Shillong: Ministers, policy makers, experts, academics and senior officials from India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Bhutan and Nepal will meet in the Meghalaya capital on Friday for the first river festival, called NADI 2016, that aims to foster connectivity, culture, tourism, trade links and sharing of environmental issues.
The Asian Confluence, a local think tank, in association with the Meghalaya government and Kolkata-based Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Institute of Asian Studies (MAKAI) is organising the two-day event on July 15-16.
"The focus of NADI 2016 is to celebrate the spirit of commonality between the resource-rich northeast India and its neighbours through the rivers of the region," said Sabyasachi Dutta, director of the Asian Confluence.
He said: "The rivers of the region had for long been the treasured highways of culture and unison among the people and the fragile ecology they sustain.
"The extended aim is to explore the possibilities of enhancing cultural conviviality and amplifying the creative use of riverine connectivity by catalyzing environment friendly trade and tourism between northeast India and her immediate neighbours."
The Asian Confluence has been promoting an open space for cultural and intellectual exchanges towards creating a better understanding of the northeastern region in the larger context of India as an emerging power in East-Asian geopolitics.
Datta said NADI 2016 aims to offer participants a great networking platform with access to intellectual as well as entertainment events.
"Being a first of its kind, special focus would be on the shared borders with immediate neighbour Bangladesh," he added.
Besides policy dialogue and stakeholder meetings, other highlights of the meet include, exhibitions, cultural programs, crafts bazaar, live exhibition of yarns and dyes and rare performing arts of the border areas.
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, Bangladesh Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation Rashed Khan Menon, Bangladesh Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam, Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma, his Mizoram counterpart Lal Thanhawla, representatives and experts from Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, and parliamentarians from across the northeastern region would take part in the event.