The 3rd edition of North East India Festival, was organized on 27th, 28th & 29th of October, 2023 at September 23rd Park, District 1 and Rex Hotel, Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam. With the Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s vision of Act East Policy, Connecting India’s Northeast with Southeast Asia, the program was meant for building bridges and to promote bilateral trade, investment, tourism and people to people exchange between India and Vietnam.
The program attracted large attention in Vietnam. The event was attended by key stakeholders, top officials & political leaders of North East India and Vietnam and have opened up new vistas of opportunity in the field of Trade, Investment, tourism and people’s connection. With support from Consul General of India, Ho Chi Minh City, MEA, Govt of India, Ministry of DoNER, Govt. of India, Ministry of Touirsm, Govt of India & various North Eastern State Govts, North East India Festival was organized by well-known socio cultural trust, Trend MMS.
The 3rd edition of the North East India Festival successfully kicked off in Ho Chi Minh City on October 27, 2023, signifying a momentous occasion that aimed to strengthen the bonds between India and Vietnam in the realms of trade, investment, business, and culture. The festival drew the participation of distinguished figures, including chief ministers, union ministers, and entrepreneurs from both nations, along with notable personalities and associations from various Vietnamese provinces, underscoring its significance.
The inauguration of NEIF was graced by Dr. Rajkumar Ranjan Singh, Hon’ble Minister of State(External Affairs & Education), Govt of India, along with distinguished guests, including H.E. Mr. Bui Xuan Cuong, Vice Chairman of Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee, and H.E. Mr. Nguyen Long Bien, Vice Chairman of the People’s Committee of Ninh Thuan, Mr. T. Bagra, Hon’ble Minister(Industries, Textiles etc), Govt of Arunachal Pradesh, Mr. Harpreet Singh, Joint Secretary DoNER etc. The event also witnessed ministerial and senior official representations from various North Eastern States of India, highlighting the regional diversity and unity of India in the international context.
The opening day's program seamlessly blended culture and diplomacy. It commenced with the traditional lighting of the lamp and featured a captivating Sattriya dance performance by Mridusmita Das Bora. Mr. Shyamkanu Mahanta, the brain behind the North East India Festival was the host of the occasion and he spoke about background of North East India Festival and its attempt to connect India’s North East to South East Asia. Ambassador H.E. Mr. Sandeep Arya, India’s Ambassador to Vietnam, delivered the opening remarks, setting the tone for the festival. Special remarks were also shared by Dr. RK Ranjan, Hon’ble Minister of State for External Affairs, Government of India, and Mr. Tran Phuoc Anh, Director of External Relations in Ho Chi Minh City.
The day included enlightening talks on various destinations, such as Assam, Arunachal, Meghalaya, and Nagaland, presented by government officials and experts, highlighting the unique attractions of these regions. The cultural segment of the festival concluded with a splendid Drum Ensemble performance featuring traditional music from the tribes of Meghalaya by troupes from Meghalaya, showcasing the rich cultural heritage of the Khasi, Jaintia, and Garo tribes.
Hon’ble Minister(Industries & textiles), Govt of Arunachal Mr. T. Bagra in his address spoke about his appreciation about Vietnam’s progress since independence and opined that North East India can learn a lot from Vietnam. He invited everyone to visit North East India and be part of the developmental process. Mr. Harpreet Singh, Joint Secretary DoNER spoke about North East India and its centrality to South East Asia and Ministry of DoNER’s initiative to promote the region. Mr. Fredrick R. Kharkongor, Commissioner & Secretary Deptt of Art & Culture, Textile etc gave a beautiful presentation about Meghalaya, its culture and resources specially its tourism and textile resources. Mr. Ramakrishnan, Principal Secretary, Govt of Nagaland spoke about Nagaland and its beautiful culture and resources. Dr. N.G Mahanta, Hon’ble Adviser, Govt of Assam spoke about Assam’s focus on industrial progress and dynamic role of Hon’ble CM, Dr. Himanta Biswa Sharma about showcasing Assam as ideal destination with administrative reforms and making State ready as gateway of South East Asia.
The festival garnered substantial participation from a wide spectrum of dignitaries, entrepreneurs, academic institutions, and artists hailing from both India and Vietnam. To facilitate a deeper understanding and appreciation of the North East Indian culture and economy, NEIF featured seminars and exhibitions showcasing a variety of products, including exquisite handicrafts from the region. The inaugural day wrapped up with remarks by Dr. Madan Mohan Sethi, Consul General of India in HCMC. The entire program was deeply rooted in the Act East Policy, with a focus on trade, investment, tourism, educational & cultural exchange. What originally started as a platform for the North East has evolved into one of India's most significant forums, promoting not only cultural exchange but also advancing trade, tourism, investment, education, and more. This marked the first time Vietnam hosted an event of such magnitude and scale.
NEIF's overarching objective was to promote stronger collaboration between India and Vietnam while raising awareness about India's North Eastern region, which plays a pivotal role in India's 'Act East Policy.' Through this vibrant and culturally enriching event, NEIF succeeded in furthering the goals of cultural diplomacy and economic cooperation between the two nations.
The second day of the North East India Festival in Ho Chi Minh City witnessed a significant milestone in cultural diplomacy and bilateral trade and tourism collaboration between Vietnam and North East India. The day began with the Tourism Meet, which brought together 52 tour operators from Vietnam and 20 tour operators from North East India.
Mr. Shyamkanu Mahanta, Chief Organiser spoke about Tourism as key focus of the Festival and described the region as the most attract tourism destinations of India. Mr. Mahanta focused on both inward and outward tourism for the tourism stakeholders joining the programme. Mr. Harpreet Singh, Joint Secretary, DoNER delivered speeches on tourism potential in North Eastern Region and highlighted about various tourism propositions including home stay provision in the NER. Ms. Ava Shereen Sangma of Meghalaya made a beautiful presentation about various aspects of Meghalaya as tourism destination. Mr Hage Tari, Secretary Industries, Govt of Arunachal presented the beautiful State of Arunachal Pradesh and its tremendous tourism potential. Mr. Toka Edward Tuccumi, Director Tourism, Nagaland presented a beautiful video of Nagaland highlighting its various tourism propositions, people, resources, Hornbill festival etc. Vice president of Ho Chi Minh Tourism Association speaks about tourism inflow and outflow to Vietnam and possibility of exploring more tourists to Vietnam from India. Vice Chairman of Ninh Thuan Province speaks about the different places of tourism interest in Vietnam. Harsh Sharma, Mayfair group of Hotels and Resorts talks about the growth of the hospitality industry in North Easten Region with special focus on Assam as Tourism destination.
Mr. Anil Oraw, the Regional Director of the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India handled the later part of discussion including interaction with Vietnamese tour operators. He emphasized the potential for bilateral tourism stating, "Our goal is to introduce Vietnamese tour operators to the marvels of India. This exchange will not only enhance cultural understanding but also stimulate tourism and trade." Tour operators of Vietnam opined that this is part time India is coming to Vietnam to promote tourism and it will help to make a strong beginning for longer time relationship. Suggestion came from different tour operators of Vietnam suggesting North East India should be promoted alongwith Bangladesh to facilitate tourists movements. Mr. Anil Oraw gave detailed preview of Indo Vietnam tourist flow and suggested way to improve bigger flow from Vietnam to India specially to the North East India.
The Investment and Trade Session held on the second half of 2nd day of the North East India Festival in Rex Hotel, Ho Chi Minh City, The Meet aimed to explore broad spectrum of trade and investment opportunities between two countries in various sectors, such as agriculture, handloom, handicrafts, and more. Around 100 Vietnamese companies/entrepreneurs participated in a very meaningful dialogue with stakeholders from India.
Mr. Harpreet Singh, Joint Secretary, DoNER delivered speeches on Trade and Investment opportunities in NE Region. Mr. Singh invited Vietnamese delegation to visit North East Business Summit being organized in Delhi by DoNER.
Mr. A. Temjen Jamir, Director(Industries), Government of Nagaland presented the prospects of investment opportunities in the state of Nagaland. Mr. Hage Tari, Secretary, Industry Department, Arunachal Pradesh presented on the investment prospects in different sectors specially in agriculture, bamboo and hydro power sector. He also mentioned the various incentives and policies of the state to attract investment. Mr. Fredrick R Kharkonger, Commissioner, Govt. of Meghalaya also presented the Meghalaya’s ample opportunities of trade and investment in various sector focusing mainly on handloom, handicrafts and agri sectors. Ms. Kime Bune, Invest India, North East Desk gave a presentation showing the investible projects in NE Region. In her presentation she highlighted various attractive investment opportunities in North East India.
Brig Rajib Singh, Managing Director, NEHHDCL in his presentation highlighted the North East handloom and handicrafts products and talked about trade opportunities between two counties in handloom and handicraft sector. Top officials of Tien Giang Province of Vietnam and President of VIENC, Vietnam delivered speeches on bilateral trade prospects between the countries. Bamboo Industrialist from Vietnam delivered a speech on development of bamboo industry in Vietnam and potentials of bilateral trade. ANI, Dinh Vinh Cuong, the president of Vietnam International Entrepreneur Networking Club, highlighted the positive developments in the trade relationship between the two countries. He stated that in 2022, the export turnover between Vietnam and India reached USD 15 billion, marking a significant increase of 13.9 percent compared to 2021. Cuong also expressed optimism for the future, anticipating increased investments from major players like Adani in Vietnam and significant investments by Vietnamese companies in India, such as Vinfast's plans to establish a car manufacturing factory in India. These developments reflect the promising trajectory of economic collaboration between Vietnam and India.
The meet witnessed participation of 100 Vietnamese companies like Greatlink Maihouse Investment Company, Standard Chartered Bank and others (list included) and 30 companies representing North East India. The discussions were instrumental in promoting business collaborations and investment opportunities, ultimately fostering stronger economic ties between the two nations.
A B2B meet on trade was held after the presentation made by different top officials of both the countries. More than 80 Vietnamese companies made one to one interaction with the Indian Companies to explore business opportunities, form partnership and discuss business related matters. Many Vietnamese companies placed order to North Eastern Companies worth many crores. Some food processing companies agreed to sell processed food products from North Eastern Companies in Vietnamese mall.
The primary goal of the session was to strengthen ties between India and Vietnam in the domains of trade and investment. Both countries have been actively working on enhancing their bilateral relationship and increasing trade and investment over recent years.
The North East India Festival Investment and Trade Session served as a platform to boost economic cooperation, foster stronger ties, and open doors for future trade and investment opportunities between these two comprehensive partners. He also said that he believes this year, they will get a lot of investors like Adani who will come to Vietnam with big investments and also big companies from Vietnam will invest in India like Vinfast. Vinfast will establish a car manufacturing factory in India. He thinks this is a good signal from two countries.
The People-to-People Exchange Meet offered insightful discussions on the historical connections between North East India and Vietnam, shedding light on academic exchange opportunities. Esteemed representatives from educational institutions in both nations, shared their perspectives, emphasizing the importance of cross-cultural learning. These conversations illuminated the academic exchange opportunities that exist between the two regions. Distinguished representatives from educational institutions in both countries actively participated and shared their insights, underscoring the significance and the potential for academic collaboration. This segment of the event contributed to the broader goal of boosting cultural and educational ties between North East India and Vietnam.
Mr. NG Mahanta, Director South East Asian Studies, Gauhati University gave an illuminating speech about history of North East India and geographical and historical relationship with Vietnam. He urged Vietnamese University to send students to Gauhati University and spoke that National Education Policy of India is encouraging student exchange programme extensively. Prof Prabha Shankar Shukla, Vice Chancellor of North East Hill University detailed about India’s great history in academics and research and invited students to study in NEHU and other Universities of NER. From Vietnamse side representatives from Hong bang University, University of Technology and Education in Ho Chi Minh City, Can Tho University spoke about their programmes and showed interest for Academic exchange programmes with India. Dr. Madan Mohan Sethi, CG, Indian Consulate expressed his desire to facilitate academic exchange programme between both the countries.
The major attraction of North East India Festival was the cultural Festival and Exhibition organized in very popular September 23rd Park, Dist One Ho Chi Minh City during 28th and 29th October, 2023. The event showcased a mesmerizing array of North Eastern dance forms, including Bagrumba (Boro), Bhortaal (Assam), Drum Ensemble & Flute (Meghalaya), Tiwa Dance (Assam), Mwsaglangnai (Boro), Bihu Dance (Assam), MiDaosri Delai (Boro), Drum Beating (Meghalaya), and Jarapagla (Boro) and many others. Vietnamese artists added their unique flavor with enchanting folk performances. Major attractions from Vietnamese side were Chai Dam Drum, The sound of the pestle on the bamboo squirrel and very special Lotus dance of Vietnam
The cultural evening was formally inaugurated by Mr. T. Bagra, Hon’ble Minister(Industries, Textiles etc), Govt of Assam in presence of Dr. Madan Mohan Sethi, CG, Indian Consulate, Mr. Harpreet Singh, Joint Secretary, DoNER and host of other dignatories. India’s Ambassador to Vietnam Mr Sandip Arya and Dr. Rajkumar Ranjan Singh, Hon’ble Minister of State(External Affairs), Govt of India also visited various stalls and encouraged the entrepreneurs and participants.
Both the evenings Musical showcase by talented bands of North East and Vietnam has rocked the Ho Chi Minh City. Top end rock bands of NER such as Summersalt, Trance Effect, The Fantastic Company, KL Pamei, Baba, Bright Lights, and Bollywood DJ Cyco performed along with Vietnamese bands and musicians such as Rapper Huynh Cong Hieu, The Kod Crew, Baba, Summersalt India, Saigon LH,.
A spectacular fashion show, featuring the top-notch designers of North East India, dazzled the audience with exquisite designs and rich fabrics from the region. Celebrity showstoppers and glamorous models from Vietnam graced the runway, presenting creations by Bidyut & Rakesh, Daisy G Momin under the label "Daisy's," Manjushree Saikia under the label "Ura Maku," and Bambi Kevichusa under the label "Bambi.", Yana Ngoba of Arunachal, Sanghamitra Phukon coming from Milan presented unique collection of Eri and Muga, Ms Hasina Kharbih of Impulse Networks, Iba Malai presented quality designs from Meghalaya. The audience were stunned by amazing array of designs presented from India’s NER.
One of the main feature of North East India Fashion Show was presence of Vietnamese models presenting designs from India. It has helped in connecting both the countries.
In the main festival area large exhibition showcased various products by Incredible India, which offered a captivating glimpse into the diverse destinations of India. Attendees had the opportunity to explore a dedicated textile zone, state-specific exhibition zones representing various northeastern states, a separate stall for NEHHDCL displaying handloom products of NER and themes related to the Act East Policy, tea, industry, and tourism. Culinary enthusiasts delighted in the authentic delicacies from the North Eastern states. Many Vietnamese were surprised to see the similarity between both the regions and yet the unique nature of products of North East India.
The festival also featured the Incredible India Exhibition, which offered a captivating glimpse into the diverse destinations of India. The September 23rd Park is very famous with American and European tourists. North East India Festival on both days attracted large no of tourists, they got to feel India in the Exhibition and got interested with amazing array of tourism attractions India offers. Attendees had the opportunity to explore a dedicated textile zone, state-specific exhibition zones representing various northeastern states, and themes related to the Act East Policy, tea, industry, and tourism. Culinary enthusiasts delighted in the authentic delicacies from the North Eastern states.
One of the major attractions of North East India Festival was food exhibition presenting various delicacies of North East apart from Vietnamese Foods. Sikkimese Food, Assamese Foods, Naga foods, Manipuri foods were the main attractions of the Exhibition. Plenty of tourists came and we organized free tasting of North Eastern cuisines. People were amazed by the food and its culinary variety of the region.