Bicol Region in India is to be recognised as a separate region in a bid to make the region more self-sufficient, the country’s minister of state for external affairs has said.

Mr G.R. Joshi said the move would ensure that “the region remains united and self-reliant, as well as being a strong economic, social and cultural entity”.

The region, which lies about 600 kilometres east of the capital, New Delhi, is home to around 15 million people and is in the northeastern part of India.

Mr Joshi, who took over the role in May, said the designation would help the region “re-enter the global economy, and also provide for economic development for the local people and to build on the development of the region”.

Mr Joshy said regionalism would also help to create a culture of respect and tolerance, which is what the region’s residents have been seeking since Independence.

He said the decision was taken in consultation with local stakeholders and the Indian Council of Historical Research.

The minister said the region would also be given a special status under the India-Pakistan Treaty of 1971.

“The purpose of the decision is to ensure that Bicol is given its regional identity,” he said.

“This is an integral part of our policy and it is an important component of our foreign policy.”

Mr Joshiyapat said the declaration of the Bicol Regional Region was “a clear recognition of the importance of the community and its unique position in the Indian context”.

“It is also an opportunity to showcase the region to the world and the world will see this as a positive step in our strategic plan.”

The declaration of a Bicol regional state will not affect the existing autonomy granted to the region under the Indian constitution.

India has been seeking recognition of a regional state since 2002.

Mr Joshi’s comments come ahead of the 25th anniversary of the formation of the state, which began on February 22, 1962.