Kolkata, Feb 22 (IBNS) West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday flagged off the BCIM Car Rally at Salt Lake Stadium here amid bonhomie and fanfare as the tunes played by military band instilled everyone with a keen desire to strengthen partnerships between Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar (BCIM).
At a colourful flag-off ceremony held at the Helipad Ground in the mammoth Salt Lake Stadium on Friday, CII president Adi Godrej, Abida Islam, Deputy High Commissioner, Bangladesh Deputy High Commission in Kolkata, Zhang Lizhong, Consul General, Consulate of People´s Republic of China in Kolkata, U Kyaw Swe Tint, Consul General, Consulate of The Republic of The Union of Myanmar in Kolkata, R K Agrawal , Chairman, CII Eastern Region, Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, CII, R Sivakumar, Director, Branch Secretariat, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, K S Jamestin, Director (HR)-I/c BD&JV, ONGC, B.P. Gopalika, Secretary, Department of Municipal Affairs and Sports and thousands of citizens from different walks of life joined the Chief Minister in this initiative.
Beginning its journey in Kolkata, the BCIM Car Rally will traverse more than 3,000 km through mountainous terrains dense, jungles, vast, fertile plains to deep valleys, wild streams to expansive rivers via Jessore, Dhaka, Sylhet, Silchar, Imphal, Ka Lay, Mandalay, Ruili, Tengchong, Erhai Lake, Dali, before culminating in Kunming in China, on Mar 5.
The BCIM Car Rally symbolizes an attempt to retrace the lost trails of historical Southern Silk Trade Route connecting India and China via Bangladesh and Myanmar, share dreams across frontiers, discover new opportunities in the region for common economic prosperity, forge enduring partnership and embrace a bright future.
At the car rally, Mamata Banerjee, revealed her passion for adventure and sports and hoped that this rally successfully develops trade and investment in the BCIM region.
She termed the participants as 'ambassadors' and wished them a safe journey in their travel through myriad landscapes to meet thousands of people and 'bring peace to South East Asia'.
She also said that the rally would help to generate awareness about the potential of South East Asia especially West Bengal and North East India among the Asian countries.
The Chief Minister said that South East Asia is a highly potent area that has huge opportunities for growing.
She appreciated the 'constructive suggestions' given by Adi Godrej to improve trade and commerce in the BCIM region.
She concluded by wishing everyone on the International Bhasha Dibash and recounting the famous lines of world bard Rabindranath Tagore, 'Where mind is without fear, head is held high'.
West Bengal Sports and Transport Minister Madan Mitra praised the initiative to organize the BCIM car rally that would enhance cooperation between the countries of the region. He wished all the participants a safe and successful journey.
Adi Godrej observed that the rally seeks to retrace a legendary economic and trade route which has long been a strong bond between the peoples of this region.
"By revitalizing these ancient paths, the Rally would underscore the cultural and civilizational commonalities beside unveiling new horizons for economic and commercial cooperation on this 3000 kilometer route," he said.
Godrej stressed several measures to augment the efforts of the initiative to unleash the economic potentials of the region - fast tracking of BCIM process at the political level, regular summit level dialogues to come up with a road map and road shows by industries along the trade corridor.
Chandrajit Banerjee revealed that with a combined population of about 2.8 billion of BCIM countries forms a formidable bloc of about $11 trillion economy.
"Man and machines in this odyssey are indeed pioneers," said Banerjee.
The West Bengal CM flagged off altogether 20 cars - 10 from the Tata Motors stable and 10 made by Hawtai of China - amid cheers and waving from thousands of people.
Troupes from Purulia regaled the audience with a 'Chhou' rendition of Mahishashurmardini, which distinctly created immense vibe among the foreign participants.
Sponsored by Tata Motors, ONGC and Autocar, and supported by the governments of these four countries, the BCIM Car Rally comprising 80 participants from these countries, is being organised and coordinated by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) with several government departments, agencies and industrial houses, chipping in with all kinds of help and assistance.
K S Jamestin, Director (HR)-I/c BD&JV, ONGC Ltd, recalled that the first edition of the BCIM car rally has been the culmination of seven years of preparation and hoped that this would pave the way for cooperation between the four countries.
In Imphal, the capital of Manipur, Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh, will be waiting greet the Rally team as it passes through before crossing borders to head for Myanmar.
China and India are now strongly pursuing the policies of economic cooperation with other countries, including ASEAN and African countries.
In view of increased global interests in the Asia-Pacific region, it is all the more important to strengthen bonds and deepen multi-dimensional cooperation among the BCIM countries.
The idea of holding the Rally across one of the arteries of the Southern Silk Route is based on our realisation that to ensure inclusive growth development, this region must be integrated for the uplift of millions of people living in it.
It will be recalled that the idea of organising the BCIM Car Rally took shape with a resolution at the 2006 Delhi meeting of the BCIM Forum, and the suggestion was soon affirmed at the government-to-government level in the Joint Communique' exchanged between the former Chinese President Hu Jintao and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh later in the year.
R K Agrawal, Chairman, CII, Eastern Region, said, "The idea of the BCIM Forum is the result of an initiative of a number of institutions in the four involved countries which came together to set up a platform to foster, promote and deepen regional and sub-regional cooperation among the participating countries."