Deputy Chief Minister, Chowna Mein attended the seminar on the “Role of Tai Community on the Act East Policy & their impact on the Social, Cultural, Linguistic and Economic Corridor across the border” organised on the Silver Jubilee celebration of Me-Dam-Me-Phi festival here on Thursday.
Lauding the organizers for organizing a meaningful discourse through the seminar, Mein said that ‘Act East Policy of Govt of India would be a game changer for the NE states of India vis-à-vis the ASEAN countries.’
He said that the Tai Community residing in North Eastern States of India can act as a bridge between India and ASEAN nations because of the cultural similarities, food habits and dialects/language it shares with the people across the borders.
“Cultural similarity between the people of ASEAN countries and North East India should become the fulcrum of our friendship and the bedrock of all our policies – both diplomatic and economic,” added Mein.
Chowna Mein has urged the Centre to consider re – opening the Stilwell Road upto Kunming in China. The people living across the international boundaries of India and Myanmar have common cultural ties, and it would act as catalyst for cross border trade, added Mein.
The historic Stilwell Road or Ledo Road that was constructed during the World War II starts from Ledo in Assam, passing through Pangsau Pass (Nampong) in Arunachal Pradesh and leads up to Kunming in China through Myanmar passing through many important towns in Myanmar.
He said that it is high time we should give paramount importance to re- opening of the Stilwell road and emphasis be given on priority for restoration of this road by both the countries, India and Myanmar as it would be mutually beneficial for both sides. The road would further deepen the age old cultural linkage and help promote spiritual tourism.
Saying that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has put development of Northeast region at the heart of the Act East Policy which has greatly increased people to people contact, trade and other relations with the ASEAN countries, Mein in his speech elaborated on the positional advantage of the region to become the new growth hub of trade, tourism and cultural exchange taking advantage of international boundary NE regions shares with neighbouring countries.
Mein also raised the issue related to assistance for proper development of the border areas which he said was a national responsibility.
While extending his greetings to Tai Ahom community on the occasion of Me-Dam-Me-Phi, Mein urged upon the younger generation to carry forward the legacy of forefather so that their traditional value and cultural relation and diversity remain intact.
He called for preservation and promotion of the ancient traditions of Me-Dam-Me-Phi which is unique and by far the most important festival of the Ahom community.
Mein also opined for all Tai community to come under one bigger umbrella to unite for preservation of age old Tai culture and tradition.
Mein stated that Khamtis and Ahoms has deep historical bonding and are of the same race whose histories are recorded as old as from the 11th century (1228-1826) tracing from the Ahom Dynasty.
“It is high time that we discuss more flexibly the crisis and complexities of the past history(s) in a hope to divulge the dots and connect the threads – the threads of our ancestral descendants and roots, that uncovers in the different geo-political spaces of Tai/Thai races across the Asian continent,” said Mein.
He added that though the Tai of several groups are diversely spread across two states in India, yet we can all agree that the roots of sharing the commonality in languages, history, art and culture are closely affiliated and diasporic.
He hoped that the festival will spread the message of unity, brotherhood and mutual understanding among the new generations.
Other highlights of the event included colorful cultural presentations from the Tai Khamti and Tai Ahom communities of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam.