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1-min read

India Needs to Move Towards 'Open Borders', Suggests General Hooda Who Led Uri Surgical Strike

In the report, General Hooda said India shared strong relationships with its neighbours, but the ties were often dependent on the political dispensation of the country, thus, enabling China to increase its influence in the region.

Aishwarya Kumar | News18.com@aishwaryak03

Updated:April 7, 2019, 10:36 PM IST
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India Needs to Move Towards 'Open Borders', Suggests General Hooda Who Led Uri Surgical Strike
File photo of Lt Gen DS Hooda (retd) with Congress chief Rahul Gandhi.
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New Delhi: General Hooda (retired), in his suggestion to the Congress on national security, has recommended that India makes better use of its soft power and “significantly improves road and rail connectivity in the region.”

In an exclusive conversation with News18, Lt General Hooda said, “I’m not talking about open borders literally. What I suggested was part of a greater regional cooperation and integration. Eventually, we would have to move towards easier and more open movement of people and goods because that’s the only way you can strengthen the region, considering China’s rising influence in South Asia.”

However, he rued that the recommendations of a Group of Ministers in 2000 to adopt ‘one border one force’ while deploying forces along the border have not been implemented yet.

In the report, General Hooda said India shared strong relationships with its neighbours, but the ties were often dependent on the political dispensation of the country, thus, enabling China to increase its influence in the region.

“Enduring relations will come about if mutual interests can be better aligned. India must make better use of its soft power, significantly improve road and rail connectivity and increase regional trade. Easing the movement of people for education, commerce and tourism should not be viewed from the narrow prism of security but as a way of drawing the region together. Common cause can be made of issues like climate change that seriously affect all the countries,” said the retired general, who oversaw the much-lauded military strike against Pakistan in 2016.

Further, General Hooda said the South Asian Association for regional Cooperation (SAARC) was losing its value due to India-Pakistan relations. “In its place, greater energy should be devoted to groupings like the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal (BBIN) initiative and the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC). India’s Act East policy and relations with ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries should be strengthened,” the report suggested.

General Hooda said that India would only be considered seriously if it enhanced its credibility by visible actions. “The India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway, conceived in 2002, will only be completed by 2020. The Imphal-Mandalay bus service, which had a trial run in 2015, has not yet commenced. Along with improving connectivity, institutional measures must be put in place to ease the flow of goods and services,” he wrote.
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