Mekong-Ganga Project and India’s involvement

Mekong-Ganga Cooperation (MGC) is an ambitious initiative of India along with Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. It was first launched in Vientiane, Lao PDR with the objective of cooperation on tourism, culture, education as well as transport and communications. Both Ganga and Mekong are important rivers and with the advent of this project, it aims to better the long-standing civilizational linkages between the people residing at these two major river basins. This region is very important for India’s ‘Act East Policy’ as this project will not only strengthen the ties between these countries but will also ensure seamless economic integration into the region. This project also aims at narrowing the development gap through digital connectivity and capacity building.  

The 12th Mekong-Ganga cooperation held on 3 September 2020, was held via video conference and was attended by senior officials of the 6 six countries and was co-chaired by Vijay Thakur Singh Secretary (East), Ministry of External Affairs and Mr Sok Soken, Under Secretary of State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Cambodia. [1] The remarkable role of India in the global arena can obviously be differentiated from both its diverse foreign policy orientation and a number of enterprises works in close collaboration with other nations. The then Indian Prime Minister, P.V.Narsimha Rao, launched a new chapter in the early nineties as the ‘Look-East Policy’ as a new model and strategy to conduct foreign affairs. The Look-East Policy reflects a strategic change in India’s outlook and India’s place in the quick an international economic forum. Since the start of the Program, India and ASEAN (Association of South-East Asian Nations) have embarked multiple bilateral, regional and sub-regional programs to further ensure meaning integration and collaboration on different platforms. Ganga-Mekong project is one of the many successful outcomes of such join endeavours.  It is worth noting that the growth of India’s Northeast Region is of paramount importance to India’s Look-East Policy in order to achieve far-reaching results. The Brahmaputra Valley is some of the crucial elements in making the Mekong-Ganga Cooperation Project work. If trade and commerce embellish throughout the region via Myanmar, India will gain momentum in the countries surrounding Mekong basins. India, despite many setbacks and disruption, is committed about the prospects of Mekong-Ganga Cooperation project and is optimistic about the efficiency of the underlying bonuses it may get with its continuation. Through these regional initiatives, India seeks to penetrate the ASEAN markets improving the shared commercial, transport and infrastructural, energy security and growth benefits. Some of the groundbreaking manoeuvres conducted by these six are the East-West Corridor initiative and the Trans-Asian highway to promote connectivity. Implementation of the projects undertaken and of other agreements is imperative for optimal project execution. Right exercise of Project Mekong-Ganga requires the use of existing and accessible natural resources with the motto to cater for the benefits of all, in every possible way in order to reduce the widening gap between the countries of other regions.

This project also aims at creating awareness and addressing the increasing disparities between the countries. It was to make the international community aware of it political determination and inclination to coagulate the dynamics of cooperation among the member countries. Values and expectations can unintentionally create conflicts. Hence the experts proposed emphasis on the numerous communication strategies to disseminate information and establish expertise (traditional and scientific), and a sense of responsibility between Mekong and Ganga inhabitants.

They may have to face a number of obstacles in their journey towards cooperation that hinder the magnitude of solidarity, but if mutual trust, confidence and understanding persist the dream of the Project’s founding fathers will certainly take on its proper form. Sustainable development and capacity building can be achieved with cooperative and enthusiastic gestures.

[1] 12th Mekong Ganga Cooperation Senior Officials’ Meeting. (2020). Retrieved 6 September 2020, from releases.htm?dtl/32933/12th+Mekong+Ganga+Cooperation+Senior+Officials+Meeting

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Kootneeti Team

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Simran Kothari

Simran Kothari is a Former Journalism Intern at The Kootneeti

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