President Pratibha Patil on Thursday asked the north-eastern states to put their best efforts to be a part of the Indian growth story by harnessing their potentials, particularly through the Centre’s ‘Look East’ policy.

Insisting that the NE states must strive to be a part of inclusive growth promoted by the government, Ms. Patil said the ’Look East Policy’ provides great opportunity for growth and development in the region for its close proximity to south-east Asian countries.

She was addressing a gathering at a public reception from the Nagaland government at Naga Heritage Village, Kisama near here on her maiden two-day visit to the state.

“I am pleased that the north-eastern region is pursuing ‘Vision 2020’ for its development and also has a regional council. Moreover, this region stands strategically at the door step of the nations of south east Asia and can play a crucial role in the development of our Look East policy. This will also provide economic benefits to Nagaland,” she said.

An increased connectivity with countries to the east of India would open the scope for investment and tourism, including eco and cultural tourism, in the NE states, a sector which has not really so far performed to its potential.

Stating that the Naga hospitality and the beauty of the hill state had a lasting impression on her, the President said, “Today India is counted amongst one of the major economies of the world, and our objective is to have high economic growth rate and to have an inclusive growth process“.

Measures that promote inclusiveness are very important for a country as large as India, so the growth must reach all sections of society and all regions of the country, she said.

The President said accelerated development of the NE region, which has contributed much to richness of the nation, is fundamental for the country’s economic rise.

Ms. Patil also insisted on investment in human resources development and capacity building of the people under the changed scenario and new paradigm of development.

Chief Minister Neiphu Rio urged her to persuade the Centre to expedite the ongoing Naga peace talks to find a lasting settlement to the decades-old political conflict at the earliest, saying the unresolved Naga issue has an adverse impact on the growth and development of the state.

He also expressed regret over slow pace of implementation of the much-touted ‘Look East policy’ and asked the Centre to make a renewed effort to realise the potential of the policy at ground level in the region.

Governor Nikhil Kumar said although Nagaland had a troubled past, now both the state government and the civil society were making serious endeavours to be part of the Indian growth story.

The President later left for Imphal on a two-day visit to the neighbouring Manipur.

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