The Asean-India car rally passes through Nagaon district after arriving in Assam on Sunday. Picture by UB Photos
Guwahati, Dec. 16: Hope for improved connectivity and stronger business ties between India and Asean countries rolled in on wheels in the form of a convoy of 31 cars carrying 124 participants of the Asean-India Car Rally 2012 to a rousing welcome here this evening.
Alighting from his car at the Sarusajai sports complex here today, Gilbert Yip Chao, a participant from Phillipines told The Telegraph, “We have come to the end of the long rally but it can be a new beginning for India and the Asean countries to further improve their relations. During the rally, we realised that India and the Asean countries can reap much benefits as we already have road connectivity and people can travel from one country to the other by road.”
Chao hoped that apart from other business sectors, tourism in India would be more beneficial and people from Asean countries would visit India, including the Northeast.
“We visited all the World Heritage Sites of Unesco we came across during the rally and we will also visit the Taj Mahal in Delhi. We were overwhelmed by the warm welcome at Kohima and here too,” he said.
The Asean-India Car Rally 2012, jointly organised by the ministry of external affairs and Confederation of Indian Industry, began on November 26 at Yogyakarta in Indonesia with a flag-off at Singapore. It will be flagged down here tomorrow. It traversed about 8,000km across nine countries during the last 22 days.
The participants, who entered Nagaland from Manipur last night, were accorded a formal reception at a hotel in Kohima and were presented with mementos. Nagaland agriculture minister Chumben Murry flagged off the rally this morning.
Murry lauded the efforts of the Centre to create more avenues for the people of the region. He said once the Northeast was connected with Asean nations, the economy of states like Nagaland would boom.
Throughout its journey through Assam today, the participants were greeted by young children dressed in colourful attires lining up on both sides of the road. The convoy stopped at Numaligarh refinery for lunch.
The Sarusajai sports complex was decked up with flags of all Asean countries and banners welcoming the participants.
A colourful cultural programme has been lined up for the flag-down ceremony tomorrow.
The eight-member team from Thailand was all praise for the arrangements in Manipur, Nagaland and Guwahati.
A co-driver from Thailand, Visut Sukosi, said the colourful cultures of all Asean countries and India were assets that could be used to boost mutual relations.
Tarun Vijay, Rajya Sabha MP and an avid adventurer who was nominated to lead Team India in the rally, told The Telegraph that the Northeast would surpass north India in prosperity once the Asian highway opened up and connectivity was available to Southeast Asia and East Asia. “The Northeast has great potential to be the economic hub through more interaction with Southeast and East Asian countries.”
He said the rally, with participants from 11 countries, was a milestone towards achieving that aim. “I feel proud to lead India at this historic moment,” he added.
Vijay lauded the Look East policy and said there was consensus in Indian politics about the policy.