India’s North Eastern Region [NER] is a strategically important part of Eastern South Asia. Sharing borders with as many as five countries, and connected by a mere twelve kilometres corridor with the rest of India. Security has been the primary consideration that has driven the entire narrative of the region since 1947. After the fall of East Pakistan while the intense feeling of insecurity witnessed in the 1960s has diminished, the unresolved Sino-India border dispute along with an assertive China has increased security concerns which have held up the development of the NER. Issues such as illegal migration from Bangladesh, and the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar, have also heightened perceptions of security deficit in this region. The presence of several insurgent outfits in the region where they enjoyed safe havens across borders has also resulted in the borders of the region becoming over securitised and consequently underdeveloped. Insurgency is also used as a cover for a range of illicit activities ranging from forced rent seeking, arms trade, and drug trafficking all contributing to underdevelopment. Since the formulation of the government’s ‘Look East’ and later rechristened ‘Act East’ Policy, there has been a gradual shift in the security paradigm of the region. Past security considerations had prompted the idea of ‘keep the region isolated’ are now been recalibrated to ‘engage with neighbors’—a paradigm that considers leveraging foreign policy as a vital tool towards domestic security and development.
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