Assam CM Gogoi Looks Forward to Cooperation with PanIIT Led WHEELS

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Washington – With the purpose of giving back to India through motivating its vast membership, the PanIIT Alumni Association USA, along with Friends of Assam on June 23 welcomed Tarun Gogoi, the visiting Chief Minister of Assam (a North Eastern Indian state), to facilitate the launch of socially responsible projects for the benefit of citizens both in India and the US.

In a statement to India America Today, Siddartha Chowdhary, President of PanIIT, USA, praised the cooperative and welcoming talks with Gogoi, saying, “His progressive views on how to open up the region and his receptiveness to the different ideas that we gave him,” were very encouraging.

Speaking after a fruitful meeting with the visiting chief minister, Chowdhary referred to the WHEELS program, a PanIIT program aimed at promoting social entrepreneurship and creating a framework for applying creative ideas to solve common problems, saying “IIT Alumni is focused on many social transformation issues related to problems that are common to both countries– the US and in India — namely water, health, education, environment, lifestyle and security,”

Noting “a wide range of resources available in Washington DC, the US capital area, Chowdhary offered a link to bring to fruition ideas floated by Gogoi.

Earlier, speaking to Tejinder Singh, Editor of India America Today after a meeting with the Indian Diaspora led by a host of leading IIT alumni, the Assam Chief Minister Gogoi looked relaxed and content with his visit to drum up support for his state’s advancement.

Calling WHEELS a “very innovative idea,” the chief minister said the spokes were addressing the “basic problems we have been facing.” Gogoi was very enthusiastic to coordinate projects with PanIIT led WHEELS program to enrich not only the North East region including Assam, but also the whole of South East Asia.

On the upgrade of oil and natural gas facilities in Assam, Gogoi felt, “More and more companies from the US and other countries should join hands with Indian companies to go in a big way for exploration of oil and gas.”

Noting that one of the oldest refineries in the world was in Assam and being upgraded constantly, the chief minister said, “We are happy to note that the oldest refinery is still continuing – of course, it has been upgraded.”

In addition to oil and gas, Gogoi was looking for investors in various other fields, including tourism, where he wanted to promote an Assam Safari along the lines of African safaris.

On the ongoing controversial issue of opening up the retail sector in India by allowing Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), Gogoi supported the idea wholeheartedly saying, “ As you know, I have been advocating FDI in the retail sector. I am always for the reform also. According to me, by opening this, the farmers will be benefited. Rural economy will be boosted.”

Citing conditions like mandatory investments in the rural areas and buying their products as definitely going to be beneficial for the rural economy, Gogoi reiterated his advocacy for the FDI, “Rural economy is the best because vast majority of the people live in the rural area.”

With the government pushing for financial development, Gogoi highlighted the availability of a big market for everyone and invited India-born Americans, Assam-born Americans and others to invest in Assam, calling it a “virgin area.”

The chief minister was heading to New York to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Columbia in New York and the Arts Institute there.

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