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
- 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.
- 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.