Initially circumspect about going too fast on the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) forum, India now appears to be strongly pitching for the development corridor connecting the country with China through Bangladesh and Myanmar.

“The BCIM is the point where the markets of China join with those of South Asia and Southeast Asia. This sub-region is isolated from the world market and largescale investments in infrastructure is needed to change that,” K. Nagraj Naidu, who heads the division on investment and technology promotion in the Indian external affairs ministry, said on Tuesday at the Kolkata-to-Kunming (K2K) Forum’s 11th annual conference here.

“A more interconnected region will not only be a driver for economic growth but also a harbinger of regional peace and stability,” Naidu said to huge applause by Chinese and Indian delegates.

Naidu said the BCIM and K2K visions fitted squarely in India’s “Act East” policy that sought to connect the country through the remote northeast region to Southeast and East Asia.

He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already emphasised on regional diplomacy to connect to the immediate and larger neighbourhood.

As part of the ‘Act East’ policy, he said the Modi government has sanctioned 11 projects that would cost the national exchequer $1.5 million.

To connect all capitals of the northeastern states by rail by 2020 was part of this plan, he said.

“The eastern and northeastern states are at the heart of the BCIM and K2K processes. Our connectivity plans with Bangladesh and Myanmar are all part of the Act East policy,” said Naidu, who served as consul general in China’s Guangzhou city before.

Naidu said the state governments of east and northeast India must capitalise on the opportunities created by the ‘Act East’ policy and the transnational connectivity now being developed.

“These states, specially West Bengal, must explore export opportunities in Myanmar, Bangladesh and specially China to develop their economies. That will all add up to national growth,” he said.

West Bengal’s Tourism Minister Bratya Basu said the state government was looking for Chinese investments.

“We are welcoming Chinese investors to invest in manufacturing. We are also looking at developing tourism between China and India on the K2K axis by exploiting historical links in contemporary conditions,” Basu said.

K2K secretary general Binoda Mishra said China was, at the moment, the “only viable source of investment” for the eastern and northeastern states.