The new geopolitical imagination set off by the new policy thinking envisages a space that apparently refuses to be bound by the present geography of the Northeast as much as it promises to spread across the international borders to the countries of Southeast Asia through such frontline states as Myanmar and Bangladesh. The extended Northeast as being officially imagined now has therefore a mnemonic effect insofar as it offers a significant cue to the alternative modalities of imagining the Northeast. The North-East of India is the bridge between two sub-regions of Asia - South Asia and South-East Asia. Both regions are in the midst of tremendous positive change, spurred by economic growth and development. For various reasons, the details of which you are well aware, we in India have so far to a large extent not been able to leverage the various opportunities that this sub-region of India offers for the well-being and prosperity of the people who live here. Amongst the opportunities we should seize are not only the geographical factor of being a bridgehead between South-Asia and South-East Asia, but also the natural and human resources of the Seven Sisters of the North-East.

Today's challenge is to harness these opportunities to ensure that growth and development does not bypass this region but passes by this region. It is encouraging to note in this context the role BIMSTEC and other regional initiatives are attempting to play in truly linking this region not only to other parts of India but beyond India. There has been growing realization on the part of Indian policy makers that development of physical connectivity with Southeast Asia is a prerequisite to fully harness the opportunities provided by 'Look East Policy'. In order to make the 'Look East Policy' relevant for the region, India has laid greater emphasis on enhancing connectivity through all the possible modes of infrastructure development such as land routes, railways, air connectivity, waterways, energy infrastructure development both in field of hydroelectric and hydrocarbon and telecommunication linkages.

As a result, India has initiated some bilateral projects and also become party to some multilateral projects, aimed at enhancing connectivity between the Northeast and Southeast Asia. In other words, with the paradigm shift from a state-centered approach to one of interdependence and global and regional cooperation, we have become all the more aware of the geo-economic potential of the North-Eastern region as a gateway to East and South-East Asia. This is a fact that by gradually integrating this region through cross-border market access, the North-Eastern states can become the bridge between the Indian economy and what is arguably the fastest growing and most dynamic region in the world.

Moreover, the strategic, political and economic importance of Northeast for India's Look East Policy cannot be overemphasized. It not only provides an opportunity to consolidate India's relations with the near South East Asian Countries, but it also holds immense potential for trade expansion and regional development for the North East of India within the framework of BIMSTEC, Mekong Ganga Project, K2K, and other initiatives. It has been often claimed that South East Asia begins in the North East of India. Geo-strategically North East India is therefore integral to the BIMSTEC initiative. As the current phase of 2 India's Look East Policy seeks to entrench as well as diversify India's relations with the countries of East Asia, considerable attention needs to be paid to channelise the political-economic benefits towards the North Eastern Region. In this context, this conference seeks to investigate the opportunities for North East India within the Look East Policy framework.

Broad areas that will be covered are: a) Trade & Investment b) Tourism c) Transport & Communication, d) Technology, e) Energy, f) Fisheries g) Agriculture h) Protection of Biodiversity/ Environment and Natural Disaster Management i) Public Health j) Culture k)Poverty Alleviation l)People to People Contact m)Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crimes

The break-up of the sessions are as follows:

Technical Session I: Northeast in India's Foreign Policy
Technical Session II: BIMSTEC as a part of India's Look East Policy
Technical Session III: NE India's Economic Development in the Context of Regional Agreements
Technical Session IV: India's NE and ASEAN
Technical Session V: Challenges and Issues in Expanding NER-BIMSTEC and ASEAN
Technical Session VI: Development and Export Oriented Industries in NE India
Technical Session VII: Possibilities in Agribusiness and Fisheries
Technical Session VIII: People to People Contacts: India, Bangladesh and Myanmar