In an attempt to pave the way to meet the infrastructure-related problems, New Delhi has initiated a dialogue on the India-Myanmar-Thailand Transit Transport Agreement to address soft connectivity issues, said Union external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj in her keynote address at the inaugural session of the Delhi Dialogue VII on 11 March, according to a report in Guwahati-based Assam Tribune.

“Enhancing connectivity between India and Asian South East Asian Nations in all its aspects — physical, institutional and people-topeople — is a key strategic priority for us. Our North-eastern region is our land bridge to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and I am delighted that the chief ministers of so many states from the region are with us to contribute to our deliberations.

“We have made progress in implementing the Trilateral Highway project, which proposes to provide seamless connectivity from Moreh in Manipur to Mae Sot in Thailand via Myanmar. Likewise, work is in progress on the Kaladan Multimodal Transport Project, which will provide a road and riverine link between Myanmar and Mizoram as well as connect Indian ports to Sittwe Port in Myanmar. We are also looking to expand air connectivity, particularly between our North-east and Southeast Asia.

“We are simultaneously endeavouring to see how we can transform the corridors of connectivity into corridors of economic cooperation. In this context, our Prime Minister announced at the 12th Asean-India Summit the establishment of a special facility to promote project financing and quick implementation of connectivity projects.

We are currently working out the modalities of this special facility. Asean lies at the core of India&’s ‘Act East Policy’ and at the centre of our dream of an Asian century. Since the launch of our ‘Look East Policy’’ in the early 1990s, we have matured from being sectoral dialogue partners to being strategic partners,” she said.

Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Nabam Tuki said policy measures, which the Centre would undertake, should include reopening of the IndoBhutan road via Tawang and IndoMyanmar through Pangsau Pass on the historic Stilwell Road.


Divorce and separation

The latest census data shows that Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland have the dubious distinction of having more divorced or separated women in proportion to men, says a report in The Shillong Times. Four of the five states with the highest proportion of divorced or separated women in relation to those ever married (ranging from about seven per cent to two per cent) are from Mizoram, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Sikkim, in that order. Kerala stands in fifth position.

There are three times as many women as men who are currently single after having been in wedlock, the data showed. This tilt is not just because of the much greater number of women among those widowed.

Over 3.2 million of those separated or divorced are women, compared to 1.6 million separated or divorced men. Both among those separated and among the divorcees, there are twice as many women as men.

This is likely to be because it is much easier for men to remarry in a patriarchal society. Interestingly, studies have also shown that although Meghalaya is a matrilineal society the rates of abandonment/divorce are very high, with women facing the brunt since they and their children are usually not supported by the husband/partner after divorce.

As per the figures, Mizoram has the highest number of divorced or separated women with nine per cent compared to 4.8 per cent for men. Meghalaya with (5.1 per cent and 2.3 per cent), Nagaland (2.8 per cent and 0.9 per cent), Sikkim (2.3 per cent and 1.5 per cent) and Kerala (2.1 per cent and 1.9 per cent) stand in that order.

These trends were revealed in recently released Census 2011, which has given separate data for the population that is divorced and separated for the first time. In earlier Censuses, the two categories were combined.