Back to 2012

I just had a harrowing experience: my phone went dead… for FIVE DAYS!

It all began one fine day when I had the sudden urge to change the ROM of my phone.

My relationship with my phone began in January 2012. It’s a Samsung GT S5360. For all those noobs out there, it’s a Samsung Galaxy Y (or Young), one of the early smartphones. But don’t be too quick to judge the phone. In its heyday, it was THE phone.

Anyways, I began to use the phone. Due to the limited internal space, I had to ‘root’ the phone so that I can have superuser status over it. The rooting part was easy, and there was no problem. I used it for three more years without having any issues. The ‘net speed was good, it is a reliable little phone.

Then, I decided to change the ROM. A friend who had a phone just like me had changed the ROM. I also wanted to have the sleek style and look-feel of the phone. And so, we flashed a recovery and the new ROM. Sorry to disappoint, it all went smoothly. I had a new ROM (Cyanogen mod or something like that), upgraded from Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) to 4.2 (Kitkat). For the next few months, I used it. Then, I wanted more…

I downloaded several recovery mods, kernels and beautiful ROMs and began experimenting them with my phone. I then experimented with Hyperion 9, then with Meego UI, CD Future 8.2 and others. They were nice ones. I experimented with Lillipop, Kitkat, Jellybread and so on. CD Future was the best. But then I realized that though the internet was working fine, I could not make phone calls. I flashed and re-flashed more ROMs the next few days.

Then, on that fateful day, I flashed the wrong recovery (meant for another phone). Now I had flashed one too many ROMs. The phone that I had been with was no longer under my control. I could not mount the system, could not format the system and could not start it anymore. It got stuck in the Samsung Logo for eons. The harrowing experience had begun.

Borrowing my wife’s phone, I scoured and scrounged the net to see what happened to my poor old phone. I began to realize that it had been ‘bricked,’ soft bricked to be precise. I followed all the tutorials that were prescribed for bricked phones, but to no avail. I flashed even more recovery mods. Over the next four days, I tried connecting my phone via USB to my PC. But the PC wouldn’t detect my phone (It’s dead, how can it be detected?). I tried connecting in Odin mode, but failed miserably. I waited for hours to see if my phone gets detected. Meanwhile, I had downloaded this and that file from websites here and there and used up ridiculous amount of money to download these things. Some of those that I downloaded were: S5360_DDMD1_ODDMD1_DDMD1_wipe_by_SplitFUS2, Samsung USB drivers, Samsung Kies, Odin (all versions) and many more CWMs.

Still, my PC couldn’t detect my phone. I tried using other laptops, even a Mac Book (where I installed Heimdall or something). I changed my USB wire, used different USB ports and continued to fail and I gave up… for a few hours. Thinking that there might be people who would want to know whatever had happened to me, I took out my SIM card and tried to insert it into my wife’s phone (which had two SIM card slots). But unfortunately, her phone required a micro SIM card. Then, I decided to cut the SIM card mesself with a scissor. I did just that. But alas! The teeny weenie copper points on the second SIM card slot were broken. What a bad day! Now I am left with a phone that refuses to start, and a SIM card that cannot be inserted. I tried repairing the SIM card slot with some wires, but still couldn’t make it to work.

A day passes by… and the night also passes by. During the night, I had a dream (No, not like Marthin Luther Jr’s). In my dream, I tried the odin mode of downloading the stock kernel and firmware and succeeded, thrice. I woke up to realize that it was just a dream, and may never come true.

January 11, 2016 toiled on. In the evening, I began to tinker with the phone. Realising that this is an old phone, I cleaned the phone, especially the part where you charge and insert the USB wire. My my, it was filled with pieces of the earth and tiny pieces of wood. While cleaning it, I told my wife, “Hieng dam hi ka ring vel ta mei mei a nih – Now I am pinning the whole thing on this.” But after cleaning it up, I entered into Odin Mode in my Samsung phone, connected the USB wire to my PC, opened Samsung Kies and Odin3 1.85 and Odin 3.07. Something happened. The PC told me that it is installing a Samsung CDC USB Driver. But then, the install failed. I tried reinstalling that failed driver by pointing it to the Samsung Kies folder, turned off the phone and boot it into Odin Mode again. Then the miracle happened. Odin detected my phone and so does Kies. I didn’t shout ‘Halleluiah” but I almost did.

Choosing Odin3 1.85, I installed the Samsung Stock ROM (the original software that came with the phone). It took less than five minutes to install it from my PC. Then, the phone restarted, just like it did when I bought it in 2012. Now I am back to 2012, no more new ROMS, just the original apps.

I’ve so far installed several apps that I use every day. The internal space is getting low. I need more apps. I’ve ‘rooted’ the phone once again.

One big hurdle over. Another one begins. How am I supposed to insert my SIM into my phone. I had it cut up, and had somehow spoilt it. I had cut a little too much. Using another SIM that no longer works, I cut a hole just enough to fit my main SIM card into it, glued it to it and then tried inserting it. But noooo, the phone cannot detect it. Now, the SIM card is gone, and for nothing. I didn’t know what to do, so I went to the shop to order a new SIM with a new number.

The next day, that is today, I played with the SIM card, made some adjustments on the edges and somehow managed to bring it back to life. Whew! But the order for a new SIM card has been placed and what am I going to do with a new SIM Card?

Now, I have named my phone as “Old Faithful 2.” What is Old Faithful 1? That’s another story.

PS: If anyone needs help resuscitating their old Android phone from being bricked, I think I can help now.

Back to 2012

Fishing and Movies

Don’t get me wrong. I still love to fish. The saying, “If I am not fishing, I am thinking of it,” is true! To me, a day well spent depends on whether I am fishing or not.

I love watching movies too. During the small gaps between my ‘fishing thoughts’ and other thoughts, I sometimes watch movies.

But having to leave all my fishing gear and my favourite fishing spot for a whole year was quite tough. But I did, and I survived; and I am going back home, to my fishes.

This survival depends mostly on redirecting my thoughts and time to movies, if you ask me. It’s not that watching movies has become a new passion (what a scary thought!). Noooo, I am simply adjusting and adapting to my new environment where there is no time, place and gear to fish.

And so, from June 2014, I began. At first, I didn’t think of recording those that I have seen. But after a couple of months, as the storylines, titles, actors and scenes began to mesh together in my mind, I started recording the titles just for the sake of it. I might have forgotten to record a few, but I think most of them are here. They range from the most pathetic and ridiculous to the best anyone can ever produce.

June 2014 to December 2014

  1. Pirates of the Caribbean
  2. POC: Dead Man’s Chest
  3. POC: At World’s End
  4. POC: On Stranger Tide
  5. Transformers 4 Age of Extinction
  6. Mission Impossible 1
  7. MI2
  8. MI3
  9. MI4
  10. Forbidden Ground
  11. Dead man down
  12. Oblivion
  13. Frozen
  14. Once upon a time in Shanghai
  15. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
  16. Heaven is for real
  17. Elysium
  18. GI Joe: Rise of the Cobra
  19. The Amazing Spiderman
  20. The Edge of Tomorrow
  21. Stalingrad
  22. Enemy Closer
  23. Hamilton: In the interest of the nation
  24. Pompeii
  25. Noah
  26. The expendables 3
  27. Lockout
  28. Mind Hunters
  29. Captain Philips
  30. The East
  31. The Great Raid
  32. The Patrol
  33. The Brass Teapot
  34. The colony
  35. How to train your dragon 1
  36. How to train your dragon 2 (Cinema)
  37. Red Heat 2
  38. World War Z
  39. The wolf of wall street
  40. Drive Angry
  41. El Gringo
  42. Winter’s Tale
  43. The Raven
  44. The Legendary tomb of the dragon
  45. The reluctant fundamentalist
  46. The Physician
  47. The Machine
  48. Thor: The dark World
  49. Boys of Abu Ghraib
  50. Combustion
  51. Extraction
  52. Home front
  53. Hours
  54. John Rabe
  55. No One Lives
  56. Robocop (2014)
  57. Epic
  58. 5 days of war
  59. Tokarev
  60. A Beautiful Mind
  61. Centurion
  62. The Reaping
  63. Parker
  64. The Frozen Ground
  65. Non-Stop
  66. The princess and her warriors
  67. Prisoners
  68. Transcendence
  69. Unknown
  70. God’s not dead
  71. 47 Ronin
  72. Twilight 1
  73. Twilight 2
  74. Twilight 3
  75. Twilight 4
  76. Twilight 5
  77. Gaddafi: Our Best Enemy (Documentary)
  78. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
  79. Jarhead 2: Field of fire
  80. X-Men Origins: Wolverine
  81. X-Men: First Class
  82. The Proposal
  83. Maleficent
  84. Mary Kom (Cinema)
  85. Safe Haven
  86. The Possession
  87. The Escapist
  88. Young Detective Dee: Rise of the sea dragon
  89. The Conjuring
  90. Jungle Child
  91. Rurouni Kenshin
  92. Gallowwalkers
  93. The Legend of Hercules
  94. Godzilla (2014)
  95. The Raid 2
  96. Scenic Route
  97. Cold Eyes (Korean, eugh!)
  98. Birth of Israel (Docu)
  99. Lone Survivor
  100. Divergent
  101. Lincoln
  102. 12 years a slave
  103. The prince
  104. The Godfather 1
  105. The Godfather 2
  106. The Godfather 3
  107. Dead Mine
  108. The White Storm (Chinese)
  109. Lucy
  110. Emperor
  111. The Double
  112. The November Man
  113. The Nut Job
  114. Annabelle
  115. Rango
  116. Coriolanus
  117. Puss in Boots
  118. Killer Elite
  119. Escape from Planet Earth
  120. Hercules (2014)
  121. Quick Gun Murugun
  122. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  123. Deliver us from evil
  124. Megamind
  125. Back to the Future 1
  126. Back to the Future 2
  127. Back to the Future 3
  128. Warrior
  129. Sabotage
  130. A most wanted man
  131. A million ways to die in the west
  132. Falcon Rising
  133. Automata
  134. Babylon AD
  135. Guardians of the Galaxy
  136. Empire of the Wolves
  137. Sniper: Legacy
  138. Snowpiercer
  139. Dracula Untold
  140. Jinn
  141. The Cross and the Switchblade
  142. Battle Los Angeles
  143. Riddick
  144. Getaway
  145. Sex Tape
  146. Jamesy Boy
  147. Gravity
  148. Let’s Play Cops
  149. Playing it Cool
  150. Fury
  151. The Maze Runner
  152. In the Blood
  153. When the game stands tall
  154. The theory of everything
  155. Safe House
  156. Left behind
  157. Predestination
  158. Public Enemies
  159. The outsider
  160. Dying of the light
  161. A good day to die hard
  162. 3 days to kill
  163. Seeking Justice
  164. Young ones
  165. Tormented
  166. Collateral
  167. Pathfinder

From 2015 till 19 April 2015

  1. If I stay (eugh!)
  2. 1612
  3. The Calling
  4. Stonehearst Asylum
  5. The Salvation
  6. Iron Clad
  7. The Snow Walker
  8. Bullet
  9. The Thing
  10. Kingdom of Heaven
  11. Outlaw Prophet: Warren Jeffs
  12. Broken City
  13. The Lucky One
  14. The Hornet’s Nest
  15. Reclaim
  16. Run like hell (what a horrible movie!)
  17. Penguins of Madagascar
  18. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  19. American Sniper
  20. Stretch
  21. Wolfhound
  22. Dumb and Dumber to
  23. John Wick
  24. Jessabelle
  25. Scorpion King: Quest for power
  26. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
  27. The Dark Valley
  28. Oba: The last samurai
  29. Kungfu Jungle
  30. Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring
  31. Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
  32. Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
  33. Outcast
  34. The monuments men
  35. The Berlin File
  36. American Heist
  37. X-Men: Days of future past
  38. Taken 3
  39. The Flash
  40. The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug
  41. Savages
  42. ‘71
  43. Bhopal: Prayer for Rain
  44. Beneath Hill 60
  45. District 13: Ultimatum
  46. Kite
  47. Plastic
  48. Unbroken
  49. Out of the furnace
  50. The Purge: Anarchy
  51. Houdini
  52. Silent Night (2002)
  53. The Guvnors
  54. Wild Card
  55. Cat 8
  56. Joyeux Noel
  57. Nightcrawler
  58. Shinobi: Heart under blade
  59. The Best of Me
  60. Assassin (2014)
  61. Allies
  62. The Hobbit: The battle of the 5 armies
  63. Tracers
  64. Daredevil
  65. Texas Killing Fields
  66. Switch (Chinese)
  67. Tomorrow when the war began
  68. Taken 1
  69. Taken 2
  70. Serena
  71. Forrest Gump
  72. Jack the giant slayer
  73. Snow White and the huntsman
  74. The Call
  75. Black Sea
  76. War of the arrows
  77. Dragon Blade
  78. The hunger games: Mockingjay
  79. Fast and Furious 7
  80. Last Knights
  81. Seventh Son
  82. Focus
  83. Interstellar
  84. The water diviner
  85. Exodus: Gods and kings

Well, that’s it. I am an action/sci-fi movie fan. On my ‘to watch list’ are still the following:

  1. The Terminator, the full series (Haven’t seen them? Nawww, I’ve probably seen them at least 20 times, but as I haven’t seen them for a whole year, I’m thinking of watching the whole series again)
  2. The Star Wars, the full series, not just the Triology and the Prequels (seen them too)
  3. Band of brothers mini-series, all the eleven parts (seen them 3 times before)

Wish me luck!

Fishing and Movies

An eventful year (so far)

When was my last blog update? Hmmm…. ah, errr, ummmm….

Waitaminit! I can just visit my blog and see the post (darn the slow processor up there!).

Well, it has been two years, 10th April, 2012 to be exact! The last post was about Abraham and some old fellow. Heh heh.

Just like him, I am now married, and I am about to undergo a most heartbreaking journey of my life. But let’s start at the beginning.

January 6, 2014: Went fishing. Caught a couple of pencil-sized fishes.

January 8, 2014: Got married.

A new life, a new chapter began from that day on. I know that I am supposed to add some photos of the wedding day. I don’t know how to do it right now. But I will try it later, when I am finished with this post. And, if I forget to delete these sentences after uploading the pictures, just remember that I have a slow processor up there.

The preparation was the most hectic part. The customary practices eventually made me feel like an item that was to be sold. My opinion was neither needed nor taken into account. All decisions were made by the relatives whom I haven’t even met.

At least, they didn’t marry me to another person. I’m really thankful for that.

To cut a long story short, I got married!

How is married life? Well, it’s different from being single. Hah.

For example:

1. You need to get your passport properly stamped before you can go out of the house. The visa, of course, expires within an hour.
2. If you plan to go fishing on Saturday, you have to start buttering the certain someone from Monday.
3. You need to take a bath everyday (brrrrr) and wash your feet every time you go to bed.
4. There must always be enough water in the bathroom.
5. All your phone calls are recorded and analysed; your internet activity carefully monitored. In a sentence: the FBI is watching you.
6. I didn’t have any doctor’s phone number before. Now, I do.
7. Clothes must be clean and ironed.

The list could go on… But, as you can see from number 5, I have to be careful.

On the other hand, it is said that you can also live like a king too. But I still haven’t quite mastered that art so far.

Moving on…

A painful journey ahead: Now, I am about to leave home.

Why? I have to be there at Pune, Maharashtra, India.

Why? To study Bachelor of Divinity (BD).

Why? Ahh, too may whys. Lemme explain: I started working in the Independent Church of India in January 2012. After being in the Headquarters for a little over two years, the Executive Council of the Church decided that I should go for further studies. On the last week of January 2014, I went to Dimapur to give the entrance examination and attend the interview. In a few weeks, I heard the news that I was selected for admission. And so, here I am preparing to leave…

Flight tickets are for May 29, 2014. Would reach Pune on the same day.

Classes would begin on June 9, 2014.

The BD course would be over in 2018. That’s four years!

What is so heartbreaking about that? Well, I have to leave home; leave my aged father behind (he’s 77), all alone. So far, I haven’t had the courage to even think about it.

I will be missing my father, home and friends. I will, of course, miss my favourite fishing spot too.

An eventful year so far!

An eventful year (so far)

Far away from meeting Abraham

My brother recently updated his blog (ruolngulworld.wordpress.com) with the title “Meeting Abraham”. This update inspired me to update mine with this current title in order to clarify a few things about me. Hehe.

He’s my brother all right, but he’s way ahead of me in years. Clarification number one. You see, Adam lived for more than nine hundred years. His firstborn and the son born to him when he was, say, 600 years old were not of the same age, though they were brothers. I’m not insinuating that we are 500 years apart, but there’s the thing. At this moment of time, I’ll probably need a telescope (the kind used by astronomers) to see a microscopic image of Abraham.

He’s married. I’m not. Clarification number two. Married men feel old very soon.

He feels hot easily because the threadlike structures on the head of human beings are becoming less in numbers for him. What happens to people such as these? They are nearing Abraham. Clarification number three.

What does all these mean?

Firstly, it means that I’m still very young.

Secondly, (ahem!) this is good news for the girls. Psst, my phone number is…. my Gtalk ID is… my FB profile is…

Thirdly, I can style my hair as you like it.

Fourthly, uh oh… I need time to think. I think I’m also getting old, I can’t think as fast as I need to.

Is that Abraham? That moustache, that balding hair… Father Abraham! Am I seeing you? Am I meeting you? Already?

Uh oh, no, not yet, that’s not Abraham yet. That’s my brother. I am proud of him.

Far away from meeting Abraham

India-ASEAN FTA: Implications for India’s Northeast

September 2008

ABSTRACT
Expectations run high after the successful conclusion of the India-ASEAN FTA negotiations that had been dragging on for years. Considering the total population of India and the ASEAN countries, the volume of trade between them, the enormity of their GDP and the imagined potentialities, this FTA could certainly be a major agreement between two emerging Asian economic powerhouses. But what happens to the long-neglected India’s Northeastern states in the wake of such an important agreement? What are the prerequisites needed to accentuate this important FTA in relation to these Indian states? Will this region benefit much from it since it shared a 1643 km long border with Myanmar? Or will it be yet another hyperbole judging by the past agreements, plans and proposals for development, progress, trade and investments that had conveniently eluded these states? This paper investigates the AIFTA and the circumstances related to its conclusion and delve into the implications it could have on the north eastern states of India. The paper surmises that unless the whole economic, political and security structure and the whole network of transport and communication facilities are rethought, revamped and redeveloped, this FTA will become just another statistics for the people of India’s Northeast.

Introduction
India and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have concluded negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) after years of difficult negotiations. This agreement will be signed into a treaty at the India-ASEAN Summit to be held in Bangkok on December 2008 and will come into force from January 1, 2009 if everything goes as planned.

Expectations from the India-ASEAN FTA are high. The Joint Media Statement of the Sixth ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM)-India Consultations stated that “the AIFTA could be a major avenue in harnessing the region’s vast economic potentials towards sustained progress and improved welfare not only for ASEAN and India but for the greater East Asian region as well.”

The India-ASEAN FTA is the result of many international and domestic factors. On one hand, the trend of international regionalisation and the proliferation of FTAs and the failure of the Doha round of multilateral talks to yield concrete results led both India and the ASEAN countries to consider alternative solutions towards freer trade. On the other, the adoption of policies by India and ASEAN to develop better cooperation with their immediate neighbours in recent years has helped accelerate this negotiation.

In this context, India’s Northeast came to be seen in a new light. Several steps have been taken to improve relations with India’s immediate neighbour Myanmar. India has also trade relations with Thailand and Singapore. India and Myanmar shared a 1643 km long border. Myanmar being a member of ASEAN, the north eastern states of India become an important link between the two parties.

This paper is an attempt to analyse what forebode India and its Northeast states in the light of the much-hyped India-ASEAN FTA. It will start by looking into the relationship between India and ASEAN and culminate with the present agreement. After that, the paper will analyse the implications the AIFTA can have on the north eastern states of India. It will, however, not delve into the security-insurgency dimension that has almost become an anthem for most writers on north eastern India except in giving some passing remarks. It will, instead, try to highlight the many projects, plans and proposals that has been undertaken in the north east during the past few years and explore possible opportunities, problems and solutions for this region and for the FTA.

India and ASEAN: Shared ties, divergent policies and convergence?
Although India and ASEAN countries have shared cultural and historical ties, India’s interactions with ASEAN countries was quite limited during the Cold War as the two pursued policies which were not very conducive to deep rooted interactions and commitments to each other. Soon after the end of the Second World War, India championed the process of decolonisation and drew recognition and appreciation from different parts of the world. It became one of the founding members of the Nonaligned Movement (NAM). Even though Indonesia was also a member of NAM alongside India, this relationship did not extend beyond that.

The arrival of bipolar politics in Southeast Asia, the Vietnam crisis and India’s close ties with the Soviet Union led to the adoption of divergent policies by both India and ASEAN. ASEAN was formed in 1967 during the Vietnam War primarily to diffuse regional conflicts and to promote better relations between members. Communist victories in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia soon worsened the already fragile security situation of Southeast Asia. Thus by 1976, ASEAN was forced to contemplate to become an association with security as its main concern. The reunification of Vietnam and the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia created another security dilemma. While ASEAN chastised Vietnam, India supported Vietnam. ASEAN’s suspicions of the Soviet Union and the paranoia it had with anything communist led many, including India, to regard ASEAN as allies of the capitalists or a pro-American bloc. Suspicion was so high during this time that India refused to hold dialogues with ASEAN twice in 1975 and 1980.

But with the end of the Cold War, interactions between India and ASEAN became more frequent; and relations between the two began to improve at a very fast pace. Following the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union, India began to adopt liberalisation policies. Meanwhile, ASEAN had also emerged as an important regional organisation with great potentials and opportunities for growth. The transformation of the international system and new outlooks led to the adoption of the Look East Policy by India. When India initiated its Look East Policy in 1991, it marked a strategic shift in its foreign policy and perceptions towards its eastern neighbours. ASEAN’s strategic importance in the larger Asia-Pacific region and the potentials it has in becoming India’s major partner in trade and investment also added an impetus to India to develop closer ties with it. In addition, considering that the proposed South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) is unlikely to produce any solid outcome, this policy shift and agreement on the part of India is as strategic as it is important. The Indian Prime Mister Manmohan Singh commented thus, “This was not merely an external economic policy; it was also a strategic shift in India’s vision of the world and India’s place in the evolving global economy. Most of all it was about reaching out to our civilizational neighbours in the region.”

In continuance of India’s Look East Policy, the process of interregional cooperation was institutionalised with India becoming a sectoral dialogue partner of ASEAN in 1992; a full dialogue partner in 1995 and member of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in 1996. India became a summit-level partner of ASEAN in 2002 and concluded the ASEAN-India Partnership for Peace, Progress and Shared Prosperity in 2004. India also became engaged in regional initiatives such as the Mekong-Ganga Cooperation (MGC) and the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC). India has now become a member of the East Asia Summit (EAS) since December 2005.

The deepening of relationship between India and ASEAN is reflected in the buoyancy of trade figures between the two. During April-September 2007-2008, trade grew from US$ 15.06 billion to US$ 17.02 billion, that is, trade grew by 13 per cent. India’s Foreign Trade with ASEAN, according to the Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics (DGCIS), is also on the rise. During the period 2005-2006 to 2006-2007, India’s exports to ASEAN registered a growth rate of 20.67 per cent. Similarly, India’s imports from ASEAN during the same period registered a growth rate of 66 per cent. India-ASEAN trade stood at US$ 38.37 billion in 2007-2008 and is projected to reach US$ 48 billion during 2008-2009.

At the first India-ASEAN Summit held at Phnom Penh on November 5, 2001, India called for an India-ASEAN FTA within a 10-year time frame. In this context, the second India-ASEAN Summit held at Bali on October 8, 2003 was a significant landmark in India-ASEAN relations. This Summit saw the signing of the Framework Agreement for Comprehensive Economic Cooperation between India and ASEAN. This agreement envisaged the establishment of an FTA within a period of ten years. In March 2004, an ASEAN-India Trade Negotiations Committee (AI-TNC) was established to negotiate the implementation of the provisions of the Framework Agreement. India has, since then, entered into numerous agreements with ASEAN. At the sixth India-ASEAN Summit held at Singapore on November last year, India proposed to increase its bilateral trade with ASEAN to the tune of US$ 50 billion by the year 2010. The latest agreement is therefore, the result of many years of tactful policies that led to the thawing of the ice between these two important emerging economic powers in Asia.

In addition to these agreements with ASEAN, India has also made consistent efforts to develop bilateral ties with ASEAN members. With Thailand, India has 61 years of diplomatic relations. India also has a Free Trade Agreement with Thailand that was signed in 2004. The framework agreement on bilateral FTA of 2003 was the basis of this FTA with Thailand. Trade between the two increased from a mere US$ 606 million to US$ 3.14 billion in 2006-2007.

With the CLV countries (Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam), India entered into a number of bilateral agreements for cooperation in the fields of trade, science and technology , agriculture, defence, visa exemption, tourism, IT and culture. India has major projects in the fields of education, entrepreneurship development and IT in these three countries. In 2004, India extended a credit line of US$ 27 million to Vietnam.

Malaysia is a major source of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) for India, particularly in the areas of LPG, power plants and highway constructions. Trade between the two rose from US$ 2.2 billion in 2002-2003 to US$ 6.6 billion in 2006-2007. Indian public sector undertakings such as BHEL and IRCON have also undertaken and completed a number of projects in Malaysia. Presently, after the India-ASEAN FTA negotiations, it is reported that about 150 Indian engineering firms are eying to diversify their export base in ASEAN markets and are planning to make Malaysia the regional hub to penetrate the region. Many of these companies are exploring the possibilities of joint ventures, technology transfers and investment opportunities.

It was mainly because of the insistence of Indonesia that India became a part of the East Asia Summit in 2005. Relations between the two had been very good for many years. Bilateral trade between the two increased by 44 per cent from 2005-2006 to 2006-2007.

India has a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) with Singapore since 2005. This agreement included bilateral investment promotion treaty, double taxation avoidance agreement, an air services agreement and an FTA. Singapore, along with Indonesia had been an important factor for India’s inclusion into the East Asian Summit. In addition, it was Singapore’s role that paved the way for India’s association with the ARF. Singapore is the biggest source of FDI for India among ASEAN countries. During the period 2000 to 2008, the cumulative FDI of Singapore into India was worth a whooping US$ 4.35 billion. Concurrently, over two thousand Indian companies were based in Singapore.

India also has plans for a free trade area with Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia by 2011 and with the remaining ASEAN countries by 2016. Since 1995, India had actively engaged Myanmar in trade. It has signed several agreements and MOUs including the Tripartite Maritime Agreement with Myanmar and Thailand, Border Trade Agreement and for cooperation between civilian authorities between India and Myanmar. Since 2000, a number of high level visits have taken place. During these visits, several agreements and MOUs have been signed in areas ranging from hydroelectric projects on the Chindwin River and IT cooperation to cultural exchange programmes. In the year 2003 alone, seven Agreements/MOUs were signed to promote trade and communication facilities. By 2006-2007, bilateral trade between India and Myanmar reached US$ 650 million as compared to US$ 341.40 million in 2004-2005.

India-ASEAN FTA, Look East Policy and the Northeast
The announcement came after the conclusion of the 6th ASEAN AEM – India Consultations held at Singapore on 28 August 2008. The text of the India-ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement will be finalised before the India-ASEAN Summit to be held in December 2008 at Bangkok where it will be formally signed into a treaty and will come into force from January 1, 2009. This Summit will be attended by the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Population of India and ASEAN countries (2002)
India 1,047,671,000
Myanmar 42,238,000
Thailand 63,430,000
Indonesia 211,023,000
Malaysia 24,370,000
Singapore 4,204,000
Vietnam 80,200,000
Laos 5,777,000
Cambodia 13,414,000
Philippines 79,882,000
Brunei 351,000
TOTAL 1,572,560,000

This agreement, it is expected, will bring a free trade regime to about two billion people from 11 countries with a combined GDP of $2,381 billion as of 2007. The agreement covering billions of dollars in trade in goods but not in services was supposed to have been concluded last year but talks were bogged down because of differences over products that India wanted excluded from tariff cuts. India had submitted a list of 1,414 products but ASEAN’s target was only 400. In the end, the agreement permits India to have 489 products in the ‘exclusion list’ and 606 sensitive goods that will come under partial duty reductions.

This agreement is to be viewed against the backdrop of the long drawn-out Doha round of multilateral talks. As the Doha talks continue to drag on, this agreement between India and ASEAN can be seen as a natural course of action for countries refusing to entangle themselves in the protracted Doha round of talks. This agreement, along with the comprehensive FTA between ASEAN, Australia and New Zealand (AANZ FTA), became the first major trade agreement in the post-Doha era of trade policy negotiations.

The India-ASEAN FTA is also the result of recent changes in ASEAN’s policy towards its immediate neighbours and other important trading partners all over the world. In recent years, ASEAN has been involved with its major trading partners in concluding FTAs. In 1999, the ASEAN+3 was formed for the establishment of a common market and a currency. China was the first to conclude an FTA with ASEAN followed by Japan and South Korea. The present FTA between India and ASEAN, and the AANZ FTA completes this trend. ASEAN will now be able to strike a fine balance in trade among its immediate neighbours.

The India-ASEAN FTA also needs to be viewed in the broader context of global trends towards regional or bilateral trading arrangements (RTAs/FTAs). Out of the 108 RTAs notified to the General Agreements on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) over the period 1948-1994, 33 of them had been established in the early 1990s. By the year 2000, almost half of the 220 RTAs notified to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) are initiated after the Cold War. Such is the importance accorded to RTAs or FTAs in recent times that no country can ill afford to ignore it. Till July 2007, some 380 RTAs have been notified to the WTO.

For India, this agreement will be a major milestone in its Look East Policy that began after the collapse of the erstwhile Soviet Union. The current agreement will take India far beyond its existing trade agreements with Myanmar, Thailand and Singapore.

It is in these contexts that India’s Northeast came to be seen in a new light. Rajiv Sikri, the Secretary East of the Ministry of External Affairs remarked that the Look East Policy “envisages the Northeast region not as the periphery of India, but as the centre of a thriving and integrated economic space linking two dynamic regions with a network of highways, railways, pipelines, transmission lines crisscrossing the region.”

Myanmar, now being a member of ASEAN and having shared a 1643 km long border with India, is now becoming the major link between India and ASEAN countries. The Northeast states of India have now also been seen as the ‘gateway’ to the ASEAN countries.

One early outcome of the Look East policy was the Indo-Myanmar Trade Agreement signed in 1994. According to this agreement, border trade between the two is to be conducted through Moreh in India and Tamu in Myanmar; Champhai in India and Hri in Myanmar and other places that may be notified by mutual agreement. Several Indian companies are also engaged in oil and gas exploration in Myanmar.

In 2001, India upgraded the 160 km long Tamu-Kalewa-Kalemyo highway. Plans for a 1400 km long trans-Asian highway that will connect India, Myanmar and Thailand is now being finalised. A railway link that will extend up to Imphal in Manipur in the first phase and up to Myanmar in the second phase is also being planned. Bilateral trade between India and Myanmar has also been expanding at a significant rate since 2001. India has extended a number of general and project-specific credit lines in the last few years. Some major projects between the two, besides the ones already mentioned include the Rhi-Tiddim and Rhi-Falam Roads in Myanmar, the Kaladan Multimodal Transport Project and the Tamanthi Hydro Electric Power Project.

The Kaladan Multimodal Transit-cum-Transport project agreement was signed in April this year. Jairam Ramesh, the Minister of State for Commerce said that the Rs. 548 Crore project will help increase connectivity between the two countries. This project will link Kolkata and Sittwe, Kaleutwa in Myanmar by road and would go through Mizoram in India. It also envisages the development of a 225 km waterway on the Kaladan River and the construction of ports along the way. The minister said that north eastern India will be able to boost its border trade with Myanmar. We will also consider opening up of trading points in Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland. At present, we have only one trading point at Moreh in Manipur. This project will also help India to effectively integrate with the ASEAN region through Myanmar. Plans to allow free movement of Myanmarese citizens up to Moreh town in Manipur is also afoot. The Manipur Government has also submitted a Rs. 200 Crore project proposal to the Central Government to develop infrastructure at Moreh.

In 2006, a proposal for a bus service between Imphal and Mandalay was considered and accepted by the Indian Government. But till now, no such service has been undertaken. But during the September 2008 visit of a 17-member trade delegation from Myanmar at Imphal, the Myanmar trade delegation expressed their desire to implement the proposed Imphal-Mandalay bus service definitely. This visit was a reciprocal visit after a trade delegation from Manipur visited Mandalay during the month of April 2008. After holding a series of meetings, both the sides agreed to put pressure on their respective governments to improve the existing border trade between India and Myanmar.

Earlier in April 2008, after the visit of a strong Myanmar official and business delegation to India, both the two countries had agreed to increase border trade that is restricted to only 22 items, all being agricultural products. There are now plans to free more items including life saving drugs, fertilizers, garments, x-ray papers and motor parts.

The latest agreement signed between India and Myanmar is the four-point economic cooperation agreement signed in June this year. This agreement was signed by the Indian Minister for Commerce and Power Jairam Ramesh and the Myanmar Minister for National Planning and Economic Development U Soe Tha. First, the Bilateral Investment Promotion Agreement (BIPA) was signed to encourage investment between the two countries. Second, a credit line agreement between the Exim Bank of India and the Myanmar Foreign Trade Bank was signed to finance three 290 kv transmission lines in Myanmar. This US$ 64 million project will be executed by the Power Grid Corporation of India. Third, a credit line agreement for US$ 20 million between the Exim Bank of India and the Myanmar Trade Bank was signed to finance the establishment of an aluminium conductor steel reinforced wire manufacturing facility. This facility will be used for the expansion of power distribution network in Myanmar. Fourth, the United Bank of India (UBI) and the Myanmar Economic Bank signed an agreement to encourage border trade through Moreh. There are also plans to expand trade centres to include Arangkhu and Lungwa in Nagaland, Zokhawthar in Mizoram, Pangsan Pass in Arunachal Pradesh and Behiang, Skip and Tusom in Manipur.

At present, only Moreh border trade centre in Manipur is functional with other centres becoming non-functional.

Till now, results are far below expectations, especially for the Northeast. In practice, the agreements between India and Myanmar do not extend much beyond granting formal sanctions to the already existing exchanges between the local people. In effect, border trade remains insignificant and did not contribute much towards economic growth for neither country. Among the many problems faced by both countries, security concerns and the poorly developed infrastructure for trade are the most acute. For trade and commerce to flourish, the entire network of transport and communication, industries and agriculture throughout the Northeast also needs to be revamped and developed. Unless this is done, the much touted India-ASEAN FTA will be just another statistics in the minds of a very few researchers, academicians, scholars and administrators in Northeast India.

An important point to note is that although trade performance has improved with India’s eastern neighbours, many of these exchanges had been done through seaports, leaving the northeast states in the lurch. If the northeast is to benefit from any improved trade relations or any present or future FTAs, the numerous plans and proposals that has been put forth and are in paper only must be implemented and brought to fruition first. The very few roles that the northeast states are playing right now should also be promoted to a more central role so that the north east states could reap the fruits of its own fields.

In a nutshell, Northeast India, a storehouse of great natural resources but very backward economically, needs to be built up and readied if it is really going to be the ‘gateway’ or ‘centre’ of trade between India and East Asia. Unless the region is developed to catch up with the rest of the country in its growth rate and development, it will be hard to achieve what the people aspired for – peace, security, prosperity and all round development. To make this possible, substantial investment in infrastructure, construction of roads, bridges, communication networks, harnessing of the region’s vast natural resources and other physical infrastructures that will facilitate trade and economic progress needs to be developed.

With the impending AIFTA, India’s Northeast region has suddenly become the centre of focus once again. But this region has been lacking behind other Indian states in most respects in spite of its vast natural resources and strategic position as a link between India and Southeast and East Asian countries. The main reasons why this region remains backward are the lack of any infrastructure that could facilitate any development in the region, poor market access and, to some degree, security issues.

The Indian government also concedes that the Northeast has a long way to go to achieve the national growth rate of nearly 9 per cent. The growth rate of Northeast is only 4 per cent. To increase the growth rate and economy of this region will be an important step because herein lies many solutions to some pressing political and security problems.

Therefore, in the context of the present FTA, the author is of the opinion that unless the Northeast region is developed wholeheartedly, neither India nor ASEAN will really benefit from it.

Concluding Remarks
Lately, there has been a flurry of activities that are of great importance to the north east states with some conscious efforts being made to develop this region. The Union Minister for the Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) Mani Shankar Aiyar said that the Centre is aiming to promote the region as a major FDI destination and an export centre. The minister added that these are all attempts to make the region the arrowhead of India’s future economic growth. On July 2, 2008, the Indian PM released the North Eastern Region Vision 2020 document which contained detailed reports for the development of the north eastern region. The PM gave his assurances that the visions contained within this document will be made a reality. To quote him extensively, he said, “Infrastructure deficiency remains a major concern of the Government. You will be happy to know that we have decided to link all State Capitals with railway lines. These projects have been given the status of National Projects with a special funding pattern. Airports are being modernized and new ones are being built. An ambitious programme of road building has been taken up under the Special Accelerated Road Development Programme for the North East (SARDP-NE) and an amount of Rs. 31,000 Crore is being invested on roads in the 11th Five Year Plan. There are relaxed guidelines for rural roads under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) so that even the farthest hamlets on the border are linked by road. Within the 11th Plan period, these interventions will begin to show positive results. To bridge the infrastructure gap in the region, our Government has taken several initiatives. Work on the Tipaimukh and Loktak Downstream Hydro Electric Projects, costing about Rs.6,000 crores and Rs. 800 crores respectively, has been expedited. The 726 MW Palatana Gas based Power Plant, with an outlay of Rs.3,000 crores, a 750 MW Thermal Power Plant at Bongaigaon with an outlay of Rs. 4375 crores, and the Assam Gas Cracker Project have all broken ground. The Kumarghat-Agartala railway line has been approved as a National project, with an outlay of Rs. 750 Crores. The Jiribam–Tupu-Imphal railway line, which will put the Manipur valley on the rail map of India, has also been sanctioned as a National project for Rs. 727 Crores.”

On September 12, 2008, Lt. General ML Naidu visited Imphal and discussed with the Manipur Chief Minister issues pertaining to security, law and order situation in Manipur. It is still not clear if this visit has any significance in the context of our current discussions, but is certainly significant if we take into account the timing of the visit and the rank of the visitor.

During September 15-16, 2008, the fourth Northeast Business Summit was held in Guwahati, Assam. Besides delegates from the eight states of the Northeast, a high number of foreign dignitaries, including those from ASEAN, were present at the Summit. Inaugurating the Summit, Indian Vice President M. Hamid Ansari said, “This Summit is as much about business as it is about politics, both domestic and external. It is about correctives. The effort today is as much to overcome the physical and commercial isolation of this region, as it is to set aside its ‘geo-political isolation and put it on the path of accelerated and inclusive growth.’” During the Summit, several MOUs and agreements were signed for the establishment of joint venture projects and technical assistance. This Summit attains great significance as this meeting comes immediately after the conclusion of the AIFTA and as several ASEAN diplomats attended this meeting.

What results will these recent developments have on the Northeast states is now the big question. As it is too early now, what we can do is to wait and see what unfolds.

END NOTES
1. ASEAN was formed in 1967. Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines constituted the five original members. Brunei became a full member in 1984; Vietnam in 1995; Laos and Myanmar in 1997; and Cambodia in 1999.

2. http://www.aseansec.org/21895.htm

3. Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh’s address at the 16th Asian Corporate Conference driving global business : India’s new priorities, Asia’s new realities. URL: http://www.indianembassy.org/newsite/press_release/2006/Mar/35.asp

4. India’s trade statistics and other commercial information can be had from the DGCIS website at http://www.dgciskol.nic.in/

5. http://www.bernama.com/bernama/v3/news_business.php?id=351756

6. ASEAN+3 include ASEAN, China, Japan and South Korea.

7. http://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/region_e/region_e.htm

8. http://www.telegraphindia.com/1050412/asp/opinion/story_4590622.asp also see http://meaindia.nic.in/speech/2005/05/31ss02.htm

9. http://www.financialexpress.com/news/India-Myanmar-expects-Kaladan-project-to-increase-border-trade/292285/

10. See http://commerce.nic.in/PressRelease/pressrelease_detail.asp?id=2280

11. http://pmindia.gov.in/speech/content.asp?id=693

12. http://pib.nic.in/release/release.asp?relid=42767

India-ASEAN FTA: Implications for India’s Northeast