, we give them PIO and NRI status. Dual citizenship for Indian Diaspora will need to be discussed. Besides foreign affairs, you are also Minister for Northeast India. How do you propose to make Northeast a peaceful and progressive region? I understand the problem of Northeast People. Northeast is a priority area about which BJP is concerned.Abetter investment plan in Northeast and SoutheastAsia region is urgently needed. We are planning to increase our connectivity of Northeast India with Southeast Asia and Indian mainland. How do we market Northeast and truly implement look east policy in a manner in which we can make Northeast India as the business hub. It can be an organic hub for the whole world; there is so much of potential in terms of herbs and varied agricultural products etc. Northeast is rich with a variety of fruits therefore; food processing could be very lucrative industry. The challenge is in setting up cold chains so that you can preserve the fruit. Challenge is in ensuring that it can be marketed successfully. I want to ensure that no fruit is wasted out there. We want to promote MSMEs inNortheast because setting up of any large scale industry is replete with problems of capital, land and environmental norms. It ismuch better to have a small scale industry where enterprises can interact, and they can be subject to appropriate training. We are trying to see if Northeast can become an area where electronics can be manufactured. I am trying to look at setting up a BPO centre.Already NASSCOM has suggested seven sites across Northeast. Many North Eastern boys and girls are working in Mumbai, Chennai and
Delhi, that is far away from their homes.We want to bring them back home to gainful employment. Northeast is largely backward due to rising terrorism? Howare you conceiving the progress in this region? Yes, I agreeNortheast India is subject to incidents of terrorism. But these are not uniform. If you takeArunachal Pradesh, there is no problem. The clashes are between two groups in most Northeast states. They are trying to influence the local which affects politics and, initiates extortion politics. In Nagaland,
you have a terrorist group involved in extortion. There is a parallel economy that is running there. Some people tell me
that the extortion money gets deducted by the group at the bank level.Yes, that is a serious problem. Industry will be subject to
certain amount of extortion money. In Nagaland, talks are going on to solve the problem of terrorism. As far as Manipur is concerned, we have to change our way of holding talks with them. Right from 1947 Manipur is in collective state of depression and the reason is very simple – there was a princely state which opted to be part of India. The centre never granted a state to them. How can you have such a whimsical system? Most of the problems in India are governance related. There are socio economic problems, and they have not been solved. Manipur’s connectivity was earlier through Bangladesh; you have not done anything to increase that connectivity. In Mizoram there is no problem of groups, same is in Tripura. In Assam there are two rival groups that are bleeding the state.