UPSC Daily Editorial Analysis | 30 March 2022

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BRIDGING THE BAY IN QUEST OF A STRONGER BIMSTEC

What the article is about?

  • Talks about the potential of BIMSTEC in harnessing the possibilities of the Bay of Bengal and the future of Indo-Pacific interactions.
  • Read this article along with the 29th March 2022 editorial snippet

Syllabus: GS-II International Relations, India and its neighbourhood relations, Regional groups 

BIMSTEC:

  • The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is a regional multilateral organisation.
  • Its members lie in the littoral and adjacent areas of the Bay of Bengal constituting a contiguous regional unity.
    • 5 are from South Asia – Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka
    • 2 are from Southeast Asia – Myanmar, Thailand
  • BIMSTEC not only connects South and Southeast Asia, but also the ecologies of the Great Himalayas and the Bay of Bengal.
  • The 5th BIMSTEC summit is being held in virtual/hybrid mode on March 30, and Sri Lanka is the current BIMSTEC chair
  • Bay of Bengal has the potential to become the epicentre of the Indo-Pacific idea and BIMSTEC plays a crucial role in it.
  • Genesis:
    • 1997- Bangkok Declaration.
    • Initially formed with 4 Member States with the acronym ‘BIST-EC’ (Bangladesh, India, Sri-Lanka and Thailand Economic Cooperation).
    • Renamed ‘BIMST-EC’ in 1997, following the inclusion of Myanmar.
    • With the admission of Nepal and Bhutan in 2004, the name of the grouping was changed to ‘Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation’ (BIMSTEC).

Areas of Importance:

  • Finalising the BIMSTEC Charter; BIMSTEC Master Plan for Transport Connectivity; BIMSTEC Convention on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters; BIMSTEC Technology Transfer Facility (TTF); cooperation between diplomatic academies/training institutions; and a template of Memorandum of Association for the future establishment of BIMSTEC centres/entities present signs of optimism as well as the comeback of the Bay of Bengal as a new economic and strategic space. 

Significance for India:

  • Pursue 3 core policies:
    • Neighbourhood First – primacy to the country’s immediate periphery;
    • Act East – connect India with Southeast Asia; and
    • Economic development of India’s northeastern states – by linking them to the Bay of Bengal region via Bangladesh and Myanmar.
  • Counter China’s influence due to the spread of its Belt and Road Initiative.
  • A new platform for India to engage with its neighbours the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) becoming dysfunctional because of differences between India and Pakistan.



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