Bridging the bay in quest of a stronger BIMSTEC 

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News: Sri Lanka is ging to host the Fifth Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) Summit. It is going to be the silver jubilee (25 years of BIMSTEC). 

BIMSTEC members should build the momentum of collaborations in the Bay of Bengal region for the security and development of all. 

What have been the area of cooperation b/w BIMSTEC countries?

BIMSTEC countries have been cooperating in several areas. This includes areas include security, counter-terrorism, intelligence sharing, cybersecurity and coastal security, and transport connectivity and tourism, among others. 

There is growing involvement of educational institutions, industries and business chambers through various forums and conclaves. This is helping to enhance cooperation in different sector.  

Why BIMSTEC has special significance for India and the region?  

India has made the Bay of Bengal integral to India’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ and ‘Act East’ policies 

The Bay of Bengal has become important in economic and strategic space. It has a unique position as a pivot in the ‘Indo-Pacific’ region, a place where the strategic interests of the major powers of East and South Asia intersect. There is growing economic, geopolitical and security connections between the Western Pacific and the Indian Ocean regions. 

The BIMSTEC further has potential due to geographical contiguity, abundant natural and human resources.  

All the member countries have rich historical and cultural linkages. It promotes deeper cooperation in the region.  

The BIMSTEC serves as a bridge between the South and Southeast Asia which are two major high-growth centres of Asia. It can accelerate the process of regional integration.

Way Forward 

Connectivity is essential to develop a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable Bay of Bengal region. Therefore, national connectivity infrastructure should be upgraded and integrated into a regional road map. In addition, the hard and soft infrastructures should also be developed.

For example, The BIMSTEC Master Plan for Transport Connectivity can boost the connectivity.  

The BIMSTEC Secretariat should be strengthened. It coordinates, monitors and facilitates the implementation of BIMSTEC activities and programmes. Therefore, approval of the BIMSTEC charter during the summit can be a way forward.  

India can play key role in regional cooperation. For example, Recently, India has implemented its promise to set up a Centre for Bay of Bengal Studies (CBS) at Nalanda University, Bihar for research on art, culture and other subjects related to the Bay of Bengal.  

The political support and strong commitment from all member countries are crucial in making BIMSTEC a dynamic and effective regional organisation.

Source: The post is based on an article “Bridging the bay in quest of a stronger BIMSTEC” published in The Hindu on 30th Mar 22. 

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